“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”
Conference Program 2018-10-26T18:19:15+00:00

This international conference, held in partnership with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Know Thy Heritage, Inc. and others, will pay particular attention to the Question of Jerusalem. After providing a report on the city’s evolving status, it will present interfaith viewpoints on the meaning of Jerusalem and what Palestinian Christians and Muslims are doing to advance its educational, cultural, and social life.

Conference Program

Prof. Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D.: Chair, HCEF Research and Publication Committee, and Professor of Political Science, Monmouth University
Stephen B. Corbin, D.D.S., M.P.H, Former Vice President, Special Olympic


9:00-10:00 Registration

Opening Ceremony

Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS
HCEF president/CEO
H.E. Agshin Mehdiyev
Ambassador/Permanent Observer of Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the United Nations
H.E. Ambassador Dr. Riyad H. Mansour
Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations
H.E. Dina Kawar
Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

This opening ceremony is special as HCEF celebrates its 20th anniversary and does so in partnership with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and KTH. HCEF President/CEO and three ambassadors, representing the OIC, Palestine, and Jordan, will share their impressions of Jerusalem and ways to ensure its future as the collective home of humanity.


Plenary Session: What Jerusalem Means to Us:
Christian and Muslim Perspectives and Reflections

Jerusalem is the spiritual home of the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each has a stake in it. In this panel, Christian and Muslim leaders will share their views on the Holy and Human City and what Christians and Muslims can do to preserve its soul and spirit before it is too late.

Moderator: Fr. Michael McDonagh, Senior advisor to the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Archbishop of Jerusalem
Dr. Rev. David A. Renwick
Senior Pastor, National Presbyterian Church
Imam Yehia Hendi
Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University
Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J.
HCEF Co-founder, Distinguished Professor of Ethics Global Development at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
H.E. Bishop Richard A. Graham
Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America




Advocacy on and Solidarity with Jerusalem:
The Crucial Role of Religious Leaders and Peace Organizations

Jerusalem’s sacredness and national significance raise questions about the role of religion in conflict and peace and the relationships between the religious and secular authorities. Several Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders as well as peace organizations are active in bringing awareness about and supporting Middle East peace. These relate to interfaith dialogue and solidarity, as well as the religious response to secular decisions. This roundtable will explain the necessity of peace, in addition to how religious institutions and secular organizations can better influence the future course of events in the United States and beyond.

Moderator: Sir Rateb Y. Rabie, KCHS, President/CEO of HCEF
Julia Pitner
Executive Director, Institute for Palestine Studies
Rabbi Joseph Berman
Government Affairs Manager, Jewish Voice for Peace
Hoda Hawa
Director of Policy & Advocacy, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Stephen France, Esq.
Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine-Israel Network Jerusalem Companion Diocese Committee of the Diocese of Washington

6:00pm -10:00pm

Reception and Celebratory Banquet
Maggiano’s Little Italy Restaurant – Chevy Chase Banquet Room
5333 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20015

Master of Ceremonies: Stephen B. Corbin, D.D.S., M.P.H
Former Vice President, Special Olympic, and HCEF Board of Directors



8:30-9:30 Registration

Welcome and Introduction to Conference


Palestinian Geopolitical Status under the Israeli Occupation, with a Special Focus on East Jerusalem

Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the Israeli separation wall on Palestinian territories have complicated Palestinian daily life and have been serious obstacles to peace between Palestinians and Israelis. This presentation will focus on their impact on Palestine and the larger issue of peace.

Moderator: Dr. Hanna Hanania, HCEF Board members, Member of the Palestinian National Council and of the Palestinian Central Council
Dr. Jad Elias Isaac
General Director, the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ)
Khaled Elgindy
A fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings and a founding board member of the Egyptian American Rule of Law Association


Enlivening Jerusalem: Christian and Muslim Contributions to the City’s Education, Culture, and Social Advancement

There is a substantial Christian and Muslim presence in Jerusalem, including religious, educational, and social service institutions and organizations. The challenges include cultural-social constraints, an ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, a 51-year old occupation, and a lack of funds. This panel will explore what Christians and Muslims are doing to advance the education, culture, and social life in Jerusalem.

Moderator: Fr. John Predmore, S. J., HCEF Board Member
Fr. Michael McDonagh
Senior advisor to the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Archbishop of Jerusalem
John L. Schlageter
Executive Director of the Bethlehem University Foundation
Imam Yehia Hendi
Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University

12:30 – 1:00

Visual Presentation, HCEF “Keeping Our Vision Alive”

1:00 – 2:00


2:00 – 2:45

Keynote Address: Status of Palestinian Higher Education, Challenges and Opportunities

Dr. Abdullatif Abuhijleh
President, Birzeit University

2:45 – 3:45

East Jerusalem and the Palestinian Religious Tourism Industry

The Palestinian tourism industry in East Jerusalem faces unique challenges, including Israeli restrictions on new hotels and tourist companies, poor infrastructure, and high taxes. These are in addition to the seasonal nature of Christian and Muslim pilgrimages, the lack of proper coordination and a common strategy among Palestinians working in tourism, and competition from the Israeli tourism sector. This panel will examine these and other challenges as well as the huge potential for growth.

Moderator: Jad Daniel, Ph.D. Management Consultant

Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS
HCEF president/CEO
Marwan Ahmad
President, Arab American Business Council

3:45 – 5:00

Jerusalem Key to Palestinian-Israeli Peace

Peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel are at a standstill. By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, halting its funding to UNRWA, and closing down the mission of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Washington, DC, the United States has practically stopped being an even-handed peace mediator. By continuing its occupation and by recently enacting its basic Law, “Israel, the Nation-State of the Jewish People,” Israel has shown its true intentions, mainly its lack of seriousness about peace with the Palestinians. Are we at a dead end? How can peace be advanced? This panel will present what it takes to re-ignite the peace flame.

Moderator: Prof. Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D., Chair, HCEF Research and Publication Committee & Professor of Political Science, Monmouth University
Khalil E. Jahshan
Executive Director, Arab Center Washington D.C.
Dr. James Zogby
President, Arab American Institute
H.E. Feda Abdelhady-Nasser
Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations.