“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Speakers’ Biographies



Keynote Conference Speaker – His Eminence John Cardinal Foley, Grand Master, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem


Cardinal John P. Foley born in 1935 in Darby, PA, began his academic career at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia where he received a B.A. summa cum laude in history in 1957. Next he entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook, Philadelphia, where he earned a B.A. in philosophy in 1958. Following ordination on May 19, 1962, by Archbishop (later Cardinal) John J. Krol of Philadelphia, he was assigned to pastoral work and to the assistant editorship of The Catholic Standard and Times in 1963. While doing graduate work at the Angelicum in Rome he covered the second and third sessions of the Second Vatican Council as a correspondent for the paper. He received a licentiate in philosophy (1964) and a doctorate cum laude (1965) from the Angelicum. In 1966, he received an M.S. magna cum laude in Journalism from Columbia University, New York.

In 1966, he was appointed assistant pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church, Philadelphia’s center-city parish. He taught at the Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia. In 1967, he was named professor of philosophy at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and again assumed the assistant editorship of The Catholic Standard and Times becoming its editor in 1970 until 1984. From 1966-1974, he was co-producer and co-host of radio and television productions including the Philadelphia Catholic Hour on WFIL and the TV series “The Making of a Priest” for the Group W Television Network.

In 1976, Pope Paul VI named him an honorary prelate with the title of Monsignor. On April 9, 1984, Pope John II named him President of the Pontifical Commission (now Pontifical Council) for Social Communications at the Vatican. On May 8, 1984 he was ordained an Archbishop by Cardinal Krol. From 1984-1989, he assumed the presidency of the administrative council of the Vatican Television Center. He served on the Pontifical Commission for Latin America 1984-1989 and the Pontifical Council for Culture. In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

On June 27, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named Archbishop Foley Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. On November 24, 2007, the Holy Father elevated him to the College of Cardinals, with the rank of Cardinal Deacon becoming the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a position he continues to hold today.

In addition to those noted above, Cardinal Foley served on numerous boards and commissions including the 41st International Eucharistic Congress (1976), the National Conference of Christians and Jews (1968-1983), the Catholic Press Association of the U.S. and Canada (1981-1984). He was news secretary for the National Conference of U.S. Catholic Bishops (USCCB) 1969-1984. He was vice chairman of the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission (1979-1984). He served as English-language press liaison for the visit of Pope John II to Ireland and the U.S. in 1979 and for the International Synod of Bishops in Rome in 1980.

Cardinal Foley has received numerous awards, including the Francis de Sales Award of the Catholic Press Association (1984), the Journalism Alumni Award of Columbia University, New York (1985), the Sourin Award of the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute of Philadelphia (1990), the President’s Medal of Holy Family College, Philadelphia (1996), the Barry Award of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia (1997), and the Shield of Loyola Award of St. Joseph’s University (1997).

He holds honorary degrees from St. Joseph’s University (1985), the Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales (1990), Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. (1996), Assumption College, Worcester, MA. (1997), Regis University, Denver, CO (1998), John Cabot University, Rome (1998) and the University of Portland (2007).

He is Knight Commander with Grand Cross, Order of the Northern Star, Kingdom of Sweden (1991); Knight Commander with Grand Cross, Order of Holy Sepulchre (1991); Commander with Grand Cross in the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins of the Republic of Chile (1996); Commander with Gran Cross in the Order of Libertador General San Martin of the Republic of Argentina (2003); and Chaplain with Grand Cross, Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Jala Basil Andoni

Jala Basil Andoni, 61, a former English teacher, lives in Beit Sahour, a town also called the Shepherds’ Field, to the east of Bethlehem.

She was studying English literature at the University of Jordan when the six day war broke out in 1967. This marked the beginning of the occupation of the West Bank resulting in separation from her family for two years. In 1969 after her graduation, she rejoined her family and became the first female teacher with a B. A. teaching English in the Bethlehem District.

During that period of time she couldn’t continue her studies due to the restrictions of movement placed upon Palestinians by the occupation. In 1990, the Gulf War broke out. Israeli troops imposed curfews on Palestinian cities and villages. People were imprisoned in their homes and schools shut down. Teachers from the neighborhood assembled and taught lessons at home.

After 5 years her son was able to obtain a scholarship and study computer science in the USA. Her youngest son is studying dentistry at the Arab American University in Jenin, in the north of Palestine.

The busy mother of four children, 2 boys and 2 girls, she was appointed supervisor of English Language at The Directorate of Education in Bethlehem District in 1996.

After the second uprising in 2000 she was convinced that the only way to peace was by building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians, not by building walls and fences. She retired early from the School District in 2003 to have more time to participate in peace building activities.

She currently works with the Wi’am Center for Reconciliation and the Arab Educational Institute (AEI) in Bethlehem, and is a leader of the women’s group at the Alternative Information Center (AIC) in Beit Sahour. Her work includes supporting and empowering women.

She affirms that Muslims and Christians are living together peacefully in the Bethlehem area, and work together on non-violent efforts and actions such as candle light vigils, marches and prayers near the wall.

Ms. Andoni believes strongly that peace in the region depends on American involvement.

Ms. Ronit Avni, Executive Director/Founder, Just Vision

Ms. Ronit Avni is a film director and producer. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Just Vision, a non-profit organization that researches, documents and creates media about Palestinian and Israeli grassroots leaders in nonviolence and peace building. She directed and produced the documentary film, Encounter Point, which received the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival’s Audience Award for the Best Documentary. This film was also an official selection at the Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, Atlanta, Vancouver, Dubai and Jerusalem international film festivals. Encounter Point has screened at the International Finance Center, the United Nations and also in Tel Aviv, Gaza, Jenin and more than 200 cities worldwide. She appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005 with her colleague, Joline Makhlouf. Her work has been featured on Oprah.com.

From 2000-2003, Ms. Avni co-produced short videos and online video advocacy features in collaboration with filmmakers in Senegal, Burkina Faso, the U.S. and Brazil while working for Peter Gabriel’s human rights organization, WITNESS. (This organization advances human rights advocacy using video and communications technology.) She has trained non-governmental organizations from Honduras to the Gambia to produce videos as a tool for public education and grassroots mobilization, and also serving as a deterrent to further abuse and to be used as evidence before courts and tribunals. She wrote and produced the short documentary film Rise with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. She co-edited the book, Video for Change: A Guide for Advocacy and Activism (Pluto Press, UK), with the staff from WITNESS. Her essay, Inverting the Shame-Based Human Rights Documentation Model in the Context of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” was published in the Spring 2006 edition of American Anthropologist.

Ms. Avni has lectured widely at universities across North America. She has been honored by the World Economic Forum with its 2009 Young Global Leaders Award, the 2005 Auburn Seminary’s Lives of Commitment Award and the Joshua Venture Fellowship for young, Jewish social entrepreneurs. She is currently a United Nation’s Global Expert through the Alliance of Civilizations, a resource for journalists seeking reliable, thoughtful commentators on issues pertaining to East-West divides.

Ms. Avni graduated from Vassar College with honors receiving a B.A. in Political Science. She received a Burnam Fellowship to intern at B’Tselem: the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Concurrently, she is a volunteer for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI).

Rev. Dr. Craig Barnes, Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church


Craig Barnes, Pastor Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PARobert Meneilly Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Pittsburgh Theological SeminaryCraig was raised on Long Island , New York . After graduating from The King’s College and Princeton Seminary, he received a Ph.D. in The History of Christianity from The University of Chicago under the supervision of Martin E. Marty. For nine years he served as pastor of The National Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. In the fall of 2002, he became the Robert Meneilly Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. While continuing in that teaching ministry he began his service as the pastor of The Shadyside Presbyterian Church in 2003. His published books include Yearning, When God Interrupts, Hustling God, Sacred Thirst, Extravagant Mercy, and Searching For Home.

Hekmat Besisso-Naji


A Muslim Palestinian originally from Gaza, Ms. Besisso – Naji, 40, currently lives in Ramallah. Her parents came from rich families who became refugees after the 48 – 49 war. Her grandfather often remarked that he felt sorry his grandchildren were raised poor while he had land, home and a business before the war.

She is an only child and, as such, it was her parent’s dream that she marry and have a family; so she married at 17 and raised 5 children.

She believes it is important to work hard to improve herself and her society. Ms. Besisso – Naji has worked for several international and local organizations including: American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Save the Children USA, Defense for Children International, the Jerusalem Media Communication Center, and others.

After earning diplomas from Al Azhar University and Kann’an Educational Development Institute in Gaza, she is working on a B.A. in Social Work from Alquds Open University. She also earned a technical training certificate in Field Research and Project

Coordination from the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.

In 2003, Ms. Besisso – Naji divorced and in 2005 remarried and moved with her 5 children to Ramallah. In 2006, she and her husband Naji were blessed with a baby boy. Since leaving Gaza in 2005, she has not been able to return and was unable to visit her sick mother in 2006 before she died. Mustafa, Ms. Besisso’s eldest son, returned to Gaza in 2006 for a visit and has not been able to receive a permit from Israeli authorities to leave Gaza since.

During 2005, Ms. Besisso – Naji spoke to audiences in the U.S. and Europe through Peace x Peace, Joining Hands Against Hunger (a Presbyterian Church initiative) and the Faculty for Israeli – Palestinian Peace. She currently works as a Community Trainer, where her main task is to organize, carry out, train, and evaluate nonviolence training and other projects.

Dr. Mark Braverman


Mark Braverman’s roots are in the Holy Land—his grandfather, a fifth generation Palestinian Jew, was born in Jerusalem, emigrating to the United States as a young man. Growing up in the United States, Dr. Braverman was reared in the Jewish tradition, studying Bible, Hebrew literature, and Jewish history. As a young man, he lived and worked in Israel. Trained in clinical psychology and crisis management, Dr. Braverman devoted his professional career to working with groups and individuals undergoing traumatic stress.

Returning to the Holy Land in 2006, he was transformed by witnessing the occupation of Palestinian lands and by encounters with peace activists and civil society leaders from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities. Since then, Dr. Braverman has devoted himself full-time to the Israel/Palestine conflict. He has spoken about Israel/Palestine before diverse groups, focusing on his journey as a Jewish American committed to peace and dignity for all peoples of the land, the role of religious belief in the current discourse in the U. S., and the impact of the conflict on both Israelis and Palestinians.

Dr. Braverman is the executive director of the Holy Land Peace Project, an interfaith and ecumenical organization that promotes education about and action for Middle East peace in the U.S. faith communities. He is a cofounder of Friends of Tent of Nations North America, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting Palestinian land rights and peaceful coexistence in historic Palestine. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA, the advisory committee of Friends of Sabeel North America, and the advisory council of the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace. He is the author of Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land, published by Synergy Books.

Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J., Editor in Chief, America Magazine, HCEF Advisory Board Member


Fr. Christiansen is a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University. He received his Ph.D. in religious social ethics from Yale University. He has been a research associate at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, a faculty member at the Jesuit School of Theology, director of the Center for Ethics and Social Policy at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, and a founding member of the University of Notre Dame.s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. He was Director of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the United States Catholic Conference (USCC), the coordinating organization of the U.S. Catholic bishops, and has continued to serve as a counselor to the USCC on Mideast affairs. He serves on the boards of several organizations, and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem invested him as Canon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He has written more than 70 articles on ethics, Catholic social teaching, and public policy. He is the co-editor of three books.


Dr. Hugh Dempsey

Dr. Hugh Dempsey is Director of Education/Advancement at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC. Previously, he served as Vice President of Institutional Advancement for the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies. He is the founding president of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, a non-profit. In 1998, at the invitation of the U.S. Agency for International Development, he was one of only three foundation heads selected to travel to Poland to assist with the development of philanthropy after the fall of Communism.

In 1992, he purchased a publishing company in Pittsburgh, PA, later the Dempsey Group, Inc. The firm’s clients included the Lions’ Clubs International Foundation, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Charitable Foundation and the Vatican Museums, serving as the Museums’ personal representative in America. Earlier, he served as Vice President for Institutional Advancement for the Pittsburgh’s Eye and Ear Institute, subsequently becoming its Executive Director and CEO.

Beginning in 1978, he was administrator at the Benedictine St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. He served in various capacities including founding director of its Drug and Alcohol Prevention Project, director of its Office of Institutional Research and director of its Major Donor/Planned Giving Program.

Dr. Dempsey’s early career is in public education, specializing in child development at the Education Department of Indiana University in Pennsylvania. He also spent five years as a teacher in Pennsylvania Public Schools.

Dr. Dempsey has been honored as the Distinguished Alumnus by his two alma maters, Bloomsburg University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is the recipient the 2001 President’s Award from the Order of Malta and the Antonio Canova Medal, the Vatican Museums’ highest honor.

Dr. Dempsey has a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He was Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Westmoreland County Community College from 1986 to 2002.

Robert A. Destro

Robert A. Destro is Professor of Law and founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Law & Religion at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. A member of the faculty since 1982, Prof. Destro served as Interim Dean from 1999-2001. He has served as a Commissioner on the United States Commission on Civil Rights from 1983 to 1989, and led the Commission’s discussions in the areas of discrimination on the basis of disability, national origin and religion. From 2004-2006, he served as Special Counsel to the Ohio Attorney General and the Ohio Secretary of State on voting rights and election law issues.

Education: B.A. 1972, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio; J.D., 1975, University of California at Berkeley.

Professor Destro lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife Brenda and their two children, Gina and Mark.

The Rev. Richard H. Graham, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Metropolitan Washington Synod
the rev. richard h. graham
The Rev. Richard H. Graham was elected to a six-year term as bishop of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod of the ELCA on June 8, 2007, by the 2007 Synod Assembly. He took office on September 1, 2007, and was installed on October 14, 2007.Bishop Graham most recently served as pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in College Park, Maryland. Additionally, he has been Assistant Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown, Maryland; and Associate Pastor of St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, Annapolis, Maryland.Bishop Graham received a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1977 and a Master of Arts degree in Church History from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. in 1989.Prior local leadership included as synod secretary, member of the synod’s Candidacy Committee and member of the Board of Trustees of the National Lutheran Home for the Aged, Rockville, Maryland.Bishop Graham succeeded the Rev. Theodore F. Schneider who retired from the position after serving two terms following his election in 1995.Bishop Graham is married to Nancy Ann Graham and has two adult daughters.
Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain, Georgetown University

Imam Yahya Hendi is the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, the first American University to hire a full-time Muslim chaplain. He is also the Imam of the Islamic Society of Frederick, MD and is the Muslim Chaplain at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. His undergraduate education was in Islamic Studies. followed by graduate and doctoral studies in comparative religions with focus on Christianity, Judaism, comparative religions and inter-religious dialogue and relations.

He is the Founder and the Secretary General of Clergy Beyond Borders, and is the Founder and President of the newly formed, Imams for Universe, Dignity, Human Rights and Dialogue. He serves as a member of the Islamic Jurisprudence Council of North America. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Science and the Osher’s Lifelong Learning Institute of John Hopkins University, Fordham University and Hartford Seminary. At Georgetown University he teaches the acclaimed course called: Inter-religious Encounter.

Imam Hendi is engaged nationally and internationally raising awareness on issues of the 21st century including: 1) environmental responsibility, 2) peaceful resolution to the Arab/Israeli conflict, 3) elimination of poverty, 4) opposition against growing militarism, and 5) empowerment of Muslims to reform the way they practice and understand Islam.

He has written extensively on these and other topics, including women in Islam, women and gender relations in Islam, the second coming of the Messiah, Islam and biomedical ethics, and religion and Islam in the United States. He appears frequently on television and radio programs as an expert on interfaith dialogue and on Islam and Muslims (i.e. on CNN, ABC, Fox, Kuwait TV, Nile TV, Pakistan Channel-II, RAI, MSNBC and Al-jazeerah).

As a sought-after speaker, Imam Hendi has lectured extensively on interfaith and general topics in this country, Asia, Africa, Europe, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Australia and the Middle East. He participated in conferences in more than 63 countries and 45 U.S. states. He frequently lectures at churches and synagogues hoping to create a new positive relationship between the followers of the three Abrahamic religions. In his lectures, he focuses on issues related to gender relations, domestic violence, world peace, social, economic and political justice, and inter-religious and interfaith issues.

Imam Hendi offers inter-religious and Muslim retreats, and leads Jum’ah (Friday Services). He councils students on academic, professional and social issues. He is an expert on Islam and conflict resolution issues, believing that with love and education–the world will be a better place to live in.

Imam Hendi was one of the Muslim leaders who met with President Clinton during his Presidency. He also met frequently with the President Bush in the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy. He serves on national and international interfaith councils such as the Appeal of Conscience and the National Inter-religious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East. In May 2002, he received the annual James Gettemy Significant Ministry Award of Hartford Seminary for his dedication to his ministry and for his work promoting peace between faiths. In February 2009, he was honored by the Baltimore Field Office of the FBI for fighting terrorism, drugs and violence in America.

Hussein Ibish, Ph.D.

Hussein Ibish is a Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) and Executive Director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership.

Ibish has made thousands of radio and television appearances and has written for many newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. He was the Washington, DC Correspondent for the Daily Star (Beirut). Ibish is editor and principal author of 3 major studies of Hate Crimes and Discrimination against Arab Americans 1998-2000 (ADC, 2001), Sept. 11, 2001-Oct. 11, 2002 (ADC, 2003), and 2003-2007 (ADC, 2008).

He is author of “At the Constitution’s Edge: Arab Americans and Civil Liberties in the United States” in States of Confinement (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), “Anti-Arab Bias in American Policy and Discourse” in Race in 21st Century America (Michigan State University Press, 2001), “Race and the War on Terror,” in Race and Human Rights (Michigan State University Press, 2005) and “Symptoms of Alienation: How Arab and American Media View Each Other“ in Arab Media in the Information Age (ECSSR, 2005). He is also the author, along with Ali Abunimah, of “The Palestinian Right of Return” (ADC, 2001) and “The Media and the New Intifada” in The New Intifada (Verso, 2001), and has most recently authored “What’s Wrong with the One-State Agenda?” Why ending the Occupation and Peace with Israel is still the Palestinian National Goal (American Task Force on Palestine, 2005).

He is also the editor, along with Saliba Sarsar, of Principles and Pragmatism (ATFP, 2006). From 1998-2004, Ibish served as Communications Director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest Arab-American membership organization in the United States. From 2001-2004 he was Vice-President of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom. He has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Fr. Dennis D. McManus

Fr. Dennis D. McManus is Assistant Director of the Intercultural Forum of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC specializing in inter-religious dialogue. He is senior consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and to its Secretariat for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs, where he assists in Catholic-Muslim and Catholic-Jewish relations. He served as Associate Director of the Secretariat for the Liturgy of the USCCB from 1997 to 2005.

An educator for thirty years, Fr. McManus taught at secondary schools and universities courses in theology, liturgy, medieval literature and inter-religious dialogue. At present, he is Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology at Georgetown University. From 1992-2008, he served as Managing Editor of Paulist Press’ Ancient Christians Writers series, comprising over 50 volumes of patristic publications. With Rabbi Leon Klenicki of the Anti-Defamation League of New York, he has contributed to a new series from the Stimulus Foundation entitled, The Gospel Set Free, which offers Christian readers the Jewish background of Sunday lectionary readings. From 1995-1998, he was translation editor of Drew University’s patristic commentary on the Bible, The Ancient Christian Commentary, comprising over 50 volumes published by Varsity Press. He is also a member of the editorial board of Ephemerides.

Fr. McManus has written and lectured widely on liturgy and inter-religious dialogue. From 1993-2006, he was Vice President of the Stimulus Foundation of New York, publisher of major works dealing with the Jewish-Christian dialogue. He is a founding board member of the Institute for International Criminal Investigation, which examines forensic evidence of genocides worldwide. He belongs to the USCCB dialogue with the Reformed Churches and the Vatican dialogue with Baptist Churches. He is a member of the Pontifical Vox Clara Commission of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In 2005-2006, he held the Smilow Chair in Catholic-Jewish Relations at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC.

Fr. McManus received his bachelor’s degree in Classical Languages and Philosophy from St. Mary’s College of California in 1975. He completed a master’s degree in Historical Ethics at Georgetown University and a doctorate in Historical Theology (Patrology) at Drew University.

Patricia B. Parma, M.A., L.P.C., Member, HCEF Board of Directors Counselor / Associate Professor of Student Development Palo Alto College

Patricia (Patty) Parma is a Licensed Professional Counselor with twenty years experience in counseling and teaching first generation in college, low income community college students in south Texas. Ms. Parma serves on the HCEF Education and Child Sponsorship committees and heads the Holy Land Christian Support Network (HCSN) in San Antonio. She spent the previous two summers in Bethlehem supporting HCEF’s vision to provide the Christian schools of the Holy Land with student development and career resources and teacher training to facilitate a seamless transition from high school to college and career.

Ruth El Raz

Ruth El-Raz, 76, was born and raised in England. She was born asking questions about differences: income, class, race, religion. She started studying political science in London, but in 1954 married and moved to Israel to live on a kibbutz. After divorcing and living in the artists village, Ein Hod, for several years, she left Israel to study in France and England, first sculpture, then social work.

She was firmly on Israels side during the 6-day war, believing that within 2 years Israel would be out of the Occupied Territories. She returned to Israel in 1970, studying social work and fighting the developing militarism in Israel. In 1972 she was accepted for a field placement at the Hebrew University, and stayed there as a staff member until 1987. She has a masters degree in social work from Rutgers University.

Ms. El-Raz describes herself as a psychotherapist, a sculptor/painter, and a political activist. She currently works as a therapist at the Counseling Center for Women in Jerusalem, which she helped found. She is also a board member of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), and Bat Shalom, the Israeli side of Jerusalem Link, a joint Israeli/Palestinian womens peace organization. She is a founding member of Women in Black and participates in weekly vigils. As an active member of Checkpoint Watch, she goes with others twice a day to monitor the attitude of soldiers towards the Palestinians as they pass through various checkpoints between Israel and the Occupied Territories. She is also the proud mother of a wonderful 34 year old daughter.

Ms. El-Raz has been on several speaking tours to the U.S. and Europe, and, with a Palestinian partner, represented Jerusalem Link at the first UN World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

Judith Mendelsohn Rood, Ph.D.

Judith Mendelsohn Rood is Professor of History and Middle East Studies at Biola University. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in History (1993), her M.A. at Georgetown in Arab Studies (1982), and her B.A. in History at New College (1980) and is the author of Sacred Law in the Holy City and articles for the International Journal of Turkish Studies, Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, Arab Studies Journal, Jerusalem Quarterly, Review of Faith and International Affairs, and other publications. She teaches the History of the Middle East and Islam and Historiography and specializes in the history of Jerusalem and its environs. She is married and has two sons.

Paul Scham

Paul L. Scham is a Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, Executive Director of its Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies, and an Adjunct Scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C.  His primary interest is in the history and current politics of Israel and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  For the last few years he has focused on the historical narratives of the two sides, co-editing one book (with another to be published in 2010) and publishing a number of articles.  He has also recently co-authored a significant article on Hamas. From 1996-2002, he lived in Jerusalem and coordinated Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Jordanian joint research projects at the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University.

Dr. Saliba Sarsar, Secretary HCEF Board of Directors

Dr. Sarsar, born and raised in Jerusalem, is Associate Vice President for Academic Program Initiatives and Professor of Political Science at Monmouth University. He received his elementary and secondary education at Collège de Frères and St. Joseph’s College in the Old City. He completed a B.A. in political science and history interdisciplinary, with summa cum laude, from Monmouth College in 1978. In 1984, he earned his doctoral degree from Rutgers University in political science, with specialization in international relations and Middle Eastern affairs. Sarsar is a Middle East scholar and commentator on Middle East affairs and the author of several books and articles on this and other subjects. Sarsar received and/or directed several grants, including Fulbright, Kellogg, Dodge, and Peace Development Fund. Among his awards are the Global Visionary Award from Monmouth University in 2007, the Stafford Presidential Award of Excellence from Monmouth University in 2006, and the Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice in 2001. In April 2003, Sarsar was featured in The New York Times, “His Mission: Finding Why People Fight—A Witness to Mideast Conflict Turns to Dialogue and Peace.”

Dr. James J. Zogby, President, Arab American Institute

Dr. James J. Zogby is founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington, D.C.-based organization which serves as the political and policy research arm of the Arab American community. Since 1985, Dr. Zogby and AAI have led Arab American efforts to secure political empowerment in the U.S. Through voter registration, education and mobilization, AAI has moved Arab Americans into the political mainstream.

For the past three decades, Dr. Zogby has been involved in a full range of Arab American issues. A co-founder and chairman of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in the late 1970s, he later co-founded and served as the Executive Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In 1982, he co-founded Save Lebanon, Inc., a private non-profit, humanitarian and non-sectarian relief organization which funds health care for Palestinian and Lebanese victims of war, and other social welfare projects in Lebanon. In 1985, Zogby founded AAI.

In 1993, following the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord in Washington, he was asked by Vice President Al Gore to lead Builders for Peace, a private sector committee to promote U.S. business investment in the West Bank and Gaza. In his capacity as co-president of Builders, Zogby frequently traveled to the Middle East with delegations led by Vice President Gore and late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. In 1994, with former U.S. Congressman Mel Levine, his colleague as co-president of Builders, Zogby led a U.S. delegation to the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement in Cairo. Zogby also chaired a forum on the Palestinian economy at the Casablanca Economic Summit in 1994. After 1994, through Builders, Zogby worked with a number of US agencies to promote and support Palestinian economic development, including AID, OPIC, USTDA, and the Departments of State and Commerce.

Dr. Zogby has also been personally active in U.S. politics for many years; in 1984 and 1988 he served as Deputy Campaign manager and Senior Advisor to the Jesse Jackson Presidential campaign. Most recently, in 1995 DNC Chairman Don Fowler appointed Zogby as co-convener of the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Committee (NDECC), an umbrella organization of Democratic Party leaders of European and Mediterranean descent. In 1999 and 2001 he was reelected to that post. Also in 2001, he was appointed to the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and in 2006 was also named Co-Chair of the DNC’s Resolutions Committee.

A lecturer and scholar on Middle East issues, U.S.-Arab relations, and the history of the Arab American community, Dr. Zogby appears frequently on television and radio. He has appeared as a regular guest on all the major network news programs. After hosting the popular “A Capital View” on the Arab Network of America from 1993-2001. From 2001 until now he hosts the award winning “Viewpoint with James Zogby” on Abu Dhabi Television, LinkTV, Dish Network, and DirecTV.

Since 1992, Dr. Zogby has also written a weekly column on U.S. politics for the major newspapers of the Arab world. The column, “Washington Watch,” is currently published in 14 Arab and South Asian countries. He has authored a number of books including two publications, “What Ethnic Americans Really Think” and “What Arabs Think: Values, Beliefs and Concerns.”

Dr. Zogby has testified before U.S. House and Senate committees, has been guest speaker on a number of occasions in the Secretary’s Open Forum at the U.S. Department of State, and has addressed the United Nations and other international forums.

Dr. Zogby is also active professionally beyond his involvement with the Arab American community. He currently serves on the national advisory board of the American Civil Liberties Union, The Human Rights Watch Board of Directors for the Middle East and North Africa and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Additionally, he is a Senior Advisor for the polling firm Zogby International, where he is responsible for the firm’s groundbreaking polling across the Middle East.

In 1975, Dr. Zogby received his doctorate from Temple University’s Department of Religion, where he studied under the Islamic scholar Dr. Ismail al-Faruqi. He was a National Endowment for the Humanities Post-Doctoral Fellow at Princeton University in 1976, and on several occasions was awarded grants for research and writing by the Knight Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Defense Education Act, and the Mellon Foundation. Dr. Zogby received a Bachelor of Arts from Le Moyne College. In 1995, Le Moyne awarded Zogby an honorary doctoral of laws degree, and in 1997 named him the college’s outstanding alumnus. In 2007 Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts named him its Distinguished Alum.

Dr. Zogby is married to Eileen Patricia McMahon and is the father of five children.

2016-10-24T07:27:09+00:00 May 2nd, 2009|Categories: Conference|