Middle East Center

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Honors Professor as Distinguished American Speaker

Presentation Given at Residence of United States Ambassador to Israel

Professor Paula Rayman, Director of the Middle East Center for Peace, Development and Culture, was honored as a “Distinguished American Speaker” by the United States Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, on November 21, 2014. She presented a talk, “The Role of Women in Building Positive Peace,” which covered how women’s movements in Israel and internationally are advancing new visions for peace. She detailed the eight pillars of positive peace and ways in which women are bringing new momentum to ending violence and building sustainable peace. Examples included how worked with Israeli Jewish and Arab women from “Open House,” a coexistence center in Ramle Israel, to work on techniques of non-violent communication and her role in advising a new organization called “Women Waging Peace” which is committed to bringing women to the table in peace negotiations.

Ambassador Daniel Shapiro introduced Professor Rayman and explained the objective of the speaker series, which is to bring American speakers to Israeli audiences in order to strengthen connections between the US and Israel. He described how the talk by Professor Rayman would help  in “building understanding between Jews and Arabs in Israel” in order to further “[the US Embassy’s] mission in laying the groundwork for the one of the overriding US goals of achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”

The large audience included government officials, heads of NGOs, and academic leaders. The Prime Minister’s Office was represented by Ms. Vered Swid, the Director for the Authority for the Advancement of Women. Also attending from the Israeli government was Israel’s Commissioner of Equal Employment, Ms. Tziona Koenig Yair. UMass Lowell’s partner universities were represented by Professors Samuel Kenig and Hannah Dodiuk from Shenkar College and Professor Keren Sharvit from University of Haifa.

Professor Rayman’s speech in November was the second time she presented at the request of the United States Embassy: In 2011, she gave a Distinguished American Speaker talk on ‘beyond coexistence’ and how nonviolent action has been instrumental in advancing the quest for democracy and better social and economic conditions in the US and the region.