Executive Director of Communications
“SPEAKING ACROSS DIFFERENCES”
--Public is Invited to Participate in Palestinian – Israeli Community Dialogue at Queens College April 7--
FLUSHING, NY, March 23, 2005 -- On Thursday, April 7, the Dean of Social Sciences and the International Relations and Conflict Resolution Project (Political Science Department) at Queens College will host The Dialogue Project, a community-wide model dialogue with Palestinians, Israelis, and Jewish Americans. The program will take place in Rosenthal Library, room 230, from 6 – 8 pm. The event is free and open to the public. This will be the second event organized by the International Relations Project, which in 2003 hosted a full-day symposium, “The Middle East at the Crossroads: Peace Making or Peace Breaking.”
The Dialogue Project, a Brooklyn-based group established in 2001, brings together adult Arabs (Muslim and Christian), Palestinians, Jews/Israelis, immigrants, and long-time citizens of all ethnicities for face-to-face encounters throughout New York and other parts of the country. Currently seven Dialogue circles—a total of 120 people—gather monthly in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx to explore their different world views and personal stories related to Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East conflict. “With the prospect of renewed negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, it is important for the Jewish and Arab communities in the U.S. to support and encourage such developments,” says the organizer of this event, Professor Ziva Flamhaft, who teaches International Relations and Middle Eastern courses in the college’s Political Science Department.
Marcia Kannry, founder of The Dialogue Project, explains, “The simple act of actively listening to the ‘stranger,’ someone whom you may not know but whose identity may cause you fear, is the first step we all must take as we struggle to bring down walls of suspicion that surround neighbors and co-workers.”
“There are few better ways to build such support than to learn to listen and speak to each other about shared experiences and common interests,” Prof. Flamhaft adds. “That is precisely what we are trying to do when we invite dialoguers to teach our diverse body of students and the Queens community at large how to conduct a discourse in a trying and often emotional atmosphere.”
The panel and the audience will engage in dialogue rather than debate. It’s a crucial distinction, says Kannry, because dialogue implies empathetic listening and learning, not just trying to persuade others that your position is right. Guidelines—such as allotted time for each person to speak without interruption, and listening to each point of view with curiosity instead of assumptions—help create a productive conversation, she says.
The Dialogue Project received the 2004 Hamdani Award, which is given annually to an organization that promotes communication among the diverse ethnic and religious communities of New York City. The award is named in honor of Mohammed Salaam Hamdani, a Pakistani Muslim American and Queens College graduate who died saving lives on September 11, 2001, although for a brief time he was unfairly suspected of abetting the attack on the World Trade Center. The Hamdani Award is presented through Citizens for New York City and funded by Deutsche Bank. For more information, visit www.thedialogueproject.org or call 718-768-2175.
For directions to Queens College, visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/about/directions.php