Two women activists from Israel and Palestine came to NYU to speak about their experiences in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their roles in peacebuilding measures abroad.
Elanit Green and Malaka Samara are representatives of OneVoice, an international organization that supports and works toward creating a two-state solution to end the conflict.
The organization, which collaborated with the International Relations Society at NYU, works out of offices in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.
“We find ordinary citizens that are ready to live with peace and security and work to give them the skills to really push their leaders to re-enter the negotiating process,” said Shaina Low, international engagement program associate of OneVoice International.
Though most of OneVoice’s work takes place in Israel and Palestine, the North American branch has organized events at colleges throughout New York and Southern California in April.
“We host international events because we want … to amplify the voices of our activists and the voices within civil society,” said Rachel Steinberg, international engagement program director of OneVoice. “This is important because it can be easy for Americans to feel as though there’s no progress being made.”
Alex Kamath, co-president of the International Relations Society, said this was not the first time the club has featured high-profile speakers. Previously the Indian Consul General of New York and Carl Wilkens, the last humanitarian aid worker to leave Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, came to speak at NYU.
“This is part of a progression of speakers aimed at bringing positive attention to NYU and the IR society,” said Kamath.
Green said she became motivated to help work towards a solution after she began studying at Ben-Gurion University in the Israeli city of Beersheba.
“Growing up, I was never critical of what Israel did and … I only knew one side of the story,” Green said.
“But when I got to university, I started learning a little more about what was going on with the conflict and what life is like for Palestinians. So I started looking for a political movement that actually matched what I came to believe.”
Billy Richling is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected]