Peace in Absentia: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Voices on Arab-Israeli Normalization


Location: Zoom Webinar

In January 2020, the United States announced a Mideast peace plan that supports the Israeli position on most issues rather than fostering Israeli-Palestinian compromise. In recent months, it has brokered deals to normalize relations between Israel and multiple Arab states. The normalizations have come after the US had already moved its embassy to Jerusalem and declared that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestine do not violate international law.

How can peace deals between Israel and the Palestinians be negotiated without Palestinians at the table? What do Palestinians think about the recent US-backed peace deals in the Middle East? How might Jews who are concerned for both the prosperity of Israel and justice for Palestinians ethically position themselves between the two sides? What role does religion play, if any, in fanning the flames of conflict or calming the waters of peace?

Our panel of academics, faith leaders, and journalists discussed these important questions and shared their insights on the best path for sustainable peace in the region. 

Presented by the Ansari Institute and co-sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Liu Institute for Asia and Asian StudiesProgram in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, and Department of Classics


Laila El Haddad

Laila El-Haddad
Laila El-Haddad is a Palestinian-American journalist and food justice activist. Her books include her memoir Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting and Everything in Between and The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey. She frequently speaks about the intersection of identity, food and politics. Through her work as a writer, storyteller, culinary ethnographer, and documentarian, she provides much-needed insight into the human experience of the region. In 2014, she was featured on CNN with Anthony Bourdain as his guide in the Gaza Strip.


Mitri Raheb

Rev. Mitri Raheb
Rev. Mitri Raheb is the founder and president of Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem. The most widely published Palestinian theologian to date, he is the author of 24 books. As a social entrepreneur, he has founded several NGOs in addition to other civic initiatives on national, regional, and international levels.



Brant Rosen2

Rabbi Brant Rosen
Rabbi Brant Rosen is the founding rabbi of Tzedek Chicago and the co-founder of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council. His writings have appeared in numerous publications and periodicals and his book, Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi's Path to Palestinian Solidarity, was published in 2012 by Just World Books. He is currently a 2020 Fellow in the Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiative at Harvard Divinity School.


Hatem Bazian

Hatem Bazian
Hatem Bazian is a co-founder and Professor of Islamic Law and Theology at Zaytuna College, the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in the United States. He also serves as a lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Bazian is founder and national chair of American Muslims for Palestine and founder of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at UC Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender. 


Charles Powell 4

Charles Powell
Charles W. Powell, a practical theologian, earned his Ecumenical Doctor of Ministry degree at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He specializes in interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Powell travels extensively throughout the Middle East and Europe engaging in conversations with Muslim scholars and practitioners of Islam in order to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Islamic milieu. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, University of Oxford, UK. Additionally, Powell serves as an adjunct professor of Muslim-Christian Dialogue at Holy Cross College.