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Realizing the Dream in the Middle East

Wednesday 29 August 2007, by Shelby Port

On August 27th, Martin Luther King III, the son of the legendary American Civil Rights activist, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., joined a panel of intellects from the region including Chaim Cohen, Shelley Elkayam, Dr. Eldad J. Pardo and NSWAS member Maram Masarwi to discuss the possible strategies for “Realizing the Dream in the Middle East”. MLK III leads Realizing the Dream, a non-profit coalition force, that is dedicated to his father’s quest for equality and justice; he is currently motivating audiences around the world with his message of hope and responsibility. Also present, was Hyun Jin Preston Moon, co-chairman of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the son of another renowned figure, Sun Myong Moon, a South Korean who is the founder and current leader of the Unification Movement, including the UPF. The conference took place at the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. [1]

Maram Masarwi, a long-time resident of Neve Shalom Wahat al-Salam, was selected as a panelist following her recent op-ed article in Haaretz newspaper entitled, “Where is the Arab Martin Luther King Jr.”, also the title of her presentation. Maram, who was the only Palestinian academic represented on the panel, is a doctoral student at Hebrew University and a lecturer at the Achva Academic College and the David Yellin College. She gave a riveting speech focusing on the need for Palestinian Israelis to realize their rights as full and equal citizens. She said they must reclaim those rights through a non-violent civil rights movement of their own. Besides shedding light upon the situation of the Palestinian minority within Israel, she disclosed her concern that women, both Palestinian and Jewish women, have been left out of the decision-making process, particularly with regard to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Women, she said, have a unique position in society and can therefore take a pivotal role in actualizing a fair and just solution to the conflict – not with war and weapons, but with peace and dialogue. She declared the urgent need for a female-version of an Arab Martin Luther King Jr., which was instantaneously followed by a wave of applause and cheering from the audience.

Maram outlined her own dream: “To see both people living together in peace and security; for a better future for Palestinian society is a better future for Jewish Israeli society. My dream is to see Palestinian Israelis living side-by-side on equal terms with our Jewish brothers and sisters. My dream is to see my children and Jewish children not fighting against one another, but fighting together to build peace and a healthier society”. To read the speech in its entirety, please click here.

Maram concluded by saying that she has partially realized her dream due to her experience of settling and raising her children in Wahat al-Salam Neve Shalom. In order to complete this dream, she conveyed her hope that NSWAS would be used as a model, or at least a reference point, for Palestinian-Jewish coexistence throughout the entire region.

Later, in the evening, NSWAS was presented with the Ambassador of Peace award by Hyun Jin Preston Moon. Ahmad Hijazi, the director of the Communications & Development Department and husband to Maram Masarwi, accepted the award on behalf of the village. After the commencement of the UPF Peace Celebration, Ahmad had an opportunity to meet MLK III for a photo op. While posing for the photo, Mr. King congratulated Ahmad on his wife’s, Maram’s, stellar performance earlier that day. Ahmad thanked him and extended an invitation for MLK III to come visit us in the village in order to experience “the dream” of multicultural and interracial coexistence based on equality and justice first-hand. Although Mr. King was unable to accept this invitation this time due to his departure the following day, he expressed a strong desire and commitment to include NSWAS in the itinerary of his next visit to the region. It would be a great honor.

Slide Presentation


Ambassador for Peace


[1The individuals from The Hebrew University and the Truman Institute who made this conference possible are as follows:

Shelley Elkayam - a Truman Research Fellow, expert on inter-religious movements; currently a doctoral student in Philosophy; earned M.A. with distinction in Educational Counseling at the University of Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Eldad J. Pardo – the head of the Truman Research Group: "Religious Actors in Conflict Areas" (RACA); lectures at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; earned his Ph.D in Iran Culture and Films at UCLA in Las Angeles, California. He is acclaimed as a leading Iranist by the Economist.

titre documents joints

  • Maram’s presentation (PDF - 160.2 kb)

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