Hanan Ashrawi, advocate for Palestinian state, to speak at Vanderbilt

November 21, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hanan Ashrawi, a spokesperson for the Arab League, will discuss the likelihood and legitimacy of a Palestinian state when she addresses the Vanderbilt community on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. in Langford Auditorium. The event is open to the public. Tickets are free to students, faculty and staff and $5 for the community. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com or at the TicketMaster box office in Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Student Center.

Long a leading figure in education and politics in the Middle East, Ashrawi was virtually unknown in the United States until 1988, when ABC television’s “Nightline” aired a three-hour, live broadcast discussion between four Palestinians and four Israelis. Though Ashrawi participated by chance, she stole the show and became a much-requested speaker for the Palestinian movement. As a woman and a Christian educated in the United States, Ashrawi dispelled a number of Western stereotypes about Palestinians.

In 1991, Yasser Arafat appointed Ashrawi the official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace talks, and as a key delegate in those talks. Afterward, she became Palestinian minister of higher education and research and served the Palestinian Authority in senior capacities.

In 1998, Ashrawi resigned from the government in protest against political corruption, specifically Arafat’s handling of peace talks. Ashrawi founded MIFTAH—the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy—which maintains her stance of opposing Israeli occupation on humanitarian, rather than historical or ideological, grounds.

Ashrawi remains a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Jerusalem. When earlier this year Arafat signed into law what amounts to a constitution for his Palestinian Authority, western scholars called for Ashrawi’s nomination as prime minister to lead reform of Arafat’s cabinet and make the first steps toward a democratic Palestine.

Ashrawi is the author of several books, including From Intifada to Independence and the autobiography This Side of Peace: A Personal Account.

Ashrawi’s appearance at Vanderbilt is being sponsored by the University Speaker’s Committee, the Middle Eastern Students Association, Project Dialogue, World on Wednesdays, the International Awareness Committee and the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center.

For more news about Vanderbilt, visit www.vanderbilt.edu/News.

Contact: Kara Furlong, 615-322-NEWS, kara.c.furlong@vanderbilt.edu

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