Literature and the arts engage the core of our humanity at once emotionally and intellectually. The conversation we have with a painting, a story, or a poem can surprise and enlighten us. The author’s words, the artist’s images create unique ways to see what confronts us—from outside and from within. Their voices encourage us to suspend judgment, enter unfamiliar places, and listen with great care. They enable us to encounter, if not understand, who we are and who we are not. Our panelists discussed their work and how the arts can accommodate
various points of view, even conflicting ones, and in the process reveal complex realities of this struggle that mainstream media often fail to address.
Sara Roy (Ed.D. Harvard University) is a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies specializing in the Palestinian economy, Palestinian Islamism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dr. Roy is also co-chair of the Middle East Seminar, jointly sponsored by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and co-chair of the Middle East Forum at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Dr. Roy began her research in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in 1985 with a focus on the economic, social and political development of the Gaza Strip and on US foreign assistance to the region. Since then she has written extensively on the Palestinian economy, particularly in Gaza, and on Gaza’s de-development, a concept she originated.
Amira Hass is the Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Territories. Born in Jerusalem, Hass is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. She joined Haaretz in 1989, and has been in her current position since 1993. As the correspondent for the territories, she spent three years living in Gaza, which served as the basis for her widely acclaimed book, Drinking the Sea at Gaza. She has lived in the West Bank city of Ramallah since 1997. Hass is also the author of two other books, both of which are compilations of her many articles.
Lisa Suhair Majaj, a Palestinian-American writer, was born in Iowa, raised in Jordan, and educated at the American University of Beirut and the University of Michigan. Her poems and essays have been published widely, and her collection Geographies of Light won the 2008 Del Sol Press Poetry Prize. Her poetry will be used in the 2016 exhibition Aftermath: The Fallout of War—America & the Middle East at the Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida. She lives in Cyprus.
Helen Zughaib was born in Beirut, Lebanon, living mostly in the Middle East and Europe before coming to the United States to study art. She received her BFA from Syracuse University, College of Visual and Performing Arts. Her work has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums in the US, Europe and Lebanon. Her paintings are included in many private collections, including the White House, World Bank, Library of Congress, American Embassy in Baghdad, and the Arab American National Museum. In 2008 she was invited to Palestine as US Cultural Envoy where she led workshops with women artists in Ramallah.