Middle East Studies

Hanan Ashrawi: Lecture on "Process vs. Peace"

Sunday, September 1 –
Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2013 brought the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Peace Accords. The agreement signed between the Israeli government of Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat marked the creation of the Palestinian Authority. However, the Oslo Accords did not settle issues of statehood, borders, refugees, or settlements. To mark this historic moment, Middle East Studies has organized a year-long series of events related to this issue. The events explore such questions as: What is the “Peace Process?” What changed on the ground? And what are the possible futures of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a key participant at the talks, kicked off the series of events with a lecture titled “Process vs. Peace.” On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Principles (DOP) on the White House lawn, Dr. Ashrawi addressed the major structural, procedural and substantive flaws inherent in the “process” launched at that date and how the “process” took over to displace peace as an objective. The role of the United States as a third party, as well as suggestions for rectification, was also addressed.

About Dr. Ashrawi

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi is an acclaimed Palestinian leader, legislator, activist and scholar. Making history as the first woman to be elected to the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2009, she currently holds a seat in this organization, the highest executive body in Palestine. She has been a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 1996 and was also appointed as the Palestinian Authority Minister of Higher Education and Research in the same year. Dr. Ashrawi also served as a member of the Leadership Committee and as an official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace process, beginning with the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991. As a civil society activist, she founded MIFTAH, the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, in 1999 and continues to serve as head of its Board of Directors. In the same year, Dr. Ashrawi founded the National Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN). Moreover, she is the founder of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) and has served as its Commissioner since 1994. As an academic, she founded and chaired the Department of English at Birzeit University and became Dean of the Faculty of Arts. For all her work, she is the recipient of a number of honorary degrees as well as distinguished awards from various international and local organizations.

Student Perspective

“Fortunately for the world, the idealism of hope has not yet eluded Dr. Hanan Ashrawi. Though she speaks in a tone of impatience, her ambitions are steadfast. She dares to tell her truth, in a field tormented by censorship and language politics; her words born out of an incredible love for her people. Further, she meets reality with a stoic ethic and strong-minded practicality, qualities which relate the hardships endured by Palestinians in their ongoing struggle to maintain dignity. Perhaps the most striking element of Dr. Ashrawi’s lecture “Process Versus Peace” was her ability to offer insights that went beyond the obvious, challenging seemingly nonnegotiable truths and reopening questions for collective solutions. She started her lecture by addressing the transformations of the Oslo Accords, namely how the process itself became the end, an overdetermined rhetoric used at the expense of peace, which has ultimately suspended Palestinians in a state of indefinite postponement. At the center of her lecture was a demand for equality of rights. According to Dr. Ashrawi, equality of rights, backed by international rule of law and facilitated through democratic process, would safeguard Palestinian civil representation, guarantee basic freedoms and permit reengagement in negotiations on equal terms. Likewise, it would strengthen the Palestinian national identity, advance prospects of achieving security, statehood, and sovereignty and provide the legitimate channels of discourse necessary for building a robust civil society. At this stage, equality of rights is the most moral, legal and responsible means of moving forward. Throughout her lecture, Dr. Ashrawi came to represent so much more than her many distinguished titles promise; foremost, she is a humanitarian with an unbreakable Palestinian spirit. It was truly a privilege to have her at Brown.”

-Tiffany Zarabi-Aazam ‘13.5