Hanan Ashrawi (b. 1946) is a Palestinian Anglican. Her family was forced to flee to Jordan during the 1948 Palestine War. During the six day war, she was studying in Beirut. She was declared an absentee by Israel and denied re-entry to the West Bank. For the next 6 years, she traveled and completed her education, including getting a PhD. from the University of Virginia. She was allowed to re-join her family in 1973. She became a leader after the first Intifada as a Palestinian Delegate to the Middle East Peace process. She has since become a leader of the Third Way party within the West Bank. In 2003 she was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize, drawing praise from the likes of Mary Robinson (former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) and Bishop Tutu. She is not without her critics (such as making statements denying the conditions of Jewish refugees from Arab countries), but people such as Israeli politician Yael Dayan “think she’s very courageous, and she contributes quite a lot to the peace process.”
While optimism is vital to peacemaking, so is realism. Here are Ashrawi’s comments following one previous accord: “Beyond the emotionalism and the obvious sense of relief on all sides, I think that there is a recognition that reality may intrude, that perhaps the steps ahead and the days ahead are going to be much more difficult than one expects.” In what ways might our work for peace and our resistance to change be creating conflict in our own lives and community?