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Youth summit for peace in Jerusalem opens with interfaith prayer for peace, artistic presentations and musical performances

02/07/2017

Youth from five continents join Palestinian and Israeli students, religious and academic leaders, in answer to Pope Francis' call for peacebuilding through the culture of encounter

75 Christian, Jewish and Muslim youth from around the world gathered at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem today for a unique summit, in answer to Pope Francis' call to create a culture of encounter for peace. Students age 15 and 16 from Argentina, Brazil, Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, and other countries joined their Palestinian and Israeli counterparts for 4 days of learning through arts, sports, technology, and living together.

At the opening ceremony, young people expressed their hopes for peace through a variety of artistic presentations. Students from Burundi and Congo performed a song in Swahili; Palestinian students from Shu'afat and Beit Hanina performed "Imagine" by John Lennon; and Jewish high school students sang of peace in Hebrew.

Three senior religions leaders, representing the three Abrahamic faiths, gave opening benedictions as part of an interreligious prayer for peace: Kadi Iyad Zahalka, The Kadi of Jerusalem and the Head of the Sharia Courts of Israel; His Eminence Mons. Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel; and Rabbi Michael Melchior, former Israeli Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs and Head of the Middle East Religious Initiative for Peace.

The summit, from July 2-5, 2017, is co-organized by the Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes ("Scholas") and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace ("Truman Institute") at the Hebrew University. Within the framework of this gathering, two major events are taking place: “Scholas Chairs International Congress 2017: Between University and School - Peacebuilding through Culture of Encounter” and “Interreligious Citizenship Encounter.”

The closing ceremony on July 5 is expected to include greetings from Pope Francis, together with the planting of a traditional olive tree for peace in his name, as students describe their experiences and present their works of art and their social projects.

Among the dignitaries present representing Scholas Occurentes were José María del Corral, President of the Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes; and for the Holy See, His Eminence Mons. Angelo Zani, General Secretary of the Congregation For Catholic Education and His Eminence Mons. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Vice President of Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes and Great Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. 

Attending from the Hebrew University were Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, President; Prof. Asher Cohen, Rector and President-Elect; Amb. Yossi Gal, Vice President for Advancement and External Relations; and Ms. Naama Shpeter, Executive Director of the Truman Institute and Conference Chair.

Speaking at a meeting with leaders of Scholas and the Hebrew University at his residence on February 7, Pope Francis said: “Religion can bring us together and teach us to create the bonds of friendship. With the intuition of Scholas and the intelligence and history of the Hebrew University, I am sure that this will produce great changes in the world.”

Scholas (http://web.scholasoccurrentes.org/en) is an international educational organization created by Pope Francis when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, which was adopted as a global youth project of the Vatican, to educate young people in the commitment for the common good.

The Truman Institute (http://truman.huji.ac.il) is the first and largest research institute in the Middle East to examine conflict resolution and propose peaceful solutions for the region, and fostering discussion and understanding on the challenges facing Israelis and Palestinians and the citizens of the developing world.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel’s leading academic and research institution, is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world. Founded in 1918 by visionaries including Albert Einstein, the Hebrew University is a pluralistic institution where science and knowledge are advanced for the benefit of humankind. For more information, please visit http://new.huji.ac.il/en.

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Youth summit for peace in Jerusalem opens with interfaith prayer for peace, artistic presentations and musical performances
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Israeli and Palestinian Researchers Cooperate to Find Risk Factors for B Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

21/02/2017

In both groups, recreational sun exposure, black hair-dye use, a history of hospitalization for infection, and having a first-degree relative with a blood cancer were associated with B-NHL. Each group had unique risk factors too.

Non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL), tumors which may originate from B or T lymphocytes, account for approximately 3% of the worldwide cancer burden. Most epidemiological studies of NHL have been carried out in North American and European populations, with a few focusing on East Asian populations. Very few epidemiological studies have been conducted on B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL) in Middle Eastern populations.

Since Israelis and Palestinians represent genetically and culturally diverse populations living in geographic proximity, research analyzing their risk factors can enrich our understanding of genes and environment in the causation of lymphoma. Despite sharing the same ecosystem, the populations differ in terms of lifestyle, health behaviors and medical systems. Yet both populations report high incidences of NHL, which represents the fifth most common malignancy in Israel and the eighth most common malignancy among West Bank Palestinians. (As of 2012, Israel also ranked first in the world in NHL incidence rates.)

Now, Israeli and Palestinian researchers have conducted a large scale epidemiological study examining risk factors for B-NHL and its subtypes in these two populations. The team was led by Prof. Ora Paltiel, Director of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, in the Hebrew University's Faculty of Medicine, and a Senior Physician in Hadassah's Hematology Department.

Recruiting from both the Palestinian Arab and Israeli Jewish populations, the researchers looked at medical history, environmental and lifestyle factors among 823 people with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL) and 808 healthy controls. Using data from questionnaires, pathology review, serology and genotyping, they uncovered some risk factors common to both populations and other factors unique to each population.

The data, reported in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, showed that in both populations, overall B-NHL was associated with recreational sun exposure, black hair-dye use, a history of hospitalization for infection, and having a first-degree relative with a blood cancer. An inverse association was noted with alcohol use. Some exposures, including smoking and greater-than-monthly indoor pesticide use, were associated with specific subtypes of B-NHL.

The data also pointed to differences between the populations. Among Palestinian Arabs only, risk factors included gardening and a history of herpes, mononucleosis, rubella, or blood transfusion, while these factors were not identified in the Israeli Jewish population. In contrast, risk factors that applied to Israeli Jews only included growing fruits and vegetables, and self-reported autoimmune diseases.

The researchers concluded that differences in the observed risk factors by ethnicity could reflect differences in lifestyle, medical systems, and reporting patterns, while variations by lymphoma subtypes infer specific causal factors for different types of the disease. These findings require further investigation as to their mechanisms.

The fact that risk factors operate differently in different ethnic groups raises the possibility of gene-environment interactions, that is, that environmental exposures act differently in individuals of different genetic backgrounds. But this divergence may reflect differences in diet, cultural habits, socioeconomic, environmental and housing conditions, medical services, exposure to infections in early life or other factors.

This study reflects a unique joint scientific effort involving Israeli and Palestinian investigators, and demonstrates the importance of cooperative research even in politically uncertain climates. Cancer epidemiology will be enriched through the broadening of analytic research to include under-studied populations from a variety of ethnicities and geographic regions.

“Apart from the scientific contribution that this research provides in terms of understanding risk factors for NHL, the study entails an important research cooperation among many institutions. The study provided opportunities for training Palestinian and Israeli researchers, and will provide for intellectual interaction for years to come. The data collected will also provide a research platform for the future study of lymphoma. Epidemiologic research has the potential to improve and preserve human health, and it can also serve as a bridge to dialogue among nations,” said Prof. Ora Paltiel, Director of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and a Senior Physician in Hadassah's Hematology Department.

Participating institutions in this research included:  Braun School of  Public Health and Community Medicine, and Depts. of Hematology and Pathology, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center; Dept. of Medical Laboratory Sciences and  Dept. of Community Medicine,  Faculty of Medicine, Al Quds University; Cancer Care Center, Augusta Victoria Hospital; Beit Jalla Hospital; Department of Statistics, Hebrew University; Department of Primary Health Care, Palestinian Ministry of Health; Tisch Cancer Institute and Institute for Translational Epidemiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Rambam Medical Center and Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion; Chaim Sheba Medical Center and Meir Medical Center and Tel Aviv University.

FUNDING: This study was supported by the MERC/USAID grant #TA-MOU-11-M31-025; by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grant #877/10; and by the Hadassah University Hospital Compensatory Fund. 

CITATION: Ethnic Variation in Medical and Lifestyle Risk Factors for B cell non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Case-Control Study among Israelis and Palestinians. Geffen Kleinstern, Rania Abu Seir, Riki Perlman, Areej Khatib, Ziad Abdeen, Husein Elyan, Ronit Nirel, Gail Amir, Asad Ramlawi, Fouad Sabatin, Paolo Boffetta, Eldad J. Dann, Meirav Kedmi, Martin Ellis, Arnon Nagler, Dina Ben Yehuda, Ora Paltiel.  PLoS ONE 12(2): e0171709. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0171709. Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171709

Israeli and Palestinian Researchers Cooperate to Find Risk Factors for B Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
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Dame Helen Mirren Meets Arab and Jewish Students at Hebrew University's Billy Crystal Program for Peace Through the Performing Arts

26/06/2016

Dame Helen Mirren, one of the world’s best-known and most respected actresses, met on Thursday with Arab and Jewish theatre students who participate in The Billy Crystal Program for Peace Through the Performing Arts, at the Department of Theatre Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Dame Helen was welcomed to the Hebrew University by its President, Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson; the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Prof. Dror Wahrman; and Chair of the Department of Theatre Studies and Director of the Billy Crystal Program, Dr. Jeanette Malkin.

At the University’s Garage Theatre, Dame Helen met with Arab and Jewish students who discussed their experiences of acting in both Arabic and Hebrew. They gave a live performance, directed by voice/sound artist Dr. Josef Sprinzak, in both languages.  

She also visited the Theatre Archive and Museum, where artist-teacher Emanuella Amichai, an acclaimed choreographer and performance director who has won international awards for her non-verbal performance plays, introduced her work with Palestinian-Israeli student Elham Mahamid, Place-Identity, which was performed at the Jerusalem Bible Lands Museum last year as part of the closing event of the Jerusalem Art Festival.

At the Hebrew University’s Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive, Dame Helen took a “selfie” with a picture of her good friend, Billy Crystal. It was through Crystal’s recent eulogy of Muhammad Ali that Dame Helen heard about The Billy Crystal Program for Peace Through the Performing Arts.

Crystal said in his eulogy of Muhammad Ali (video link: https://youtu.be/wdmU6MMW5bg?t=441): “We were always there for each other. If [Ali] needed me for something, I was there. He came to anything I asked him to do. Most memorable, he was an honorary chairman for a dinner in a very important event where I was being honored by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem… The most famous Muslim man in the world, honoring his Jewish friend. [APPLAUSE] And, because he was there, we raised a great deal of money, and I was able to use it to endow the university in Jerusalem with something that I told him about. And it was something that he loved the theory of, and it thrives to this day. It’s called ‘Peace Through the Performing Arts.’ It’s a theater group where Israeli, Arab, and Palestinian actors, writers and directors all work together in peace, creating original works of art. [APPLAUSE] And that doesn’t happen without him.”

Established at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem through the initiative and generosity of the renowned Jewish-American actor Billy Crystal, The Billy Crystal Program for Peace through the Performing Arts is dedicated to promoting a humanistic society based on dialogic relations and peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Theatre artists and students, both Jews and Arabs, participate in a wide range of laboratory classes, workshops, master classes and special projects and performances. This unique program functions as a social and cultural bridge encouraging understanding and identifying with the “other” through collaborative theatre work.

About The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s leading university and premier research institution. Founded in 1918 by such innovative thinkers as Albert Einstein, Martin Buber and Sigmund Freud, the Hebrew University is a pluralistic institution where science and knowledge are advanced for the benefit of humankind. The Hebrew University is ranked internationally among the top 100 universities in the world, and first among Israeli universities. Serving 23,500 students from 85 countries, the Hebrew University produces a third of Israel’s civilian research and its faculty are at the forefront of the international academic and scientific communities. For more information, please visit http://new.huji.ac.il/en.

Dame Helen Mirren Meets Arab and Jewish Students at Hebrew University's Billy Crystal Program for Peace Through the Performing Arts
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