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Israeli Peace Activist Will Speak at KSC

NOTE TO EDITORS: Yehezkel Landau is available for interviews. He can be reached in Israel at 973-701-8877 until Feb. 28. After that date, please contact Professor Theberge (see below) for Mr. Landaus details. A JPEG of Mr. Landau is also available and can be e-mailed out.

KEENE, N.H. 2/15/02 Over a decade ago, Yehezkel and Dalia Landau transformed their home in Ramle, Israel, into Open House, a community center for Muslim, Christian, and Jewish people to meet and share a vision of peace. Open House, says Yehezkel Landau, symbolizes the challenge of two peoples sharing a land that they both believe is theirs.

Landau, co-founder and international director of Open House, will speak about the center and the peace movement in Israel at Keene State College on Wednesday, March 13, at 7 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room of the Student Center. The event is free and open to the public.

In his talk Waging Peace in a Culture of Violence, Landau will address how Open House has attempted to reconcile differences between Arab and Jewish people in Ramle. Open House has two goals, he says. It provides educational and social opportunities for Arab children and their families through the Center for the Development of the Arab Child. Open House also serves as a meeting place through its Center for Jewish-Arab Coexistence. The center sponsors a number of activities including an annual summer peace camp for children and programs to help Jewish and Arab teachers prepare coexistence programs for use in their classrooms.

The story of the founding of Open House mirrors the problems Israel faces today. Landaus wife, Dalia, was two years old in 1948 when her parents, refugees from Bulgaria, were settled in an empty property. Twenty years later, answering a knock at the door, she discovered members of the original Arab owners asking to visit their former home.

The experience affected her so deeply that when her parents died and she inherited the house in 1989, she contacted the family, the Al-Kheirys, and offered it back to them. By that time the Al-Kheirys were on the wrong side of the West Banks Green Line and were unable to accept it. The Al-Kheirys and the Landaus reached an agreement that the house would be used both to serve the 20 percent Arab population of the town as a kindergarten and as a center for programs designed to reconcile Jews and Palestinians.

Originally from the U.S. and educated at Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School, Landau moved to Israel in 1978 to work in the peace movement. Before founding Open House, he served as an interfaith educator at several Christian ecumenical institutes. He lectures internationally on Judaism and Middle East peace issues, has authored numerous articles in various journals, and is co-editor of Voices from Jerusalem: Jews and Christians Reflect on the Holy Land.

For more information, contact Susan Theberge, KSC assistant professor of education, at 603-358-2863.

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