Mesa Community College held their first virtual Civic Action Hour of the Spring semester on January 24, and featured a talk hosted by Maha Nassar who spoke on Palestinian rights.
The Center for Community and Civic Engagement presented Maha Nassar, an associate professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona, where she specializes in Palestinian cultural and intellectual history.
Nassar studied at the University of Chicago and graduated with a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
The Civic Action Hour showcased by Nassar was titled “From the River to the Sea: Palestinian Visions of Freedom and Peace.” Her talk focused on the origins of the phrase and how it reflects Palestinian views about the past, present, and future.
Nassar spoke to virtual attendees to share her experience “which relates to my own research on Palestinian history and culture,” said Nassar.
“I’m interested in the ways in which Palestinians understand their own history and how it compares to how that history and culture is understood by others, especially here in the US,” Nassar added.
Nassar began her talk with a brief geography of Palestine and described where the state is located. She followed this up with some history of the Palestinian culture, and spoke about the beginning of the conflict in Palestine in 1948 with the start of the Arab-Israeli War.
The second part of Nassar’s talk focused on Palestine’s vision of freedom, which dove into the historical context behind Palestine’s struggle for freedom and what the Palestinian people hoped freedom would look like in the future. According to Nassar, Palestine continues to fight for the removal of Israeli occupation on Palestinian land, allowing Palestinians to elect their own government and refugees to return to their home.
Nassar’s talk ended on how Palestinians can move toward a just peace. According to Nassar, freedom and peace cannot be at odds with one another, they must go hand in hand. She addressed the ways that Palestinian’s are fighting for their freedom, and the actions that can be taken to achieve peace by using our voices and continuing to speak out about a free Palestine.
At the end of the hour, the floor was opened up to Nassar for a brief Q and A session. Any students, faculty, and staff that were in attendance had the opportunity to ask Nassar their questions related to the topic, and she answered as many as she could at that time.
“We should be having more conversations about a free Palestine, what a free Palestine should look like, not less,” said Nassar.
“And if we are to find a glimmer of hope in this group we have to decide once and for all, will we allow for Palestinians to finally have their freedom? Will we work together to find a political solution that guarantees freedom for everyone living between the river and the sea, or will we not,” Nassar added.
Students that were not able to attend the talk or are interested in more information can find a copy of Nassar’s book, “Brothers Apart: Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Arab World” at the MCC Libraries.
Civic Action Hour is held over Zoom every Tuesday of the Spring semester from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Students that would like to attend can find the zoom link on the MCC website.