Summit 2020 | Speakers

Jeremy Ben-Ami
Keynote Speaker

Jeremy Ben-Ami is the President of J Street, bringing to the organization deep experience in American politics, a strong belief in the power of diplomacy and a passionate commitment to the state of Israel. In this role, he has been at the center of the evolving debate around Israel and US foreign policy in Washington and in the American Jewish community.

As a leading national commentator on US foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ben-Ami has been profiled in The New York Times, Washington Post and CQ. His writing has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, Politico, The Guardian and many other outlets. Ben-Ami appeared as a guest on CNN, MSNBC and the Colbert Report, and has headlined lectures, debates and public discussions in communities across the United States.

Ben-Ami was one of the leading advocates in the successful campaign to secure congressional approval for the Iran nuclear agreement. He consults regularly with leading policymakers, officials and experts on foreign policy, national security and the US-Israel relationship. A veteran political staffer, he served in the White House in the mid-1990s as an adviser to President Bill Clinton. He has worked on seven Presidential and numerous state and local campaigns, serving as Howard Dean’s National Policy Director in 2004 and co-managing a New York City mayoral campaign in 2001.

Ben-Ami received a law degree from New York University and is a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Relations at Princeton University. He lives in the suburbs of Washington DC with his wife and their two children.

Dima Khalidi
Keynote Speaker
Dima Khalidi is the founder and director of Palestine Legal, overseeing its array of legal and advocacy work to protect people speaking out for Palestinian freedom in the U.S. from attacks on their civil and constitutional rights. Based in Palestine Legal's Chicago office, she has a JD from DePaul University, a Masters from University of London - SOAS, and a BA from Michigan University.

Dima has advocated on Palestinian rights issues in media forums such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Hill, Democracy Now!, The Nation, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, The Birmingham News, Jacobin, and NPR, among others. 
Zaha Hassan
Zaha Hassan is a human rights lawyer and visiting fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Her research focus is on Palestine-Israel peace, the use of international legal mechanisms by political movements, and U.S. foreign policy in the region. Previously, she was the coordinator and senior legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team during Palestine’s bid for UN membership, and was a member of the Palestinian delegation to Quartet-sponsored exploratory talks between 2011 and 2012. She regularly participates in track II peace efforts and is a contributor to The Hill and Haaretz. Her commentaries have appeared in the New York Times, Salon, Al Jazeera English, CNN, and others.
Jessica Montell
Jessica Montell has been a leading figure in the Israeli human rights community for two decades. For thirteen years she headed B'Tselem: the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. She left B'Tselem in 2014 and served as the founding director of an Israel-Diaspora partnership called SISO: Save Israel, Stop the Occupation. Since September, Ms. Montell has served as Executive Director of HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual. Ms. Montell was selected by TheMarker as one of "the 50 most influential women in Israel for 2007." In 2013, the UK-based Action on Armed Violence selected Jessica as one of the 100 most influential people working to make the world a safer place. A frequent speaker and commentator on human rights, international humanitarian law, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ms. Montell has a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and a B.A. from Oberlin College. Originally from California, Jessica lives in Jerusalem with her husband and three children.
Bassam Nasser

As Head of Office for Catholic Relief Services in Gaza, Bassam Nasser leads a team in Gaza City focused on providing assistance for the most vulnerable populations throughout the country. He also works closely with local partners and helps them bring vital programs to people in the community.

Bassam has more than 15 years of experience in humanitarian aid, having worked with USAID partner organizations and the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution before joining CRS in 2010.

Bassam is fluent in Arabic, Hebrew and English.

Mike Yaffe
Michael Yaffe is Vice President of the Middle East and Africa Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Before joining USIP in 2017, Dr. Yaffe served in a variety of positions in the U.S. Government, most recently as the senior advisor to both the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations and the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace at the U.S. Department of State. Between 2002 and 2012, he was an academic dean and distinguished professor of strategic studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
Carla Khijoyan
Mrs. Carla Khijoyan is the Programme Executive for the Middle East at the World Council of Churches. Her responsibilities reside in ensuring ecumenical and interfaith relations in the Middle East, planning, monitoring and coordinating the programmatic work of the WCC focusing on peace building in the region, as well as responding to the emerging challenges through specific ecumenical initiatives.
Mrs. Khijoyan has been the chairperson of the Armenian Church University Students Association as well as an executive committee member of the World Student Christian Federation representing the Middle East region. She has served on the Lebanese ecumenical committee and the Middle East ecumenical committee for several years. She holds a Research Masters in Humanities from Saint Joseph University of Beirut, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Religion and Global Governance from the University of Geneva, a teaching diploma in English language and literature from Georgetown University in Washington DC.
Debra Shushan
Debra is director of government affairs at J Street, where she manages the advocacy operations and activities of the Government Affairs team. As an analyst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and US foreign policy, Dr. Shushan honed her expertise as director of policy and government relations at Americans for Peace Now. Prior to that, Debra was assistant professor of government at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, where she focused on the comparative politics and international relations of the Middle East, including the Gulf states. She was also a research fellow at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar.
Grace Al-Zoughbi Arteen
Grace Al-Zoughbi Arteen is a Christian Palestinian, born and raised in Bethlehem. Grace holds a B.A in Biblical Studies from Bethlehem Bible College and an MA in theology from the London School of Theology in 2010. Grace is currently working on her PhD also through the London School of theology.  Her thesis is on the Theological Education of Arab Women in the Middle East. Grace served as faculty at Bethlehem Bible College from 2011- 2018, and was the Head of the Biblical Studies Department, 2014-2018. Grace is married to Rev. Michael Arteen.
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon is the executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace and an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). Cannon formerly served as the senior director of Advocacy and Outreach for World Vision U.S. on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC; as consultant to the Middle East for child advocacy issues for Compassion International in Jerusalem; as the executive pastor of Hillside Covenant Church located in Walnut Creek, California; and as director of development and transformation for extension ministries at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois.

Kyle Cristofalo

Kyle holds a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Messiah College, and a Master of Divinity Degree from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Kyle was first introduced to Middle East advocacy work during a semester abroad in Cairo, Egypt. After graduating from college, Kyle spent 10 months serving with the Mennonite Central Committee in Bethlehem, Palestine, where he was seconded to work with Bethlehem Bible College. Most recently, Kyle served as the Program Assistant for Middle East Policy at the Friends Committee on Legislation where he helped coordinate lobbying work on Middle East policy and trained grassroots advocates on how to lobby their Congressional representatives.

Alison Glick

Alison lived and worked for six years in the Middle East, including three years in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and three years in Yarmouk Camp near Damascus, Syria. In Palestine she taught at the Quaker-run Friends Schools in Ramallah and worked as a human rights researcher for an NGO in Gaza City during the first Palestinian intifada. 

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