Farhat-Naser, Sumaya (Palestine)
Sumaya Farhat-Naser was born in 1948, the same year that the state of Israel was founded. She is is a Palestinian Christian peace activist in the West Bank. She grew up as the daughter of a poor Palestinian farmer in West Jordan. In her youth, Sumaya Farhat-Naser studied at a university in Germany and then went on to become a biology professor at the University of Birzeit in Palestine. She had been working for over a decade towards an understanding between Palestinians and Israelis when she was nominated for the Bruno Kreisky Prize. According to „Die Presse“she maintained that the only way to find a common ground between Israelis and Palestinians would be to acknowledge and understand the traumas that the other group had suffered.
She primarily concerned herself with dialogues between Jewish and Palestinian women. On International Women’s Prayer Day she financed a women’s institution that would hold seminars on family-planning and healthcare. With 200,000 Schillings she opened a bakery whose income will go to maintaining that women’s institution.
Mrs. Farhat-Naser encountered significant opposition to her goals from all sides. The terrorist organization Hamas, for instance, views her as a potentially dangerous radical. She continued her effort at peace through secret talks with Israeli peace activists. When she began to lose her platform due to her non-partisanship, she turned to Europe to try and raise support for her cause. In the years following her acceptance of the Bruno Kreisky Award she has continued to work for peace in the Middle East through different outlets. From 1997 to 2001 she was the head of the “Jerusalem Center for Women”). In 2008 Farhat-Naser published her journal from May of 2006 to June of 2007, to show the struggles Palestinians and Israelis face daily.