As war erupts and escalates in Israel/Palestine, Kroc Institute hosts standing room-only ‘teach-in’ to answer questions for Notre Dame faculty, staff and students

Author: Kate Chester

The world watched in horror and disbelief as Israel/Palestine imploded on Saturday, Oct. 7. The following week saw one of the bloodiest, most violent episodes in the region’s history for both Israelis and Palestinians in their long standing battle, one that isn’t likely to end anytime soon.

The week also saw the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies put its mission into action.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, the Institute hosted an on-campus ‘teach-in’ on the war underway – ‘The Israel/Palestine Escalation: The Current Chapter of a Long History.’ The event was moderated by Ebrahim Moosa, the Mirza Family Professor of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies, Keough School of Global Affairs, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and Department of History. The panel was made up by Daniel Bannoura, a Theology doctoral student; Mary Ellen O'Connell, the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and a concurrent professor of International Peace Studies, Kroc Institute; and Atalia Omer, professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute. A detailed recap of the panel can be found on the Contending Modernities website, a program of the Kroc Institute that is co-directed by Moosa and Omer.

Panelists (from left) Mary Ellen O'Connell,
Daniel Bannoura, Atalia Omer, Ebrahim Moosa

“Our faculty and staff quickly and smoothly responded to the situation, in service to our community,” said Erin B. Corcoran, executive director for the Kroc Institute. “It was a collective effort that demonstrated our commitment to education and care in the midst of a spectrum of emotions felt by faculty, staff and students.”

The panel took place in the auditorium of the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. Hundreds attended, with many standing or sitting on the floor near the stage, simply for the chance to hear what the panelists had to say. Such a grass roots’ feel produced a sensitive Q&A session with the Notre Dame audience, allowing for vulnerability and compassion as attendees processed news of what was happening on the ground.

“The event was intellectual, educational, emotional and raw for all involved,” said Corcoran. “It was a teachable moment, and we used it wisely as our panel fielded questions from the audience.”

Fittingly, the event was hosted on the 20th anniversary of the passing of philanthropist Joan B. Kroc, founder of the Kroc Institute in partnership with Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., who served as president of the University of Notre Dame for 35 years.

“Encouraging dialogue was a main objective of Mrs. Kroc’s and part of her vision for what the Kroc Institute should stand for,” added Corcoran. “I’m confident she would have said ‘well done’ had she been with us for last week’s teach-in.”

The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies is part of the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.