August 22, 2021
9 pm I/P / 1:00 pm CDT / 11:00 am PDT

Join co-author Sulaiman Khatib as he shares how his activism became deeply rooted in the belief that we must ground all work—from dialogue to direct action to healing—in recognition of the history and humanity of the other. In this inspiring conversation about peacebuilding, Khatib reveals how he became convinced that Palestinian freedom can flourish alongside Jewish connection to the land where he was born.

Read “In This Place Together” and register for Book Circle.



July 11, 2021
9 pm I/P / 1:00 pm CDT / 11:00 am PDT

Hands of Peace Founder Gretchen Grad joined cultural guides Aziz Abu Sarah and Kim Passy Yoseph from Mejdi Tours as they shared Israeli and Palestinian variations of Shakshuka, a popular Middle Eastern recipe. Hands of Peace alumni also joined the 60-minute Zoom cooking session as we all discovered the cultural influences and historical background of this delicious dish.

Go here for the Mejdi Tours Shakshuka Recipe.


From Elections to Al-Aqsa: What’s Happening in Israel/Palestine and What Happens Next

Sunday, May 23, 2021 – 9 pm I/P, 1 pm CDT, 11 am PDT
Hands of Peace Executive Director Scott Rasmussen and Board member Reem Ghunaim, Executive Director of Rotarian Action Group for Peace, were joined by Palestinian Aziz Abu Sarah, a TED Fellow, peacebuilder, and co-founder of Mejdi Tours, and Israeli Gershon Baskin, a political and social entrepreneur and a researcher of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and peace process.

This Community Circles event explored what is currently happening, how we got there, and what our Hands of Peace community can do to act for peace in building a future of self-determination and security for Israelis and Palestinians.

Watch Recording Here.


For our Hands of Peace community members — we hope you’ll choose to learn more about the situation in Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah that has spread to other cities in Israel and Palestine, resulting in hundreds of injuries, deadly rocket fire in Israel, and fatal bombings in Gaza. Here are many different panels that offer perspectives on the history, current events and potential paths forward in the current crisis.  ​

The Humans Behind the Headlines

Friday, May 21, 1 pm EDT
Israel/Palestine continues to dominate news headlines with escalating reports of violence and destruction. But behind each number and each story is a human being with dreams, fears, and passions. Many are even fighting for a shared future in the land, and their stories deserve to be told.

Join Telos to hear from Palestinians and Israelis on the ground as they shed light on life under such difficult circumstances, and what it will take to build a future of mutual flourishing for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Watch Recording here.

The Palestinian Nakba: What Happened in 1948 and Why It Still Matters

Middle East Institute
Recorded Monday, May 10, 2021  Watch recording here.

Crisis in Jerusalem and What’s Next in Israeli Politics?

Recorded Tuesday, May 11, 2021  Watch recording here.

Jerusalem Crisis: What’s Happening, What’s Being Done, What’s Needed

New Israel Fund
Recorded Wednesday, May 12, 2021  Watch recording here.

Crossing Boundaries: An Open Conversation about Escalating Conflict in Israel/Palestine

Mejdi Tours Livestream
Recorded Thursday, May 13th, 2021 Watch recording here.



With deep sorrow for the violence and loss of life in Israel and Palestine, we cancelled the Hands of Peace Virtual Benefit on Sunday, May 16. We must put aside “business as usual” to focus on our Middle East staff and alumni, many of whom are facing serious threats in their own homes. 

Together, all of us have the power to stand for peace and justice during these times of division and conflict. Whether you’re new to Hands of Peace or an alumus(na), long time volunteer, host family or parent, you can grow this thriving network of young agents of change and watch their positive impact ripple around the world.

To  speak out against the escalating violence in Israel/Palestine, many of you joined our 5K Walk for Peace. To see the pictures gathered from many parts of the world during Walk the Talk Benefit Week go here.


Saturday, April 10, 2021 – John Lyndon, ALLMEP Executive Director, and Huda Abuarquob, ALLMEP Regional Director joined Hands of Peace Executive Director Scott Rasmussen for a powerful and inspiring conversation about people-to-people peacebuilding and the impact of the historic passage of the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA).  A coalition of over 125 organizations – including Hands of Peace – the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) is the largest and fastest-growing network of Palestinian and Israeli peacebuilders.


Sunday, February 14, 2021 – The discussion about the film ‘Til Kingdom Come and the issues it raises included a panel with Israeli filmmakers Maya Zinshtein and Abie Troen, and Palestinian Pastor Munther Isaac, moderated by Hands of Peace Executive Director Scott Rasmussen. 


Grassroots movements that create spaces for dialogue and action across lines of difference form an essential building block of sustainable peace. What are the unique advantages and challenges to these efforts, and how do you create ethical frameworks that pursue open opportunities for exchange while also calling participants into action that maximizes dignity, security, and freedom for all?

Those questions and more were answered by Hands of Peace alumni Stav Arnon and Elias Hawila and Executive Director Scott Rasmussen in the first of a Telos Webinar Series, “Peacemaking from Bottom to Top” on January 26. To view the entire webinar see below. If you are interested in the rest of the Telos series go here.



“Choose not to look, however, at your own peril. The owner of an old house knows that whatever you are ignoring will never go away. Whatever is lurking will fester whether you choose to look or not. Ignorance is no protection from the consequences of inaction. Whatever you are wishing away will gnaw at you until you gather the courage to face what you would rather not see.”
― Isabel Wilkerson, Caste

Beautifully written, original and revealing, Caste is an immersive, deeply researched narrative exploring how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system. Using compelling stories about people —including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, and the author herself —Isabel Wilkerson shows the ways that the insidious undertow of Caste is experienced every day. Read Caste, named the #1 Nonfiction Book of the Year by Time Magazine and a #1 New York Times Bestseller, then join Hands of Peace for the March Virtual Book Circle, Sunday, March 14, 3:00 pm CDT, 1:00 pm PDT. 

Crossing Boundaries: A Traveler’s Guide to World Peace

More than 30 alumni, parents, and supporters from the Hands of Peace community came together for a candid and engaging discussion about “Crossing Boundaries: A Traveler’s Guide to World Peace” in November with author Aziz Abu Sarah.

During Founder Gretchen Grad’s interview with Aziz you learned how good travelers are driven by curiosity and how you can be an ambassador in people to people diplomacy. After Gretchen’s interview, participants gathered for breakout discussions about satisfying the travel itch during COVID and making more meaningful connections when you are finally able to make that next trip.

Go here to watch Gretchen’s interview with Aziz 

How to Be an Antiracist

More than 50 alumni, parents, and supporters from the Hands of Peace community came together Sunday, August 16, for an open, candid and courageous discussion about “How to Be an Antiracist.” Hands of Peace Outreach Coordinator and alumna Maeve Plunkett joined with Raising Youth Voices Program Coordinator Dania Zanaid to co-host the Hands of Peace Virtual Book Circle, in partnership with the San Diego Diplomacy Council.

Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Publisher’s Weekly, “How to Be an Antiracist” is the featured book for the Hands of Peace August Virtual Book Circle. Praised as “The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind” (New York Times), Kendi’s groundbreaking work brings a new approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality.

Take Action to Address Racism: Curated by youth from Hands of Peace: Raising Youth Voices, this helpful list includes actions to take, resources and organizations to support.



Hands of Peace welcomes alumni Nour Abdelmonem, Charles Manning and Lexie Tucker to the new Community Circles Committee (CCC).
Nour, 2010-2011, is a first-year consultant and workstream leader at EY-Parthenon. Charles, 2011-2012, is a law student at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. Lexie, 2018-2019, recently finished her third semester at Mira Costa Community College and hopes to work in Nablus teaching children later this year.
Nour, Charles and Lexie join longtime Hands of Peace volunteers Dianne Nichols, Mary Scherr and Melinda Wynar to research, recommend and plan Community Circles including panels, learning conversations, and book and film discussions.