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University of Iowa News Release

May 24, 2006

Sultan Explores Israeli/Palestinian Divide In June 7 Reading

Cathy Sultan, author of the acclaimed memoir "Beirut Heart," will read from "Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides" -- just out in paperback -- at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. The reading will originate in a free event hosted by Julie Englander in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Sultan, who sits on the executive board of The National Peace Foundation, flew to Israel-Palestine to interview people on the both sides of the political/religious divide. This book is the result of her painstaking research and probing interviews.

Sultan grew up in the United States with a yearning to experience other cultures. Her dreams came true in 1969 when she moved with her Lebanese husband and two small children to Beirut, Lebanon -- a city then known for its welcoming residents, lovely Mediterranean climate and exotic blend of Arab and Western culture.

For six years she led the life of her dreams. Her home was a rooftop apartment with a terrace full of flowers and a breathtaking view of the city. She was accepted and loved as a Lebanese. Her husband had a successful medical practice and her children were growing up speaking English, French and Arabic.

But in April 1975, the Phalange militia attacked the Palestinians in East Beirut and this was the spark that set off fighting all over the country. Sultan's tranquil tree-lined street, two blocks from the National Museum, became a deadly territorial divide, the infamous Green Line, separating East from West Beirut.

That experience resulted in "A Beirut Heart: One Woman's War," a memoir about her experience as a wife and mother living day-to-day for eight years of the bloody Lebanese Civil War.

Sultan, now a grandmother, resides in Eau Claire, Wis., and she directs Middle East education projects for the National Peace Foundation. She is also involved with "Women in Black," a group that stands in silent vigil to protest war, ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses.

As an American, Sultan feels enormous responsibility for being part of a political system that proclaims itself the bastion of freedom. Determined to do something, she flew to Israel-Palestine to see for herself what all the suicide bombing and village bulldozing was about.

Partly due to her involvement with the National Peace Foundation, Sultan was able to set up a network of contacts on both sides of the political/religious divide, and she talked with them about their beliefs and hopes for the future.

Through Sultan's account, readers discover that, in fact, it is only a vocal, influential and politically powerful few who advocate exclusivity, conflict and continued injustice. The vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians stand for equality, human rights and peaceful existence.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,