I taxied to the Ennahda conference in Al Kram, a […]
Matthew Gordner began pursuing activism and academics in his hometown of Toronto, Ontario, while enrolled in an undergraduate degree at York University in philosophy and political science. Unsettled by the largely unproductive nature of protests surrounding conflicts in Israel and Palestine, Matthew undertook a Master's degree in Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University to better understand the competing narratives and competing truths endemic to the region. Upon traveling, researching, and living throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Matthew's primary academic focus shifted from conflicts in Israel and Palestine to Islamic and Arab democratic theory and politics. His Master's thesis at TAU argued against the imposition of Western liberal democracy in MENA in favor of a political model articulated and enacted by the people of MENA states. Applying his previous research to contemporary politics, Matthew conducted a survey of democratic attitudes in MENA for his second Master's thesis at the University of Alberta's Department of Political Science. Once again confronted by the polarized and polemical nature of Israeli and Palestinian activism on campus, Matthew founded a graduate student organization in order to facilitate meaningful and inclusive dialogue on Israeli and Palestinian conflicts. Over time, The Peace by Piece Initiative became a not-for-profit organization and expanded to include sensitive issues of local and global scope including: Middle Eastern and Africa politics; environmental politics; gender and sexuality; the politics of the North; and dialogical theory. The organization's activities are ongoing across Canada and MENA. In 2009, through a George Mason University program on peace and conflict resolution, Matthew interned with the Palestinian National Authority where he worked in the Multilateral Sector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His portfolio work included issues of democracy, human rights, and Palestinian statehood. As of 2011-2012, Matthew was a fellow in Israel through the Dorot Foundation, where he researched Israeli politics and the Jewish State/Democratic State paradigm, while engaging in Jewish leadership, learning, and volunteerism. He has also worked as a Senior Analyst at a South African consulting firm where he wrote tailored briefs and reports on democratic transition, conflict, and freedom movements; and as an intern for The Daily Beast's Zion Square.
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