(NEW YORK)— Amid a crisis of polarization and fragmentation in discourse in the United States over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, PEN America will use its annual general meeting on Monday, Dec. 11 for a conversation examining the challenge of keeping civil and open dialogue alive.

The in-person event will take place from 7-9 p.m. at Scholastic headquarters in Manhattan. There will be a live stream. Register here.  Journalists should also RSVP to [email protected]

As the devastating bloodshed from the war continues, PEN America will gather its members and supporters to cultivate a space where writers and thinkers can listen, engage, learn, and narrow differences if possible.

The conflict has surfaced divisions in the United States, challenging institutions across society, including the arts, universities, and civil society.  In the vanguard of free expression advocacy at home and abroad, the 101-year-old PEN America seeks to advance robust free speech as integral to a just society.

A panel drawn from the worlds of culture, journalism, global affairs, and the law will look at the ripple effects of the war on these ecosystems in the United States though not the conflict per se and its terrible human cost.

Participants for the Conversation Amid Crisis: Sustaining Dialogue in Divided Times will include award-winning fiction and nonfiction writer Zaina Arafat; journalist and translator Yair Rosenberg; journalist, editor, and cultural critic Judith Shulevitz; writer and former director of the Arab-Israeli Project at the International Crisis Group Nathan Thrall; and author, lawyer, and equity advocate Kenji Yoshino. The in-person audience will be invited to join the discussion and continue the conversation in a post-event reception.

The panel will address the breadth of the fallout at home from the war: events canceled, awards reconsidered, alliances broken, a crisis of protest on college campuses, and for writers and artists the fear of expressing their personal views as others speak out loudly.

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel recently wrote that the organization’s mission must be to “persevere and to engage with doubters and critics, recognizing the many-sided nature of a dispute that dates back millennia and has confounded generations of diplomats and statesmen.”

She wrote: “We are striving to keep alive a spirit of open dialogue, conversation and exchange, believing that these offer the only route to bridge across divisions.”  

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057