Making a name for herself

Josephs noticed the absence of women as decisionmakers in the Middle East a while ago, she said, so the fact that the residents of the Middle East Coexistence House are all women is no coincidence. Since 1948, women have had a minimal role in making high-level policy in the Middle East, Josephs said. (Golda Meir is the exception that proves the rule.) "To think that half the population in the Middle East has not been involved is unbelievable to me," said Josephs. Though she admires female leaders such as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of her biggest role models has been her mother, Debra Josephs, who was forced to fend for two young children after a messy divorce. Debra also made her start in Middle East conflict resolution as a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem just before the Yom Kippur War. She met Josephs' father, a paratrooper, during the war when she was working at the burn unit at Hadassah Hospital. But life eventually moved her in another direction. "It's very simple; (Danielle) is living my dream," Debra said. At 21, Danielle Josephs has already managed to make a name for herself. She was recently named one of Glamour magazine's winners in the annual Top 10 College Women Competition for her work. She received a $2,000 scholarship toward her undergraduate tuition and a biography and photo feature in the October issue of the magazine. "I have always been interested in what makes conflict and how we solve it," Josephs said. Her goal for the future is to work in the US State Department as a Middle East envoy. One thing Jews and Muslims share is their sense of dual identity, Josephs said. Both "reap the benefits of America" but their hearts are with their homeland. "At the end of the day," she asked, "if you are forced to decide who you side with, who do you side with?" At this stage in her life, she can't yet answer that question, but ultimately she said she believes that having grown up in America has provided her with more to offer than she would have received in Israel. "As an American Jew, I know how to navigate the political system," she stated, "and I think you should work with what you know best."- M.L.