Dr. Walid Shomaly, a distinguished alumnus of the Scholar Rescue Fund, has been an assistant professor of chemistry at Bethlehem University in the West Bank for the past twenty-two years. Since 2003, he has also been Executive Director of the Palestinian Center for Research and Cultural Dialogue, a polling, research, and education organization that promotes public awareness of democratic processes through cultural dialogue. Through his work at the Center, he has been involved in developing effective polling strategies and vehicles for gauging and reporting on Palestinian public opinion. His publications focus particularly on sensitive topics surrounding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including, for example, attitudes towards Hamas or towards suicide bombers. Because of the nature of his work and interaction with relatively senior members of Hamas, Dr. Shomaly‘s work environment became increasingly perilous.
With the SRF fellowship in 2005, he was the first SRF scholar to be hosted at the Amman Center for Peace and Development in Jordan, a country that later would provide a safe academic environment to SRF fellowship recipients from Iraq. For six months Dr. Shomaly continued his research and writing in safety. Despite persistent concerns for his own security, he returned to Palestine after his fellowship and contributed to the analysis of the 2006 Palestinian elections and the ongoing political process. However, in the midst of spiraling unrest and tension as Hamas and Fatah parties struggled for control, Dr. Shomaly felt his career was again at risk. In July 2007, he was awarded a SRF renewal fellowship to pursue a six-month research project with the Public Opinion Research of Israel (PORI) in Tel Aviv, becoming the first and only SRF scholar so far to be hosted in Israel.
He has since returned to the West Bank to resume work with his center while teaching full-time at Bethlehem University. He has published widely on topics such as globalization, gender, and technology in an international relations context. With international credentials including a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Northeastern University in Boston, Dr. Shomaly is fluent in six languages and holds a long-standing commitment to international education. He has presented at conferences throughout the Middle East and North Africa region, in Turkey, Germany, Canada, and the United States. In addition, he served as the Director of Public Relations for the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, and from 2001-2004 he hosted a weekly opinion and analysis program on Palestinian television. Beyond his papers and the chemistry classroom, he remains committed to training youth on conflict resolution, democracy and human rights.