Nathalie Janne d’Othée was born in Antwerp, Belgium. She studied History and International Relations at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Belgium. During her university years, her interest in the Middle East increased. She studied at the University of Galatasaray in Istanbul for one year. Then she lived for a year in Cairo to learn Arabic. Coming back to Belgium, she decided to begin a PhD on the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement, which really impressed her. She also works in a research institute on Euro-Arab relations, called MEDEA. In 2008, she participated in a ten-day project called “Samen in Zee” (Dutch for “Together at sea”) with Europeans, Palestinians and Israelis in the Netherlands. The group received training in nonviolent communication. In 2009, Nathalie travelled three weeks around Israel/Palestine. She is also involved in Belgium with a working group of the International Civil Service, which is an NGO. The working group focuses its work on the Mediterranean region, especially Palestine. It organizes conferences, trainings for volunteers leaving for the region, and participates in demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their nonviolent struggle.
My interest in nonviolent struggle was first sparked “…by visiting the numerous blogs of Palestinians telling about their daily life under occupation, and then by a human chain created around the Gaza Strip in the beginning of 2008. I was personally involved in nonviolent actions in Jerusalem and the West Bank in 2009. For instance, I attended a festival meant to show the settlers that a piece of land called Ush Graib was “occupied” by the local Palestinian population. I’ve visited Palestine and participated in nonviolent actions and have learned that the media coverage of a nonviolent action is fundamental for its effectiveness. What I hope to take away from the Fletcher Summer Institute is a better understanding of nonviolent resistance and the role of the media, and also the importance of foreign support to nonviolence.”