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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

University holds lecture on MidEast challenges facing future president

Published: September 7, 2007
Section: News

The Rapaporte Treasure Hall hosted a series of speeches called The Spotlight on the Middle East-Challenges Facing the Next President on Thursday, which addressed the issues facing the next president regarding US policy and involvement in Iraq. The speeches, which were initiated by President Jehuda Reinharz and organized by Charles Radin, will be continued over the course of the year.

The event began with a speech by Crown Center Senior Fellow Abdel Monem Said Aly, in which he discussed his 10 Commandments for the next president on how to deal with the situation in the Middle East, emphasizing how we must determine why we are in the Middle East and develop an original plan on how to deal with the situation, not solely basing strategy on that of our predecessors.

Aly also discussed how the Mideast war is with terrorism, not Muslims, stating that we should reassess the Patriot Act. Furthermore, he mentioned the importance of having allies to accomplish our goals and how we cannot ignore the problem because it will come to concern the US eventually.

The event continued with Naghmeh Sohrabi, Assistant Director for Research at the Crown Center, during which she discussed the situation in Iraq, where her own father resides.

Discussing the basic issues of nuclear policy, she examined the issue at both the domestic and the international level. She discussed the disintegration of Irans economy and rising prices, and mentioned how the United States uses nuclear issues to justify their actions and make security concerns the justification for everything it does. She emphasized her search for a root to an answer and contrasted the success of our past negotiations with North Korea with our failure to do the same thing with Iran.

Sohrabi said that the US needs to bring countries like Saudi Arabia to the table to discuss the issue, adding that no deal will be made without the opinions and assistance of other countries.

The final speaker was Shai Feldman, Director of the Crown Center. Feldman enumerated the seven points he believes the next president will have to discuss with the National Security Council.

These points included the level of involvement which the president should exercise in the process of Israeli peace making. He also posed the question of who should be considered the partners to Israeli and Palestinian peace.

In addition, Feldman questioned whether peace can be made within the West Bank while Gaza continues to suffer.

He also questioned what exactly negotiations for peace should focus on. Finally, he emphasized the United States need for allies and a strategy for dealing with people who try to undermine U.S. policy.

A question and answer session followed the speeches during which several students, many of whom were first-years, posed a broad range of questions to all of the speakers.

Lorna Miles, Senior Vice President for Communications at Brandeis was glad to see [many] first years both attend the event and ask questions.

She had hoped that the university could use resources to provide information and background to understand the issues of the election, and believes we have an obligation to showcase resources to heighten awareness about issues of the Middle East. Miles also wanted to make issues accessible.

Sahar Massachi, a first year, believes attending the event was worthwhile and agreed with certain points of Feldmans speech, adding that we need to break the linkage between people and talk to each other.”