Crown panel discusses future of Middle East

September 8, 2006

On Sept. 6, the Crown Center for Middle East Studies convened a panel entitled The Hezbollah-Israel War: Whats Next, to discuss the future of Arab-Israeli relations.
The two-and-a-half-hour presentation was held in the Rapaporte Treasure Hall, open to the public, and moderated by Prof. Robert Art (POL). The three panelists were: Prof. Shai Feldman, the Judith and Sydney Swartz director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies;

Dr. Abdel Monem Said Aly, director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Egypt, and senior fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies;

and Mr. Charles Radin, specialist on Religion and Society for the Boston Globe.
Each panelist touched on different facets of the Middle East in individual presentations. Dr. Said Aly chose to focus on diplomacy and expressed the opinion that there is no military solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Radin, meanwhile, was critical of the relationship Israels leaders had with the press, saying that the conflict initiated a different media game and that Israels media credibility was undercut.
Following each panelists prepared statement, the audience was permitted to ask questions, and many Brandeis students challenged the analysis of the panelists. Questions touched on a variety of topics, including the response to Irans potential nuclear ambitions, the future of the Kadima party in Israel, and whether or not the
Israeli government should engage in discussions with the Hamas party currently in power in Palestine.
The discussion closed with the panelists attempting to answer a myriad of questions posed by an active audience, while trying to remain within a time limit imposed by Prof. Art, who joked that he would leave the discussion if the panelists took too much time with their answers.
Despite its hectic ending, Mr. Radin felt that the event was a success, saying that I thought the size and diversity [of the audience] was gratifying. Its nice when you get a crowd. He went on to add that the questions were good. Only one or two were on the verge of ranting. It sounded like people were interested in each others perceptions. He expressed relief that there was very little sloganeering.
Nathan Ciccolo, a professional Israeli advocate who attended the event, also appreciated the intelligent dialogue and said that it was good to see different sides that werent radical. However, he was critical of some of the long winded answers to questions, saying that unfortunately people get too tied up in the ability to use their intellect and are unable to boil it down.
Ron Kendler 09 echoed Radins sentiments, saying that there were many opinions and views represented by both the speakers and the questions. He went on to say, I like the admission that we cant solve the problem here, which was a point Prof. Feldman stressed in his closing statement. Kendler added, I love that we have something like this, and that he felt discussions of this sort are beneficial because they help Brandeis students connect to real-world events.

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