"Local scholars share experiences
In mid-July a delegation of mayors from Israel and Palestine visited Indianapolis just when the conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza, and Hezbollah, in Lebanon, began to escalate.
Members of the local Arab and Jewish communities hosted a reception for the mayors at University of Indianapolis where they spoke briefly about their experience traveling together and what they hoped to gain from their visit. At first, the mayors said, “It was difficult getting on a bus or sitting down to eat with one another.” However, within a few days Mayor Dahan, an Israeli, claimed that he had grown to love Mayor Jaffal, a Palestinian. Later in the program, Mayor Yaron Ben-Nun of Gedera, Israel announced that he would visit Mayor Jaffal without a security entourage after they returned home. Mayor Dragahma, from Tubas in the West Bank, spoke about the economic hardship his city has endured since many western countries severed all ties after Hamas came to power in recent Palestinian elections.
How well do we know the peoples of the Middle East and how deep are the divisions between them? Most of the information we receive from the evening news or local paper only skims the surface and generally focuses on the “sensational.” Is there hope behind the headlines? What is the perspective of average Middle Eastern folks, what is their perception of Americans, and do they make a distinction between American people and our governmental policies?
The following are two wonderful opportunities to learn more about the Middle East from local scholars who recently visited the region:
On Wednesday, Sept. 20 the Indianapolis Council on World Affairs is hosting a dinner/lecture at the Marten House where Pierre Atlas will be the featured speaker. Atlas, a professor at Marian College, visited Cuba and Israel over the summer, attending a 12- day conference on the Arab-Israeli conflict sponsored by Tel Aviv University. Learn more at http://indybuzz.blogspot.com/2006/08/sept-20-pierre-atlas-on-what-i-did-on.html
And on Monday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in Robertson Hall at Butler University, local scholars Siobhan McEvoy-Levy, Butler University, and Edward Curtis IV, IUPUI, will join Pierre Atlas to share photos and discuss their recent trips to the region. McEvoy-Levy spent several days in the West Bank and Israel on a trip partly sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace and Curtis visited Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. This event is free and open to the public.