Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Middle Eastern Scientists Promote Peace at Malta Conference

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Middle Eastern Scientists Promote Peace at Malta Conference

Article excerpt

Peace in the Middle East took a giant step forward from Nov. 5 to 10. when some 67 chemical scientists from Israel, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, the Palestinian territories, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Turkey met on the island of Malta. While the dialogue was between high-level scientists (including six Nobel Laureates) rather than government officials, peace was definitely on the agenda.

The brainchild of Zafra M. Lerman, an Israeli-born chemistry professor and head of the Institute for Science Education and Science Communication at Columbia College Chicago, the meeting is the second major gathering for most members of this elite group. The first was held in Malta in December 2003, and both were organized by the Subcommittee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights of the International Activities Committee of the American Chemical Society.

Lerman believes that scientists, instead of politicians and diplomats, can lead the way to peace and cooperation in the Middle Bast. "Scientists care more about scientific freedom and discovery than territorial issues," she observed. "They need the access to information and shared resources that come from collaboration, not warfare or hostility."

From the meeting's opening day, Lerman said, this year's Malta conference (affectionately known as Malta II) was like a "family reunion with no hostilities or animosities-only friendship." And since returning from Malta, Lerman, a former member of the Israeli army, has found her e-mail box overflowing with messages of congratulations and friendship from participants and other well-wishers.

Keynote addresses were presented by Nobel Laureates Aaron Ciechanover, Israel Institute of Technology, Israel; Richard R. …

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