New Perspectives on Middle East Culture, Issues Goal of 3 Local Talks

By Willett, Johanna | AZ Daily Star, November 3, 2015 | Go to article overview

New Perspectives on Middle East Culture, Issues Goal of 3 Local Talks


Willett, Johanna, AZ Daily Star


When considering issues in the Middle East, Americans need to review culture, history and religion.

Those are the perspectives Eytan Gilboa, the chair and academic director of the Israel Public Diplomacy Forum, will challenge Tucsonans to adopt at three local presentations this week.

The Israel Public Diplomacy Forum is a nonprofit organization based in Israel that provides scholarly insight into Middle Eastern conflict.

For several years, academic experts with the forum have partnered with organizations primarily in North America and Europe to bring a delegation to local communities.

In addition to stopping in Tucson on Tuesday, Nov. 3 and Wednesday, Nov. 4, this tour also includes presentations in Phoenix, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Denver.

"What we are trying to do is bring new perspectives and perspectives that are usually not presented in the United States," Gilboa said by phone from New Mexico. "We are trying to put events into historical and strategic context, and we come to have a dialogue that engages the public."

In Tucson, the Israeli delegation will discuss issues such as the Iran nuclear deal, terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Water technologies are also a topic on this tour of the Southwest. Sharon Megdal, the director of the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona, will join the conversation on Nov. 2 in Phoenix, according to press materials.

Understanding any of these issues clearly, Gilboa said, requires a lens broader than a general, American understanding.

For example, "In order to deal with challenges such as the Islamic State, you need to know where they come from and what makes them so popular," said Gilboa, who is also a professor of communications and politics at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. …

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