Behind the Summit with Andy Overman

By Amy Lieberman

With the help of colleagues, Classics professor and active chair Andy Overman played a major role in assembling the Sept. 17 peace summit. Overman, who has spent extensive time in the Middle East over the past 20 years, said there is more than meets the eye behind the history, and possible legacy, of the conference. While Ashwrawi and Beilin have previously worked together on peace-making efforts, the past seven years have been devoid of such attempts, and the two leaders have not seen each other for years. This summit, Overman explained, could be marked as a momentous occasion, during which the talks rekindled, even if in an indirect, unofficial form.

Like the speakers, Overman also cited the
importance of the pending

Israeli-Palestinian peace conference that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is organizing for sometime in November. The meeting will be held in Washington D.C., but the exact details of it-including a specific date-remain unknown. However, as Overman explained, Ashwari and Beilin will both be involved with the negotiations, for which this event offered a strong introductory platform.

“The entire time they were here they were both on the phones constantly,” Overman said. “They only have six weeks to plan for this. That’s nothing. No time at all.”

Overman also said that the participants planned their schedules specifically around this event-immediately after the conclusion of his time here, Beilin and his wife boarded a plane back to Tel Aviv. And while Ashwari was presenting at the summit, Overman continued, Rice was trying to reach the former Palestinian spokesperson to arrange a meeting.

So why did the participants choose Macalester as a forum for the fledgling stages of what could be history?

The answer is simple.

“No one else asked them to,” Overman said.