Convocation speaker inspires month of teaching on the Middle East

By Andrew Guyton

For the first month of the fall 2007 semester, Macalester will hold a summit featuring various lectures and discussions dedicated to the Middle East. The theme follows next year’s convocation speaker, Richard Holbrooke, who will deliver his speech on Sept. 10. Holbrooke, a former UN ambassador and seven-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee will talk about current issues in the Middle East. An Assistant Secretary of State in both the Carter and Clinton administrations, he will also lecture on the Middle East in the days following convocation.

On Sept. 17, Vice President Walter Mondale will moderate a Middle East peace summit held at Weyerhauser Chapel, featuring Doctors Yossi Beilin and Hanan Ashrawi. Dr. Beilin is currently a member of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament and chairs the leftist Meretz-Yachad party. Dr. Ashrawi is an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Jerusalem and is former Minister of Higher Education for the Palestinian Authority.
Continuing the theme of the Middle East, on Thursday, Sept. 27, Dr. Bruce Lawrence will deliver Macalester’s annual Arnold Lowe Lecture on Religion about his new book “Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden.” Dr. Lawrence is the Marcus Professor of Religion at Duke University, and his book focuses on new translations of bin Laden audiotapes routinely sent to Arabic language news outlets such as Al-Jazeera.
This year’s summer reading will feature non-commissioned essays on issues of the Middle East from each of the four speakers: Holbrooke, Beilin, Ashrawi, and Lawrence. The papers will be available online before graduation.The focus on the Middle East is an extension of a similar summit Macalester held in 2002 through a grant from the Ford Foundation.
The Foundation approached the administration again and asked if Macalester would be interested in hosting another summit.

The goal for the series of events is to expose the Macalester community to issues facing the region in hopes that students will gain more knowledge and understanding, said Professor Andy Overman of the Classics Department who is in charge of organizing the summit.