focuses on Middle East
Provost for International Affairs William Quandt told students
the U.S. needs to think smart, not aggressively
in its response to the terrorist attack.
of the talk on the night of Sept. 13 at a Middle East teach-in
was about not stereotyping, reactions of people as human beings
and having a measured response to Sept. 11s terrorist attack
on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in
1,000 students clustered on the grass and filled the seats of
the Universitys amphitheater where faculty divided the students
into groups and talked with them while waiting for a sound system
to be set up.
from the discussion follow.
Abdulaziz Sachedina, a professor of Islam in the religious
studies department, received a standing ovation for his remarks.
He told the students that no religion teaches hatred and that
Islam was being abused by some. He said the group was practicing
the true meaning of jihad, commonly translated to holy war, by
removing their own prejudices and participating in Gods
creation. He cited his recent efforts at teaching in Israel, seeking
to build bridges between Christianity, Islam and Judaism. He said
if he did not believe in building bridges, he could not teach
that to others. But he lamented that while he was there, he saw
the birthplace of Christ empty because people were afraid to go
there. He suggested the way to overcome these fears was to love
and care for the strangers among us.
Peter Ochs, who has the Bronfman Chair of Judiac Studies,
followed Sachedina on the stage, praised him as a saint and expressed
his profound love for his fellow religion teacher.
Ochs asked God to pour His mercy down on those who died and those
who survived the attacks. He also called on the students to help
prevent blind acts of retaliation on innocent people.
said there were extensive efforts, including at the University,
for Muslims, Christians and Jews to come together in common bonds
Hanan Sobea, who identified herself as an Egyptian, an
anthropologist and a Muslim, objected to the medias interchanging
of Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian.
She said reducing the residents of the Middle East to a few cliched
stereotypes robs them of their diversity as people. She also denounced
the media for juxtaposing elements, such as East versus West,
good versus evil, civilization versus barbarism. She said people
and governments across the Middle East had recoiled from the attack.
professor Elizabeth Thompson provided students with some
historic background going back to the crusades. She noted the
Middle East had experienced periods of great tolerance, but she
said this balance was upset by European countries that expanded
their influence into the Middle East. She said the United States
is involved in the current economic world order, which flows in
part from the European colonialism and which, she said, has put
the world economy out of balance.
R.K. Ramazani , Edward R. Stettinuis Professor of Government
and Foreign Affairs emeritus, spoke briefly of his efforts
in negotiating the release of U.S. hostages in Iran during the
Carter administration. He said Carter understood that the dispute
was with some people in Iran, not the entire Muslim world. He
said it is not a clash of civilizations and noted that many terrorists
lash out because they live under autocratic regimes. He suggested
that Americans need to have a dialogue with Muslim people, not
Vice Provost for International Affairs William Quandt cautioned
against a rush to judgment. A former member of the National Security
Council and Middle East expert who was actively involved in the
Camp David accords under President Jimmy Carter, Quandt said the
country does have enemies in the world, but he also said the terrorists
were in opposition to Muslim nations as well and that the United
States would need to consult with its allies on any action.
need to think smart, not aggressively, he said, adding that
the response of volunteers and well-wishers following the attack
have shown the best of America.
Government and foreign
affairs professor Michael J. Smith said the country
had to see itself through to a just and lasting peace. He cited
government efforts to mobilize many weapons economic, diplomatic,
financial and others against terrorism. He noted that the
attacks are war crimes and crimes against humanity and said that
the U.S. needed to observe restraint and respect the human rights
of all. He reminded the students that the terrorists do not represent
Muslim values any more than Timothy McVeigh represented American
David A. Waldner, assistant professor of government and
foreign affairs, said he wanted to put the events in context,
that while he would not condone the attack, U.S. policy had been
to support despots and that many militants around the world had
been trained by the U.S. He told the students to understand the
past to avoid mistakes in the future.