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Center for Middle East Peace, Culture Holds First Event

Expert on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Featured

Welcoming Prof. Yoram Meital, center, are Prof. Paula Rayman, director of the new Center for Middle East Peace, and Provost Ahmed Abdelal.

By Sandra Seitz

UMass Lowell launched its Center for Middle East Peace, Development and Culture with a special event featuring a presentation by Prof. Yoram Meital of Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

The new center, directed by Prof. Paula Rayman of the Regional Economic and Social Development Department, reflects UMass Lowell’s growing commitment to international programs that promote the mutual understanding necessary for the future of our society, both locally and globally. Through the center, UMass Lowell faculty will explore collaborative ventures with major universities in Middle East nations including Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Turkey.

Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University, is an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the politics of Arab states and nationalism in the Middle East, and provides news analysis for media around the world. Meital’s most recent book is “Peace in Tatters: Vision and Reality in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”

At the University reception, he spoke about the formation of wrong perceptions and their devastating effects on public discourse in both Israel and Palestine.

Most recently, he said, "The collapse of Camp David peace talks in 2000, the second Intifada in 2001 and changes in U.S. policy after 9/11 had a dramatic impact on confrontation. The governing perception in both societies is the ‘no partner’ concept -- that there is no willing partner to negotiation on the other side -- and this is the consensual attitude of the majority in both societies.”

Center Director Rayman said, “Prof. Meital presented an exceptionally thoughtful and thorough talk on the historical and current challenges in finding a pathway for peace on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The event brought together a richly interdisciplinary group of faculty, students and administrators from both North and South campus who stimulated an excellent question and answer session.”

Dean Nina Coppens of the Division of Fine Arts, Humanities and the Social Sciences, one of the event’s invited participants, said, “Yoram Meital’s presentation and the discussion that he led are an excellent fit with the vision and international initiatives within the Division of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  I look forward to reading his recent book … and collaborating with the University’s Middle East Center for Peace, Development and Culture.”

Meital’s talk with faculty and graduate students is the first of what will be a wide range of activities -- including guest speakers, seminars and cultural events -- for the University community and the public, presented by the center to shed light on the major issues in the Middle East and its significance in the global arena.

A reception preceded Meital's presentation; from left are Profs. Susan Braunhut of the Biological Sciences Department; Laura Punnett of the Work Environment Department; and Paula Rayman of the Regional Economic and Social Development Department.