The Middle East Forum of Falmouth (www.meff.world) will present six Zoom webinars during the summer. The topics will range over 5,000 miles, from Tehran to Laayoune (Western Sahara), with due attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In two webinars the speakers will be participating from Palestine. Full information—titles, speakers, dates, times—is available on the upcoming speakers page of the MEFF website (www.meff.world/upcoming-speakers-1), including links to the speakers’ professional backgrounds and links for registering for the webinars.
In the first webinar, June 27, Jacob Mundy, professor, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Colgate University, will present a lecture titled, “The Western Sahara conflict: Africa’s last colony and why it matters.” Western Sahara shares a border with Morocco, and since 1991, the United Nations has been trying to organize a referendum on independence from Morocco. The Trump administration, breaking from the international community, traded recognition of Morocco’s claim to sovereignty for Morocco’s normalizing relations with Israel, an action that led to renewed hostilities. Professor Mundy’s lecture will examine how a Cold War dispute turned into one of the world’s most persistent conflicts.
The three webinars thereafter will focus on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. The webinar on July 11 will feature Bernard Avishai, professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Dartmouth College; and Sam Bahour, who is an independent political analyst, a former resident of Ohio, and who now operates a business in the West Bank; he will be participating from Ramallah. Their presentation, “Israel-Palestine Confederation: A vision that starts today,” will lay out the advantages of an Israel-Palestine confederation and how the disparate parties might inch toward this arrangement. In the following webinar, July 18, Asaf Romirowsky, director, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, will offer a very different view of how Israel and Palestine must develop. His lecture is titled “Shifting Sands: The Future of Israeli-Palestinian relations.” The webinar on August 1 will also feature two speakers: Yasser Abu Jamei, the director of the Gaza Community Health Programme; and Sara Roy, senior research scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University. Dr. Jamei will be speaking from Gaza. Their presentation, “Gaza’s Struggle: Between Fading Hope and Growing Resilience,” will report on the current physical and psychological conditions in Gaza.
On August 15, Rami Khouri, director, Global Engagement at the American University of Beirut and a senior fellow, Harvard Kennedy School, will present a lecture titled “How a century of wars, invaders, dictators, and poverty generated today’s dismal Arab condition.” The Arab area is beset by multiple problems—political tumult and war; a massive number of refugees; corruption; and poverty. Professor Khouri will explain how these problems are linked to both outside interventions and endemic factors: invasions, economic exploitation, the political systems and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The final webinar of the summer will highlight a lecture by Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. The lecture, “Can the US refashion itself as a peacemaker in the Middle East,” will draw heavily from Dr. Parsi’s firsthand knowledge of the issues and the people that continue to shape the strange and threatening triangular relationship between the United States, Israel and Iran. His lecture will focus on the question of whether the United States can contribute to peace in the Middle East, even while prioritizing US national interests.