This past spring break, I participated in a service trip to Israel through the Hillel Jewish Center and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. I, along with seventeen other University students, spent the week volunteering in the northern city of Nahariyya, a beautiful coastal city that is a mere six miles from Israel’s border with Lebanon.
Yesterday was a dramatic day in our region. Millions of people poured into the streets of Egypt. President Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for 30 years, announced that he will not run in the next Presidential elections, and will work to introduce governmental reforms in Egypt.
The Middle East peace process has reached something of an impasse. Israel, with the US, has called for direct negotiations, without preconditions, but the Palestinians refuse to join us. Still, Israel remains committed to attaining a genuine peace grounded on the principle of two states for two peoples living side-by-side in security, prosperity and mutual acceptance.
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Hillel at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) hadn’t spoken to each other since a conflict flared between them several years ago. All that changed recently as the groups worked together to organize a peace rally on VCU’s campus.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood before the UN General Assembly and said, “The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists.” He called Zionists an “acquisitive and invasive people.”
The GMU Law School hosted an event called “Separate is Never Equal: Stories of Apartheid from South Africa to Palestine” last week. The very title of the event speaks volumes as to the falsehood of its premise, and the guests for the event were an unfortunate selection.
A number of Law Center student groups hosted a seasoned Supreme Court and Circuit Court litigator, who spoke about claims filed against state sponsors of terrorist attacks. Steven Perles’s litigation practice at the Perles Law Firm, P.C., where he is the senior attorney and founder, includes many cases under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).
Wherever Yossi Olmert goes, security is tight. “When I went to Atlanta last month, they insisted I travel with 50 policemen and dogs,” he said. “Do I look so bad to you?” he asked at the start of his speech Monday night, hosted by the Caravan for Democracy in Taylor.
In his response to my letter Monday, Hicham Yaktin calls for the imposition of a one-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is unfortunate that Yaktin would deny the Palestinians their right to self-determination and control over their own collective destiny. It is equally unfortunate that Yaktin would see in Israel’s demise an “equitable” solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The importance of fighting the war on terror was not taken seriously enough this summer when the United States and the rest of the world failed to commit themselves to defending democracy and fighting international terrorism.