Noted scholar on Middle East to discuss threats facing Israel

| News Manager

Renowned Middle East scholar Michael Oren will deliver a speech on the threats to Israel’s existence to University students and the St. Louis community at the 560 Building on Thursday evening at 7:30.

Oren’s lecture will address many of the problems facing Israel today, including terrorism, threats from Iran, the nation’s military arsenal and changing demographics, among others.

The speech, titled “Israel in the Face of Existential Threats,” will largely focus on the future of Israel and how it can survive.

“I think it’s a different opinion they don’t perhaps get otherwise, to talk to someone who not only studies this in the classroom but also [offers] a good perspective for them,” Oren said in an interview with Student Life and the Jewish Light.

The event was organized to help educate students and develop a dialogue on campus about current Israeli issues.

“[We want to] reignite the dialogue regarding the Middle East on campus because we feel it’s not an issue discussed on campus, and it’s a shame, because we feel like we can make a really big difference,” said senior Ari Sasson, one of the event coordinators.

“Wash. U. has such a big Jewish community and we feel like it has the potential to do a lot of good, but it’s not really discussed. Bringing Michael Oren is just one part in this wider initiative,” Sasson added.

The event is cosponsored by  numerous student groups on campus, including the Jewish Student Union, the College Democrats, the College Republicans and the Political Science Student Association (PSSA). Many other community groups are also sponsoring the event.

According to senior Danielle Heiman, another coordinator of the event, so many groups are involved because Oren’s career touches on both the academic sphere and political sphere.

“The importance [of the event] is that it’s showing what we’re talking about doesn’t just necessarily have to do with Israel, but it has to do with general academic areas of interest that most Wash. U. students should be interested in on some level,” Heiman said.

The bipartisan nature of this event is something not often seen on the University’s campus.

The PSSA is serving mostly as a nonpartisan group to facilitate and coordinate the efforts of other groups involved.

According to junior Mark Dudley, president of the PSSA, this is a great way for different campus organizations to collaborate and appeal to a wider range of students.

“[The sponsors of the event] will send a message: This event is open and public discussion. It’s not going to be biased or slanted in anyway,” Dudley said.

Dudley said he hopes the groups can continue to work together after Oren’s visit.

“I hope it’ll be a chance for our four groups to get together not just once but in the future to bring events and speakers to campus. It’s kind of a coming-out for the four of us if you will, together, working on this event,” Dudley said. “I think if you really want to move forward and plan really strong events, the four groups working together with other groups is a great way to get things accomplished that are open to the student body.”

Oren has been a visiting professor at both Harvard and Yale universities and is currently a visiting professor at Georgetown University. He has published works in several national newspapers, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Oren is the author of two New York Times bestsellers and a fellow at the Shalom Center in Jerusalem. He has also testified before Congress.

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