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Columnist, author to lecture on key to Middle East peace

October 05, 2009

President Obama won praise from Middle Eastern leaders for his speech this summer to the Muslim world, raising hopes that peace in the Middle East may finally be achievable. According to one expert however, peace will not come to the region until all parties are treated with equal respect and subject to the same rule of law.

That expert – internationally syndicated political columnist and author Rami Khouri, who will speak at ASU at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, in the Evelyn Smith Music Theatre on the Tempe campus – says that for decades parties on both sides in conflicts in the region have claimed that they are merely defending their rights while repelling the other sides’ aggression. That approach not only has gotten us nowhere, he points out, but also has exacerbated the cycle of confrontation.

“Years of mutual threats, sanctions and defiance have only intensified tensions in the Middle East,” Khouri says. “Reconnecting on the basis of a common commitment to respect, reciprocity and rights might offer a more effective path forward, if more mature officials all around risk attempting such an approach.”

Khouri will speak on the topic “Real Conflicts and Imagined Threats: Religion, Conflict and the Future of the Middle East” during the free public lecture. His visit is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict as part of its "Religion and Conflict: Alternative Visions" lecture series.

Funded by a grant from local philanthropists John and Dee Whiteman, the lecture series explores the sources and consequences of religious conflict and strategies for their resolution.

“I look forward to sharing with the ASU community insights and analysis from within the Middle East on some of the important linkages among politics, nationalism, religion, ethnicity, occupation, invasion, resistance, criminality and other forces that shape the world of the modern Middle East,” Khouri says. “Many of these issues are misunderstood in much of the Western world.”

Khouri is a Palestinian-Jordanian and U.S. citizen whose family resides in Beirut, Lebanon; Amman, Jordan; and Nazareth, Israel. He is the director of the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.

His journalistic work includes writing books and an internationally syndicated column, and he also serves as editor-at-large of the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper, published throughout the Middle East with the International Herald Tribune. In 2006, he was co-recipient of the Pax Christi International Peace Award for his efforts to bring peace and reconciliation to the Middle East.

Khouri also maintains several affiliations with U.S. universities. At Harvard, he is a senior fellow for the Dubai Initiative at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government as well as a member of the Divinity School Leadership Council. He also serves on the board of advisors for the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.

In addition, Khouri is a fellow of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (Jerusalem) and serves on the board of the Jordan National Museum, which is scheduled to open later this year.

He was executive editor of the Daily Star newspaper from 2003 to 2005 and before that was editor-in-chief of the Jordan Times for seven years, when he also wrote for leading international publications, including the Financial Times, the Boston Globe and the Washington Post. He has hosted programs on archaeology, history and current public affairs on Jordan Television and Radio Jordan. Khouri holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and mass communications, respectively, from Syracuse University.

ASU's Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences promotes interdisciplinary research and education on the dynamics of religion and conflict with the aim of advancing knowledge, seeking solutions and informing policy. By serving as a research hub that fosters exchange and collaboration across the university as well as with its broader publics – local, national and global – the center fosters innovative and engaged thinking on matters of enormous importance to us all.

This event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. For more information or to obtain tickets, go to or call (480) 727-6736. A reception will follow the lecture.