An Educational Agenda for the Abraham Accords

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel have repeatedly indicated that they wish the agreements signed last year to herald an era of cooperation and economic and cultural exchange. To Peter Berkowitz, one important area for interaction lies in the domain of higher education:

Israel and the UAE have taken the first steps to create what should become a variety of vibrant student-exchange programs. Much more can be done. Universities should establish visiting professorships to bring Israeli scholars to teach in the Gulf, and Bahraini and Emirati scholars to teach in Israel. And they should provide financial incentives to encourage faculty members to devise proposals for academic conferences that focus on issues of special interest to all three Middle East countries as well as to the United States—from desalination and the environment to comparative religion and religious freedom.

Such projects, Berkowitz adds, need not be limited to universities, but instead can be modeled on programs in the U.S. that bring together small groups of students or professionals for a few days or weeks for intensive study, encouraging interactions inside and outside the classroom. For instance, a “common traditions” seminar:

Its point of departure is that Jews and Muslims as well as Christians share a common biblical heritage, and that great philosophers in all three traditions undertook enduring efforts in the Middle Ages to reconcile their faiths with the wisdom of Plato and Aristotle. The first half of the seminar would concentrate on biblical passages of surpassing importance to the three Abrahamic religions. The second half would explore influential arguments from the outstanding medieval philosopher of each of the traditions: al-Farabi, Maimonides, and Thomas Aquinas.

These three seminars—and variations that could follow on their heels—needn’t remain restricted to original Abraham Accords signatories. As soon as is practically possible, citizens from Sudan, Kosovo, and Morocco—which also recently normalized relations with Israel—should be invited to join. The same goes for Jordanians, Egyptians, and Palestinians. And why not reach out to the Republic of Cyprus, a vibrant democracy in the eastern Mediterranean eager to contribute to regional stability and prosperity?

Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Abraham Accords, Bahrain, Education, Israel-Arab relations, Moses Maimonides, Thomas Aquinas, United Arab Emirates


What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship