Even the experts don't have all the answers. That's the lesson over 200 students learned last night as they heard Middle East expert and Political Studies Coordinator Adam Garfinkle discuss the war with Iraq and its effects on Israel. The Vance Hall lecture, organized by the student group Israel Crisis Committee, covered topics that were broad and varied, including American politics, the Israeli government, and possible after-effects of the war on the entire world. Israel has been bombarded by several missile attacks from Iraq over the past week, but has yet to retaliate against Saddam Hussein -- winning the praise of the White House and several foreign governments. Throughout the nearly two-hour talk, Garfinkle -- who serves as an analyst for serveral government departments including the Central Intelligence Agency -- said that although he did not think Israel would retaliate in the immediate future, Israeli leaders might be planning smaller raids as a direct result of domestic pressure. "Many Israeli people don't understand why the government is sitting with their hands tied behind their backs," Garfinkle said. "Israel may feel the need to respond strictly for domestic political reasons." Garfinkle said that the Israelis may soon tell the U.S. that they will make a modest, proportional response to the missile attacks. He added that Israel may act with secure guarantees from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait that they will not object to such a response. However, he pointed out throughout his lecture that no matter how long one analyzes this problem, no one can say for sure what will happen. "Nobody knows. No one knows for sure what the Israelis will do," he said. "My opinion is just an educated guess." Garfinkle, who teaches courses on the Middle East for the political science department, told the audience that it is inappropriate for Americans to delight in the U.S. military offensive while forgetting the immense destruction that is being done by allied forces. "Do not celebrate the downfall of your enemies," Garfinkle quoted from an ancient Jewish text. "This is a period of mourning, not just for Israel, but for the entire world." Garfinkle also focused on the specific capabilities of the various weapons being used by the U.S. and the Iraqis -- a topic about which the audience felt they had been told very little. Overall, students said they were very satisfied with the lecture adding that they had gained a tremendous amount of insight into the war. "I really wasn't sure about the Israeli perspective and whether they would retaliate," College freshman Scott Danziger said. "I think its important to have lectures such as this from people who know the facts. More importantly, it's important for people to come to these lectures to hear them." College freshman Halyse Richard added that although the lecture didn't resolve many questions, it certainly gave people things to think about. "A whole lot of people have a whole lot of questions," she said. "This gave people a lot of good ideas to consider even if it didn't provide any answers." "The war is the topic of everyone's discussions," College sophomore Rachel Schuldiner, one of the organizers of the event said. "Things happen so fast that people can't keep up with it. The situation changes every day. We just want to keep people informed and conscious of the problems and help them express their opinions." Schuldiner said that the Israel Crisis Committee is planning more Wednesday night lectures on the Middle East in the coming weeks and also has set up a telephone number people can call to find out the latest news regarding the war. Schuldiner said the number is 898-9999, followed by the letters I-S-R-A-E-L.Comments powered by Disqus
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