On Sunday evening, January 10, the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island (JCMI) opened its first program of this year’s Saul I. Stern Cultural Series with Middle East expert Shibley Telhami. With the constant news of ISIS, terrorism and violence in the Middle East, this topic was well received by the hundred or so guests attending.
Dr. Telhami is the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. Being an Arab, yet born and raised in Israel, gives Dr. Telhami a unique perspective of Middle East politics. Dr. Telhami is also well known for his polling in the Middle East. His opinion is widely sought by international leaders. In fact, the morning following his lecture, Dr. Telhami was on a flight to Jordan for a meeting with King Abdullah II.
Dr. Telhami began his presentation with a question on many of our minds: “Why are we witnessingso much violence in the Middle East today?” To answer that question, he looked to the Iraq War in 2003 and the Arab Uprising in 2010. Dr. Telhami shared his opinion on the factors leading to the current state of destabilization in the region, telling us that unfortunately “there is no short term fix” for the problem. Dr. Telhami believes that foreign intervention has made the situation worse. “Our mission should be to coordinate with international powers to reduce intervention.” Dr. Telhami’s solution is to be “patient and work with the region to choose their own paths.”
Following his presentation, guests had the opportunity to ask Dr. Telhami questions. Middle East politics struck a chord with the guests, many concerned about terrorism, the current state of affairs with the Syrian refugees, and also with the safety of Israel amid the growing violence. Afterwards, many guests took the opportunity to meet Dr. Telhami, shake his handand say a few words. The evening concluded with coffee and desserts. While the guests mingled and socialized, many still discussed the serious issues presented.
Coming up in the Saul I. Stern Cultural Series are two not-to-be-missed programs. First, on Saturday, February 13 at 7:30 PM, islanders will have the chance to hear the award-winning Naples Philharmonic Brass Quintet perform at the JCMI. Coffee and desserts will follow the program. Then, on Sunday, March 6 at 7:30 PM the JCMI will present motivational speaker David Rutherford, a Navy Seal who took part in clandestine operations in the Middle East and Asia. Rutherford offers inspiration on how we can succeed and live our lives to the fullest.
Seating for the events is limited, and it is suggested that tickets be purchased early. The Jewish Congregation of Marco Island is located at 991 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island. For more information on the JCMI Cultural Series go to www.marcojcmi.com or call 239-642-0800.