I spent two days in Orlando this week which included giving four talks at UCF and Valencia College. In total almost 600 people attended although to be fair two thirds of that was at one lecture to the adult education program. In three separate discussions with students we spent most of our time addressing the Israel–Arab conflict although a fair amount of time was spent talking about the major issue of the Middle East, the Persian, Shi’ite (Iran) struggle with the Arab, Sunni world. It still surprises me that some people see the Israel-Arab conflict as the big issue of the Middle East rather than the big issue which Israel (and the Palestinian Arabs) faces. After all this time, especially in the USA with America so engaged in conflict in the Middle East, it seems to me that people would know that resolution of the Israel-Arab conflict, critical as the resolution thereof is to Israel, is not the major subject on the table when looking at the Middle East.
It is always great when Arab or Moslem students participate in my talks on campus. Beyond the fact that they know the region better, by nature, than students who have never been to the Middle East, they usually also bring another perspective. It is encouraging how many of them are willing to engage in honest debate and refreshing to find that most of them have little sympathy for human rights abuses prevalent throughout Arab countries. In many cases I find the Arab students better informed and more understanding of Israel than American students who have taken up the cause of opposing Israel, or Israel’s policies. Overall, it’s great to see how many students understand Israel’s position and support Israel.