Al-Jazeera Bureau Chief to Discuss US Middle East Policy and Arab Media
The Washington, DC bureau chief for the Al-Jazeera television network will be the featured speaker during the 2008 PROBE Symposium March 12th in Twichell Auditorium on the campus of Converse College. Entitled “US – Middle East Policy and Arab Media: Common Challenges and Opportunities,” Abderrahim Foukara’s presentation is free and open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Converse’s Gavel Chapter of Mortar Board and Nisbet Honors Program. A reception in the Twichell lobby will immediately follow Foukara’s presentation.
Although he has appeared in panel discussions in recent years, Foukara’s appearance at Converse is a departure from those standard engagements as he will specifically address US and Arab relations. “In the medium and long terms, both the US and the Arab media have a common interest in the creation of more democratic systems throughout the Arab world, despite the Iraq (war) fiasco. But given the region’s history and geography and given the size of US strategic interests in it, there are strong indications (the region) will continue to lurch from one (US-involved) crisis to another,” said Foukara. “If you look at the way such crises and the US role in them are covered in the Arab media, it is quite apparent that the coverage is often extremely negative for reasons that vary from Arab security concerns and Arab nationalist sentiment to audience ratings and readership (among other) reasons. Both the opportunities and the challenges obviously have serious ramifications for US-Arab relations in the medium to long term.”
Nora Nassri, a Converse senior from Orangeburg, SC, pointed to Foukara’s experience and position with Al Jazeera in extending him the invitation as guest speaker for the symposium. “The PROBE Symposium is an annual event sponsored by the Gavel Chapter of Mortar Board at Converse, and is intended to promote scholarship and intellectual discussion, both on campus and in the community. Dr. Foukara will use his experience with Al Jazeera to discuss American foreign policy in the Arab world and how it is affected by the increased access to information in this region. As US foreign policy undergoes reexamination, we must keep in mind the importance of an approach that takes into account the views and experiences of those who are directly affected by the consequences.”
Mortar Board extended the invitation to Foukara in the fall after Nassri and her fellow members of Converse’s national award-winning Model programs (Model Arab League, Model NATO and Model UN) attended his presentation at the 2007 Arab-US Policymakers Conference in Washington, DC. “Dr. Foukara spoke on the current state of US-Arab relations and impressed us all with his understanding and eloquence on that sensitive subject. I met him after the speech and broached the subject of him speaking at Converse,” said Nassri. The only college represented at the conference, Converse was invited to attend because of its reputation as a national leader in the Model Arab League competitions. During the competitions, student delegations represent League member countries, and win awards based upon their knowledge of their country’s positions and their argumentation, negotiation and consensus-building talents. The Converse delegation has earned top honors at the regional and national level for 12 consecutive years.
“Converse students involved with PROBE always have a keen interest in contemporary political and social issues,” said Dr. Betsy Fleming, President of Converse.