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Lecture to feature expert on Middle East
by Luis Mocete
March 14, 1997
Violence, terror and the hope for peace are synonymous with the Middle East. An expert on this part of the world who served under Presidents Nixon and Carter as a staff member of the National Security Council, will deliver the 1997 Louis B. Gerson Foreign Policy Lecture.
William Quandt, the Byrd Chair in Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia, will discuss the politics of peace-making in the Middle East at 4 p.m. March 27 in the Doris and Simon Konover Auditorium of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
"Quandt is one of the leading American experts on the Middle East, particularly on the Arab-Israeli conflict and peace process," said Jeffrey Lefebvre, associate professor of political science and director of the Middle Eastern Languages and Area Studies program. "I think people who have read his work would say he is very fair minded and balanced. It is often difficult to find someone who can be reasonably objective when dealing with Middle East issues."
There were no biases on his part back in September 1978, when President Jimmy Carter brought Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David in hopes of ending the violence between the two nations. During these negotiations, Quandt served as an advisor to the president. After 12 days of intense conversations, the three leaders hammered out the Camp David Accords, which set the groundwork for the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty signed in March 1979.
But Quandt's work to improve the situation in the Middle East was not over. In 1988, with State Department approval, Quandt played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing about the opening of an official dialogue between the United States and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Such contacts had been banned since 1975. It didn't last long. The United States terminated the dialogue in June 1990, when one of the PLO's extremist groups tried to launch an attack against Israel. The United States believed the move was not condemned strongly enough by Yassir Arafat.
Quandt's involvement with the peace process in 1978 landed him a position as a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, where he conducted research on the Middle East and American policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict until he left for Virginia in 1994.
Quandt has written six books on the subject. His latest, Peace Process: American Diplomacy and Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1967, was published by Brookings in 1993.
The Gerson lecture is an endowed lectureship created by the family, colleagues and friends of former political science department chair and professor emeritus Louis Gerson. Gerson was a scholar of American foreign policy. The lecture annually brings a distinguished speaker to campus who combines scholarship and active involvement in diplomatic work and foreign policy-making.