UCSB’s Middle East month brings prominent journalist

Ashley Lockard, Ashley Lockard, and Ashley Lockard

Prominent Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg will speak Oct. 21 at UCSB’s Corwin Pavilion about the tension between Muslims and Jews as part of City College’s Middle East month.

In his lecture, called “The Struggle for the Temple Mount,” the American-born Israeli political writer will also touch upon the key points of contention between Israelis and Palestinians, said Manoutchehr Eskandari-Qajar, City College political science professor and faculty coordinator of the Middle East studies program, which is co-sponsoring the lecture.

The Temple Mount is the location of two temples in Jerusalem where Islam and Judaism worship converge. There, the Dome of the Rock, the oldest living Islamic monument, is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and is considered as the spot where the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Also at the Mount lives Judaism’s holiest site, the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem that is surrounded the Wailing Wall, which is a sacred prayer and pilgrimage place for Jews.

“Since it is a sacred site for both Muslims and for Jews, one would assume that on sacred places, people would come together in harmony,” Eskandari-Qajar said.

Gorenberg has written numerous books about the possibility of peace between the two religions, such as “The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements.” In another on of his books, called “The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount,” he discusses the unspoken agreement between the Muslim and Jewish religions that share the Mount as a place of worship.

“Two different groups of people can pray to God at the same place that they both consider important without destroying each other,” Gorenberg said in an interview with PBS. “It’s one thing to do it, but it’s a much bigger job to say, ‘Yes, and I admit that this is the case.'”

Although Gorenberg writes analysis pieces about Israeli-American relations to newspapers such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post, Eskandari-Qajar said that Gorenberg’s lecture will solely focus on Israeli and Arab politics-not on American politics.

“The point of the Middle East program is to show possible cooperation… to focus on bridge-building, on people and programs and initiatives for a better tomorrow,” Eskandari-Qajar said.

Creating a strong Middle East Studies associate degree program is a priority for Eskandari- Qajar and he said he hopes students will transfer and graduate from a Middle East program at a four-year school to become state department officials.

“There is such a lack of training and awareness about the Middle East and it is such an important part of the world,” said Eskandari-Qajar.

When Eskandari-Qajar’s former colleague, Dr. Leonard Wallock, program coordinator of the Walter H. Capps Center at UCSB, offered Eskandari-Qajar the chance to take part in sponsoring the lecture, Eskandari-Qajar embraced the opportunity.

Eskandari-Qajar added that he believes UCSB and City College should be collaborating on different issues more often than this lecture.

The event will take place on Sunday, October 21st at 3p.m. at UCSB’s Corwin Pavilion.