The new administration has been faced with the challenge of repairing relations with the Middle East that have been severely damaged by United States foreign policy over the past eight years. President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo offered a road map to a new relationship with the Arab and Muslim world.
How likely is it to succeed? What risks apply? How might this new path jeopardize our relationships with other countries, specifically Israel?
The United States and Israel have a strong alliance that has in many ways helped Israel thrive in the Middle East, but has this relationship increased the gap between the U.S. and the Muslim World? How can these polarized interests be reconciled through diplomacy? How is U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East changing? To what extent is Obama's rhetoric going to lead to actual policy?
The Public Policy Lunch Series is program hosted by The Century Foundation for NYC interns and young adults with an interest in public policy.
Panelists Include: Daniel Levy, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation; Co-director of the Middle East Task Force, New America Foundation; Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division, Human Rights Watch; Ambassador Philip Wilcox, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace; and moderator Michael Hanna, Fellow and Program Officer, The Century Foundation.
Michael Wahid Hanna
Michael Wahid Hanna is a fellow and program officer at The Century Foundation. He works on the Prospects for Peace Initiative and focuses on issues of international security, human rights, post-conflict justice and U.S. foreign policy in the broader Middle East. In 2008 he was a consultant for Human Rights Watch in Iraq conducting research for a report on the Central Criminal Court of Iraq.
Prior to joining The Century Foundation, Hanna was a senior fellow at the International Human Rights Law Institute, where he conducted research on post-conflict justice, victims' rights under international law, and the Iraqi High Criminal Court. From 1999 to 2004, Hanna practiced corporate law with the New York law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.
Prior to attending law school he was a Fulbright Scholar in Cairo, Egypt where he undertook research on the relationship between Egyptian nationalism and Arab nationalism in the inter-war period. Hanna is a term-member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is fluent in Arabic.
Daniel Levy is a senior fellow and director of the Prospects for Peace Initiative at The Century Foundation and a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. He was the lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Initiative and prior to joining The Century Foundation was directing policy planning and international efforts at the Geneva Campaign Headquarters in Tel Aviv.
In 2003, he worked as an analyst for the International Crisis Group Middle East Program. During the Barak Government, he worked in the Prime Minister's Office as special adviser and head of the Jerusalem Affairs unit under Minister Haim Ramon. From March 2000 to March 2001, he worked as senior policy adviser to former Israeli Minister of Justice, Yossi Beilin, where he was responsible for coordinating policy on various issues including peace negotiations, civil and human rights, and the Palestinian minority in Israel. He was a member of the official Israeli delegation to the Taba negotiations with the Palestinians in January 2001, and previously served on the negotiating team to the "Oslo B" Agreement from May to September 1995, under Prime Minister Rabin.
He received a Bachelors and Masters with Honors from King's College, Cambridge; he was awarded prizes in Social and Political Science and was Scholar of the College. He has published extensively in a broad range of publications including Ha'aretz, The Jerusalem Post, The Boston Globe, United Press International, The American Prospect, The International Herald Tribune, TPMCafe.com, and The Evening Standard.
Sarah Leah Whitson
Sarah Leah Whitson is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. Previously, she has worked as an attorney in New York for Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. She has conducted numerous human rights missions in the Middle East over the past 15 years, including the Center for Economic and Social Rights, Harvard Study Team, and International Study Team missions examining the impact of war and sanctions on the Iraqi civilian population, the International Human Rights Law Group's election-monitoring mission in Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq, and a fact-finding mission in Southern Lebanon for Madre.
Sarah Leah Whitson has served on the boards of the Armenian Bar Association and the New York chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Amb. Philip Wilcox
Philip Wilcox is President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace.