Last week I hosted the following three folks for a lively lunchtime meeting:
Dr. Antoine Messara (Lebanese Christian) is a professor at the Lebanese University Department of Communication, and is the general director of The Foundation of the Lebanese Association for Permanent Civil Peace in Lebanon. Antoine established The Foundation of the Lebanese Association for Permanent Civil Peace in Lebanon during the civil war in Lebanon by bringing Christians and Muslims together. He is active in issues related to democracy, human rights, and Christian Muslim relations. Antoine has many articles addressing the issue of democracy and co-existence.
Samir Morcos (Egyptian Christian) is the former associate general secretary of Middle East Council of Churches. He has consulted for the Coptic Center for Social Studies, Al Fustat Center for Studies and Consultations, and for The Unit for Citizenship and Dialogue in Cairo. Samir has written multiple books in the area of development including: The State of Civil Society in Egypt: Preliminary Observations and Future Possibilities; and, Civil Society in Egypt: From Dormancy to Action-The Struggle over the Civil Associations Law. He is currently writing a joint study entitled Civil Society in Egypt: Challenges and Future Prospects, as well as a critical review of development concepts and practices in Egypt over the past 50 years. Samir was awarded the annual prize in 2004 of the Norwegian Academy for Literature and Freedom of Expression.
Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa (Egyptian Muslim) is a professor in the political science department and on the faculty of economics and political science at Cairo University. She has taught the following subjects: The Evolution of International Political Relations; Political Development; Arab Foreign Policies; Contemporary Global Issues; Islamic Political Thought; Arab World in International Politics; and Theory of International Relations. She has also written multiple books, including: Strategy of Islamic Cultural Activity in the West, and Developing an Islamic Perspective to the Study of International Relations: Dilemmas of the Experience of Teaching and Research.
Highlights included Samir speaking of the Darfur crisis as a battle between China and the U.S. for resources. I ended up spending twenty minutes or so after the public program engaging in a debate with Nadia, who dismissed all "grassroots" efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. "Peace must come from the governments above! How can the occupied speak with the occupier!"