Richard Haass Inaugurates YU’s Schneier Center with Mideast Analysis

L-R: Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Dr. Ruth Bevan, Dr. Richard Haass, and President Richard M. Joel

Apr 1, 2004 — Americans must stay the course in Iraq’s post-war reconstruction or risk further regional instability, including terrorist violence, said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a top foreign policy planning official in both Bush administrations.

In a speech (Wed. March 31) inaugurating Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs, Dr. Haass said long-term success in Iraq and other Middle East hotspots demands strong American leadership, as well as a shift to “multilateralism,” including increased United Nations and European involvement in helping promote democracy and human rights.

Citing progress in Iraq despite continued attacks on coalition forces and US civilian workers, Dr. Haass said it would be a major mistake for Washington to withdraw from efforts to help Iraq’s multiple ethnic factions achieve constitutional democracy by June 30. “The goal is that Iraq succeeds,” he said, “and success requires that there be a modus vivendi among the Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis.”

Dr. Haass addressed more than 500 guests at Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue, and shared the program with Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the shul’s spiritual leader, and Richard M. Joel, president of Yeshiva University. Ruth A. Bevan, PhD, the David W. Petegorsky Chair in Political Science, will direct the center.

Dr. Haass used his speech, The Greater Middle East: Present and Future—Iran, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, and Reform in the Arab World, to assess prospects for peace in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s ouster.

On Arab-Israeli relations, he said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral plan to separate his country from the Palestinians fits within the road map for a Palestinian state designed by the US, the UN, the European Union, and Russia. But he added that “unilateralism would only work as an interim initiative,” and must not supplant the need for a long-term solution. To that end, he said Israel’s construction of a security barrier should roughly follow the pre-1967 borders.

He warned, however, that “no one should delude themselves that Palestinian statehood will provide an end to the type of terrorism that produced the 9/11 attacks,” or the recent carnage in Madrid. “Obviously, these terrorists have an agenda that transcends the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he said.

On prospects for greater democracy in the Arab world, Dr. Haass said there were reasons for optimism. “One important trait shared by Muslims is that, when given the opportunity, they are choosing democracy,” he said. Referring to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, he said “elections do not make a democracy,” and “democratization is best measured not in weeks or months but in years, decades, and generations,” and only with real political and economic reforms.

The Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs
The new Yeshiva University center is named for Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a longtime advocate for religious freedom and human rights, and founder and president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, established in 1965.

YU President Richard M. Joel praised Rabbi Schneier, a Yeshiva University alumnus, for his humanitarian work, and said YU was honored to have the new center bear his name. The Center’s programs, President Joel added, will not only improve understanding of key political and social issues, but will also enrich and broaden YU’s academic scope. The goal is to create a forum for discussion of important international issues—war and peace, security and terrorism, human rights, global health, intellectual property rights, and the environment, and promote the interdisciplinary scholarship and research among Yeshiva University undergraduate and graduate schools in areas such as medicine, law, social work, history, Bible, and political science.

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