Dr. Mitchell Bard, executive director and founder of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and a UCSB graduate, will give a lecture tonight at 7:30 in Corwin Pavilion hosted by the American Students for Israel.
His lecture, called “Israel: Terrorism, Jihad, and the Peace Process,” will focus on the role of religion in the Arab-Israeli conflicts, the threat of terrorism to Middle East stability and to the United States, and the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
AICE focuses on strengthening U.S. and Israeli relations, and studies Israeli programs in a variety of areas such as education, biotechnology, elderly care and healthcare, Bard said.
“I became interested in Middle Eastern policy because I am Jewish and wanted to learn the Jewish cultural heritage,” Bard said. “As an undergraduate I read things critical of Israel and wanted to find out the truth.”
Bard was also editor of the Near East Report, a newsletter covering the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. It monitors events in the Middle East and the U.S. Congress’ Middle Eastern policy.
The friendship and alliance between the United States and Israel is longstanding, Bard said. He said some other Middle Eastern nations with dictatorships disagree with Israel on ideological, political and religious ideas, and see the territory of Israel as belonging to them.
“The Syrians and Palestinians are unwilling to coexist with the Jewish state and the leaders remain committed to the destruction of Israel,” Bard said. “There have been peace proposals with Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. Israel is waiting for those parties to say yes to peace.”
Bard recently wrote a book called Myths and Facts: A Concise Record of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, which addresses several of what he believes are misconceptions of a modern day dilemma.
ASI received funding for Bard’s lecture from the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee and the university. The club members are committed to fair discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict and try to ensure that issues related to Israel are acknowledged.
“I wanted to start ASI because a lot of things suggest a bias on this campus to not present Israel’s side,” ASI President Joey Tartakovsky said. “There is more criticism about Israel than anything else.”