Posted by on November 10, 2010 in Blog
The last few weeks were extraordinarily hectic. With the exception of a break for the election, I've been on the road with Arab Voices.
On October 27, I went from Chicago to Houston, where I was spoke at Rice University's Baker Institute. My host was Ambassador Ed Djerijian, a friend and one of America's finest diplomats. It was a special treat to speak there - I have such respect for James Baker and Ed, and love the great work done by the Institute. While there I met with a group of Rice students affiliated with the Institute. They had started their own rather remarkable people-to-people project with students in Egypt. Ten of these students had secured funding to travel this past summer to Cairo to connect with Egyptian students. They had a great experience and are now preparing to host a return visit. Citizen diplomacy at its best!
I had a great conversation with the students and I was so pleased that a few expressed an interest in interning with us at AAI.
After Houston, I flew back to Washington to do an event at Georgetown University's Center of Arab Studies. And then elections and a busy week of post-election analysis. Three highlights for me: a panel at Georgetown University, where I joined Dan Rather, Harold Ickes, Dennis Kucinich and a few journalists; a briefing, with my brother John, for the Arab Ambassadors on the elections and what they will mean for the US-Arab relationship; and a meeting at the White House with David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, and Jim Messina - I raised with David the role that Islamophobia played in the elections and an Oklahoma ballot initiative. He was most thoughtful in his response to my concern, agreeing that this explosion was worrisome and would be with us for a while and needs to be challenged.
I left last Friday for a quick two day trip to a fascinating conference in Abu Dhabi (actually at the Qasr al Sarab in the Empty Quarter - the dunes are amazing). It brought together dozens of foreign ministers and former ministers from the Arab world, Europe and elsewhere to discuss the Middle East peace process and energy issues. A copy of Arab Voices was given to all attendees and many started to read it while there! I'd love to share even the gist of the conversations we had during key sessions, but it was "off the record" and that must be honored.
Flew back yesterday morning, just in time to get to the annual National Press Club Book Fair. I was pleased that Arab Voices was selected to be part of the fair. I shared an area with Spence Abraham, Charles Ogletree and ex-Senator George Allen. Got Allen to buy the book. Wonder what he'll think of page 103.