For a quarter of a century, Dr. Mordechai Kedar served as a Lieutenant Colonel in Israeli military intelligence, studying Arab political discourse, Arab media and Islamic groups. His observations, knowledge and analysis of the cultural divide between the West and the Muslim world will be the focus of his lecture “Clash of Cultures: Islam vs. The West” on Sunday, Jan. 12, 10:30 a.m. at Lackawanna College, 501 Vine St., Scranton.
“I’ll especially appreciate seeing politicians and media people. I encourage them to come with cameras to record and use the lecture as they find productive,” said Kedar.
The free community lecture event is a project of the Jewish Discovery Center and is being offered to the community as a means to help members of the community understand what the world must do to chart a course toward peace and stability. Kedar brings an understanding few others can.
Regarding the lecture, Rabbi Benny Rapoport, Jewish Discovery Center co-director, said, “In the shallow new cycle, it’s difficult to get the story behind the headlines. We’re sponsoring this lecture to help educate citizens about the complexities of the conflict. The pen is mightier than the sword; knowledge of the realities on the ground and understanding the root of conflict, are the first steps in solving it.”
Kedar received his Ph.D from Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel and is a lecturer at the Department of Arabic Studies and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan. The university is Israel’s second largest. He is one of Israel’s leading figures in understanding the Arab world and is the Middle East analyst for the daily newspaper Makor Rishon and other publications. Kedar speaks Hebrew, English and Arabic, and is also a frequent guest in the Israeli, Arab and international media.
His experiences as an Israeli military intelligence officer, he said, has helped to prepare him for his roles as a professor and lecturer.
“In both arenas I had to look into the real issues, the core reasons of what happens. Both in the intelligence and academia one cannot be superficial and must delve into the deep structure of culture in order to understand what really happens in the Middle East,” Kedar said.
And for anyone trying to find clarity in the ongoing crisis, Kedar explained culture is the main cause for all the problems in the Middle East.
“States in the Middle East have become less functional; rulers who were viewed as strong and powerful leaders were ousted by their peoples; radical Islamic organizations emerge from the ruins of destroyed cities in Syria; 1400 year old struggle between Sunni and Shia becomes more and more relevant in today’s disputes; coalitions of yesterday are enemies of today; Iran turns into a nuclear regional super power and the role of the U.S. becomes less and less influential,” he said. “I am very concerned about the Syrians, Iraqis, Libyans, Egyptians, Yemenites, and Iranians who all live in very big problems. Hundreds of thousands were killed in the so-called “Arab Spring,” and it is very hard to predict when this all will come to an end.”
“It is hard to understand a region like the Middle East which operates by rules totally different from the rules which operate America. In order to understand, people have to know Middle Eastern languages in order to read what people in this region write in their own language and listen to what people say,” Kedar explained.
Kedar predicts a future that includes normalcy in the Middle East.
“When culture will change. It happened in Europe, it can happen in the Middle East as well, but - like in Europe - it will take blood, sweat and tears, unfortunately.”
Admission is free and registration is required. Tickets are available on line at JewishNEPA.com or by calling 570.587.3300.
A pre-lecture sponsors’ breakfast reception with Kedar will be held at 9:30 a.m.
Tickets are available to sponsors at $100 / $180 / $360 per couple and $50 for individual tickets.