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The Middle East - Religion

Because of oil, Texas, like Oklahoma, has a strong interest in the Middle East, and this is evident in the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, named after former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, who is its honorary chair. The director is Edward Djerejian, former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and ambassador to Israel and Syria. Hence the interest in "religious fundamentalism and conflict in the Middle East", which was the subject of a recent forum in a series on religion and public policy. Important points were made, including "Settler Judaism", which has brought more than 400,000 settlers (according to Palestine estimates) into Palestine territory through a series of "steady confiscations of trust". Surprising to some, but not to me because I have heard it from Jews, is that Christian fundamentalists have given strong support to Israel because of their peculiar theology. The little understood subject of the forum is immensely important, and we hope that a book emerges from the forum.

Ronald Hilton - 4/3/02