Middle East policy critic to discuss ISIS at Kenyon College

Staff report

Longtime Middle East scholar Phyllis Bennis, a critic of U.S. policies on the region who works for a think tank that promotes peace, will give a talk Oct. 20 at Kenyon College titled “Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror.”

Bennis, a regular political commentator and a fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., is expected to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis and its relation to ISIS at the 7 p.m. speech open to the public in the auditorium of Higley Hall, 202 N. College Road.

Promotions for her 2015 book by the same title say that she tries to answer basic questions including, “What is ISIS?” “Why are they so violent?” and “Can you really go to war against terror?”

Bennis, who has studied the Middle East for 30 years, is director of the institute’s New Internationalism project to try to change what the group says are failed U.S. policies on military action in Iraq and Afghanistan and on Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The project also challenges what it sees as U.S. domination of the United Nations.

Professor of Religious Studies Vernon Schubel, whose teaching focuses on Islam, said Bennis is an important scholar and thinker on the Middle East. “We’re lucky to have someone of her caliber here to speak on this issue,” he said.

She has written and edited 11 books, including “Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.”

Student Quossay Alsattari, a senior, invited Bennis on behalf of the Middle East Students Association after he interned for her this summer doing policy analysis and advocacy work.

“I was constantly amazed by Phyllis’ knowledge about the American foreign policy, United Nations and Middle East politics,” he said. “Also, I was very inspired by her commitment to anti-war movements and challenging mainstream analysis of issues facing the Middle East.”

Bennis will take questions after her lecture, and a book signing will follow.

For more information, contact the Department of Religious Studies at 740-427-5656.

Staff report