Join MEI Faculty Chair Professor Tarek Masoud, Former Ambassador to Israel and Syria Edward Djerejian, Professor Shai Feldman of Brandeis University, and Professor Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland for a discussion about the recent compounding tragedies facing the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, the historical and recent factors that led to this escalation in the conflict, and the broader geopolitical implications.



Ambassador (Ret.) Edward P. Djerejian joins Harvard Kennedy School's Middle East Initiative following his almost 30-year tenure as founding director of Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy (1994 to 2022). 

Djerejian joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1962 after his service in the Army in Korea (1961-1962).  His 32-year diplomatic career spanned eight presidential administrations from John F. Kennedy to William J. Clinton. Djerejian is a leading expert on national security, foreign policy, public diplomacy, and the complex political, security, economic, religious, and ethnic issues of the broader Middle East. He has played key roles in the Arab-Israeli peace process and regional conflict resolution. He is the author of Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador's Journey Through the Middle East.

He was staff assistant to George W. Ball, the Under Secretary of State, from 1962 to1964.  He served as a political officer in Beirut, Lebanon (1966-1969) and Casablanca, Morocco (1969-1972). Between 1975 and 1977, he was assigned as Consul General in Bordeaux, France.  He was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 1979 to 1981, where he headed the political section, during the critical period in U.S.-Soviet relations marked by the invasion of Afghanistan.

Djerejian served as Deputy Chief of the U.S. mission to the Kingdom of Jordan (1981-1984).  Djerejian was assigned to the White House in 1985 as Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Press Secretary of Foreign Affairs.  He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (1986-1988). Djerejian served both President Reagan and President Bush as U.S. Ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic (1988-1991). He then served under President Bush and President Clinton as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1991-1993).  He was appointed by President Clinton as United States Ambassador to Israel (1993-1994).  In these capacities, he played a key role in the Arab-Israeli peace process, the U.S.-led coalition against Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, successful efforts to end the civil war in Lebanon, the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon, and the establishment of collective and bilateral security arrangements in the Persian Gulf.

Ambassador Djerejian graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1960. He received an Honorary Doctorate in the Humanities from his alma mater in 1992 and a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from Middlebury College. He speaks Arabic, Russian, French, and Armenian.

Djerejian has been awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the Department of State’s Distinguished Honor Award, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Anti-Defamation League’s Moral Statesman Award, the Award for Humanitarian Diplomacy from Netanya Academic College in Israel, the National Order of the Cedar, bestowed by President Émile Lahoud of Lebanon, the Order of Ouissam Alaouite, bestowed by King Mohammed VI of Morocco, and the Order of Honor, bestowed by President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia. He is also a recipient of the Association of Rice Alumni’s Gold Medal for his service to Rice University and a Life Member of the Baker Institute Board of Advisors. Djerejian is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and independent policy research centers. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.  Djerejian also served on a number of corporate boards including Global Industries, Inc., Occidental Petroleum Corporation where he was chairman of the board from 2013-2015, Baker Hughes Company, and currently with The Mexico Fund and Magnolia Oil & Gas Operating LLC.

He is married to Françoise Andree Liliane Marie (Haelters) Djerejian. They have two children, Gregory Peter Djerejian and Francesca Natalia Djerejian, and four grandchildren, Isabel Djerejian, Sebastian Djerejian, Cassandra Colombe Vargas and Camila Ava Vargas


Shibley Telhami is a nonresident senior fellow with the Center for Middle East Policy, in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. He is the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. In the past, Telhami served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Department of State, advisor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, advisor to Congressman Lee Hamilton, and as a member of the Iraq Study Group.

Shibley is an expert on U.S. policy in the Middle East, on Arab politics, and on shifting political identities in the Arab world. He regularly conducts public opinion polls in the Arab world, Israel, and the United States. Among his many publications are “The World Through Arab Eyes: Arab Public Opinion and the Reshaping of the Middle East” (Basic Books, 2013), “The Peace Puzzle: America’s Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace 1989-2011” (Cornell University Press, 2013), and the best-selling “The Stakes: America in the Middle East” (Basic Books, 2003), selected by Foreign Affairs as one of the top five books for that year. In addition, he was selected by the Carnegie Corporation of New York with the New York Times as one of the “Great Immigrants” for 2013.



Shai Feldman is president of Sapir Academic College in Sha'ar Hanegev (near Sderot), Israel. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and is a fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London. From 2001-2003, Feldman served as a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. From 1997-2005, Feldman was Head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. He is the author or co-author of numerous books among which the most recent is Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East, with Abdel Monem Said Aly and Khalil Shikaki (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) — the first-ever university textbook on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict to have been co-authored by an Israeli, a Palestinian, and an Egyptian presenting a broader Arab perspective.