The Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA) was created twelve years ago to promote a better understanding of the cultures, politics, and legal institutions of the Middle East, and to encourage students connected with the region to meet and exchange views. Our membership roster has included students who are American, Armenian, Egyptian, Indian, Iranian, Iraqi, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Libyan, Pakistani, Saudi, Syrian, and Turkish. Students from all countries are warmly welcomed.

MELSA’s activities range from political discussion groups and lectures, to dinners and parties, to films and other cultural activities. Spurred by the Middle East peace talks and the particularly volatile nature of the region in the past several years, MELSA has dedicated a significant amount of its time and resources to issues pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict, although it has not exclusively focused on this. MELSA has sponsored events concerning the role of NATO in recent years, American counter-terrorism efforts, the plight of the Palestinians, Israeli society, and the Arab Israeli peace talks. We have shown films from around the region, and dine on a variety of Middle Eastern foods. No matter what the event or the issue, MELSA provides a valuable forum in which members can freely interact with one another.

We have also, in alternating years, sponsored an ongoing Arab-Jewish dialogue, together with the Harvard Program on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution (PICAR). In this dialogue we seek to go beyond confrontation and rhetoric, and reach a high level of understanding, if not acceptance, of each other’s positions.

Not least, membership in MELSA has allowed us to develop friendships we never would have had in our respective homes. Informal meetings, lunches, etc., have been at least as important as officially sponsored activities in fortifying these friendships. We look forward to more social events in 2001-2002.

The upcoming year promises to be exciting. MELSA looks forward to our annual events, and seeks suggestions for new programs. We rely on the ideas and participation of all of our members, new and old, to plan and carry out activities. We look forward to meeting you in the fall.

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