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SCIENCE DIPLOMACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
(Extensions of Remarks - February 14, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E156-E157]
                  SCIENCE DIPLOMACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST

                                 ______
                                 

                       HON. JANICE D. SCHAKOWSKY

                              of illinois

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, February 14, 2013

  Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, 2013 will mark the 10th anniversary of a 
unique and historical gathering of scientists from 15 Middle East 
countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, 
Libya, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and 
United Arab Emirates. In 2003, the first conference, ``Frontier of 
Chemical Sciences: Research and Education in the Middle East--A Bridge 
to Peace,'' was held on the Mediterranean island of Malta. These 
conferences later came to be known as ``The Malta Conferences.''
  In each of the conferences, scientists meet for five days with six 
Nobel Laureates to work on scientific issues of importance to the 
region: Air and Water Quality, Alternative Energy Sources, 
Nanotechnology and Material Science, Medicinal Chemistry, and Science 
Education for All Levels. Since 2003, five conferences were held. By 
invitation from UNESCO, Malta V was held at UNESCO's Headquarters in 
Paris in December 2011. The conference was opened by the Director 
General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and followed by a speech by HRH Prince 
Hassan of Jordan on his vision for the new Middle East.
  Although acts of war and terrorism have destabilized the political 
and economic climate in the Middle East and around the world, it 
remains possible for scientists from opposing sides of the political 
and cultural conflict to meet in an attempt to forge relationships that 
bridge the deep chasms of distrust and intolerance.
  In the Middle East, it is especially important that stable, mutually 
respectful, personal relationships be created that will enhance 
research interactions and collaborations, contribute to a more peaceful 
atmosphere, encourage international development, help establish a more 
favorable environment for regional peace and security, and foster 
further growth in regional scientific and technological cooperation. 
This is the goal of the Malta Conferences.
  In 2012, the Malta Conferences Foundation was established as a 
nonprofit organization and my great friend and constituent Zafra Lerman 
was elected its president. Like other people who foster social change, 
she too had a dream. The fulfillment of this dream was the Malta 
Conferences.
  Zafra Lerman is a world-renowned scientist and science educator. She 
received her Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and 
conducted research on isotope effects at Cornell University, 
Northwestern University, and at the Swiss Polytechnic in Zurich, 
Switzerland. Professor Lerman developed an innovative approach of 
teaching science to non-science majors by integrating science with the 
arts, and with students' personal interests and cultural backgrounds. 
These methods have received national and international recognition. She 
has been invited to lecture on her methods all over the U.S. and around 
the world.
  For the past 25 years, she has worked tirelessly on behalf of 
dissidents all over the world. She chaired the Committee on Scientific 
Freedom and Human Rights for the American Chemical Society (ACS). At 
great risk to her personal safety, she has worked within the Soviet 
Union, China and other countries and has succeeded in preventing 
executions, releasing prisoners of conscience from jail and bringing 
dissidents into freedom.
  Professor Lerman has received many national and international awards. 
In 1999, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, 
Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from President Clinton. In 1998, 
she received the Kilby Laureate Award for extraordinary contribution to 
society through science,

[[Page E157]]

technology, invention, innovation and education. In 2003, she was the 
recipient of the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Parsons Award in 
recognition of outstanding public service to society through chemistry. 
The Royal Society of Chemistry in England awarded her the 2005 Nyholm 
Award, and the New York Academy of Sciences presented her with the 2005 
Heinz Pagels Human Rights for Scientists Award. She received the 2007 
George Brown Award for International Scientific Cooperation from the 
U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF). In 2011, she 
received an award for Stimulating Collaborations and Ensuring Human 
Rights by the International Conference on Chemistry for Mankind in 
India.
  The capstone of her career is her work on the Malta Conferences. The 
Malta Conferences are the only platform where scientists from 15 Middle 
East countries are collaborating and cooperating on scientific issues 
as well as developing professional and personal relationships with each 
other. The common language of science is used for science diplomacy, 
which serves as a bridge to peace, tolerance and understanding in the 
Middle East and improves the relationships between the Muslim countries 
and the U.S., and between the Arabs, Iranians and Israelis.

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