This week Davenport hosted two interesting and timely teas. On February 22, Jefferey Tayler gave a talk about The Need for a New Detente with Russia. Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and the author of seven books. He has traveled the length and breadth of Russia and the former Soviet Union, both to report for U.S. magazines (including The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, Harper’s Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Spin, and National Geographic) and for his books, three of which concern Russia. Since the 2013 publication of his latest book, Topless Jihadis: Inside Femen, the World’s Most Provocative Activist Group, he also has written extensively on religion (as an atheist) for Salon.com and Quillette, and spoken in Atlanta at the Atheist Alliance of America’s Richard Dawkins Award conference for 2015. During the talk, he discussed the Trump administration specifically Putin and Trump’s relationship. Before delving into this topic, Tayler took a step back and gave a lesson on the origins of US-Russian relations. With current changes in the relation between our country and Russia, the talk discussed how these developments would have been different in the Clinton administration.
On February 23, Rashid Khalidi gave his personal view of Palestine and Israel in the “Age of Trump”. Rashid Khalidi is a prominent Middle Eastern scholar, director of Columbia’s School of International Affairs and most importantly, a Davenport alum. Khalidi is a Palestinian American whose writings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Palestinian struggle for statehood have been as controversial as they have been well-lauded. A supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Khalidi has been featured on NPR’s All things Considered, Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, BBC and many other news outlets. He is currently serving as the editor of the scholarly Journal of Palestine Studies. He is a member of the National Advisory Committee of the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East, which describes itself as “a national organization of Jews, Christians and Muslims dedicated to dialogue, education and advocacy for peace based on the deepest teachings of the three religious traditions”. During the talk he highlighted his time at Yale in relation to these conflicts and the ways he felt Middle-Eastern policies would change with the new administration.