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  • Selected Commentaries
  • A. H. Zewail. Don't Cut Aid to Egypt: The Hopeful Case for Supporting Egyptian President Sisi Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2014 (also published under the title Why It Would Be a Big Mistake for the U.S. to Cut Aid to Egypt in Huffington Post/World Post November 5, 2014).

    Some members of Congress have criticized Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi lately and called for a reduction in or elimination of U.S. military aid as a way of punishing his administration. After meeting with Sisi in Cairo recently and talking to a wide range of citizens there, I have come to understand why most Egyptians now support him...

    A. H. Zewail Dire Need for a Middle Eastern Science Spring Nature Materials 13, 318 (2014).

    The Middle East is rich in human and natural resources, but many of its countries need a cultural and scientific transformation to reach worldwide recognition in education, research and economic productivity. Several institutions are making a positive impact, kindling hope for a successful 'science spring'...

    A. H. Zewail and S. Sedky. Science in Arab Renaissance Nature Middle East, January 9, 2014.

    In the past few years, an awakening, through the 'Arab Spring', has focused on a political dimension of societal change. While the process of transformation begins with democracy, it does not end there. Though public uprisings have brought political changes, a new revolution is needed to transform the culture of learning...

    A. H. Zewail. The Revolution Egypt Needs New York Times, October 13, 2013 (also published in International Herald Tribune on October 14, 2013).

    When I was a boy in Desuq, Egypt, a city on the Rosetta branch of the Nile, about 50 miles east of Alexandria, my family lived steps away from the local landmark, a mosque named for a 13th-century Sufi sheik. Five times a day, we would hear the call to prayer. Our imam encouraged us to study, telling my friends and me, again and again, of the message revealed by the Prophet Muhammad: "iqra" &mdash read! Education was in the fabric of our culture and religion...

    A. H. Zewail. Healing Egypt: Three Steps to Unify a Divided Nation Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 2013 (also published as Feature article in Huffington Post on July 12, 2013).

    The uprising of millions of Egyptians since June 30 has led to sharp polarization. Growing up in Egypt, I never saw the country as divided as it is today. Efforts to rebuild the nation must focus on justice, reconciliation, and inclusiveness...

    A. H. Zewail. Egypt's New Year Resolution New York Times, January 3, 2013 (reproduced under the title Islam Is Not the Problem in Egypt in Christian Science Monitor January 4, 2013).

    Egypt is in turmoil, and many so-called experts have concluded that religion is the cause. It is not. The source of turmoil is the gap between expectations of speedy change by those who made the people's revolution two years ago and the slow process of building an entirely new society...

    A. H. Zewail. Syria: Is the World Waiting for Genocide? Huffington Post, November 28, 2012.

    From Nazi Germany to Rwanda, some of the most inhumane atrocities and genocides were committed while the rest of the world was watching. Today we are all witnessing atrocities and mass destruction in Syria. Again we are observing it all unfold before our eyes, with heavy hearts perhaps, but no effective intervention to stop it...

    A. H. Zewail. How curiosity begat Curiosity, Los Angeles Times, August 19, 2012 (reproduced under the titles Curiosity: America's Endangered Triumph and Will America Kill the Curiosity that Sent the Rover to Mars? in Huffington Post August 19, 2012 and Christian Science Monitor August 20, 2012, respectively).

    On Sunday August 5, 2012, I was among a group of people who witnessed the Rover landing on Mars in real time at NASA's Caltech-managed Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. The excitement of this historic moment was overwhelming as we saw the one-ton, car-like Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) breakthrough the red plant's atmosphere and slow its speed from 13,000 mph to zero. One glimpse of those first images from over 100 million miles away demonstrates America's leadership in innovation...

    A. H. Zewail. Egypt's March toward Democracy, New York Times/International Herald Tribune, May 20-21, 2012 (reproduced in Huffington Post May 21, 2012 and published under the title Egyptians Are Still Marching forward toward Democracy in Christian Science Monitor May 21, 2012).

    A few days ago, I watched a debate between Amr Moussa and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, two of the leading candidates among the 13 running for president of Egypt. This stunning debate went on for more than four hours and was watched by millions of Egyptians and other Arabs. Contrary to the perception around the world that Egypt is inexorably sinking into chaos and intolerance, this debate in many ways reflects the hope for a new Egypt following last year's revolution...

    A. H. Zewail. Pillars of Change in Egypt, Los Angeles Times, December 5, 2011 (reproduced in Gulf News December 8, 2011).

    Constitutional, judicial and media reforms along with better education and health care are the next challenges in the quest to build a democratic state. Egyptians are voting to elect a democratic parliament, an experience they have not had for over half a century. This is an extraordinary and exhilarating event. What's remarkable about it, among other things, is that only a week before the plebiscite began, an on-schedule election was thought to be impossible...

    A. H. Zewail. As Elections Loom, Egyptians Must Unify, New York Times/International Herald Tribune, October 5-6, 2011 (reproduced in Christian Science Monitor October 6, 2011 and published under the title As Elections Loom, Egyptians Must Unify: Peace with Israel Can Only Be Based on Popular Support in New. Persp. Quart. October 5, 2011).

    "Where is Egypt going?" a driver named Mohamed asked me recently. It is the question on everyone's mind as the Arab Spring of popular revolution is giving way to the new season of free elections this autumn. At this unique moment in history, there are two critical challenges that face this nation at the heart of the Arab world. The first is how to further catalyze and consolidate the democratic transition through re-establishing unity among all Egyptians. The second is the related issue of achieving a commitment to peace in the Middle East that is genuinely supported by the Egyptian public...

    A. H. Zewail. A Compass of Hope for Egypt: The New City for Science & Technology Is the Aswan Dam for the 21st Century, Huffington Post, June 22, 2011 (reproduced in New Persp. Quart. 28 [Summer], 37, 2011 and published under the title Another Revolution Afoot in Egypt: Top-Notch Science in Christian Science Monitor June 23, 2011).

    Nearly 100 days after the revolution, Egypt is very different from the country I experienced when millions were on the streets calling for the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime. Despite a myriad of problems, now there is a new energy, or, as the Egyptians say hawa gadid — a new air. The big question is how to channel this energy to forge a new Egypt that is democratic and sustainable, both politically and economically...

    A. H. Zewail. Fund Egypt's Future to Save the Arab Uprising, Financial Times, April 25, 2011 (see also the extended version published in New Persp. Quart. 28 [Spring], 39, 2011).

    As I was leaving Cairo after Hosni Mubarak stepped down, I asked Esraa, a young woman who was one of the leaders of the revolution: "What was your objective?" She said, "taghier al nezam", a change of the system. The Egyptians brought down the head of the system, but not the system itself. That is the challenge now...

    A. H. Zewail. Scientific Revolution, New Scientist, April 23, 2011, p.26.

    Scientific research in the Arabian, Persian and Turkish Middle East lags behind that of the west. Of course, there are individual scientists who produce world-class research and there are institutions and nations which make significant contributions in certain fields. Publication and citation indicators show some encouraging trends. But naturally one asks: "Why have Arab, Persian and Turkish scientists as a group underperformed compared with their colleagues in the West or with those rising in the East?"

    A. H. Zewail. Education System Needs Its Own Revolution to Succeed, Times, February 21, 2011 (see also the complete web version).

    The process of transformation begins with democracy, but it does not end there. The first uprising brings political change; a second is now needed to transform Arab learning. The failure of Arab education is one of the underlying causes of youth discontent in the region and has serious cultural, economic and political consequences...

    A. H. Zewail. We Must Unleash the Power of Egypt's Youth, Times, February 16, 2011.

    The Egyptian people have overthrown the Mubarak regime in a peaceful revolution. Now that the tumult has subsided, the hard work of reconstruction must begin. There is a strange mix of excitement and trepidation in the air, but underlying it all is the prospect of real progress — not least in reintroducing Egypt's leadership of the Arab world...

    A. H. Zewail. Egypt's Next Steps, International Herald Tribune, February 3, 2011 (also published in the New York Times on February 2, 2011).

    The revolt that has erupted across Egypt is in many ways historic and should take the nation into a hopeful future. What's unexpected, even by the Egyptians themselves, is that this intifada is led by youth, the so-called Facebook children, with no religious or ideological agenda other than a better future for Egypt and its people...

    A. H. Zewail. The US Needs a New Soft Era, The Guardian, July 12, 2010.

    Earlier this year I was in Alexandria, speaking about educational reform in front of a packed auditorium of students, teachers, and professionals. I was there as the US president's science envoy to the Middle East. I was surrounded by talented young people, ambitious for themselves and for their country. They represent the hope of Egyptian society and are the ones whom Barack Obama's Cairo initiative, "to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world ... based upon mutual interest and mutual respect", must motivate and engage...

    A. H. Zewail. Science as a Shaper of Global Diplomacy, Los Angeles Times (Sunday Edition), June 27, 2010 (also published in the Christian Science Monitor under the title Science, Not Hollywood or Starbucks, Is America's Best Soft Power on June 28, 2010).

    In today's world, America's soft power is commonly thought to reside in the global popularity of Hollywood movies, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Starbucks. But the facts tell a different story. In a recent poll involving 43 countries, 79% of respondents said that what they most admire about the United States is its leadership in science and technology. The artifacts of the American entertainment industry came in a distant second...

    A. H. Zewail. Science in Diplomacy, Cell 141, 204 (2010).

    Throughout human history, science and technology have been the backbone of innovations that have driven economic development. Yet, rather oddly, they have not been seriously invoked in the pursuit of diplomacy. This Commentary examines the important role of science in diplomacy and its soft-power in world affairs and peace...

    A. H. Zewail. Obama's Sweet Egyptian Date, International Herald Tribune, September 30, 2009, p. 8 (also published in the Boston Globe under the title Obama's Challenge: An Islamic Renaissance on September 27, 2009).

    In August, I returned to Egypt, the country of my birth, for the first time since President Obama spoke in June at the University of Cairo. I discussed the president's address with a veteran Egyptian diplomat, who described its impact as "historic". Mr. Obama's words were regarded as a momentous break from the past, spoken by an American president who respects Muslim faith and culture, and is optimistic about future relations with Muslim nations...

    D. Baltimore and A. H. Zewail. We Need a Science White House, Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2008, p. A18.

    Tomorrow Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain should have been going toe-to-toe in a televised science debate. All three were invited by a bipartisan group of Nobel laureates and other scholars called ScienceDebate 2008 to step on stage at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and explain how they will ensure that America continues to dominate the sciences. Leading in scientific research and advancement is an essential element to our future prosperity, health and national defense...

    A. H. Zewail. We Arabs Must Wage a New Form of Jihad, Independent, August 24, 2006.

    The cataclysmic wars in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq have uncovered the reality of Arab unity and plight, and the collective conscience of international society. It is abundantly clear that the Arab people must themselves build a new system for a new future. The current state, as judged by a low GDP, high level of illiteracy, and deteriorating performance in education and science, is neither in consonance with their hearts and minds nor does it provide for their political, economic, and educational aspirations...

    A. H. Zewail. The West and Islam Need not be in Conflict, Independent, October 24, 2006.

    Five years after September 11, we must ask, can western wars solve the so-called global conflict with the Islamic world? The answer, in my opinion, is no. A far better state of world peace would be achieved if the West would make a serious commitment to the just resolution of conflicts, and be genuinely involved, using a fraction of war costs, in building bridges to progress and peace with an understanding of the profound role of pride and faith in the lives of Muslims...

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    Last modified Wed Nov 5 16:53:43 PST 2014.