Carl and Dorothy Bennett Lecture in Judaic Studies to be delivered by Martin Fletcher, former NBC News Tel Aviv Bureau Chief


Image: Martin FletcherCNN's Anderson Cooper has called Martin Fletcher the gold standard of war correspondents.

On Monday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m., Fletcher, the multiple Emmy Award-winning former NBC News Middle East correspondent and Tel Aviv Bureau Chief, will deliver Fairfield University's 2012 Carl and Dorothy Bennett Lecture in Judaic Studies. Free and open to the public, Fletcher will speak about how Israel is thriving today, despite facing an array of monumental problems - including weighing whether or not to attack Iran. The event will take place in the Quick Center for the Arts, on the Fairfield campus. To reserve a ticket, please call the University's Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066.

During his thirty-five years covering world events, mostly for NBC News, Fletcher has garnered a reputation as being one of the most respected, and honored, foreign correspondents in the history of American television news.

"Mr. Fletcher's accomplishments are those of a journalist who has clearly gone beyond the pinnacle of his profession," said Ellen M. Umansky, Ph.D., the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Chair in Judaic Studies. "We are pleased he will be delivering this prestigious lecture in which he will bring his considerable expertise to a discussion about the problems of Israel in the 21st Century."

Fletcher said that Israel is facing its most momentous decision since declaring a state in 1948: whether or not to attack Iran. "It could drag Israel as well as the United States into a war," he said. "And if America is dragged into a conflict against its will, Israel will be blamed, seriously damaging its ties with its key ally."

According to Fletcher, the greatest threat to Israel's long-term survival may be its internal conflicts - neither the extreme left nor the extreme right believe in a two-state solution of the Palestinian conflict. "Ultra-orthodox Jews now form ten percent of the country's population," he noted. "They rarely serve in the army, large numbers do not work or pay taxes, and they are a growing burden the state cannot afford. Arabs are twenty percent of the population and also rarely serve in the army, while increasingly questioning their role in a Jewish society."

A declining proportion of the population actually supports the country, while all leaders recognize that in the long-term this is untenable, Fletcher emphasized. "In short, Israel has enough problems to sink a boat," he said. "So how is it then that the country is thriving? That tourism is at an all-time high? That it is a world leader in so many fields? That the economy is strong and Tel Aviv is on everyone's list as one of the world's great cities, and Jerusalem as one of the most fascinating?"

Fletcher will examine these issues and more from a personal perspective, based on more than three decades of reporting from Israel for NBC News, as well as on his extensive research for his book "Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation" (Thomas Dunne Books, 2010).

Fletcher is also the author of "Breaking News" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2009) and "The List" (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011). He has won the du Pont Award, the TV Pulitzer, several Overseas Press Club awards, the Edward R. Murrow award for excellence several times, and many other awards. He retired from NBC, but still works for the network on contract as a special correspondent.

For more information about Fairfield's Bennett Center for Judaic Studies, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/judaic/.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 23, 2012

Vol. 44, No. 241