By: Yaira Katz  | 

Unpack With YUPAC: Over 75 Students Attend Discussion with Dr. Clawson and Dr. Cristol on Middle East Policy

Last Monday, Nov. 21, YUPAC held a moderated discussion between Dr. Jonathan Cristol and Dr. Patrick Clawson on the topics of the Iran Deal, the U.S.-Israel relationship, and general Middle East policy. Over 75 YU students and faculty members attended the event in the Sky Cafe in Belfer Hall. 

Dr. Patrick Clawson is the Morningstar Senior Fellow and the Director of Research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he directs the Viterbi Program on Iran and U.S. Policy. He previously worked at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Clawson has authored more than 150 articles about the Middle East and international economics which have been published on the pages of major newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. He has also been a witness in many congressional committees, where he has testified more than twenty times and has served as an expert witness in more than thirty federal cases against Iran.

Dr. Jonathan Cristol is a subject matter expert for a Maryland-based defense contractor and a senior fellow at the Center for Civic Engagement at Bard College. He also teaches political science at Yeshiva University, and was the interim director of international studies at Adelphi University, where he is now a research fellow in the university’s Levermore Global Scholars Program. Dr. Cristol was a fellow at the World Policy Institute from 2015 to 2018, where he led roundtables focused on a highly specific aspect of a U.S. defense alliance. Dr. Cristol is the author of the 2019 book “The United States and the Taliban before and after 9/11” and has written more than fifty articles on international affairs for many major publications. He appears regularly in international television, radio and print media.

The event was co-sponsored by the Yeshiva College Student Council, the Stern College for Women Student Council, the Jacob Hecht Pre-Law Society, the Dunner Political Science Society, the Israel Club and the Shevet Glaubach Center for Career Strategy and Professional Development. The Center’s CAPS Director of Career Strategy & Technology, Joshua Meredith, spoke briefly to the attendees before the event.

Elishama Marmon, a vice president of YUPAC and senior in Yeshiva College (‘24), introduced the topic and speakers, as well as Hillel Golubtchik, a sophomore at Yeshiva College (‘25) and YUPAC board member, who moderated the discussion.

The first issue discussed was Iran and its nuclear program. The conversation focused on how it affects Israel’s security, US policy and the relationship between Israeli and American intelligence agencies. While discussing Israel’s political station within the Middle East Dr. Clawson stated clearly that while the threat posed by Iran is an element of Israel’s relationship with the Arab signatories of the Abraham Accords, the main factor driving those countries to pursue relations with the Jewish state may be solely financial. On the topic of the war in Ukraine, Dr. Cristol was vocal about his belief that Israel is mistaken in deciding to withhold aid in order to avoid conflict with Russia. Finally, the two speakers reflected on working in think tanks. These organizations are the source of many U.S. policy decisions, and it takes a lot of work to be a contributor in one. 

Allie Orgen (SCW ‘24), the co-president of both YUPAC and the Pre-Law Society, said of the event that “It was incredible to see the number of people who came to listen to this important discussion on a key topic for YU students. The way that Dr. Cristol and Dr. Clawson, despite their disagreements on a number of topics, were able to sit down and have a civil discussion with each other about these potentially heated topics is really inspiring in these times, when that kind of discussion is rare. My board did a fantastic job pulling this all together!”

Thank you to the clubs who sponsored the event, the speakers who came to speak and the many people who came out to hear a discussion of important ideas.

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Photo Caption: Over 75 YU students turned out to listen to a conversation on the topic of the Middle East, the Iran Deal and the U.S.-Israel Relationship

Photo Credit: Elishama Marmon