The Yale Law School's annual Middle East Legal Studies Seminar brings together legal scholars and practitioners from North America and the Middle East to address the most pressing challenges facing the region. In a year filled with enormous political change-the aftermath of the Iraq war, the death of Yasser Arafat, and the assassination of Rafik Hariri--this Symposium on Nation-Building in the Middle East could not be more timely. Seminar presentations touched on Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Palestine among others. Iraq, however, dominated discussion from the first session to the last. For many, reflection on the justice and legality of nation-building took place against the background of a graveyard, populated by as many as one hundred thousand Iraqi casualties of the U.S. invasion. Others rejoiced in the historic events of January 30, 2005, the final day of the Seminar and by chance the day millions of Iraqis risked their lives to choose their government. The discussion throughout the weekend was animated and informed by these conflicting impulses toward optimism and despair.
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