February 16, 2006

HARRISONBURG—The Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University is pleased to announce the February 27, 2006, visit to JMU by David Baker, senior foreign press coordinator for the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel Ariel Sharon, who will deliver a public lecture in HHS 2301 at 7:00 p.m.

Baker’s JMU lecture, part of the Nelson Institute’s Guardian Lecture Series, will be on “The Other Middle East Conflict: Israel, the Palestinians, and the Battle for the Media and World Opinion” and will be co-sponsored by JMU Hillel. The lecture qualifies as a Wellness Passport event for JMU students.

Baker, a native of New York City, has held his current position in the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel since August 2000. His duties include liaison between the Israeli government and the international press corps. Among his recent responsibilities was the coordination of the thousands of journalists who covered the Israeli disengagement from Gaza. According to Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute, “This visit represents a wonderful opportunity for JMU faculty and students to encounter someone who has been serving essentially on the front lines of the Middle East media battleground. And, coming as it does one month after the Palestinian Authority elections and one month before the Israeli elections, Mr. Baker’s visit could not be timelier.”

Baker’s visit to JMU was originally scheduled for January 18, but was postponed when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke. During his visit, in addition to the public lecture, Baker will participate in a faculty roundtable organized by the Nelson Institute.

Named after James Madison’s famous observation to his friend George Thompson that “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty” (Letter, June 30, 1825), the Guardian Lecture Series will bring scholars and practitioners distinguished in the Nelson Institute’s four principal areas of interest—terrorism and national security, Africa, religion and global politics, and international ethics and justice—to James Madison University. During their visits to the Harrisonburg, Virginia, campus, the lecturers not only present a public lecture, but also have an opportunity to encounter JMU faculty and studies both in the classroom and in more informal “off the record” discussions.