Khaled Al-Hroub, Advisory Board

Khaled Al-Hroub is a professor in residence of the faculty of liberal arts at Northwestern University in Qatar. His focus is Middle Eastern studies and politics with particular interest on Islamism, and Arab media studies. Hroub is also a senior research fellow at the Centre of Islamic Studies of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, where he was the director of Cambridge Arab Media Project (CAMP). Between 2000 and 2007 he was the host of a weekly book review program on Al Jazeera. His academic writings appeared in Middle East Journal, Middle East International, Journal for Palestine Studies, ‘Shu’un Arabyya’ (Cairo), Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies, Holy Land Studies Journal, New Global Studies, The International Spectator (Rome), Outre Terre (Paris), Internationale Politik (Berlin). His weekly articles appear in Arab dailies (Jordan, Qatar, Egypt, UAE, Oman, Palestine, Mauritania and the UK); he has also been published in the Daily Star, International Herald Tribune, El Pais and La Razon, and is a frequent writer for OpenDemocracy.com and Qantara.de.

Dr. Natalie Khazal, Advisory Board

Dr. Natalie Khazal is an Assistant Professor at the International Studies Department for Texas A&M University. She grew up in the largest port city on the Black Sea, and received her doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of Los Angeles. Dr. Khazaal has taught classes on Arab culture, media, and globalization that develop students’ critical thinking, curiosity, and cultural tolerance at Georgetown University, UCLA, Carleton College, Middlebury College, and TAMU. She is the faculty advisor for No Lost Generation-Texas, a student initiative that connects with aid organizations, NGOs, governments, and the private sector to help with the global refugee/migrant crisis relief efforts. She was also a founding board member of the Cannon River STEM School and a cultural consultant for the 2005 Spielberg movie Munich and other popular productions.

 Dr. Khazaal studies the links among minorities, media, and language. She has published two books and several articles, including on Arab non-religious groups, speciesism in the US and Spanish media, and EU policy on vivisection. Her latest book, Pretty Liar: Television, Language, and Gender in Wartime Lebanon, is a cultural study of the role of audiences in redefining trust in the media during violent crises and deep social divisions.

She was also a founding board member of the Cannon River STEM School and a cultural consultant for the 2005 Spielberg movie Munich and other popular productions. Dr. Khazaal studies the links among minorities, media, and language. She has published two books and several articles, including on Arab non-religious groups, speciesism in the US and Spanish media, and EU policy on vivisection. Her latest book, Pretty Liar: Television, Language, and Gender in Wartime Lebanon, is a cultural study of the role of audiences in redefining trust in the media during violent crises and deep social divisions.

Dr. Laith Al-Shawaf, Advisory Board

Dr. Laith Al-Shawaf is an evolutionary psychologist and an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs. He has worked as a statistical consultant, taught and conducted research in several different countries, and is the youngest person to have received the honor of a Visiting Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. His work (together with collaborators) has been featured in the BBC, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, World Economic Forum, The Huffington Post, Phys.org, Slate, The Today Show, Men’s Health, Psychology Today, and Time Magazine. He is also an elected member of AGYA, the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He’s thrilled to have joined the IBB team.

Professor Cynthia P. Schneider, Advisory Board

Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University.
Expert in cultural diplomacy, focusing on relations with the Muslim world.

Cynthia P. Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, teaches, publishes, and Organizes initiatives in the field of cultural diplomacy, with a focus on relations with the Muslim world. From 1998-2001, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, during which time she led initiatives in cultural diplomacy, biotechnology, cyber security, and education. 

Ambassador Schneider co-directs the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown, as well as the Los Angeles-based MOST Resource (Muslims on Screen and Television). Additionally, she co-directs the Timbuktu Renaissance, an innovative strategy and platform for countering extremism and promoting peace and development, which grew out of her work leading the Arts and Culture Dialogue Initiative as a Senior Non Resident Fellow within Brookings’ Center for Middle East Policy.

Professor Schneider teaches courses in Diplomacy and Culture in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where, from 1984-2005, she was a member of the art history faculty, and published on Rembrandt and seventeenth century Dutch art. She also organized exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Dr. Schneider publishes and speaks frequently on topic related to arts, culture, and media and international affairs, particularly the Muslim world.

Her writings range from blogs for the Huffington Post, CNN.com, and Foreign Policy to policy papers for Brookings. Dr. Schneider has a PhD and BA from Harvard University and serves on various Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards.

Professor Steven Pinker, Advisory Board

Steven_Pinker_2011

Professor Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He grew up in Montreal and earned his BA from McGill and his PhD from Harvard. Currently the Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his nine books including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary and writes frequently for The New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications. His tenth book, published in February 2018, is called Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

Isn’t that worth fighting for?

 

September 11, 2001 is a date Americans will never forget, changing us forever. But what Americans often don’t remember is how that date also changed the rest of the world, especially the Middle East.

Seventeen years ago, I was 10-years-old, growing up in Baghdad under the regime of Saddam Hussein. I remember watching the buildings collapse, having no idea that the smoke and debris would transform my life, too.

My younger self could never have imagined that one day I would become a refugee and end up in the same country where those buildings came crashing down — essentially because that horrific attack happened.

9/11 redefined America, but it utterly destroyed the lives of many.

Along that tortuous journey I lost my own brother to the same terrorists that attacked the States, survived being kidnapped, watched as my world and everything I knew disintegrated around me.

But out of all that horror came hope. I fled Iraq, and after many countries and adventures wound up living only a few hundred yards from the 9/11 Memorial. I’ve gone through the looking glass, and have come out the other side.

My odyssey has inspired me to start a nonprofit organization with the mission of preventing extremism before it takes root. I feel a personal responsibility to stop all this suffering and destruction in its tracks.

So far I have been blessed with success. Campus programs inspire thousands across the US; our translation program is making enlightenment texts available to millions who otherwise would never have access.

As our counter-terrorism programs expand to grassroots advocacy, research workshops, conferences and outreach, I have to ask myself: As a nation are we doing any better in the “War Against Terror” since 9/11?

My answer is, sadly, no. Al Qaeda looks moderate today compared to other extremists organizations, all of whom continue to wreak havoc throughout the world, delivering in their wake seemingly endless suffering.

Something is failing here, and I can’t help but conclude that we are talking more than actually doing. Every night we see talking heads and “experts” on TV, but are we better at understanding this threat and how to fight it?

What frightens me the most is the pattern I see here in the States, where civil discourse is becoming impossible, and where polarization and partisanship are making it impossible to talk to one another and solve problems.

Ironically, Americans are plummeting into our own extremism, simply defined as “holding extreme political or religious views, fanaticism.” Trust me, I know where this leads. We can’t let ourselves become those we fight.

Not only is constructive debate suffering, but our ability to work together for common goals, such as the fight against terror. We are losing focus, distracted by our own nonsense, and forgetting what makes us truly American.

Seventeen years later, the same forces that created 9/11 are busy plotting to do it again. I have dedicated my life to help stop them, because I have personally endured the results of extremist ideology and violence.

So as we contemplate this solemn day, remembering those who suffered here in the States — and the tens of millions impacted throughout the world — let’s also remember our duty to protect and defend.

Part of that duty is to uphold what makes us great: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Joy for me, an Iraqi boy with the life goal of keeping buildings from falling down, is to help make that American ideal ring true.

Let’s never forget, but also take action. Join me as we prevent extremism before it has a chance to even take root. Only together can we help make the world a safer and better place. Isn’t that worth fighting for?