from Ambassador Akbar Ahmed

My dear friend Ari,

Once again I see you are in the eye of a small storm. Such gusts are crucial if we must air our opinions and differences in order to understand each other better.

As a Muslim committed in helping in anyway I can to bring peace, stability and friendship between Palestinians and Israelis the first best step is to “bring down the temperature”. This can only happen through exercises like those you so boldly and imaginatively conduct. For it is in the neutral arena of art that we come to learn of each other and indeed ourselves. The discussions and dialogue that you encourage afterwards genuinely opens peoples’ minds and leads to understanding.

Through initiatives you have taken and the ever widening friends you have created, I believe you are the best ambassador for your community and the understanding of the Middle East. In your generosity of spirit I have found you a true visionary, an extraordinary artist, and a sincere friend. To me you are the role model of an Abrahamic leader.
This storm in a teacup will pass my friend. Let it not discourage you from continuing to reach out and build bridges of understanding.

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed
Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies
American University