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PRESENT DAY, OVER THERE. How facile it is of us (some would say snug or even smug) to judge what it's like to live in the Middle East today.

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies hosts a lecture by Dr. F. Gregory Gause, political science professor at the University of Vermont. He talks about the United States, Iraq and the future of the Middle East. Gause studies international politics, in particular the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian/Arabian Gulf. His books include, Oil Monarchies: Domestic and Security Challenges in the Arab Gulf States and Saudi-Yemeni Relations: Structures and Foreign Influence.

The lecture is free and takes place at UA's Social Sciences Building Auditorium, Room 100, located at 1145 E. South Campus Drive, diagonally southwest of Old Main on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. Call 621-8079 for details.

Later in the week, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7:15 p.m., the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, hosts Israel Chai, a lecture series featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will. His discussion covers the prospect of war with Iraq and ramifications for people living in Israel. Proceeds from the event benefit Israeli victims of terror and their families. Honorary co-chairs of Israel Chai are Paul Baker, Jim Click, Donald Diamond, Dorothy Finley, Rep. Jim Kolbe and Mayor Bob Walkup.

The event is open to all, but you must pre-register. Suggested contribution is $18. The lecture takes place at Congregation Anshei Israel, 5550 E. Fifth St. Call 577-9393 to reserve your spot.

HISTORY, OVER HERE. On Saturday, Feb. 8, La Reunión de El Fuerte offers a view of what life was like in old Tucson way back when.

For the first time, Tucsonans can view the Fort Lowell Commissary and Quartermaster Offices since the building was purchased by the city last fall. This is the 22nd year for La Reunión featuring free, self-guided walking tours of 24 sites representing 1,500 years of history.

Staff of the Arizona Historical Society talk about the future vision for the property. The inner courtyard is open to the public, though the building itself, which houses private apartments, remains closed. Stop by from noon to 4 p.m. for site visits, music and traditional food. The Southern Arizona Old Time Fiddlers perform. There are demonstrations by the Ft. Huachuca B Troop Cavalry plus Mariachi music. At 1:30 p.m., the Fourth Cavalry Regimental Band dresses in period Army uniforms and performs a repertoire of 19th century music,

The Commissary was built in 1873 and is located at the corner of Craycroft and Ft. Lowell Roads. Free parking is available at Ft. Lowell Park. Ft. Lowell Road itself is closed from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. between Craycroft and Beverly, so hop on the free shuttle to get around. For information, call 318-0219.

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