What kind of ‘clash’ is it? Our discussion will be putting in perspective the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from various dimensions in search for peace-making in the Middle East.
- Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
- Allin, Dana H. and Steven N. Simon, “Trump and the Holy Land: First, Do No Harm,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2017.
- Tharoor, Ishaan,“Trump’s Unquestioning Support Means Trouble for Israel,” The Washington Post, January 2017.
- Ross, Dennis and David Makovsky, “The Way Forward on Settlements: Advice for Trump from Two Veteran Mideast Negotiators,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, January 2017.
- Kurtzer, “Transformational Leadership and the Prospects for Peace,” Palestine-Israel Journal, 2017.
The readings listed above serve as a response to a question I’ve posed about the original contributions from writers from the Middle East who bring a different level of expertise to how we study global conflicts that plague the area. The book Arabs and Israeli’s offer a critical analysis of the highly controversial yet sensitive subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Palestinian, an Israeli, and an Egyptian representing a broader Arab perspective. Their arguments are prefaced with ways in which we can better understand the world around us – a strategic tactic utilized to provide the framework for navigating such a contentious issue. The main approach is the utilization of micro, meso and macro level perspectives, specifically, individual personalities and relations, regional and international systemic influences.
More specifically the authors identify three distinct lens to use to effectively study the conflict- first, there are universally agreed upon events, which make up the first part of each chapter. Second, there are underlying affective states that influence perceptions and representations of those events, which are discussed in the second part of each chapter. Third, there is a higher-order analysis that transcends subject-position by bringing together the three authors – Israeli, Palestinian, and Egyptian – into conversation and agreement upon a common discourse.
Prior to this reading, one of the resonating events that occurred in the U.S. in regards to the conflict was the impassioned speech delivered by a key stakeholder- then Secretary of State, John Kerry. His speech marked a turn in American Middle East diplomacy due to his ability to not only weave together Israeli, Palestinian, and American narratives and outline principles for a two-state peace deal, but shine the spotlight on the current state of affairs & America’s role in alleviating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He asserted that “the status quo is leaning toward one state and perpetual occupation & expressed that America “cannot be true to our own values” while allowing that to take place.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one that has been around for so long that it has played a role in American foreign policy decision making for more than 5 presidential administrations. This fact alone was a clear indicator to me that brushing up on the history and cause and effect relationships between the countries would be crucial to getting a clear picture of the current state of affairs. In the past, the Palestinian leaders have proved unable or unwilling to grasp past diplomatic opportunities, and the current Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the most right-wing in Israel’s history, represents segments of society that are fixated on a vision of an Israel that excludes Palestinian aspirations and rights. Moreover, years of settlement building and entrenching occupation have the potential to turn Americans who support equality over tribalism against Israeli policies. In his speech, Kerry emphasized that if the occupation continued, millions of Palestinians will continue to live in a state that is “separate and unequal.” This statement, one that has deep grips on the foundational fabric of American history, hit home for me & I viewed it as an effective way to draw comparisons to familiar struggles in America to increase engagement, commitment & awareness around the conflict abroad.
[Would an Israeli accept living that way? Would an American accept living that way? Will the world accept it?” For Americans, this language harks back to the era of Jim Crow, which left a legacy of institutional racism that we are still struggling to overcome. -John Kerry]
Should America’s foundational core values, -freedom, justice, and equality are our, despite imperfect applications, be applied tin the Palestinian context?
Given the history of conflict and outcomes from attempted negotiations, the reading on “Transformational Leadership” spoke volumes. In order to invoke transformational leadership, one must
“assess the responsibility of each party for the failures and
setbacks and will look for specific factors that account for the breakdown of the peace process — Palestinian violence and incitement, Israeli settlements and occupation practices, political weaknesses within each polity and the like.” More importantly, understanding the calculations of the leaders on both sides of the conflict in deciding whether to negotiate will pave the way for the utilization of innovative and creative techniques in finding compromise & peace.
It is important to note that since John Kerry’s speech, America has elected a new Commander & Chief, who holds different sentiments & who has embraced a drastically different approach to the conflict. President Donald Trump is known for his unpredictable, non-traditional and often senseless or lack thereof policy agendas on the hot button issues. Can Trump muster the creativity, persistence, patience and determination to achieve what he has called “the ultimate deal”, & what form will the deal take? Although he ran on the notion that a two-state solution to the conflict was his approach, his alliance with Netanyahu, have fueled speculation around those sentiments no longer being the case. “With Trump behind [Netanyahu] and a silent opposition, the prime minister is leading Israel to a binational state, which will be either not Jewish or not democratic.” However, this alliance stands to be threatened by the current state of affairs in Israel—“the political imbalance created by an ineffectual, shrinking center-left; the broad popularity of the right, especially among younger Israeli Jews; and demographic trends that do not appear to favor territorial compromise—and the dire state of the rest of the Middle East, there is also the potential for considerable harm to be inflicted by ill-advised policies”. In either scenario, one wrong move can lead to global sentiments that loathe the contradictions to the fundamental core values that Americans hold near & dear & that may have implications on patriotism for one, & even more pressing – America’s place as the world’s dominant hegemon. The chess board is set & all pieces are in their chosen and|or forced spots, with his next move, the U.S. President can turn the challenges into opportunities to align the dividing lines of two countries while simultaneously reintegrating patriotism and morale back into the American fabric.