Campus, News

Panel maps pathways to progress in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Professors Andrew Bacevich, Noam Chomsky, Assaf Kfoury and Charles Dunbar held a panel discussion on the Israel/Palestine conflict Thursday evening at Boston University School of Law. PHOTO BY ANN SINGER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Professors Andrew Bacevich, Noam Chomsky, Assaf Kfoury and Charles Dunbar held a panel discussion on the Israel/Palestine conflict Thursday evening at Boston University School of Law. PHOTO BY ANN SINGER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Two Boston University professors joined a conversation with Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Noam Chomsky, a renowned linguist and political commentator, for a panel Thursday to address making positive change in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

More than 100 students attended the panel, organized by the Arabic Society of Boston University, Thursday night in the School of Law auditorium.

Andrew Bacevich, a College of Arts and Sciences professor of international relations and history, and Assaf Kfoury, a CAS professor of computer science, also participated in the panel. CAS Professor of international relations Charles Dunbar moderated the conversation.

Kfoury said one of his goals in speaking on the panel was to encourage students to be skeptical of the information they receive about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from news sources.

“As any educator, it’s important that students develop a critical sense of what they hear and make judgments based on information that is closer to the objective reality,” Kfoury said. “I’d like people to question whatever is being given to them through the media and through other professors based on fundamental principles such as justice, liberty [and] solidarity among the people.”

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be of interest to BU students because the topic is a universal issue, Kfoury said.

“We need to teach ourselves to be advocates for these principles and fight against any form of injustice,” he said. “It’s not something to be passive about. These are issues that should be important for all of us.”

Bacevich said the conflict is a source of instability in the Middle East, which American students should understand.

“I thought [the] turnout was good, but less than I had expected,” he said. “Professor Chomsky cuts a high profile, and I had thought he’d attract a larger crowd.”

During the talk, panelists spoke about the influence the United States has in creating a peaceful resolution between Israel and Palestine.

Bacevich assessed the ability of the United States to force such a peace agreement as minimal, but said the country should be evenhanded in its treatment of Israel and Palestine.

Chomsky argued the United States should have a stronger influence in the conflict.

“Israel will continue to do exactly what it’s doing with U.S. support,” he said. “There’s no reason for that [behavior] to end unless U.S. support ends.”

CAS senior Mason Bushway said he found it interesting that both Bacevich and Chomsky advocated for a change in the United States’ position on Israel, despite their varying views on how much influence such a move would have.

“We may not be all-powerful, but what is happening now in Israel is only made possible by our involvement, and that in and of itself makes us extremely powerful players in this debate,” Bushway said.

Amina Egal, a College of General Studies freshman, said it was important to have talks such as these addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because it allows Americans to be more involved in the issue.

“It’s a really difficult issue [and] something we’ve been trying to figure out for decades,” Egal said. “A possible strategy would be American citizens speaking up more about the issues abroad, because we usually take a more complacent view … To have speakers like this come to our school and speak about these issues, it’s definitely eye-opening and making us aware of how involved we should be.”

No Comments

  1. Globally, the story is the same. Out of the 57 nations which comprise the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, only three rise to the level of flawed democracies, according to the 2010 Democracy Index by The Economist.[7]

    With the exception of communist and former communist countries, Islamic nations impose the highest level of government restrictions on religion.

    Among the predominantly Islamic countries in the middle east and North Africa, 80% have anti-blasphemy laws and 60% of these nations enforce them.[8] Democracy, individual liberty, free speech, toleration, and equality are simply not consistent – or even compatible – with traditional Islamic theology and Shariah law.

    So don’t blame Israel or any other entity for Islam’s inability to lead its people through means other than brute force.

  2. The official media narrative is that these differences are the results of eons of oppression,
    checkpoints and blockades. Fair enough. But then why does the IMF put Israel’s
    GDP Per Capita well ahead of the oil rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

    Saudi Arabia has no Israeli checkpoints, no Israeli soldiers or planes flying
    overhead. It has wealth literally pouring out of the ground with a fifth of the
    world’s petroleum reserves. And yet the IMF puts it 13 places behind Israel and
    the World Bank puts it 8 places behind Israel. The only Muslim countries with a
    better GDP Per Capita rating than Israel are small monarchies drowning in oil.

    The non-oil Muslim countries who are closest to Israel are Malaysia and
    Lebanon, 32 and 33 places behind Israel. Both countries also have sizable
    non-Muslim populations. Muslims make up only 50 percent of Lebanon and only 60
    percent of Malaysia.

    38 places below Israel is Turkey, which until recently was a secular country
    and actually has a statistically significant atheist population. And that’s it.
    Below that we fall off a cliff into places like Belarus, South Africa and
    Grenada; all of whom still have better GDP Per Capita rates. No Muslim country
    without oil has a better GDP Per Capita than a Muslim country that has sizable
    Christian or Buddhist minorities.

  3. Modern Muslims have religious conflict with: Hindus in Kashmir; Christians in Nigeria, Egypt, and Bosnia; atheists in Chechnya; Baha’is in Iran; Animists in Darfur; Buddhists in Thailand; each other in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen; Jews in Israel; Why is Islam involved in more sectarian and religious conflicts than any other religion today? In fact, why is Islam the only religion in conflict with every single one of today’s major world religions?
    But you think belligerent pugnacious Islam has legitimate grievances in this constant conflict, and that, for example in Palestine, Islam is just defending its own reasonable interests?
    No, not at bottom. At bottom what we have in Islam is a violent, expansionist totalitarianism. That’s why Islam is in conflict all over the world with every other religion.

  4. Is it a peace process ?
    Or rather it is
    Piece by piece process of Arabs biting the defending Israel!

    USA should remember their wise president Abraham Lincoln statement:
    “”You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could
    and should do for themselves.””

    The first step toward success in the ME will be taken when USA and EU will refuse to be a captive in the constantly failing paradigm in which you are locked in.

    USA and EU will help a real peace process when they will accept that the single problem is:
    ***Arabs refusal to recognize Israel, the Jewish state and declare end of conflict, was valid in 1947 and reminds valid as well today**

    All the other issues discussed by the Arabs are only tactical means to divert the world form the main issue-Arabs quest to destroy Israel.

    The Palestinians received from USA and EU funds more than 4 times highs compared to the help provided to Europe by the Marshal plan after the ww2.

    This massive help didn’t promote peace.
    On the contrary, it was used to entrench the conflict.

    Hello !!! USA and EU are you make a decision beware your faulty policy, learn the root cause and change
    (but not in line with the “Change “” faulty president)

    By avoiding learning and changing you are not part of the cure, you are part of the problem
    The only way to help to promote a real peace is to stop funding the Palestinians by USA and EU. Europe used the funds to build in a short time a prosperous democratic society with high moral values

    The Palestinians are using the funds for
    *hate preaching and teaching,
    *funding massive terrorism worldwide
    * leaders living a luxury life
    *invest in any type of action promoting endless conflict
    *suppressing the Christians that population dropped from about 140,000 in 1967 to 51,000 in 2013,

    Arabs truth is said in Arabic language and not in English
    ( they lie to infidels in line with the laying Takiyya doctrine)

    1: Al Jazeera interview:
    “If we say that we want to wipe Israel out its too difficult.
    It’s not acceptable policy to say so.
    Don’t say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself.
    Everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one o””

    2:”The peace talks with Israel are part of
    and threaten its legitimacy.”
    Palestine Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah in Lebanon.

    The Arabs know the west very well.
    Hasan Nasrala said:
    “”The west will sell all their values for a good economic deal with he Arabs””


    Provide funds only for peace promoting actions on the round. Israel the Jewish state and declare end of conflict.

    Hopefully after that USA and EU failed once again in what is called the peace process, they will move from process to fund real peace actions>

    USA administration should start doing the right things as Winston Churchill said:
    “”We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.”