Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Panel brings together Middle Eastern scholars

Published: April 5, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.

A panel of scholars discussed the relevance of the two-state solution in regard to negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians in an event April 3 hosted by the Crown Center for Middle East Studies.

The panel consisted of three members as well a moderator, including Asher Susser whose recent book on Jordan, Palestine and Israel was on sale at the event. The second member was Doctor Ahmad Khalidi, a professor at Saint Antony’s College at Oxford, and the third panelist was Doctor Robert Malley, the program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Center in Washington D.C. Professor Shai Feldman (POL), the Judith and Sidney Swartz director of the Crown center. They agreed with each other on nearly every point, which turned what was advertised as more of a dialogue between opposing ideologies into a series of lectures that reinforced the same issues numerous times.
The event still proved to be very interesting with well-articulated arguments from each of the panelists. That being said, it was, on some level, almost disappointing that each of the panelists essentially agreed with each other. All of the panelists agreed that the two-state solution was in fact still relevant. It draws into question whether the advertising for the event, which boldly asked whether this idea still had legs, was slightly sensationalist in an attempt to draw a crowd. And it questions what could be best achieved by both parties working toward their own betterment independent of each other.

As one panelist put it, “peoples don’t negotiate their narratives,” emphasizing how the burden of the past can inhibit negotiation and progress on both sides of the conflict. It was extremely exciting to have such esteemed scholars and minds speak at Brandeis. Malley had previously worked in the Clinton administration and, according to a member of the Jordanian royal family, there is no one in the world more knowledgeable about the state of Jordan than Susser. The advertising for the event was somewhat misleading. The event focused more on Susser’s book than might be expected, although it did sound very interesting and was conveniently available for sale outside the conference center.

President Fred Lawrence opened the event before having to leave for a previous engagement. During his opening remarks Lawrence thanked all of the members of the panel and everyone in the audience. He highlighted the need of respectful dialogue from both sides regarding this serious and tense conflict. Lawrence stated that dialogues like this are extremely important because all too often shouting and refusing to listen to the opposition are mistaken for legitimate discussion in regard to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In light of the recent protest of Knesset members by vocal Brandeis students at Temple Emanuel last week, one cannot help but wonder if this is the kind of unhelpful shouting to which Lawrence had been referring and criticizing.