Public discussion delves into many aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict

For over half a century, the Middle East has been one of the world’s major foreign policy concerns, affecting Arabs and Israelis, Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Eight successive U.S. presidents have attempted to resolve the conflict and although some have made progress, the discord continues.

A public discussion titled “The Arab Israeli Conflict: Is There Really A Solution?” held at the University of Pennsylvania on March 23, examined the issue from divergent perspectives. Cosponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Political Science and the Christopher Brown Center for International Politics, the event featured Ian Lustick, a Penn political science professor, and Gen. Zvi Shtauber, the former director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Shtauber, also a former advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and a participant in the 2000 Camp David Peace Summit, said the last 10 years have been a learning experience for Israel and reality has forced the country to wake up “to the different and more challenging environment than we expected.”

Historically the Middle East has been equated with the Arab World, but now Iran, a Persian Gulf country, is assuming an increasing role there. A major concern in Israel is the emergence of Iran and how to digest its anti-Israeli threats. Terrorist resistance movements, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, have also gained power in the region. Still, Shtauber says the vast majority of Israelis see potential for a two-state solution.

Lustick, the graduate chair and Bess W. Heyman Professor of Political Science, cited a number of possible scenarios, each of which questioned the viability of the continued existence of a Jewish State. He believes the only winning solution for peace in the Middle East is to create “a predominantly Jewish polity.”

Originally published on March 24, 2009

Originally published on March 24, 2009