Solutions to Violent Conflict

Archive for the ‘Israel/Palestine conflict’ Category

Challenging the Israeli Narrative from Within

In Israel/Palestine conflict, Middle East on September 29, 2014 at 9:44 am

Atalia Omer

During the intense days of  “Operation Protective Edge,” in an atmosphere of intimidation and growing self-protectionist groupthink within Israel, thousands of Israelis nonetheless flooded the main squares of cities protesting the occupation, the massacres in Gaza, and the racism and chauvinism that surfaced in explosive and shocking ways.

It is important to identify who these voices of dissent are, what they argue, and how they fit within the broader landscape of Palestine solidarity activism and regional peacebuilding efforts. Doing so means avoiding fatalistic attitudes and navigating the polarizing opinions and interests related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Traditionally, the mainstream peace movement in Israel was called the “loyal” left—with “loyal” being shorthand for a commitment to peace that does not challenge the political experiment with Jewish democracy. This loyal opposition has struggled to recover from the failure of the Oslo Accords of 1993, evident in the eruption of the Second Intifada or Palestinian uprising in 2000. One of the blinders of the movement has been its willingness to accept the Green Line of 1967 as not only a spatial boundary but also a normative one. Read the rest of this entry »

The Continuing Cycle of Violence in Gaza

In Israel/Palestine conflict, Middle East on September 29, 2014 at 9:44 am
UNRWA - Gaza

UN Photo: Shareef Sarhan, July 2014

Asher Kaufman

Since the mid-1990s, Israel has attempted to separate the fate of Gaza from that of the West Bank. The 2005 “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip was the most dramatic step of this policy. There were at least two reasons for the decision to withdraw from Gaza. First, Israel wanted to reduce the “demographic threat” to the Jewish State at a minimum territorial cost. Second, by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel hoped to strengthen its control over the West Bank.

Hamas’s victory in the January 2006 Palestinian elections and its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in July 2007 turned this region into the main frontline for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Buttressed by its commitment to the armed struggle against Israel, Hamas and other Islamist organizations aggressively sought to demonstrate that Gaza is only one piece of the Palestine puzzle and that they would not allow Israel to achieve its strategic goals. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pope’s Appeal to Conscience

In Catholic, Israel/Palestine conflict, Middle East on September 29, 2014 at 9:43 am

Patrick Gaffney, C.S.C.

In terms of media reporting, public debate, and partisan polemics, the recent conflict in Gaza can be characterized like its predecessors as a military confrontation and diplomatic poker game between Israel and Hamas. But on a deeper level this latest tragic chapter, like the others, belongs to a larger picture that is difficult to shrink down and fit into the vocabulary of the nightly news roundup.


In order to understand the conflict in Gaza, one must understand this larger picture. Those who speak for this other dimension, this larger picture, do not compete in the same arena as politicians, diplomats and soldiers for whom war is a matter of winning or losing. Instead, these other voices engage the same pressing issues, but in a way that expands the boundaries of discourse from the immediate strategies at hand to a concern for and recognition of their fundamental human consequences.

This other dimension goes by different names. For the sake of brevity here I will call it conscience. By this, I am pointing to the reflective awareness of a law higher than national sovereignty, a source of moral discrimination that is not justified by ethnic or religious belonging, by party loyalty, by self-interest, by dominant power, or by collective desire. Read the rest of this entry »

Is the Two-State Solution Dead?

In Israel/Palestine conflict, Middle East on January 22, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Atalia Omer

Some commentators suggest that the new series of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, orchestrated by Secretary of State John Kerry, represents a last effort to save the so-called two-state solution from its demise. Kerry remains focused on attaining a framework for an interim accord by April of this year. He aspires to follow this with further substantive talks and an eventual peace agreement that will establish a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The Kerry chapter in the long and tumultuous history of the “peace process” is, however, received with skepticism born out of disillusionment with the failed and deeply flawed Oslo Accords. In the 20 years that have passed since the handshake between Palestinian and Israeli leaders at the Rose Garden of the White House, the number of illegal settlers in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem increased from approximately 193,000 to 600,000. This increase is indicative of the enduring legacy of the late Ariel Sharon, whose policy of creating “facts on the ground” gave him one of his many controversial accolades as the conceptual engineer of the settlement movement in the territories Israel occupied in 1967. Read the rest of this entry »

The March of Folly

In Israel/Palestine conflict, Middle East on January 22, 2014 at 2:32 pm
Photo: Kara Newhouse (Flickr)

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Al-Ma’asara. Photo: Kara Newhouse (Flickr)

Asher Kaufman

If the late historian Barbara Tuchman could write a new edition of The March of Folly, would she consider the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a proper candidate for an addition to her classic book?

Tuchman wrote about “one of the most compelling paradoxes of history: the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests.”

“To qualify as a folly,” she explained, “the policy adopted must meet three criteria: it must have been perceived as counter-productive in its own time, not merely by hindsight. . . . Secondly, a feasible alternative course of action must have been available. . . . a third criterion must be that the policy in question should be that of a group, not an individual ruler, and should persist beyond any one political lifetime.” Read the rest of this entry »

Is Pessimism about Resolving the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Justified?

In Israel/Palestine conflict, Middle East on January 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Khalil Shikaki

A new and hopefully more promising phase of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations started in January 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s tenth visit to Israel-Palestine that month aimed at outlining American bridging proposals for resolving the conflict. The hope is that the parties will finalize, with U.S. help, a framework for a peace agreement by the end of April 2014 when the current round of peace talks, which started in July 2013, ends.

Palestinian and Israeli publics, however, are not impressed. They continue to show justifiable skepticism regarding the chances for success. Secretary Kerry should make it his business to change this prevailing perception.


Joint Palestinian-Israeli polls show little optimism regarding Palestinian-Israeli peace. More than two-thirds of both publics do not expect the current round of peace negotiations to lead to a peace agreement. Worse, similar or larger majorities do not believe that a Palestinian state will be established in the next five years. In fact, most Palestinians and Israelis, while supportive of the two-state solution, believe that such a solution is no longer practical. Read the rest of this entry »