Panel discusses Mideast
A panel discussion dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian crisis entitled "Making Sense of a Crisis: What is Happening in the Middle East?" was hosted by the College of Arts and Letters Wednesday night in Walsh Hall.
As the crisis between the Israeli and Palestinian people escalates, the world struggles to understand the violence.
"Along with our privileged state at Notre Dame comes certain responsibilities one of which is to address political and social justice issues," said Professor John Duffy, who served as moderator for the evening.
The panel consisted of Professors Keir Leiber and Patrick Gaffney and two students, Anthony Lusvardi and Rachel Smith, who participated in the Notre Dame Jerusalem program in 2000.
As Americans, the majority of information regarding the situation comes from the mass media that deals mainly with the after-effects of the conflict rather then giving explanations of the cultural, political and religious roots leading to such conflict, panel members said.
Mixing history with current facts and personal opinion, each panel member spoke for about ten minutes.
Smith, who lived with a Palestinian family for a summer, offered a personal perspective on the crisis. She was struck by the great disparities of wealth in the Gaza City between the Israeli settlement and the Palestinian town. She also said that the Palestinians have a mentality of "defeatism or having nothing to lose."
Leiber, a Government professor, focused on policy implications of the crisis. He believed that the current military operation by Israel was, in the short-term, quite effective in its goal of stopping terrorist bombings. But as long-term solution, Leiber said "a purely military solution will not work."
Though he concedes the United States has a far more sympathetic policy toward Israel, he said he sees the "real tragedy as the Palestinian story."
As an American student, Lusvardi focused on the American media perspective. Lusvardi said that the American media is biased toward Israel and he challenged the audience to strive to see the full picture by consulting British sources and being critical readers.
Much like the American media, Lusvardi sees the United States foreign policy as bias. " The United States is not neutral in this conflict because it gives monetary aid to Israel," he said.
But Gaffney said, "There are many ways to tell a story."
Focusing primarily on history of the region, Gaffney challenged the audience to learn background. Gaffney believes history can give clues to present violence because of, "deep wounds that continue to fester."
"The status quo is not good for anyone: Israeli, Palestinian, or America," Lusvardi said.
All News Stories for Thursday, April 25, 2002