historian calls for U.S. to broker peace
By Caroline Massad
12 November 2001
Yale Daily News
Shlaim, a fellow of St. Antony's College at Oxford University, lectured to an overflow crowd Sunday
night about the effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the current U.S. campaign in Afghanistan and the role of the United States in the Middle East peace process.
spoke in Linsly-Chittenden Hall as the seventh featured speaker in the
"Democracy, Security and Justice: Perspectives on the American
Future" lecture series, which was created earlier this year in response to
the events of Sept. 11.
his introduction, series organizer and history professor John Gaddis described
Shlaim as "a member of the Revisionist movement among Israeli historians
-- whose work has sparked changes in the way Arab-Israeli history is taught in
Israeli schools." Gaddis added that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
does not want the work of the Revisionists taught in Israeli classrooms.
said he believes that American involvement is vital in resolving the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and added that the United States cannot expect "unconditional Arab
support" against Osama bin Laden until the Palestinian conflict is
the majority of Arabs and Muslims, Palestine is a central issue," Shlaim said.
who was born in Iraq and grew up in Israel, said that to many Arabs, "the
dominant question [in the conflict] is one of the American double
standard." Throughout his speech, he cited examples of what he sees as the
continued preferential treatment of Israel over the past ten years.
criticized American Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W.
Bush for the alleged double standard they used in treating Israel and Palestine, but he was no less critical of
Gulisano, a resident of New Haven who attended the speech without a
definite position on the conflict praised Shlaim.
is very courageous to take a view so critical of his own country,"
is in the best position to broker a peace agreement, Shlaim said.
pope said that there are two possibilities for peace between Israel and Palestine: a realistic one and a miraculous
one," he said. "The realistic one would be divine intervention; the
miraculous would be a voluntary agreement between the two sides." He
paused to laugh with the audience. "I believe there is a third
possibility, that of an American-imposed solution."
members who were passionate on both sides of the conflict questioned Shlaim's
positions, especially his specific characterizations of Israeli and Arab
leaders. Few questioners focused specifically on Shlaim's topic of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict's role in the U.S. war on terrorism, instead challenging
minor points in Shlaim's speech. Shlaim generally responded by reiterating
various points he had made earlier.
questioners challenged Shlaim's establishment of a clear distinction between
Israeli settlement strategy before and after the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel's expansion began to extend beyond its
internationally recognized borders.
said he did not disapprove of the Zionist movement that led to Israel's foundation, but he noted
disapprovingly that settlements established after 1967 violate many U.N.
endorsed Clinton's 2000 peace plan. According to that
proposal, a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem would cover most of the West Bank, Israel would cede sovereignty over Temple Mount, and Palestinians would give up the
right of refugees to return to Israel.