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Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
April 29, 2009 - 12:00am

On April 22, ATFP Senior Fellow Hussein Ibish addressed the question of Israeli-Palestinian peace at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Ibish said that the Gaza war had again proven that neither Israelis nor Palestinians could achieve their fundamental aims or secure their national interests through the use of violence, and that a decent future for both peoples depends on an end-of-conflict agreement that allows a Palestinian state to live alongside Israel in peace and security. He emphasized that the status quo between the parties is universally unacceptable, and that no potential agreement was plausible other than an arrangement for two states. He pointed out that the right-wing Israeli idea that Egypt could be made responsible for the Gaza Strip and Jordan for parts of the West Bank was a nonstarter as this was not in the interests of Egypt or Jordan and would be unacceptable to the Palestinian people. He said that the idea of a single state in the entire area of Israel and Palestine was similarly a nonstarter because it would be totally unacceptable to the vast majority of Jewish Israelis. Ibish said that for any agreement to be plausible, it had to be mutually acceptable to both parties, and correspond to the minimal national interests of both Israel and the Palestinian people. He said that only an arrangement allowing for two states meets this requirement.

Ibish also warned against the idea that “conflict management,” in which the conflict is contained rather than resolved, was a plausible option, and said that because of increased settlement activity and increasing bitterness and radicalization on both sides, the conflict was continuously deteriorating and therefore could not be “managed.” Ibish pointed out that this constant deterioration is manifested in increasing intolerance and incitement on both sides, and the increasing use of religious rhetoric and terms of reference by both Israelis and Palestinians. He warned of the possibility that, if it is not resolved, the conflict could and probably would continue to develop a religious character that supersedes the ethnic conflict over land and power that has defined it for the past few decades and become much more difficult, if not impossible, to resolve. He condemned hatred and religious fanaticism on both sides, and said that the international community and the United States should move expeditiously to bolster moderates in both societies and prevent the further empowerment of religious and nationalist extremists.

Center Director Professor Brian Levin said, “Dr. Ibish was a wonderful speaker who offered important insight to our community. While there certainly are some differences of viewpoint within our community, I believe the cause of peace was furthered by the dialogue that took place and we appreciate the opportunity to have such an educated and articulate speaker. I also appreciate his condemnation of anti-Semitism, as it along with Arabaphobia and Islamaphobia are a scourge to a civilized society, and the peace process as well.”


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