January 30, 2004 Three seminars and a panel presentation at Brown University, on February 3, 2003, will consider whether democratization will aid in diffusing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Democracy and Peace: An Exploration of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" will feature four leading experts on political change in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
The event is modeled on a collaborative effort by Israeli, Palestinian, and American academics, which was spearheaded by Hebrew University's Truman Center for Peace. It will examine efforts by Palestinians to develop democratic institutions and by Israelis to strengthen their democratic institutions—overarching these studies is the goal of investigating the proposed connection between democracy and peace.
In recent years, democratization has become a centerpiece of Israeli-Palestinian relations. In 2002, President Bush declared that the future of the conflict would depend on the democratization of the Palestinian leadership. Since then, the administration has placed increasing pressure on democratization in the Middle East, both through diplomatic efforts with Israel and the Palestinian Authority and through the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, Israel faces numerous challenges to fortify and build its own democracy, many of which are closely tied to ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although Israeli and Palestinian societies are in different stages of democratic development, both societies share in a common struggle to develop and support democratic institutions. Perhaps most important, democratization has been proposed as key to a path toward peace and to the resolution of this conflict.
The purpose of the February 3 event is two-fold: to elucidate challenges of democratization facing the Israeli and Palestinian societies, and to critically examine the proposed link between democracy and peace. In addition, panelists will consider: What is the significance of the observation that democracies do not war with each other? Is democratization necessary for Israeli-Palestinian peace? If so, why? If not, why has the issue drawn so much diplomatic lip service? What kinds of political reforms would improve productively the lives of Palestinians and Israelis? Calls for democratization have brought the issue into the political spotlight, but have yet to elucidate what the most important elements of democracy are, how they can be developed, and what their connection might be to peace.
Event schedule: 2–5 p.m., Seminar Talks, McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute
2–2:50 p.m.: Kenneth Stein on "Zionist Decision Making"
3–3:50 p.m.: Yoav Peled on "The Or Commission and Issues of Ethnic Democracy"
4–4:50 p.m.: Shukri Abed on "Prospects for the Future"
8 p.m.: Main Panel Event: "Democracy and Peace: An Exploration of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," Salomon 101, The College Green
Panelists: Shukri Abed, Issam Aburaya, Yoav Peled, Kenneth Stein
Moderator: Brown University Chaplain, the Reverend Janet Cooper-Nelson
This panel will also attempt to reframe the discourse surrounding this conflict on the Brown campus. Debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict too often engenders and reproduces the polarized antagonisms of the very conflict it seeks to address. This panel, through the joint efforts of Brown students from different political viewpoints and ideological backgrounds, will be founded upon common ground—the issue of democratization. This focus on democracy will help direct discussion toward what can be done to improve the lives of Israeli and Palestinian peoples and to empower them to move actively toward peace.
The program is being jointly organized through the efforts and ideas of student groups from across the political spectrum, including Tikkun, Common Ground, the Muslim Students Association, Brown Friends of Israel, Brown Students For Israel, and the Brown College Democrats. In addition, the event is being sponsored by a wide variety of Brown institutions, including the Watson Institute, Brown Hillel, Judaic Studies Department, Dean of the College, Lecture Board, and University Finance Board.
More about the panelists:
Shukri Abed, Chair, Languages Department, Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C. An historian and Middle East scholar, Professor Abed teaches about Islamic civilization, war and peace in Islam, nationalism and nation-building in the Middle East, and Arabic language and minorities in the region. In addition to his position at the Middle East Institute, he is a senior research fellow at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland. Professor Abed is the author of Democracy, Peace, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict and is currently involved in the establishment of the Sartawi Center for Peace.
Issam Aburaya, Research Fellow, Political Science Department, Brown University. Dr. Aburaya, a Palestinian Israeli citizen, has published widely on political Islamic movements in the Arab world and in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, including The Jewish-Arab Divide: Characteristics and Challenges (co-authored with Ruth Gavison). His current research focuses on democratization, political change, and Islam in the Arab world.
Yoav Peled, Associate Professor, Political Science Department, Tel Aviv University. Professor Peled has published extensively on the history of the Bund—the Jewish socialist workers' party in pre-revolutionary Russia, the Zionist movement, citizenship and ethnic politics in Israel, as well as on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. His book, Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship (co-authored with Gershon Shafir) received the Albert Hourani Prize from the Middle East Studies Association of North America for the best book on the Middle East in 2002. This year, he is an external fellow of the Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture and a visiting fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, both at Rutgers University.
Kenneth Stein, William E. Schatten Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History, Political Science, and Israeli Studies, Emory University. A noted author, writer, teacher, and lecturer, Professor Stein is an expert on the origins of modern Israel, Palestinian social history, the British Mandate in Palestine, the Arab-Israeli negotiating process, American foreign policy toward the region, and the modern Arab world. His publications include "Israel: Reconciling Internal Disparities," Making Peace among Arabs and Israelis: Lessons from Fifty Years of Negotiating Experience, and The Blood of Abraham (collaboration with former President Jimmy Carter). From 1982 to 1996, he was former President Carter's advisor on Middle Eastern affairs and remains a Middle East Fellow at the Carter Center. He founded Emory's International Studies Center in 1977.
Additional information is available at the Watson Institute, 401.863.2809, or Brown Hillel Foundation, 401.863.2805.