Mid-East Expert Speaks-Out on the Violence in Israel

By Stephane Massinon

On Thu., Jan. 30, Dr. Alan Dowty from the University of Notre Dame spoke at the University of Calgary on the subject of the ongoing dispute in Israel. A specialist in Mid-East politics, Dowty traveled extensively to conduct his research.

Dr. Dowty’s began by criticizing common misconceptions about the Arab-Israeli conflict portrayed in the media. He does not believe the fighting is a matter of primordial hatred rooted in history.

“Basically, it’s a fight between two people, over one piece of land,” he said.

He also examined commonly-held beliefs of the Palestinians and Israelis regarding a general acceptance of a two-state system. Both sides seem to agree that the creation of a Palestinian state is inevitable, yet the details of agreement are still hotly debated. To solve these problems, Dr. Dowty suggests both sides need direction from the top.

“It seems fairly clear that what’s going to be needed here is leadership on both sides,” he said.

Following this, he was quick to criticize the leaders for their roles in the conflict. Calling the recently re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a “right-wing hawk” and “the toughest S.O.B. available,” Dr. Dowty noted the futility of occupying disputed lands as a bargaining chip.

His was equally tough on Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat, describing him as “presumably elected” and unable to “control the extremists.”

“You can’t use violence again, and again, and again,” Dr. Dowty said, referring to the suicide bombers in Israel.

Despite the violence, Dr. Dowty hoped for a peaceful resolution. He favoured of third party assistance, possibly by the United States, to aid the process. He also spoke of peaceful co-existence between Arabs and Jews in the Mid-East throughout the evening.

“It’s not a terribly hopeless situation” Dr. Dowty concluded. “It’s just terrible.”

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