On Wednesday evening, Hillel’s Israel Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy & Dialogue student group invited Professor Victor Lieberman to host a lecture in Hillel’s auditorium to discuss Israeli-Palestinian relations. Lieberman drew largely on the curriculum of his course, titled The History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, during his discussion, which was planned in preparation for the upcoming Israeli election next week.
Lieberman’s lecture provided an in-depth background of the historical conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. His outline of Israeli and Palestinian politics spread across many facets of the issue, from an analysis of Palestinian popular opinion and Israel’s political spectrum to a discussion of the differences and similarities between the groups. He provided the audience with a list of the key parties and organizations involved to familiarize the audience with the political situation in the two nations.
By examining the intentions of Israeli and Palestinian groups, both past and present, Lieberman engaged in a conversation with attendees, contemplating the future of negotiations between the two nations.
“From the 1990s to about 2014, the two-state solution was the official goal of the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, the PA,” Lieberman said. “Today most commentators agree that the two-state solution is on life support, if it’s not dead completely. So what’s next? How do Israelis and Palestinians see the future, and what do they say they want? In each case, what’s the mix between rational thinking and irrational impulse?”
Lieberman later expressed some doubt that Israeli and Palestinian groups will reach an agreement regarding the ongoing land dispute between the two nations, which provoked a broad spectrum of reactions from audience members.
LSA freshman Henry Wolle shared his own interpretation of Lieberman’s words to The Daily after the event, as well as some thoughts about the issue.
“I take it that this professor imagines the state of affairs as locked in one way and his understanding is both sides can’t come to a real reconciliation,” Wolle said. “So, that’s sort of where he bases his speculation. That’s my understanding of his presentation… I agree with the frozen-ness that he presented, and I recognize that from the conversations that I’ve had with people.”
Following the lecture portion of the event, Lieberman opened up the floor for attendees to share their own thoughts, ideas and questions. Orr Viznitser, a Jewish Agency Israel Fellow, added to the conversation by sharing her personal beliefs and experiences as an Israel native. She explained that though some of the ideas presented in the lecture were challenging for her to accept, she believed it was important to push herself to engage with other ideas as well as question her own.
“I think what iLEAD is doing this year is to try and provide a space for people to be confused in their own words,” Viznitser said. “It’s a space for people to be confused about Israel, and having Professor Lieberman speak in this event… saying things that we don’t usually say out loud, and having the crowd be able to challenge that — It’s important to have this conversation, especially when we’re not in Israel. As an Israeli, some of the things that I heard were challenging for me, but I feel safe in the room.”