Naomi Chazan at Tufts

I was kindly invited to attend a guest lecture by Naomi Chazan (President, New Israel Fund; former Deputy Speaker, Israel Knesset), presented at Tufts University, as part of the Leadership and Transformation class, sponsored by Project on Justice in Times of Transition in partnership with the Institute for Global Leadership, the Tufts University Ex-College and the Peace and Justice Studies Department.

Prof. Chazan posited that if everyone knows where the Middle East process is going, i.e. a two-state solution, the frustration in yet failing to realise an agreement must be mainly due to a faulty process. Her answer to this is to have the international community impose a solution.

My own reaction is that an imposed solution can be had, but how durable would it be? I think it’s right that US Senator George Mitchell is now ensconced in the process, and I hope he can apply his skills so that the local parties themselves arrive at an agreement.

While direct comparisons are always dangerous, what assisted the Northern Ireland peace process was simultaneously Sinn Fein realising that they couldn’t militarily defeat the British Army (in pursuit of a uniting Ireland through violence), while the Ulster Unionist Party calculated that failure to reach an agreement now would mean a worse-off agreement in the future (imposed by the British and Irish governments). Perhaps no one in the Middle East has either perspective.

Prof. Chazan gave a thought provoking lecture, and there was an intelligent question and answer session afterwards, from PJTT students and others. I was even fortunate enough to join the staff for a hosted dinner, where Naomi Chazan and US Ambassador Nick Burns provided more of their perspectives on Middle East politics.

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