Arab-Israeli Relations First Topic of SIUE’s International Speaker Series

Dr. Robert C. Diprizio spoke to a full crowd in the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Morris University Center Mississippi-Illinois room Thursday, Oct. 10 about “The Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Dilemma of the Two State Solution.”

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Dr. Robert Diprizio, an associate professor at the United States Air Force Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, presented both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict at SIUE.

“Both claim it to be their ancient homeland. These are two peoples with heartfelt claims to the same land that they can’t share. Any effort to create a two-state solution will encounter stumbling blocks.” Dr. Robert Diprizio

Edwardsville, IL (PRWEB) October 16, 2013

Dr. Robert C. Diprizio spoke to a full crowd in the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Morris University Center Mississippi-Illinois room Thursday, Oct. 10 about “The Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Dilemma of the Two State Solution.”

Diprizio, an associate professor at the United States Air Force Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, presented both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. From the side of the Palestinians, who occupied the region of today’s Israel for 1,400 years, to the side of the Israelis who claim the region was promised to them by God.

“Both claim it to be their ancient homeland,” Diprizio said. “These are two peoples with heartfelt claims to the same land that they can’t share. Any effort to create a two-state solution will encounter stumbling blocks.”

In the late 1800s, the Jewish national movement known as Zionism was introduced in response to centuries of European Anti-Semitism in order to establish an independent Jewish state within Palestine. But it wasn’t until after World War II and the Holocaust that the movement took off, gaining the support of the United Nations and a horrified Europe looking to “assuage its guilt,” Diprizio said.

“The Arabs had nothing to do with the Holocaust, and thought they shouldn’t have half their property taken away from them for this,” he said.

Diprizio walked the group of attendees through a comprehensive history of the plight of both groups and what has led to the tension in Israel and Palestine today.

“The problem is the region has too much history, and there is not enough land,” he said. “The Israelis believe they are God’s chosen people and the region is their national homeland. They need territories that belong to Palestine as security buffers, which present issues regarding the West Bank. The collective view is that the Arabs lost the war they started and that the Palestinians aren’t a real nation; just Arabs.

“The Palestinians have lived in this region for centuries,” he added. “There are holy sites on these lands for the Muslim population. They are not responsible for the Holocaust and take the perspective that self-determination is a human right. They have argued that they have already given up 78 percent of their homeland, and that Jews are a religious, not a national group.”
Jerusalem is home to a prime holy site for both Palestinian Muslims and the Israelis, Diprizio said.

The Temple Mount, known as the Haram al-Sharif in Arabic, was erected on the site that the Jewish believe to be the remnants of the old great temple. The Romans tore down the temple.
The Green Line, which had been established more than 60 years ago to form a de facto border between the then new state of Israel and its neighbors—Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt—was challenged by Palestine and Arab armies during a six-day war. During this war, the Israelis held their ground. Since that time, the Israelis have usurped new territories and stretched their reach to the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinians, who gave up 78 percent of their land 60 years ago, are losing more of their territories and more of their human rights because of Israeli domination. Palestinians, who have been fleeing the region since the inception of the Palestinian state, are continuing to do so, choosing to reside in refugee camps.

“Israel is annexing blocks of the Palestinian state,” Diprizio said. “This settlement situation is truly corrosive for the Palestinians.”

Diprizio spent a great deal of time explaining the stumbling blocks between these two groups:

  •     East Jerusalem and its holy buildings
  •     The usurping of settlements and upheaval of the Palestinian people
  •     Maintaining security
  •     Establishing clear borders
  •     Providing assistance and support to refugees
  •     Ensuring both groups of peoples gain equal access to water resources

He referenced how the Geneva Initiative calls for the following:

  •     A return to the previously established 1967 Israeli borders
  •     A swap of equal quality land between both groups, making Arab villages part of Palestine and Israeli villages part of Israel
  •     Compensating refugees for their losses as a result of the 1948-49 conflict and allowing them to return to a new Palestinian state, which will include multinational peacekeeping forces and shared access to water supplies
  •     Splitting Jerusalem and granting only shared, dual key permissions for any alterations to the holy site within the city

The next International Speakers Series event will take place from 9:30-10:45 a.m. in the MUC Mississippi-Illinois room on Thursday, Nov. 7. Dr. Paul R. Viotti, the executive director of the Institute on Globalization and Security (IGLOS) at the University of Denver in Colorado will discuss “Gay and Minorities in the Armed Forces and the Evolving Role of Women in Armed Combat.”

The International Speakers Series is hosted by the Center for International Programs and made possible by the United States Institute of Peace. The USIP is an independent, non-partisan conflict management center created by Congress to prevent and mitigate international conflict without resorting to violence.

“USIP is pleased to support organizations like the SIUE Center for International Programs and their contributions to the national conversation around international conflict—and methods for resolving those conflicts nonviolently,” stated USIP President Jim Marshall in a statement about the funding.

SIUE’s Center for International Programs provides a wealth of programming designed to educate the campus population and surrounding community about issues of global significance. A spring series is scheduled, which is funded in part by the SIUE Meridian Society, an organization of women philanthropists. Independent of the International Speaker Series, the Center often hosts luncheons that provide valuable programs.

Last month, the Center introduced retired Ambassador John Maisto to the campus to discuss “Dealing with Dictators and Difficult Democrats: Half a Century of American Foreign Policy.” Some lively conversation ensued between those who attended the lunch meeting and Maisto.

“All of our presentations are based on balance,” said Brent Shapiro, program director for the International Speaker Series.

Maisto had served as the U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua after the Sandinistas lost the presidency and had a transition in government. He later became the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela and director of Latin American Affairs on the National Security Council, and the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States.

He had served as deputy ambassador to the OAS during the Haitian crisis. Prior to that, and just as the Marcos regime began to crumble, Maisto became the political officer in Manila.

The opportunities to meet foreign and domestic dignataries, and scholars offer attendees the chance to engage in enriching discussions, allowing them to ask questions and gain valuable insights about diplomats and diplomacy from other countries around the globe.

For more information, contact the Center for International Programs, located in the lower level of the Student Success Center, (618) 650-3785.


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