Member of Faculty Peace Group to Discuss Visit to the Occupied
International Community’s Role in Resolving a Conflict at an Impasse.
Event: Lecture and Slide Presentation: Prospects for
Peace in Israel/Palestine
Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2003
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Friends Meeting Hall, 4312 SE Stark St
On Thursday, July 17th, at 7:30 p.m. at the Friends
Meeting Hall (4312 S.E. Stark Street, Southeast Portland),
local peace activist William Seaman will be reporting
on his recent delegation visit to Israel/Palestine.
Admission is free. Seaman traveled to Israel/Palestine
as part of a delegation organized by Faculty for Israeli
Palestinian Peace. "We met with many key players involved
in this conflict, including one of the Israeli Knesset’s
very few Arab members, the former Israeli Intelligence
Chief, Shlomo Gazit, and with Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat," said Seaman, "and we traveled through the West
Bank and Gaza to get a feeling for the character of
the occupation." Seaman said that he is persuaded that
without international involvement, the occupation will
not end, the resistance will continue and the conflict
will only get worse.
"The Israeli government’s support for the illegal settlements,
and the new project of building a so-called ‘separation
wall’, are devastating Palestinian communities," said
Seaman, "and since the US tax-payers are footing the
bill, we must accept responsibility for ending this
illegal occupation." Seaman believes that a shift in
US policy towards the illegal settlements could bring
the occupation to an end very quickly. "Many, many Israelis
expect and are happy to give up the settlements, and
indeed view the more militant settlers as an obstacle
to peace," said Seaman. "Unfortunately, the government
of Israel has been pushing to keep and eventually annex
large areas of the occupied territories and there is
simply not enough political engagement by the Israeli
peace movement to change that."
Seaman said that in spite of Israel’s image as the only
democracy in the Middle East, he believes there are
very significant limitations that have taken a heavy
toll on grass roots organizing among Israelis. "Of course
the first limitation has to do with the discrimination
against Israel’s very significant non-Jewish population,
which now stands at around 20%," said Seaman, "but Israelis
have also begun to raise questions about the role of
military institutions in the government." Seaman said
that they spoke with several Israelis who expressed
concern with the affects of having former career military
men, Barak and Sharon being the most noteworthy, as
Prime Ministers. "We know that this can be a problem
from our experience with the military dictatorships
of Central and South America," said Seaman, "and the
Israelis are beginning to wake up to the fact that this
may also be a problem for them." Seaman said that this
and other factors were making it virtually impossible
for an Israeli peace movement, or even the Labor Party,
to build enough support domestically to end the occupation.
In spite of this grim assessment, Seaman remained hopeful.
"I spoke with many Israelis and Palestinians who expressed
the same hope for an end to the occupation and the need
for Israelis to recognize the terrible injustice done
to the Palestinian people," said Seaman. "The primary
obstacle to beginning the process of reconciliation
and moving towards peaceful coexistence is the massive
US support for the policies of leaders like Sharon and
Barak." Seaman said that he hoped the growing Palestinian
solidarity community would continue to build its relations
with Israelis that are working to end the occupation.
"Such a coalition will have the strength to force the
changes here in the US and in Israel that will finally
bring a measure of justice for the Palestinians and
peace to this region."
Back to PPRC-news home