Prospects for Peace in the Middle East
Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life
Ray Helmick, S.J.
Date: February 20, 2012
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road
Raymond Helmick, S.J., challenged an animated audience at the Boisi Center with a lunchtime presentation on what he sees as the obstacles confronting peace in the Middle East between the State of Israel and its Arab neighbors. Helmick, a professor who teaches conflict resolution in the Boston College Theology Department, argued that renewal of the peace process amidst the violence in the Middle East is possible only if the current radical disparity of power between the Israelis and Palestinians is addressed. Claiming that the United States and the international community have allowed the State of Israel to exempt itself from basic aspects of international law, such as Article 2 of the UN Charter, which prohibits the acquisition of land by force, Helmick asserts that the peace process will be stymied until Israel complies with such law.
Members of the Boston College community met Fr. Helmick’s claims with some skepticism. Boisi Center Director Alan Wolfe argued that peace accords must be grounded in the political culture and reform of the societies in question rather than superimposed from outside by international bodies. Center for Christian-Jewish Learning Executive Director Phillip Cunningham questioned whether Israel had indeed exempted itself from international law, and argued that the matter was complicated by the circumstances related to the establishment of Israel in the aftermath of the Second World War and during the rivalry of the Cold War.