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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Equal Rights for All: A "New Paradigm" for Israeli Jewish-Palestinian Peace and Reconciliation

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

British writer Antony Lerman spoke at the Boisi Center on March 11 about his vision of a “new paradigm” for peace
and reconciliation for Israeli Jews and Palestinians. The evening event was co-sponsored by the Clough Center for Constitutional Democracy and held in conjunction with the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Seminar, which meets twice monthly throughout the academic year to discuss this vexing issue.

Lerman argued that the two-state model for peace has largely failed. The Oslo Accords of 1993-1995, which ostensibly created a framework to negotiate two states for two peoples, did not go far enough. Any framework that takes as its starting point the borders of 1967 (when Israel gained military control of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem) as opposed to those of 1948 (when Israel was created) misunderstands the elements of the situation that create stumbling blocks to peace.

As opposed to a framework that takes
two states as a given, Lerman argued for a framework that begins with a recognition of the region’s bi-national character. While bi-nationalism is often taken as synonymous with a one-state solution and thus the de facto dissolution of Israel as a Jewish state, Lerman used the term to mean simply that there are two peoples residing in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, both of whom are entitled to equal rights. Thus, the “new paradigm” takes equal rights as its starting point, and Lerman advocated for full recognition of civil, political and social rights for all people within this region—similar to the European Union’s requirements for membership.

Audience members, representing a diverse array of the BC community, pushed Lerman on how his idea would unfold
in practice. He acknowledged that the political realities among the Israelis and Palestinians make his recommendations difficult to enact, but that the parties involved will have to determine the specifics if they are to be effective.