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Harvard law professor visits UMass, discusses Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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Collegian File Photo

(Collegian File Photo)

The University of Massachusetts’ Judaic and Near Eastern Studies department and College of Humanities and Fine Arts welcomed author Noah Feldman and Felix Frankfurter, professor of law at Harvard Law School, for a discussion titled “Violence, Politics and Religion: Can Israel Remain Jewish and Democratic?” on Wednesday at Goodell Hall.

An audience of over 50 students and community members gathered for the event, which focused on solutions for democracy in the Middle East, specifically in respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“A lot of people think they know what the morally correct answer is,” Feldman said, “but that is radically different from knowing an answer that will satisfy you morally, while simultaneously working in practice.”

Feldman gave two main proposals to developing democracy in Israel that he concluded as both unlikely, but not impossible. These proposals included both a one and two state solution.

The one state solution Feldman offered varied depending on the ideals of the state.  Within Palestine an egalitarian secular democracy was envisioned, whereas Israel envisioned a democracy that would be fixed to remain nationally Jewish.

Feldman believed these conflicting views of democracy inhibit the creation of a singular state between Israel and Palestine.

“I don’t think it would be very easy to pull off, but do I think it is impossible? No,” Feldman stated.

In terms of the two state solution Feldman explained that simply separating the two states would not bring a solution of democracy in Israel.

“There would still be the question of the status of minorities, particularly Jewish, living in Palestine,” said Feldman, “never the less the violence would slowly begin to seep back out of the issue.”

This lecture was just one of the annual lectures sponsored by the Robert and Pamela Jacobs Lecture Series in Jewish Culture.  According to a University press release, “The Robert and Pamela Jacobs Lecture Series in Jewish Culture provides public lectures by leading figures in contemporary Jewish thought, education, culture or politics. Each lecture may explore a specific theme, such as American Jewish history, Jewish art, the Holocaust or religious thought.”

“It’s an important form of outreach for the department.  A number of departments have these types of lecture series. It’s a great way of doing intellectual and cultural outreach,” said Julie Hayes, dean of the College Humanities and Fine Arts.

Jay Berkovitz, professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at UMass, emphasized the importance of the event, saying the lecture series exposes students and the community to a world of Judaic related ideas.

“I care about the situation between both nations (Israel and Palestine) so much,” stated Sahar Khan, a freshman studying legal studies and journalism at UMass, “Thinking about the conflict between the nations makes me really upset, so I was really happy to hear professor Feldman’s views on it.”

Rhiannon Snide can be reached at [email protected]

4 Comments

4 Responses to “Harvard law professor visits UMass, discusses Israeli-Palestinian conflict”

  1. David Hunt 1990 on April 15th, 2016 11:18 am

    The problem is very simple. The Arabs want they Jews dead. They demonstrate that through word and deed.

    Against an “other side” who wants you dead to the last man, woman, and child, just what is there to negotiate?

  2. David Hunt 1990 on April 15th, 2016 1:18 pm

    And just so you know who this professor is:

    NOAH FELDMAN
    http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=940

  3. Arafat on April 18th, 2016 8:09 pm

    Speaking for myself I do not believe the two-state solution is a solution. Most anywhere one studies Muslims we see deadly conflict with their neighbors and it is instigated by the Muslims. And this includes Muslims killing Muslims where the killing of Muslims by Muslims is as predictable as is the rising sun.

    Be it in Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Mali, Somalia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Southern Thailand, NW China, Southern Russia, train depots in London, discos in Bali, Embassies in Kenya, Ethiopia and elsewhere, grade schools in Beslan, the list goes on and on and never ends.

    The idea that a two-state solution would work is like telling me I could fly to the moon of my own doing. Muslims have never been interested in peace with Israel and never will be. Their goal is to re-create the Ummah. This goal is stated in their Quran and is amply supported by all the material found in their Hadiths and Sunna.

    It – the two-state solution – is one of those idiotic plans put together by people who know nothing other than intellectual pursuits that have as much chance of working in the real world as the Arab Spring had of fostering democracy in the Muslim world.

  4. Arafat on April 18th, 2016 8:10 pm

    Seeming to give credence to Orwell’s quip that “some ideas are so stupid they could only have been thought of by intellectuals.”

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