Monday, November 24, 2008

UCLA Israel Studies - podcasts reviewed

It is about a year ago, I discovered the podcast series from the UCLA institute of Israel Studies. Soon after that, the feed went off line for nearly a whole year, only to be revived very recently and be enriched with about four new lectures. (Israel studies podcast) Two of these I want to review here.

The first is a lecture by Galia Golan in which she tries to argue that a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is still possible. It has been noted in reviews on this blog also, that there is a considerable worry that neither the Israeli leaders nor the Palestinian leaders have enough authority and legitimacy to broker such a deal and successfully convince the public to accept it. Golan admits the leaders are weak, but her main point is that everybody around the conflict still steers towards such a solution (see for example the Arab peace initiative) and the populations, are so desperately longing for a settlement, they will be happy to accept a peace, even from a weak government. In this whole reasoning, Golan ignores the point made by the pessimists that the Palestinian authority has deteriorated beyond the point of being weak, they claim Palestine is a failed state (in advance of its existence) and therefore simply cannot exist. (see: Rise and demise of Palestine)

The second podcast is a lecture by former American diplomat Aaron David Miller (photo). This lecture is very similar to the one he gave on UChannel (see: The Arab-Israeli conflict). Miller has interviewed a whole range of important figures around the diplomatic channels within the conflict and has critically analyzed the history, which includes his own work, of diplomacy in the Middle East. He tried to understand why Kissinger, Carter and Baker succeeded and why Clinton and Bush failed. He discovered how ethno-centric his views always have been and how he underestimated the cultural difference between him and the Israelis and Arabs even if they looked and sounded so thoroughly western like for example Netanyahu. He also figured how religion has been neglected as a factor in diplomacy. (similar to Douglas Johnston on the podcast with SOF) What I find especially good in the lecture by Miller is this quality to be self-critical and show the open ends, even if this keeps us stuck with too few conclusions.

UCLA Israel Studies

more on Israel
The Arab-Israeli conflict,
The denials of yesterday,
Rise and demise of Palestine,
The Israel lobby and US foreign policy.

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