Policy experts debate Israeli-Palestinian conflict

TorchPAC organized a debate regarding Israel and the Modern Middle East on Thursday.

The reason for failed agreements between Israel and Palestine, the use of boycotts and America’s position in the Middle East conflict were debated at an event sponsored by NYU TorchPAC. Atlantic editor and CUNY professor Peter Beinart represented the liberal zionist side, and executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel Noah Pollak represented the conservative zionist side.*

The debate, co-sponsored by Hillel at NYU, Justice & Unity in Mideast Policy, J Street U NYU, Gesher, NYU College Democrats, NYU College Republicans and NYU College Libertarians, took place at NYU School of Law’s Vanderbilt Hall on Nov. 13.

Beinart spoke about his frustration over the lack of a positive and sustained agreement between Palestine and Israel.

While Pollak acknowledges the lack of resolution, he said he believes it is because Palestinians do not appear to desire one.

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“If Palestinians acted like Canadians, there would’ve been a Palestinian state a long time ago,” Pollak said. “The lack of a Palestinian state is not because of Israel.”

Beinart disagreed, citing public polling data.

“The most prominent Palestinian pollster did a poll that showed a large majority of Palestinians favor a two-state solution,” Beinart said.

The debaters also discussed the topic of BDS — boycott, divestment and sanctions.

“I do oppose boycotting,” Beinart said. “I don’t think it’s consistent with a two state solution — it’s hostile to Israel. I want a democratic Israel, a homeland for the Jewish people and offers of citizenship and the right to vote.”

Pollak agreed, but said he believes BDS tactics were extremely hostile.

“The organized boycott movement should be renamed the Destroy Israel Movement,” Pollak said. “BDS disrupts events and engages in violence against Jewish students on campuses.”

Beinart and Pollak also discussed why the ongoing conflict was significant to Americans.

“Alliances help America’s prestige,” Pollak said. “If you want something from Israel you have to come to the White House calling for it. America should promote a liberal international order, rogues should fear challenging us and friends should want to be part of that alliance.”

Beinart agreed that the audience should care, but said he worries the United States is creating a bad reputation for itself by being an ally to Israel.

“We are supporting West Bank, which is an immoral area,” Beinart said. “10 Palestinians can’t congregate without Israeli permission, even in private homes.”

CAS sophomore Wenbo Wang said he benefitted from the debate’s depth.

“Overall, I like that the event let us go in-depth rather than on the surface,” Wang said. “I agree more with Peter [Beinart], in terms of security and the two-state solution, but I like how Noah addressed a diversity of issues.”

Steinhardt sophomore Zoe Siegel said she was conflicted, and Beinart’s points made her think about her stance on the conflict.

“I think I’m pro-Israel, but it goes up and down because I don’t know enough information,” Siegel said. “I would like to say I was more on Peter [Beinart’s] side. I think we need to look at more than just one side of the equation, and I liked how he related past events to present day.”

Email Christine Wang at [email protected]

*Correction: an earlier version of this article mistakenly reported that Peter Beinart represented the pro-Palestine side. WSN regrets this error.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Modern Muslims have religious conflict with: Hindus in Kashmir; Christians in Nigeria, Egypt, and Bosnia; atheists in Chechnya; Baha’is in Iran; Animists in Darfur; Buddhists in Thailand; each other in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen; Jews in Israel; Why is Islam involved in more sectarian and religious conflicts than any other religion today? In fact, why is Islam the only religion in conflict with every single one of today’s major world religions?
    But you think belligerent pugnacious…

  2. belligerent pugnacious Islam has legitimate grievances in this constant conflict, and that, for example in Palestine, Islam is just defending its own reasonable interests?
    No, not at bottom. At bottom what we have in Islam is a violent, expansionist totalitarianism. That’s why Islam is in conflict all over the world with every other religion.

  3. The enemy is now within the gate. The jihadists are beheading Americans in their places of work. Apologists for evil cannot discern what is happening. Their moral vision is based on prejudice and a priori thought rather than an understanding of foundational Islam and Islamic history.

  4. I would like to say, im still reading the history of ww1 , and the 100th year since it’s starting period, of european and ottoman situational re-writing the mapping. In any event, I stumbled along with personal research to the transferring type populations, again in the context of ww1 upheaval.

    To me, the best ideas were , and still are, 10 items from the Peel Commision, 1936. from Great Britain, and also, for reasons of timliness, also abandoned, by Great Britain. But,…

      • and with interest in this / The french partnership with lebanon and syria. unfortunately these world powers france with britain had an enormous challenge.

        one cannot imagine the resulting mapping difficulties at this time. im sure france would have held the partition plan for palestine if their troops were holding this region instead of britian. the ideas were to recognize all national claims, very difficult.
        over one million plus greeks and turks had to be moved back then also.

  5. pALESTINIANS NEED TO LEARN TO LIVE IN PEACE WITH US jEWS . THE 2 STATE SOLUTION IS BASED ON THE BANTU STATE SOLUTION. IT DOES NOT WORK, BECAUSE AS A jEW i HAVE A RIGHT TO PRAY ON TEMPLE MOUNT OR TO WALK ON THE SOIL OF MY ANCESTORS. SADLY THERE ARE NO LEFT IN iSRAEL. EVERY ONE IS ON SEPERATION AND SEGREGATION.

  6. For intelligent people to call Israel an Apartheid state is just a lie they are propagating. It is actually the Arab nations where Apartheid exists. Israel is the most democratic and inclusive nation in the Mideast. Israel’s society allows freedom of religion, speech, and basic rights to all its citizens. Arab citizens of Israel vote and Arab representatives are in government and sit on the high court. Israel is the only safe haven in the Mideast where Christians, Muslim minorities and gays…

  7. Israel may have problems — very serious problems in fact — but are they really any worse than those of the horrific Arab governments that the U.S. still supports for whatever reasons? No, I think not.

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