Middle East Peace Requires Mutual Respect and Education
By Israel Zwick, CN Publications, October 22, 2010
While the Palestinian Authority insists on a settlement “freeze” to continue the stalled Middle East peace talks, the true preconditions for a durable Middle East peace are mutual respect and education, according to Dr. Talia Einhorn, Visiting Professor of International TradeLaw at the Ariel University Center. Though the talks have focused on construction projects and borders, Prof. Einhorn outlined five preconditions needed for peaceful coexistence to be established between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Dr. Einhorn is a recognized expert in international free trade. In her long and distinguished career, Prof. Einhorn has authored three books, edited five others, and published numerous articles in scholarly journals and encyclopedias.
Prof. Talia Einhorn
Dr. Einhorn’s comments were made at a private meeting for supporters of Ariel University Center held at the Manhattan home of Ken and Nira Abramowitz. Einhorn emphasized that the foremost precondition for a durable peace between Israel and the Arabs is mutual respect. Citing Jerusalem as an example, Einhorn noted that Jerusalem has never had a significant role in Islamic history, yet the Arabs still fail to acknowledge the significance of Jerusalem in Jewish history. The second precondition is the need for the PA to renounce and outlaw violence against Israel. Rather than condemning violence, the PA actually honors and glorifies violence against the Jewish state. The third precondition cited by Einhorn is education. Both sides must educate for peace by promoting peaceful coexistence and cooperation in the school textbooks. In contrast, PA textbooks don’t even mention Israel by name. As a fourth precondition, the PA must demonstrate transparent and accountable government. While the PA has received billions of dollars in foreign donations, the money has not been evinced in new housing, hospitals, schools, and social services. The fifth precondition is the support of basic human rights such as freedom of speech. While Israelis are free to criticize their government’s policies, Palestinian Arabs fear retribution if they criticize the Palestinian Authority.
Acting Consul Ido Aharoni
There were several other notables present at the meeting which was held in late October, by invitation only. The keynote speaker was Ido Aharoni, Israel’s Acting Consul General in New York. Aharoni decried the emphasis on conflict and dispute in Israel that is presented by the international media. The public has become satiated with the Middle East conflict and can no longer “make a distinction between the perpetrator and the victim.” Aharoni emphasized the need “to broaden the scope to which Israel is being perceived.” As an example, he cited Israel’s relevant technological innovations which were highlighted in the recent book, Start-up Nation. He suggested that Israel’s image can be improved by getting more people to visit Israel, especially journalists who are not normally involved with Israel. The visiting journalists would be encouraged to write about the numerous cultural events and technological accomplishments in Israel, rather than the usual emphasis on conflict and strife.
Prof. Dan Meyerstein
The guests at the meeting were delighted by the special appearance of Professor Dan Meyerstein, President of Ariel University Center. Most remarkable about Prof. Meyerstein was his salient modesty and congeniality. Though he is a world-renowned chemist with many years of experience in college administration, Dr. Meyerstein easily mingled with the guests and spoke readily about his experiences as a father, grandfather, and Israeli traveler. In his presentation, Dr. Meyerstein took pride in the Zionistic character of AUC. He noted that there is an Israeli flag in every classroom and every student is required to take 12 credit hours of Jewish Heritage courses. Yet despite the emphasis on Zionism, AUC is noted for the culturally diverse population of students and faculty. Among the 11,500 students are 500 Arabs, 300 Ethiopians, and 150 foreigners. Of the 260 faculty members, 18% are new immigrants. “Absorption of new immigrants is important to us,” noted Dr. Meyerstein.
Dr. Meyerstein reviewed some of the outstanding academic programs at AUC which have contributed to its motto, “For a Better World, For a Stronger Israel.” Over the last 20 years, AUC has experienced rapid growth because of its academic excellence in 26 departments covering a wide range of physical, biological, and social sciences that are relevant to the development of the Middle East. In addition to its regular academic programs, AUC offers diversified programs for training qualified technicians, practical engineers and other professions that do not require a university degree. Students studying technology and design in practical engineering are given the opportunity to further their education in regular academic degrees in engineering and architecture.
Another prominent speaker at the gathering was Daniella Bar-Ilan, a noted philanthropist who has provided scholarship support for students at AUC. Ms. Bar-Ilan spoke of the satisfaction that she experienced when her scholarship recipients expressed their gratitude to her for “changing their lives.” Ms. Bar-Ilan emphasized the importance of supporting Ariel University Center because of its success in providing opportunities for all the diverse segments of Israeli society.
Because of its location in Samaria, Ariel University Center has often been the subject of negative and inaccurate information regarding its relationship to Palestinian Arabs. The guests at the meeting, which included prominent business leaders and investors, were gratified to learn of AUC’s culturally diverse population and its outreach to the immigrant as well as native population.