Wildcats for Israel brought two speakers from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies to Fisk Monday evening in order to discuss the current state of the Israeli and Palestinian peace process. Oren Kessler, the deputy director for research who studies Israel and the Arab world, and Grant Rumley, a research analyst who focuses on Palestinian politics, offered insight into both sides of the conflict.
Despite the sweaty heat of the Fisk basement—one speaker found the heat fitting, equating it to weather the Mediterranean climate—the room was crowded throughout the full hour of discussion.
Kessler said that, for Israel, there appears to be “very little hope and optimism that there is a solution to be reached in the near to mid future … or ever.”
He attributes this lack of hope to Israel’s past experiences with withdrawing from territories like Lebanon and Gaza, lack of success with past peace offerings and the current violence in the Middle East.
“There is very little feeling in Israel that Washington has its security as one of its top priorities,” Kessler added.
Rumley said optimism among Palestinians is also lacking. He believes that Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, is now irrelevant and unwanted by Palestinians, though the U.S. may not want to say goodbye just yet since he is one of the few people who will negotiate with Israel. The 80-year-old apparently smokes two packs a day and falls asleep in meetings, according to Rumley, who added that his death could spark a crisis.
“The fact that [Rumley] actually knows what goes on internally in [Palestinian] society and their political system gave me a lot that I didn’t have before, and made it a more holistic event,” said McCormick junior Alon Schneidman, an event attendee.