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Mearsheimer: Inside Israel's bleak future

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CIA map of the West Bank

Internationally renowned University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer held a public lecture Sunday at IUPUI, titled “Greater Israel’s Bleak Future.” Sponsored by Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, Mearsheimer’s talk dealt with the realistic prospects of Palestinians securing an independent state in Gaza and the West Bank.

The professor serves as co-director of the University of Chicago’s Program on International Security Policy. His most recently published book, Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying In International Politics, hit shelves earlier this year. He is best known for an influential paper co-authored with Stephen Walt concerning the Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy; thus he was in a position to offer invaluable insight and perspective to the contentious issues at stake.

Today, Palestinians living in Gaza experience a degree of oppression similar to that imposed on minorities during the “separate but equal” period of U.S. history. Israel refers to the segregated culture as the “two-state solution,” but its strong resemblance to South Africa under apartheid draws significant criticism.

During Sunday’s lecture, Mearsheimer argued that the majority of Palestinians must be given the legitimacy of participating in a democratic bi-national state. This theory presents a conflict — Palestinians’ greater numbers will undoubtedly dominate their Israeli counterparts. But Mearsheimer’s argument falls on deaf ears amongst proponents of a sovereign Jewish nation.

The professor seemed to approach the issue practically. He explained that as two of the world’s major religions oppose Israel, it could be argued that anti-Semitic sentiment is responsible for fueling the ongoing violence in the Middle East.

The U.S. has long advocated for Israel, acting as their chief ally in a world that seems to hold little respect for the Hebrew nation. Surrounded by Islamic neighbors in that particular region, Judaism is attacked culturally, politically and physically on a daily basis.

According to Mearsheimer, the most probable outcome of this situation is that Gaza and the West Bank will become part of a “Greater Israel,” which will expand and intensify the growing apartheid-esque government.

Literature provided at the lecture, written by Frances H. Remillard and based on a legal study commissioned by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, noted that Israel shows characteristics of an apartheid state. Three pillars of the system were identified, as follows:

- The state codifies into law a preferred identity. In the case of Israel, the preferred identity is one of Jewish heritage.

- The state segregates the population into geographic areas based on identity. Palestinians are confined to impoverished areas that have insufficient resources.

- The state establishes security laws and policies designed to suppress any opposition to any regime. The military occupation requires that Palestinians are tried in military courts, while Jewish citizens are tried in civic court.

Mearsheimer applied the points above in discussing the present state of Gaza and the West Bank, but focused heavily on the future of the conflict. Though there is no easy solution, the professor gave examples of possible scenarios, favoring the two-state solution. But the inevitability of a Palestinian majority rule prevents Israel from agreeing to this solution, ensuring that the conflict will likely endure.

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