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PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST:
A VIEW FROM THE LEGAL ACADEMY

Professor Burton Caine
Temple Law School
JURIST Guest Columnist

Efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians have met with such frustration that some have considered 撤eace in the Middle East to be an oxymoron. I do not. My experience over a quarter of a century of effort to advance the peace process through an academic program encourages me to believe that the solution to the problem is within sight. It follows United Nations Resolution 242, the United States-sponsored 途oad map, the Geneva Initiative, and similar plans proposed by Israeli peace groups.

All these plans prescribe two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders. The boundaries should be those of June 1967 with adjustments for Israeli settlements near the borders to be compensated by land in Israel given to the Palestinian state. Jerusalem shall be the capital of both states, and the city should be divided between Israelis and Palestinians according to population concentrations of each. The surface of the Temple Mount shall be under Palestinian sovereignty with access to all, and nothing may be done to destroy or adversely affect Jewish sites below the surface.

There is nothing new in what I have said. The United Nations partition of Palestine in 1947, and prior plans have followed the same logic. But none has brought peace. So why do I persist?

Because I have seen partners for peace who need support to overcome extremists who oppose compromise, the only path to peace.

Since 1977, I have been the Director of the Israel Program at Temple Law School which includes a joint effort with Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law to offer courses for which students receive credit at their home law schools in the United States, and elsewhere. I have made the program a vehicle for studying the peace process both in the classroom and out with academics and diplomats from the Arab nations, Israel and the United States. The students are mainly from law schools in the United States, occasionally from Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. Palestinians from Al Quds University in East Jerusalem also enrolled. In addition to American and Israeli professors, Saeb Erekat, Hanan Ashrawi, and other prominent Arabs have lectured to our students.

In addition, there have been symposia on 展hither the Peace Process? in Tel Aviv, Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boca Raton, in which ambassadors from Jordan, Egypt, Israel, the United States, and high ranking representatives of the Palestinian Authority have participated. In addition, I have taken students and professors in the program - American and Israeli - to Cairo and Amman to meet with Foreign Ministers and others to discuss the peace process and ways to achieve a just solution for all affected by it.

The lesson learned during these years has been that there are partners for peace and there is widely shared agreement that the extremists on both sides are the problem. Some have admitted that those opposed to a reasonable solution are not always on the other side. Often pleas are made to suppress the fanatics on the other side in order to persuade one痴 own. But the more realistic view is to engage other parties, principally the United States, to influence - or even pressure - Israel and the Palestinians to make the concessions needed for peace.

The burden that imposes on the United States should rightfully be shared with other countries and the United Nations. The problem is that the historical record has demonstrated to the Israelis that the UN and the Europeans have exhibited such implacable hatred of Israel, and Jews in general, that pressure from these quarters is bound to imperil - not advance - the chances for peace in the Middle East. The UN has virtually never condemned the murder of Israelis including the slaughter of school children by Arab terrorists at Ma誕lot and Kiryat Shemona long before the Israeli occupation of the conquered territories in the 1967 war. The one-sided condemnation of Israeli retaliation has placed the UN firmly in the position of an enemy of Israel. Israel is the only member of the UN barred from serving on the Security Council and nations sworn to the destruction of the Jewish State are rewarded with positions of authority.

As for the Europeans, the conversation between Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw tells the story. Powell asked what accounted for the recent resurgence of vicious anti-Semitism in Europe. Straw blamed it on Israel. Powell disagreed and gave his own view. Jew hatred, he said, has traditionally plagued Europe from one end to the other. The Holocaust was the result of such hostility because if Jews were so contemned from birth, extermination was the solution. But the horror of organized murder of six million Jews - including a million children - was so shocking that it stilled European anti-Semitism temporarily waiting for the opportunity to return to its historic enmity.

My experience in Europe on lecture tours under the auspices of the U.S, State Department, for example, support the Powell analysis. Goldhagen痴 滴itler痴 Willing Executioners adds confirmation. I was the American delegate to the UNESCO Conference on Free Speech on the Internet in Paris recently. No country challenged the proclamation of the Egyptian delegate of the right to broadcast on TV the notorious 撤rotocols of the Elders of Zion, the Czarist forgery of an alleged Jewish plot to conquer the world. And on the streets of Paris, I was accosted with an anti-Semitic remark which should have come as no surprise since I knew of attacks on Jews and the destruction of synagogues.

The point is that Israel needs outside pressure to counter the right-wing movement to continue to settle Jews on land conquered in the 1967 war. Although many justifications are proposed for retaining the territories, all occupation must end. Occupation can never be benign. It is a violation of humanity. Moreover, if Israel denied the vote to Palestinians, it would loose its right to call itself a democracy as written in its Declaration of Independence. If Israel were to extend citizenship to Palestinians in the occupied territories, they would soon become the majority which could vote to terminate the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish People. In addition, ending the occupation should persuade Arab nations, such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, among others, to take vigorous and sustained action to end Arab terrorism on the ground that the justification for it has vanished.

I feel sad when I read books such as Alan Dershowitz痴 典he Case for Israel in which he argues with consummate skill that Israel痴 conduct is legally justified and far superior to that of other nations in the course of history. Even if he is right, it is irrelevant. Winning the case, even if there were a court that would listen, will not bring peace. Outside pressure on people of good will has a better chance. It is a pity that European nations have disqualified themselves by endemic anti-Semitism. Any efforts by them must be viewed with suspicion and are likely to stiffen the resolve of the Sharon government to entrench the occupation as a means of assuring the survival of the State. That leaves only the United States, as the protector of the State of Israel, to do whatever is necessary to shore up the peace camp in Israel with the support it needs to persuade the government to give up the territories. Only that will bring peace.


Burton Caine is a Professor of Law at Temple Law School and Director of the Israel Program, a cooperative venture of Temple Law School and Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law.

February 2, 2004

GUEST COLUMNIST

JURIST Guest Columnist Burton Caine is a professor at Temple Law School. He has been Director of the Israel Program since 1978, a cooperative venture of Temple Law School and Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law. Through the Program, he has endeavored to further the peace process in the Middle East by conducting symposia in Tel Aviv, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Boca Raton featuring diplomats of Egypt, Jordan, United States, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel, as well as distinguished academicians in the field. In addition to many trips Professor Caine has made to Cairo and Amman, under the auspices of the Council on US-Arab Relations, he was invited to participate in a study tour of university professors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In addition to academic pursuits, Professor Caine has acted as General Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Philadelphia Branch, and later served two terms as President. He served on the Academic Freedom and Church-State Committees of the National ACLU. Professor Caine has made extensive appearances on behalf of ACLU and civil rights generally on TV, radio, in the press, and before legislative committees and other governmental bodies, on a wide range of constitutional issues including Freedom of Speech, Religion, Separation of Church and State, Privacy and Due Process. He served many years on the Middle East Program Committee of the American Friends Service Committee.