Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat to tackle the question of peace

Cristina Garcia/Staff Writer 

In You Don’t Mess With The Zohan the star Israeli counterterrorist asks his family, “When does it end?”

If you try Googling the Israel-Palestine conflict, two types of search results pop up: pro-Palestine or pro-Israel.

American cartoonist Nina Paley’s video, This Land is Mine details the neutral origins of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in less than four minutes. The video shows various characters, each a representation of different players in the struggle for Israel-Palestine over the years, from early man to modern man.

The video’s answer for Zohan is that the fighting ends with the angel of death, but is that the final answer?

Last October, the Middle East Studies Program invited Riman Barakat, the co-CEO of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information to discuss the then-current assessment of Israel-Palestine and any prospects for peace.

According to a video of Barakat introducing herself and her vision for IPCRI, the organization is rethinking their approach for the Israel-Palestine problem.

“In order to create a favorable environment for peace, an infrastructure for peace needs to be created in both Palestinian and Israeli societies. On the Israeli side, more awareness needs to be created regarding the Israeli government’s repressive policies towards Palestinians…Israeli citizens need to take responsibility for the actions that their state has taken and need to start doing something about it,” she said. “On the Palestinian side, many institutions need to be strengthened in order to promote an infrastructure for democracy, for human rights values, civil liberties in order to enable Palestinian society to participate in a real peace process that involves every sector and level of Palestinian society and community.”

Ari Sandel’s musical, “West Bank Story,” depicts peace as possible with some changes too.

In the musical, a Palestinian clerk and Israeli soldier fall in love against all their families’ wishes. It isn’t until the opposing sides war so much their establishments collapse, that they are brought together. When they unite to feed the customers, a ray of hope shines through and peace seems possible.

What is it going to take to achieve peace in real life?

A man qualified to answer that question is Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat, the chief representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the U.S.

The Middle East Studies Program and the School of International and Public Affairs have co-sponsored a lecture event for Monday, Feb. 10; at the event, Areikat will tackle the question of peace.

According to Palestine Liberation Organization Delegation to the United States’s site, the ambassador was born in 1960 in occupied Palestine. Currently, he is the chief representative, but before his Washington appointment, he was “bestowed the rank of Ambassador by Chairman of the PLO and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.”

On the “Due Diligence Show,” the ambassador said the “The United States needs to shift its modus operandi in dealing with Israel. They cannot try to always accommodate Israeli needs and concerns and tailor things according to what Israel can accept or cannot accept. They have to do what is right to provide both Israelis and Palestinians with the conditions and circumstances that will allow both peoples to live in dignity, freedom and in their own states without any interference from either side.”

The chief representative has served 11 years at the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO in Ramallah. He first joined NAD in 1998 and served as director-general until 2008. Before NAD, Areikat also worked at Orient House, “the headquarters of the PLO in Jerusalem and of the Palestinian Negotiating Team for the Madrid peace talks.”

As written in a Miami New Times article, there are many movies about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that “[seek] to start open-minded dialogue about [their] subject matter.”

The lecture, “Palestine and Israel: Shared Future or Perpetual Conflict?,” is part of that dialogue and a chance for students with questions to find answers.

The event will take place in the Graham Center Middle Ballroom at 2 p.m. It is free and open to the public, but a ticket is necessary. To reserve a ticket call 305-348-7266. 

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