Who are the Palestinians Today?

by
Stephen Eric Bronner

Five years before his death in 1980, Henry Pachter -- my former teacher and friend – published an article in Dissent that enraged the editors: It was entitled “Who Are the Palestinians?”[1] Knowledge about “the occupation” and sympathy for Israel among the Left – and especially among the Jewish Left in the great urban centers of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles -- was far less than it is today. Edward Said was still virtually unknown and it was simply assumed for the most part that criticism of Israeli policies was tantamount to anti-Semitism. Little understanding existed about the society already in place in 1947 or the wanton destruction that accompanied what the Arab inhabitants of Palestine would call  “the catastrophe” (Nakba). The refugees numbering in the hundreds of thousands and languishing in the camps were faceless – while audiences wept upon seeing the heroic Jewish settlers in the film version of the monumental bestseller by Leon Uris’ Exodus. 1948 and 1967 were still fresh in the minds of the American populace; the PLO wasn’t yet a decade old; and most believed that the call for “two states for two peoples” – Israel and Palestine --was the first step to the next “final solution.”   

A political exile from Nazi Germany and a Jew, who had spent time in the concentration camp at Gurs, Henry Pachter was a person of exceptional integrity who toed no line. He maintained that the refugee camps were a “moral and humanitarian outrage” and that the refusal of the Israeli government to grant Palestinians the “right of return” constituted a violation of international law and a “crime.” He noted the centrality of the Israel-Palestine conflict and that the plight of the refugees would erode the possibilities for peace throughout the region. He insisted upon letting them choose between monetary compensation or the right of return – believing that most would take the cash. He was cynical about the persistent use of “security” to justify Israeli policies and he argued that

Israel must take the initiative, retreat to its pre-1967 borders, and negotiate the return of the occupied territories.  Whether any of this would be enough to end terrorism, or even lower the level of anti-Jewish rhetoric, remained an open question. But he was convinced that ultimately Israel had few options and that this was the only way to lay the foundation for a more constructive relationship between Arabs and Jews. Indeed, with a certain disregard for specifics, he called for a contiguous Palestinian state – and, prophetically, suggested that the real issue was not simply its viability but its sovereignty.  

Henry Pachter challenged the conventional wisdom of his time. More than thirty years have passed, however, since his essay first appeared.  The Palestinians and the Israelis have changed or, better, the conditions are no longer what they once were. Back then guilt-ridden Western nations lent their support to Israel. They considered it a bulwark against Soviet expansion in the Middle East and condemned the new Palestinian Liberation Organization that Yassir Arafat had forged from disparate clans, tribes, and factions. Western nations thus sought to secure the safety of Israel -- the lone regional outpost of democracy – and foster disunity within the PLO in order to counter a supposedly subterranean communist threat. Indeed, while common cause among all Arabs was made with the dispossessed Palestinians, Western progressives were far less enthusiastic. Even relatively uncritical supporters of anti-imperialist regimes and movements like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were circumspect when it came to the Palestinians and Israel.

Many looked back to 1947 when the dispossessed Palestinians and their Arab supporters rebuffed the UN offer of a “second state “and, following the 1967 War, refused to recognize the legitimacy of Israel in exchange for a return to the “green line” or the pre-war boundaries. Nostalgia still existed among Arabs for the situation that existed prior to expanded Jewish immigration during the 1930s and, in 1967, even Yassir Arafat was still unwilling to recognize Israel. Perhaps there was the belief that the “Zionist entity” would simply erode or that “struggle” would vanquish its defenders.  Israel, still bearing the scars of the holocaust, seemed to the Western world a nation under fire confronting a Palestinian movement whose institutionally vague desire for sovereignty seemed to threaten the existence of the “Jewish” state.      

 

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Today the situation is very different. No longer is Israel the American bastion against communism, if that argument ever actually made sense, but the lynchpin in President Bush’s “war on terror.” Israel is the dominant military force in the Middle East. It is already the recipient of $3.5 billion in yearly aid from the United States. With its seemingly insatiable appetite for settlements, moreover, Israel rather than the Palestinians is now seen by much of the Western public as blocking the road to peace. The democratic reputation of Israel has also been compromised due to its discriminatory policies against Israeli Arabs and its hideous treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Then too, even while “facts on the ground” have undermined its viability, the two-state solution has become generally accepted by Western and Israeli progressives. Egypt and Jordan have made peace with the “Zionist entity” prior to any agreement over Palestine – and Saudi Arabia has publicly called for the Arab League to recognize Israel in exchange for a withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. 

Western public opinion has also shifted somewhat in its perception of the Palestinians. The brutality of the Israeli occupation is slowly coming to light and, most recently, the barricading of Gaza has caused an international scandal. Despite the best efforts of powerful and reactionary pro-Israeli lobbies like AIPAC, anti-Semitism is less and less being equated with every criticism of Israel. Its ideological reliance on the holocaust to justify every new atrocity in the occupied territories and every blockage of the peace process is also growing tired and hypocritical. This is especially the case since the Palestinians had nothing to do with the holocaust.  The constant element of Israeli policy from 1947 until the present has been the accumulation of territory. An expanding set of settlements – both new ones and spatial growth of old ones –has led to somewhere around 450,000 settlers living in communities concentrated around Jerusalem sprinkled around the West Bank. 

Palestinians have had to deal with these settlements -- composed primarily of radical nationalists and religious fanatics – since 1967. It has not been easy. Israel always prided itself on pursuing “peace” with “security.” But the former has been compromised by the manipulation of the latter. As the nation grew more powerful, and Jewish settlements increased, the old borders appeared increasingly inadequate to supporters of a “greater Israel.” Many in the Israeli political establishment would argue that security could only be maintained by stopping the flood of new settlers and withdrawing those already in place. Given the outcry that accompanied the withdrawal of 8,000 settlers from Gaza in March of 2006, however, evicting fifty times that number is not exactly an appealing prospect for an Israeli regime whose military invincibility was punctured in the Lebanon War of 2006.  But these are problems that Israel has brought upon itself. There is no reason why the Palestinians should have to suffer the consequences. Israel has now been in existence twice as long as a colonial power than as the state it was prior to 1967. 

All of this has had a pronounced impact on the Palestinians both with respect to their aims and their self-image. As Israeli power and its settlements increased over time, and as the quality of its offers to the Palestinians concomitantly decreased, the “peace process” became a substitute for peace. Or, to put it another way, “crisis management” became a substitute for resolving the crisis. In this respect, however, the Palestinian leadership also bears some responsibility. To deprive the Palestinians of political agency is to render them incapable of affecting their fate and dealing with their situation. Paralyzed by military defeats, obstructed diplomatically in its goal of realizing an independent state, Fatah still identifies its interests with those of “Palestine” even as its bureaucracy has become increasingly authoritarian, corrupt, and incapable of securing the most basic social services for its citizens. Hamas stepped into the breach. It astonished Western “experts” by winning an open election in 2006, engineering a virtual coup against Fatah in Gaza, and fundamentally dividing the Palestinian movement. The support given Hamas by the most downtrodden and frustrated Palestinians – especially in Gaza -- is understandable. Nevertheless, its program is more ideologically intransigent and organizationally self-serving than directed toward realizing a meaningful set of political aims for a national citizenry.   

Hamas was formed in 1980. Working at the grass roots, building a disciplined political and paramilitary organization, it served as the religious and more “radical” alternative to Fatah and Yassir Arafat, who had become the champion of a two-state solution. Often forgotten, however, is the organizational necessity for Hamas to distinguish itself from Fatah. This it has done by 1) adamantly refusing to recognize the existence of Israel; 2) rejecting the legitimacy of all previous precedents for a settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (including United Nations Security Council Resolution #242); 3) insisting that violence directed against Israeli citizens is a morally appropriate means of resistance; 4) placing primacy upon the religious rather than the secular character of the Palestinian movement; and 5) embracing explicit anti-Semitism – i.e. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion remains part of the organization’s charter -- as a legitimating ideology.

After winning its electoral victory in 2006, to be sure, Hamas signaled that it might recognize Israel and consider a Palestinian state built on pre-1967 borders (The New York Times January 11, 2007).  These cautious initiatives were reiterated in the aftermath of the Annapolis conference  (The New York Times December 20, 2008). But Israel never took them seriously. Indeed, with the help of the United States, its policy became more confrontational as Gaza was turned into what has appropriately been termed an “outdoor prison.” The dismissal of conciliatory overtures by Israel clearly strengthened the hand of the more extreme elements within Hamas. In turn, of course, this has been used to justify Israel’s isolation of Gaza and the terrible sufferings experienced by its citizens. Intelligent diplomatic initiatives might lead Hamas to change its policy or, better, certain of its policy positions. Nevertheless, it should be stated clearly, the difficulty of such an undertaking should not be underestimated.

Hamas is capable of bold strokes. Its exploding of the barricade at Raffah without casualties made it possible for masses of Gazans to stream into Egpyt and purchase the bare necessities of life. This brilliant tactic clearly heightened the prestige of Hamas at the expense of President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah. On a strategic level, however, the cautious inquiries toward peace – and unity with Fatah -- made by Hamas are insufficient. Its rhetoric remains bellicose, its often violent conflict with Fatah is ongoing, and its shelling of a few Israeli settlements continues. Pursuit of such policies suggests that Hamas sees itself as capable of dealing with Israel on equal footing. But this ignores the prevailing imbalance of power between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel will resist conciliatory overtures by Hamas not merely because such resistance will prolong the peace process, which is in its interest, but also because it is capable of doing so.

Tragically, in the current context, the weaker party will ultimately have to make the larger concessions. Hamas must recognize that reality. This calls for policies and symbolic actions undertaken with an eye on garnering allies and strengthening its moral standing. The truth is that Palestinians increasingly economically rely on western nations. In this regard, for right or wrong, many of these nations still consider Israel as imperiled and its actions against the citizens of Gaza as warranted for “security” reasons. That is why a bold reassessment less of its tactics than its strategy is required by Hamas. Gandhi, King, and Mandela taught the world that non-violence was less a tactic than a moral choice with strategic implications. The situation is no different for Hamas. A decision to reject violence in principle could easily be linked with an acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution #242 and the recognition of Israel. That decision  -- or perhaps a bold stroke leading to that decision – would transform the image of Hamas. It still remains to be made. 

Hamas may well believe in its program and there is a self-serving organizational purpose to its ideology. A strategic outlook that would allow Hamas to distinguish itself from Fatah may well be involved rather than a discrete set of policy positions. Often seen merely as obstructionist and dogmatic, if this strategic vision is taken seriously, the tactics of Hamas assume a certain logic and a positive character – beyond the merely negative insistence that the more moderate tactics of Fatah simply haven’t worked.  To reject the existence of Israel is, obviously, to reject the existence of a negotiating partner. To deny the legitimacy of all precedence for reaching an agreement, such as UN Security Council Resolution 242, is to deny the possibility reaching any territorial compromise. To make favorable reference to the Protocols of Zion generates a vision of Israel and its politics as the product of conspiratorial intrigue undertaken by the intrinsically evil Jews for whom there is no place in the region and against whom violence is obviously legitimate.

What might be in stake, in spite of qualifications and disclaimers, is the commitment of Hamas to a single state rather than a two-state solution. Substance thus mixes with a style that is reinforced by the memories of real oppression directed by Israel against the Palestinian people.  If Hamas considers the existence of Israel morally impermissible then equally impermissible is the creation of a “second state”—even a contiguous and viable Palestine -- through negotiation with the “Zionist entity.” Mahmoud Zahar – an important figure in Hamas – has stated that Palestine encompasses Israel and that “any normalization of relations with the enemy is treason” His words echoed those of Ismail Haniya, the acknowledged leader of Hamas, who put the matter quite bluntly: “Let the whole world hear us: We will not relinquish a centimeter of Palestine and we will not recognize Israel” (The New York Times November 25, 2007).

More than likely, fear of Hamas – not some abstract notion of morality -- led Yassir Arafat to reject the Camp David proposals of 2000. Former Israeli foreign minister, Abba Eben, might have said that yet again the Palestinians did not “miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity.” But something more serious was involved. What occurred in 2000 was yet another example of what has proven an almost congenital incapacity on the part of the Palestinian political leadership to recognize the historical trend that has made them the increasingly weaker party in all negotiations since the birth of Israel. That has not changed in spite of the Israeli blunders in Lebanon or the significant shift in world public opinion. The Palestinian economy, especially in Gaza, is on the verge of complete collapse whereas Israel is experiencing a growth rate of 6% per year. Military aid to Israel from the United States has increased, not decreased, and the American political mainstream remains wedded to the interests of the “Jewish” state. The failure of the peace process and the decline of the peace movement within Israel have generated a kind of political cynicism that is fodder for both a labor party turning right under Ehud Barak and the more extreme political reactionaries now associated with Benjamin Netanyahu. The traditional unity of Arab states behind Palestine is also beginning to fracture: Egypt and Jordan have each made what amounts to a separate peace treaty with Israel and, increasingly sick of the infighting among the Palestinians, other Arab nations seem willing to follow suit (especially if American dollars in support of such a policy change appear forthcoming).

The Palestinians are, arguably, in a more precarious political position than ever before. Their leadership faces a choice down the road: either accept an agreement that might ultimately produce a Palestinian state, maintain the status quo, or engage in armed struggle. The peace plans generated by President Bill Clinton at Camp David in 2000 would not have given the Palestinians a contiguous state and it would have left Israel in control of water, roads, and air lanes between the Palestinian clumps of territory. It wasn’t a great deal. But, whether “moral” or not, it might have set a precedent for further negotiations. It might also have created building blocks of sovereignty and perhaps some breaks on the construction of new settlements.  Be that as it may, the rejection of what was on the table in 2000 only begs the question: what will be the Palestinian response to the next proposal?

 

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Most likely that proposal will -- for better or worse -- be determined within the rough “statement” of principles set by the Annapolis Conference of November 27 2007.  With an administration defined by the catastrophic invasion of Iraq, lacking a single foreign policy success in eight years, President George Bush and his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice were ready to grasp at straws to bolster their “legacy.” That was undoubtedly one important reason why they hastily decided to hold a conference that would help resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Forty- four nations attended. Nor was the Bush Administration above using bribery and arm-twisting to encourage participation. It is particularly interesting to recall the new multi-year $30 billion military aid package offered to Israel and the $25 billion to Saudi Arabia roughly four months prior to the meetings in Annapolis. Few of the forty states were enthusiastic about the meeting and Syria only decided to attend after it was agreed – in what might, arguably, prove the most important legacy of the conference – to place the return of the Golan Heights on the agenda.

In fairness, it should be noted, George Bush was the first American president willing to acknowledge the need for a Palestinian state – though he refused to meet with Yassir Arafat and, while he was alive, publicly condemned him as a “terrorist.” But this doesn’t change the fact that the Annapolis meeting was poorly planned and conceived in an atmosphere of desperation.  No declaration of common principles or agenda for future talks was offered. No mention was made of UN Security Council Resolution #242 though President Bush stated that the United States would now “monitor” progress on the part of both Israelis and “Palestinians” – or, better, Fatah.  Hamas as well as the smaller Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were not invited and they stated that, even if they had been invited, they would have refused to attend. These organizations then held their own separate conferences, and brought 100,000 supporters into the streets to protest the meetings at Annapolis. It is also worth considering that, since the conference took place, Israel has once again made numerous military incursions into Gaza, tightened its embargo, and witnessed an old fashioned pogrom carried out against Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank city of Funduk, and encouraged the United States to withdraw a resolution seeking UN support for resolving the conflict.

The Annapolis meetings could not have occurred at a more inopportune moment. Perhaps the conference took place because the major participants were politically weak and, therefore had nothing to lose: President Bush is a “lame duck” lacking a majority in Congress; Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is still smarting from his disastrous incursion into Lebanon and down in the polls; President Mahmoud Abbas, with the specter of Hamas looming, has nothing to show for his conciliatory attitude toward Israel and the West. In any event, whatever made possible the conference, the political weakness of its major participants will most likely undermine the possibility of resolving the “final status” issues surrounding the creation of a new Palestinian state: the future of Jerusalem, the “right of return,” the Israeli settlements, and the question of borders.

Even while the Palestinians insist upon East Jerusalem being the capital of their new state, and wish the details settled quickly, there remain roughly 250,000 Israeli settlers in and around the Arab parts of the city. A right wing contingent of Israelis thus seeks to delay any such development. The same groups and concerns come into play when discussion turns to the “right of return.” It is absurd to believe that every Palestinian from the occupied territories will instantly rush back to reclaim land and houses held in the past. That is especially the case if, using as a model the German policy of compensating Jews for what they suffered under Hitler, Israel were to provide monetary compensation to individuals in exchange for relinquishing their “right of return. Both Hamas and western progressives should recognize that these would be sensible policies to support. Bringing about “one capital for two states” and coming to terms with the “right of return” in a practical way are preconditions for settling the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

President Abbas has staked his career quickly realizing these ideas. But stalling is crucial for the Israeli right less in order to preserve the “Jewish” character of the state than its imperial policy. It is the same with the settlements. Even if Israel were to inhibit their further growth, they already dot the entire landscape. Radical Zionists and religious fanatics see these Jewish outposts as testaments to the creation of a “greater Israel” and there is a palpable threat of civil war should demands arise for their dismantling or the transfer of territory to the Arabs. Lastly, with respect to the borders for a new Palestinian state, while there is a general understanding that Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders is a pre-requisite for a viable Palestinian state, Prime Minister Olmert remains vague about the details and seems intent to delay the process as long as possible. Other structural obstacles exist as well. President Abbas is in the position of either embracing a potentially unfavorable negotiated agreement, thereby risking civil war, or seeing his support from the United States and Western Europe withdrawn. As for Prime Minister Olmert, unless he makes some overture toward peace, he will anger his Western allies. At the same time, if he does make such an overture, he will anger his reactionary coalition partners like Shas and the Pensioners’ Party (Gil) – who might well switch their allegiance to Benjamin Netanyahu. Demands that Abbas clamp down on “terrorism” before Israel settlements are dismantled essentially means that Fatah will have to clamp down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the (utopian?) hope that Israel will keep its part of the bargain. 

Western progressives must begin to confront in public the more sophistic arguments put forward by Israel in the name of “security.” But they must also call upon Hamas to facilitate the peace process. This would make things easier for the Palestinian people—and that should be the prime purpose. From the organizational standpoint of Hamas, however, simply to acquiesce in the peace process would also improve the position of Fatah. A bold stroke leading to a fundamental shift in policy is therefore required by Hamas. This would involve not merely changing its attitude toward Israel, but changing its attitude toward Fatah. The United States and Israel might make that easier by combining economic incentives with political incentives. Fatah would need to be pressured, the more moderate elements of Hamas would need to be backed, and its leadership would need to be provided with an honorable way to change course. The necessity for progressives to back such a course seems obvious since as things now stand: 1) Fatah and Hamas have fundamentally different aims; 2) both have genuine popular support if, admittedly, in varying degrees; and 3) any decision on a negotiated settlement made by Fatah will either call for ratification by Hamas or a military assault on Hamas. 

No insistence on the part of President Bush that he will employ his considerable “political capital” will prove meaningful unless he is willing to recognize these divisions among the Palestinians and lend his support to the original principle of a “two-state” solution. But that is only possible if real pressure is placed upon Israel by the United States. In this regard, progressives should concern themselves less with symbolic exercises like an international “boycott” on Israeli universities. Illiberal and counter-productive demands of this sort inflame the passions without any clear political purpose. It is better to highlight demands – even if they are exceptionally difficult to achieve -- that would make a difference. These should include – above all -- cutting military aid to Israel unless it accepts the proposal of Saudi Arabia and the Arab League calling for withdrawal of Israel to its pre-1967 boundaries in exchange for the formal recognition of Israel by member states of the Arab League. The possibilities of having such a radical policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict confirmed in the United States are, admittedly, slight. But there is no use in progressives fooling themselves --- no symbolic activities can substitute for the real thing. At the same time, even should Israel be pressured to offer a suitable settlement, it would remain incumbent for the two wings of the Palestinian movement to achieve a modus vivendi.  Thus, while it was not done at Annapolis, it is essential for progressive voices both to call for Palestinian unity and insist upon the importance of bringing Hamas into the peace process.   

Again, in fairness, the Annapolis meetings were intended less to forge a peace settlement than the “framework” for providing one.  But there is a problem. While what constitutes such a general framework has been obvious in principle since a “two-state” solution first gained popularity, its recognition in fact has remained cloudy since the collapse of the talks at Camp David in 2000. Holding aside all other issues, the “two state” solution originally rested on the assumption that two states – each with its own contiguous territory – would co-exist side by side. But that notion can no longer be taken for granted. The vision of a contiguous Palestinian state was ignored in the proposal supported by President Clinton (and subsequently rejected by Yassir Arafat) in favor of a “second state” composed of effectively discrete cantons over which Israel maintained control over roads, airspace, water, and major constructions. Under these conditions, of course, skepticism regarding a two-state solution by groups like Hamas makes sense.  The quality of the peace proposals offered by Israel has degenerated as the imbalance of power between the two sides to the conflict has grown and the ability of the Palestinians to stand united has decreased. Thus, the Palestinians stand at the crossroads.

They share the memory of dispossession, a language, a religion, the dream of a secular state, and the struggle against a common enemy. Emphasizing the need for unity between Hamas and Fatah should be a primary concern since the greater the degree of organizational and ideological disunity the worse the deal that the Palestinians will have to ponder. As things stand today, in this regard, the Palestinians are deeply divided between two movements, two forms of struggle, and two political visions. If it is ideally a matter of forging a bond between the most forward thinking elements of Hamas and Fatah, therefore, it is first necessary to render a judgment about the policy that might best serve the Palestinian national interest.  Choices must be made over whether to privilege the religious over the secular, violence over negotiation, and ultimately the bi-national over the two-state solution to the conflict. Nor is this choice as simple as it may initially appear. Secularism is on the defensive, negotiations have stalled, and a viable two-state solution now seems almost as utopian as a bi-national state. The next offer made by Israel might pale even in comparison with that made at Camp David –- and it will be tough for the Palestinians to swallow. Nevertheless, the alternative is worse.

Israel is not going away and the most downtrodden among the Palestinians will pay the highest price for a policy predicated on embracing violence, rejecting all prior agreements, and denying the existence of the “Zionist entity.” Hamas and its more fanatical allies can insist upon framing a choice between “struggle” and “surrender.” But that is really not the choice at all. Calling upon Hamas to shift gears and support negotiations that will bring about a far less than perfect Palestine now does not imply abandoning the quest for a more viable state in the future any more than would insisting upon the immediate dismantling of existing settlements, lifting the virtual cordon sanitaire around Gaza (and Bethlehem), or demolishing the road-blocks and checkpoints that plague the Palestinian people. Even the shards of a new state could generate concrete proposals for future steps that might make it contiguous. New possibilities for investment could arise. A viable bureaucracy and security apparatus could begin to develop along with new incentives for Hamas and Fatah to reach some kind of new modus vivendi. The Palestinians could perhaps also find themselves playing a different role in the international community and representatives of their sovereign state might finally be recognized as a legitimate “negotiating partner.”

All of this is, admittedly, speculative. But such a policy offers a far better bet for positive outcomes than the paralyzed politics of the present in which economic collapse is already under way, civil war looms, and increasing numbers of Palestinians are bereft of both hope and clarity of purpose. Lenin knew what he was doing during World War I when, seeing his country gobbled up by its enemies, he called for “peace at any price” rather than the “neither war nor peace” policy advocated by Trotsky or the demands to continue the military campaign against Germany by Bukharin. The analogy is appropriate when considering the choices faced by the Palestinians with regard to taking a deal, maintaining an intolerable status quo, or romanticizing a fruitless military struggle whose costs will be borne by a weary and scarred citizenry. Something is to be learned here from a very different historical context if not about the superiority of communism then about the value of realism: salvage what is possible, give the citizenry a breather, and then let the political struggle continue.


Notes

[1] Henry Pachter, “Who are the Palestinians?” in Socialism in History: Political Essays of Henry Pachter edited by Stephen Eric Bronner (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), pgs. 203-215.

 

Stephen Eric Bronner is Professor (II) of Political Science at Rutgers University whose most recent book is Peace Out of Reach: Middle Eastern travels and the Search for Reconciliation. He is also the Senior Editor of Logos.