“In a conflictual environment, where the stakes are higher than usual, each word, each line and name on a map, each gesture matters. Standing on opposite sides of the divide, antagonists argue, voice claims and counterclaims, sometimes even apply coercion—all to enforce their will and prove how right they are and how wrong the other side is.” That is how Professor Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D., introduces a special issue of the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Vol. 43, No. 3, Spring 2020), recently published by Villanova University.
The issue focuses on “Israel, Palestine, and the Challenge of Peace,” with seven contributions by scholars and established leaders in public affairs. In addition to Sarsar, others include Daniel C. Kurtzer, the S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East Policy Studies at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel; Salam Fayyad, a leading economist and former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, who is currently a Visiting Senior Scholar, also at the Princeton School; Gilead Sher, former chief of staff and policy coordinator to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is currently the Isaac and Mildred Brochstein fellow in Middle East Peace and Security at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy; and Galia Golan, the Darwin Professor emerita of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In his own article, “Education and Peacebuilding in Israel and Palestine,” Sarsar reviews the environment in which learning occurs, and presents the institutional and organizational frameworks through which varying perceptions of peace and peacebuilding materialize. He then analyzes facets of the competing historical narrative issue in order to discover “the truth” and arrive at common ground, which are essential if dialogue, peace, and reconciliation are to grow. He calls for seeking a shared language for dialogue and for having words, actions, and interactions become inclusive and meaningful. These are critical as Israelis and Palestinians meet each other anew, as equals, acknowledging their shared vision and mission, according to Sarsar.
The Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is accessible on JSTOR.