- Pathfinder

Reply To: Do you think the U.S. should assist in mediating negotiations toward a resolution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Why or why not?

Kari McDowell

I have really mixed feelings about this question. On the one hand, we learned in this course (particularly in the interview with Robert Nicholson) that American policies of disengagement have not really been helpful for such a volatile region. (The biggest recent example would probably be the situation in Afghanistan.) On the other hand, foreign intervention is naturally resented by many people in the region, particularly in the Arab-Israeli conflict, given the fraught history of foreign intervention the conflict – Sykes-Picot Agreement, mandates, and all the failed American negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians thus far. (This was a major theme of the book I recently finished, Goldschmidt’s A Concise History of the Middle East.) I guess I would say that assistance would probably be in order, but in a careful, culturally responsive way that did not make either side feel forced, disrespected, or put down. We have seen some success in recent years in American assistance in making agreements between Israel and her various Arab neighbors – perhaps now is the time to try again to help Israelis and Palestinians make peace.