On November 14, 2023, the Social Sciences Research Center at International Burch University convened an academic expert panel about the Israeli-Hamas War to provide critical insights into the intricacies of the ongoing conflict, as a conflagration of the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The speakers included Maura James of Salt Meadow Consulting, Dr. Nimrod Rosler of Tel Aviv University, and Nivine Sandouka of the Alliance for Middle Peace.
The panelists contextualized the Hamas attack on Israeli civilians on October 7 and the Israeli response thereto, both in the form of the war against Hamas in Gaza and in the form of increased repression of Palestinians in Israel proper and in the West Bank.
Israelis across the country were shocked by the October 7 attack when Hamas militants invaded southern Israel and killed around 1,200 Israelis and took over 200 as hostages, while Palestinians generally tend to view them as unavoidable although not legitimate.
As a result, both sides have closed ranks and consolidated around their respective positions, although survey data demonstrate there is a mismatch between support for the cause and support for leadership although there has been a significant increase in identification with the State of Israel among both Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinians according to polling data.
In general, the overall view is that Hamas does not represent the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians for an independent state and that its actions have painted that cause with blood contributing to an overall decrease in support for the two-state solution.
This, however, does not justify high civilian casualties in the Israeli persecution of the war against Hamas in Gaza, for which Israel is responsible as an occupying power under international humanitarian law.
After the end of the war, intensified efforts towards a lasting solution will have to be made after the war is over, as the status quo is untenable for both sides, likely through multilateral efforts that will fully include Palestinian people, including through new elections that will lead to a government with greater legitimacy than the current ruling elite of the Palestinian Authority.
Practically and in the near term, attention should be paid to cease fires and the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid, but with due attention paid as the most violent periods in wars are right before and right after cease fires.
Maura James is the principal at Salt Meadow Consulting, has studied peace and conflict transformation in the Middle East, and researches minority populations in the Middle East, with extensive experience in the field at various humanitarian hotspots.
Prof. Dr. Nimrod Rosler heads the International Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation at Tel Aviv University, leads the Peace Index, and is currently developing and testing a new psychological intervention for conflict resolution.
Nivine Sandouka is a Palestinian peace activist and chief of staff at the Alliance for Middle East Peace, where she works on constructing person-to-person links in order to contribute to less fear, hatred and violence, increased economic growth, and greater understanding of the other, as well as the stake each party has in a shared future.
Prof. Dr. Adis Maksić was the moderator of this event. He is a staff member at the Department of International Relations and European Studies at International Burch University and has served in several peacekeeping missions in the Balkans.
The Social Sciences Research Center and International Burch University, through events like these, continue to play an important role in promoting intellectual exchange and contributing to a better understanding of complex geopolitical issues.