Gershom Gorenberg speaks about peace in Israel

The best way to end the Palestinian and Israeli conflict is for creation of two separate states according to a prominent Jewish author during his presentation Monday night. While he feels that other issues are involved that make peace between these two groups so difficult, his reasoning comes from an objective place.

114 people gathered at the John E. Jaqua Law Library Monday night to hear Gershom Gorenberg speech on his most recently published book, The Unmaking of Israel. In the book, he discusses how religion and politics are both to blame as to why a resolution will be difficult to reach until these two things are separated.

Gershom Gorgenberg speaks on the necessary steps that need to be taken for peace in Israel.

The political differences between these two groups of people also play a significant part in why peace has been so difficult to find. “The Jewish state is unique amongst postcolonial era countries. It is a country ruled by parliamentary democracy, proving high levels of participation in the political system, while also facing serious challenges to the continuation of democracy,” Gorenberg says. The framework of the type of democracy that Israel practices is still so new to the people, that while the press has their freedom, the people of the nation feel in violation to their religion.

The Jewish values are also in conflict with some of the principles that America so firmly values. Citizens of Israel are far more involved in public affairs and thus this causes the erosion of the democratic system in a way that is completely opposite of what American is struggling with.

Gorenberg’s second example of why peace will be difficult to reach is because of the poverty that is present in the ultra Orthodox community, which is an example of the religious differences. Families living in storage units are examples, he said, “Of a prevalent lifestyle which most men won’t work in their adult lives, but continue religion studies.”

This is a result of a compulsory education that many men choose to pursue since it is free when doing religious studies. This has caused the men to be continually in school, while the women are left providing for the families and households. Gorenberg calls this system, “Economically unstable for the state,” because half the population is working to support the other half that is by choice, still in school.

Gorenberg acknowledges that because of the states willingness to fund orthodox schools, the separation of church and state is dwindling. And because the dispute in Israel is partially centered on religion, a resolution is no closer by having religion and state so intertwined.

Daniel Miller, a professor within the school of journalism and Communication said, “Gerhsom Gorenberg is an important voice in these issues.” Gorenberg has lived in Israel for the past 35 years, and is able to understand through this experience what the conflict is doing in area. His career as a journalist and renowned author has given perspective to the millions of people that have purchased his book.

Of the many students in attendance, Desirae MacGillivary, a junior studying Communications, found Gorenberg’s speech very interesting. She pointed out that while she is familiar with the segregation of people in America, she was intrigued to know that other countries are struggling with the same issues. “We see our own stereotypes and divisions in our country, but we don’t see that in other places from an outsiders perspective,” was something MacGillivary picked up on.

As for the future of Israel, Gorenberg is hopeful that peace will be found. He knows that the focus of people living in Israel should be the things they agree on and not the differences. As for creating the peace, Gorenberg laid out the three steps that he feels need to be taken very clearly. “First of all, we need to work towards a separation of state and synagogue; a divorce made in heaven,” Gorenberg said. “Exercising the right to self-determination of the strong Jewish majority… and thirdly we have to strive to divide the land.” By achieving all three of these steps, the much needed peace will be able to develop.

Sponsored by: The UO Center for Intercultural Dialogue, Robert Donald Clark Honors College, UO Conflict and Dispute Resolution Program, UO Departments of English, History, and Political Science, The Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies, School of Journalism and Communication, J Street Eugene.

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