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Prominent Progressive Academics Call for Immediate Israeli Peace Initiative



On October 14, 2014 the British Parliament voted to recognize a Palestinian state, launching a dynamic debate around the world on whether the vote would help or hurt the chances of peace and reconciliation between Israel and Palestine.  Since then, members of the Academic Advisory Council (AAC) of The Third Narrative have been deeply engaged in studying this issue as a core principle of the group states that “We believe in two states as the only way to avoid perpetual conflict, and recognize that since both peoples require national self-expression, the struggle will continue until this is achieved.


The undersigned members of the AAC, list in formation, endorse the perspective on the issue presented in the October 14th letter to the Editor of the New York Times by Mr. Gilead Sher, co-chairman of Blue White Future.  Endorsees’ institutions are included for identification purposes only.

“This [the vote by the British Parliament] is the latest in a litany of clarion calls the Israeli government has been willfully ignoring. Israel’s international isolation deepens, and calls for boycotts increase, yet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered no concrete diplomatic strategy at the United Nations last month, nor has he since.

President Mahmoud Abbas, in contrast, laid out his plan at the United Nations for unilaterally acquiring the world’s recognition of a Palestinian state.

Israel must take the initiative and demonstrate its readiness to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict within a regional context, while assuring its vital national interests — long-term security and remaining the democratic national home for the Jewish people.

Israel should talk with the Palestinians, begin a dialogue with regional actors and independently delineate a border that secures a Jewish majority while encouraging settlers living beyond this border to come home to Israel proper.

The current regional configuration — a weakened Hamas, a relatively moderate Palestinian Authority leader, an Egypt willing and able to mediate, and a concerted fight against the Islamic State that includes Arab states — provides an opportunity for Israel.

If the United States publicly presented Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework agreement and promoted an approach comprising multilateral, bilateral and constructive unilateral measures, it would also be seizing this moment in history.”

Tel Aviv, Oct. 14, 2014

The writer is co-chairman of Blue White Future, a nonpartisan Israeli group promoting a two-state solution. He is a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Ehud Barak and a former co-chief peace negotiator, 1999-2001.


Ernie Benjamin, Independent Scholar

Marc Bernstein, Michigan State University

Zachary Braiterman, Syracuse University

David Brusin, University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee

Steven M. Cohen, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Hasia Diner, New York University

Peter Dreier, Occidental College

Peter Eisenstadt, Independent Scholar

Cynthia Epstein, CUNY

Sara Evans, University of Minnesota

Claude Fischer, Berkley

Sam Fleischacker, University of Illinois-Chicago

Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, Stanford University

Todd Gitlin, Columbia University

Chad Goldberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Judith Goldstein, Vasser College

Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College

Ira Katznelson, Columbia University

Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia University

Elaine Leeder, Sonoma State University

Rebecca Lesses, Ithaca College

Joe Lockard, Arizona State University

Steven Lubet, Northwestern University School of Law

Barry Lyons, Wayne State University

Jonathan Malino, Guilford College

Jeffry V. Mallow, Loyola University Chicago

Maud Mandel, Brown University

Deborah Dash Moore, University of Michigan

Cary Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne

Nigel Paneth MD MPH, Michigan State University

Derek J. Penslar, University of Toronto

Maurice Samuels, Yale University

Irwin Sandler, Arizona State University

Chaim Seidler-Feller, UCLA

Gershon Shafir, UC San Diego

Jeffrey Shoulson, University of Connecticut

Catherine B Silver, CUNY

Robert Snyder, Rutgers University

Seymour Spilerman, Columbia University

Michael Steinitz, St. Francis Xavier University

Mira Sucharov, Carleton University, Ottawa

Irene Tucker, University of California, Irvine

Ken Waltzer, Michigan State University

Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Studies

Jeff Weintraub, Independent Scholar

Alan Jay Weisbard, University of Wisconsin

Beth Weitzman, NYU Steinhardt

Alan Wolfe, Boston College

Jonathan Zasloff, UCLA

Steve Zipperstein, Stanford University


Academic Advisory Council

The Third Narrative’s Academic Advisory Council (AAC) comprises over 100 leading progressive scholars and academics who reject the notion that one has to be either pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian. The AAC believes that empathy for the suffering and aspirations of both peoples, and respect for their national narratives, is essential if there is to be a peaceful solution. Scholars and academics should play a positive role in asking difficult questions, and promoting critical thinking, about the Israel-Palestinian conflict. To achieve this goal the AAC insists on the importance of academic freedom and open intellectual exchange, and so rejects calls for academic boycotts and blacklists, as well as efforts to punish academics for their political speech, including even those who support the academic boycotts that we oppose.

For More Information, Contact Gideon Aronoff of The Third Narrative and Ameinu, 212-366-1194.

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