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Event Media Release 2011 - Israel and Palestine in the New Middle East

MEDIA RELEASE: Wednesday 4 May 2011


A Sydney Opera House talk with Naomi Chazan, Ghassan Hage, Saree Makdisi and Peter Hartcher

The Studio, Sunday 19 June at 4pm.

With popular democratic revolutions holding sway in Egypt and Tunisia, and large-scale civil unrest in Libya, Syria, and the Gulf States, the political fundamentals that have underpinned the Middle East have irrevocably shifted the potential endgames.

Trapped in a seemingly perpetual ‘peace process’ that seems to lead nowhere, Palestinians and Israelis have brought their conflicting aspirations for nationhood to the world stage for more than 60 years. In early April, US President Barack Obama called on Israel to take the initiative to break the stalemate over peace talks. But will the military occupation of the West Bank, and the argument over borders, settlements and one- or two-state solutions, be overtaken by current events, for good or ill?

The current Arab uprisings have the potential to affect the delicate political balancing act between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and Fatah, which controls the West Bank. Fatah traditionally drew support from Egypt, while Hamas continues to get support from Syria and Iran. In the middle of these geo-political and religious tensions sits Israel. With the long standing Middle Eastern paradigm shifting dramatically and unpredictably, Israel and the West are scrambling to use this historic moment to produce a solution.

But what kind of solution could it be? Be part of this discussion as an eminent panel of academics, politicians, authors and journalists come together to bring a diverse set of views to the table.

Naomi Chazan is an Israeli academic, politician and human rights activist. She is a former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and recently completed three terms as a Member of Knesset on behalf of the Meretz party. She is currently the President and Chair of the New Israel Fund.

Ghassan Hage (Chair) is the Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at the University of Melbourne,  the author White Nation and Against Paranoid Nationalism and an influential contributor to debates on nationalism and intercultural relations in Australia and the Middle East.

Saree Makdisi is the author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation. He is an American literary critic of Palestinian and Lebanese background and is currently Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA.

Peter Hartcher is The Sydney Morning Herald’s political editor and a prominent commentator on international affairs. He is the author of Bubble Man: Alan Greenspan and the Missing 7 Trillion Dollars and To the Bitter End: the Dramatic Story of the Fall of John Howard and the Rise of Kevin Rudd.

Meera Hindocha / / 02 9250 7834 / 0401 711 531


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