What we talk about when we talk about Israel/Palestine

Note: All participants’ views are their own and not those of the organisations with which they are affiliated. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, the region has been the scene of fierce power struggles, injustice and tragic events. Throughout the past 65 years, both sides have been at odds over a resolution to their long-running conflict, and many outside parties — the United Nations, the Arab League, various US Presidents — have proposed a variety of answers, the most common of which is a two-state solution. If Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are to be divided into two distinct and separate states, how can it be done? Where will the lines be drawn? And how would such a dramatic conclusion to the issue affect the region? Melbourne prides itself on being an intellectually curious, open city where the discussion of ideas is a local pastime. But some topics, it appears, are forever headed to the too-hard-basket. How do we hold a productive discussion around the issues and solutions when key players and thinkers struggle to even agree on terms of engagement? How can we give voice to political disagreement in a way that is meaningful rather than just retreading old conflicts? Is boycott an appropriate response to those with whom we disagree? And if we can’t come together to discuss these issues openly, with representatives from across the community, then what hope is there for constructive debate? The Wheeler Centre presents a distinguished panel of thinkers, exploring the issues around public conversation and the peace process. Moderated by journalism academic and Radio National alumnus Peter Clarke, over 90 minutes at Melbourne Town Hall, our range of passionate, mutually-respectful, informed speakers talk about talk: about how we conduct ourselves in exploring the history and ideas around such an entrenched and long running debate, and about how those holding passionately divergent views can hear one another — without local discussion becoming a microcosm of the big picture peace process that can’t even agree on an agenda, let alone a solution. Speakers include Peter Beinart, Samah Sabawi, Mark Baker, Or Avi-Guy, Maher Mughrabi and Dahlia Scheindlin.

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