Mid-East spills over at Sydney Opera House
A panel debate at the Sydney Opera House discussed "Israel & Palestine In The New Middle East" yesterday in front of a packed – and often cranky – audience.
Naomi Chazan, in Australia to launch the local branch of the New Israel Fund, argued valiantly in favour of a two-state solution, while Peter Hartcher, the political editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, argued that the "fluidity" of the current situation generated by the "Arab Spring" offered huge opportunities although the chances for a settlement remained distant.
Academic Ghassan Hage, the author of White Nation and Against Paranoid Nationalism, urged the audience not to be bound by the constraints of a one- or two-state solution, but rejected the notion that Palestinians who still felt pain from being forced from their homes in Israel during the 1948 war were part of the "old narrative" and that these claims had to be dealt with in any negotiations.
American academic Saree Makdisi, author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, argued strongly for a one-state solution that includes rights for all Palestinians, including those living in the Palestinian Diaspora.
Although there was due to be questions from the audience, the panel debate ran over time and the partisan crowd was not able to engage in debate - much to the chagrin of some vocal audience members.