Speaker addresses prospects for peacein the Middle East

A Palestinian member of the Israeli Parliament described what he termed the Pepsi versus Coca-Cola elections for prime minister earlier this year in the Marvin Center Sunday.

Israeli Parliament member Azmi Bashara said, like Pepsi and Coca-Cola, the prime minister candidates were virtually identical when it came to their ideas about the peace process.

Bashara said Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s victory was not a win for peace in the war-torn region, despite how the U.S. media portrayed the results.

I never saw Barak at any of the hundreds of peace demonstrations I attended, said Bashara, who himself was a candidate for prime minister of Israel.

Bashara talked about a number of key issues, including his campaign for prime minister and the future of Palestinian and Arab-Israeli relations.

During Israel’s last prime minister elections, Bashara was the first-ever Palestinian candidate.

We wanted to make a political point to deviate from the expectations, Bashara said. The worst thing that could have happened in this campaign was for the Jewish society to take it as a joke. What ended up happening was strange. The Arab society took it as a joke, but the Jewish society had a lot of respect for what we were trying to do.

Bashara said the future of Palestinian and Arab-Israeli relations depend not only on the leaders of the countries but on the opinion of the people. He said the people of Israel will have to be willing to give lands back to the Palestinians and Arabs before peace can be made. But Bashara said he does not think that is going to happen.

Israel does have a strategic interest in making peace, Bashara said. We are just going to need to wait and hang around until the mood is right. But I see no final status in the future.

Those attending the speech were mostly from the local Arab community. Other local colleges also had members in attendance.

I think he was very articulate in offering a different perspective of Israeli-Palestinian thought, said Maha Elsheikh, president of the GW Arab Student Association.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.