Ibrahim Project, June 8: Sociopolitics during an excursion to Abu Dhabi

← Previous: Ibrahim Project, June 7: Last thoughts in Oman & first thoughts in the U.A.E.

This is part of a series of posts on my participation in the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Project during June 2012.

An introduction to the Gulf and the Arab world

Before departing for Abu Dhabi, Mark made sure to give us a good briefing on the Emirates and the broader region. Disclaimer: this is generally the case, but I don’t mean to relay everything here as fact—it is largely Mark’s interpretation, and my own interpretation of his account of his interpretation—thus not only may I misrepresent something he’s said, but there are always alternative analyses of the complicated events still unfolding in the region. And oversimplifications may arise from both mine and Mark’s need to quickly summarize. Basically, I am still learning and trying to wrap my head around the important intricacies of Middle East politics, so forgive me (and correct me) if I get something wrong—and if you’ve interpreted events differently, please share your own thoughts. Anyways…

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Ibrahim Project, June 2: Primer on Israel/Palestine before takeoff

← Previous: Ibrahim Project, June 1: Orientation in D.C.

This is part of a series of posts on my participation in the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Project during June 2012.

Mark’s lecture on the state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Before our departures, the group had lunch at Bistro Français in Georgetown, where Mark delivered a lecture to prepare us intellectually for the trip. Mark’s primary realm of expertise is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so this was the focus of the conversation. He started by talking about the Arab Spring in this context—phenomena that he called the “Israeli summer,” where Israel’s middle class rose against increasing costs and huge inequality, and the “Palestinian fall,” in which Palestinians gave up on negotiations and Abbas took their statehood bid to the UN. Also, Israel has itself moved the focus away from peace with the Palestinians—and instead toward war with Iran. With concerns growing about the Iranian nuclear program, IAEA demands with lack of compliance, and a loss of faith in diplomacy and sanctions, for many people the situation is basically, “either Iran gets the bomb or gets bombed.” This is the foremost foreign-policy concern of Israeli politicians at the moment, so it’s easy to see why there is now such little traction on the Palestinian issue.

Continue reading Ibrahim Project, June 2: Primer on Israel/Palestine before takeoff