Charles Lipson
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E-mail: [email protected]

Voice: 773.702.8053

Fax:    773.702.1689


Charles Lipson

Professor of Political Science

University of Chicago

5828 S. University Ave.

Chicago, IL 60637


Israel's Challenges Today

and second talk
The Peace Process:
Why It Began..Why It Failed..Where to Now?


Since its birth in 1948, Israel has faced near-constant threats to its very existence. For almost four decades, those threats were mainly conventional inter-state wars. Israel had (and still has) a small population compared to its neighbors and faced the dangerous possibility of a two-front war, led by Syria and Egypt. Israel managed to defeat its Arab neighbors in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973. After this final clash, Egypt's Anwar Sadat finally accepted the military reality. His country could not defeat Israel for the foreseeable future. Sadat's decision to make peace, ratified by his successor, Mubarek, has left Israel fundamentally secure since Syria could not go to war alone. At home, Israel reaped the rewards of its stable polity and its long-standing commitment to education. The country prospered from technological innovation and a high-knowledge economy.

Having won on the conventional battlefield, Israel faced a new challenge: dealing with a large, rapidly growing, and increasingly hostile Arab-Muslim population living in the territories it had conquered. After the first uprising (the 1987-89 Intifada), most Israelis agreed that the Jewish state could not permanently rule a large, hostile Palestinian population on the West Bank and Gaza. That set the stage for prolonged negotiations with the Palestinians for a state of their own. In return, Israel wanted peaceful acceptance within the region. Ultimately, Yasser Arafat rejected Israel's far-reaching concessions without bothering to make a serious counter-offer. That led, predictably enough, to a second Palestinian uprising, which gradually turned into a grueling, deliberate war of terror and attrition.

Israel eventually won this second low-intensity war, though at great cost to both Israelis and Palestinians. With that victory and America's deposing Saddam Hussein, Israel now faces a fundamentally new strategic landscape. It faces three core challenges: what kind of relationship to establish with the Palestinian Authority and, relatedly, how to settle long-standing disputes over territory in the West Bank and Jerusalem; second, how to deal with terrorist threats posed by Hamas and Hezbullah (which survived its fight with Israel in summer 2006); and, finally, what to do about Iran's emerging nuclear capacity, coupled with its aggressively anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetroic. .

Israel has crucial advantages of its own--a technological lead, a vibrant economy, and a superb military--but it must sustain them, prevent a "brain drain" of high-tech workers, avoid civil strife within Israel (over what security policies to pursue), and sustain close relations with the United States.



My special web page on Middle East News. Because there is so much breaking news about the Middle East, and so many news sources, I have developed a special web page. It has top news stories plus easy links to major Mideast newspapers (in English). It should be a useful site for anyone interested in the region. To go there, click here.

Pages on this Web site
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Home List of my courses
International Politics
Talks on Education & Honesty
Books by Charles Lipson
Why Honesty Matters for Your Education
           (for university students)
Talks by Charles Lipson
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          (for faculty and advisers)
PIPES Workshop
World History
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Why Honesty Matters in High School
          (for high-school students)
Reading, Writing, Plagiarism 19th c World Politics
How to Write a Thesis 20th c World Politics to 1945
Succeeding as an International Student in the U.S. and Canada      (customized for students, faculty, or advisers)
Politics and Culture 20th c World Politics 1945-91
Fun Big Wars: Ancient, Medieval, & Modern
Talks on Global Issues
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What's New about the New Economy?
World News Power, Identity, Resistance The World America Made
Middle East News   Political Threats to Global Prosperity
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World News-Web Audio   Democracies in World Politics
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  Israel's Challenges
How to Write a Thesis   China in World Politics
Getting a Recommendation   The Cold War
  Why We Fought WW2
Charles Lipson, 2008