MONTANA GRABOYE/THE EAGLE
Only hours after an attack on the American embassy in Damascus and a day after the five-year anniversary of Sept. 11, Yoram Peri’s Tuesday night lecture on “Lessons from the Israel-Lebanon War” addressed the complicated international relations of the modern era.
“We live in tense times,” said Peri, the director of the Chaim Herzog Institute for Media, Politics and Society and a professor of political sociology and communication at Tel Aviv University.
Sponsored by the School of International Service, the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communication and moderated by Dr. Russell Stone, chair of the sociology department, the lecture focused on the implications of the recent conflict between Israel and Lebanon on civilian trust and efforts to attain peace in the region.
Peri described a nation with a military stronger than its government and said Israel is the only democracy to be in a state of prolonged war since its inception. The recent battle began militarily and erupted into war only three hours after the military went to the Secretary of Defense, he said.
Peri said the battle led to a dramatic decline in civilian Israeli trust in public institutions. In a day-old public opinion poll he cited, 63 percent of the Israeli public had trust in the military, compared to 80 percent a year ago.
“This is why the decision to go to war should be made by politicians, not the military,” he said.
With recognized borders and no occupation in Lebanon, the attack on Israel unraveled the once-held belief that clear-cut borders could bring about peace.
The war has made leaders re-think how to achieve peace in the region, he said.
“We can’t bring about peace unilaterally,” Peri said. “We must have agreement with the other side.”
Stone, who took notes during the lecture, sought to have Peri speak because he viewed him as a well-known analyst of current Israeli affairs. Peri is a former political advisor to the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
“He understands the left and the right,” Stone said. “He has a keen analysis of how things are changing.”
For students interested in international relations, Peri advised reading newspapers as well as researching the recent development of peace journalism.
“The media, by its own nature, prefers conflict to peace,” Peri said. “On one hand, journalists can enhance compromise and understanding. On the other hand, they can promote conflict.”
Above all, however, his advice to the younger generation remained succinct.
“Love is better than war,” Peri said.