UMC Links

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Debate Begins in Unexpected Location

February 25, 2008 – You’d expect a debate on peace in the Middle East to take place in a desert. But the high plains desert of Utah, a state solidly wedged in the middle of the American West?

Margaret Mead famously admonished that “one should never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  She noted also that “human nature is potentially aggressive and destructive and potentially orderly and constructive.”

With those thoughts in mind perhaps, Chibli Mallat and Amos Guiora, two law professors at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City will debate the following:“Let it be resolved that a united federal democratic state over the historical territory of Israel-Palestine, rather than a two-state solution, is the way to lasting peace in the Middle East.”

Law School Dean Hiram Chodosh will moderate the debate, which will be held Wednesday, February 27, beginning at noon on the University of Utah campus, in the Sutherland Moot Courtroom at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. The event is free and open to the public.

Arguing for the resolution will be Beirut-born Chibli Mallat, expert in Middle Eastern and Islamic law, human rights activist and champion of democracy in the Middle East. Mallat was educated and has taught in the U.S., Britain, France and Lebanon. As a democratic activist, Mallat was involved with the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein, introduced the concept of federalism in Iraq, and spent time in an Iranian jail after organizing international monitoring of Iraq’s first-ever free elections.

In 1999, Mallat helped establish the Middle Eastern regional office of Amnesty International in Beirut. He introduced, litigated (and won) international criminal cases against the Libyan dictator Mu’ammar Qaddafi, the late Saddam Hussein, Ariel Sharon, and has actively promoted the Special Tribunal of Lebanon for the assassination of Rafiq Hariri. He is also a candidate for president of Lebanon, having taken his popular campaign straight to the people of Lebanon, opposing military rule, publishing with his team eight books during the campaign, and advocating and campaigning for a non-violent policy towards Israel.

Arguing against the resolution will be Amos Guiora, an expert on counter-terrorism. Guiora spent 19 years in the Israel Defense Forces Judge Advocate General’s Corps where he held a number of senior command positions. During his military service, Guiora was deeply involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process including implementation of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, and The Safe Passage Agreement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.  Guiora has also published widely on topics related to conflict, most recently a casebook Global Perspectives on Counter-Terrorism and a forthcoming book, Constitutional Limits on Coercive Interrogation. Prior to joining the University of Utah in 2007, Guiora was professor of law and the founding director of the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy at Case Law School.

Guiora and Mallat joined the S. J. Quinney Law School at the University of Utah in the summer of 2007, leaving their respective academic positions at the invitation of the new dean, Hiram Chodosh, to help expand the school’s focus on global justice. From the volatile states of Israel and Lebanon, the two are close comrades. Their offices are next door to one another, and both are tireless advocates of increasing awareness of issues surrounding the Middle East. Prolific authors and creative teachers, each brings a wide- ranging perspective to a public school in the middle of the country with a growing niche on the world stage. 

Who knows? The next revolution might just start in Utah.