Ambassador Chas Freeman:
"I am honored to have been asked to give the annual [Hisham B.] Sharabi [Memorial] Lecture here at the Palestine Center. As all of you know, Dr. Hisham Sharabi helped found this Center, as well as the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. He was a great figure in the study of Arab politics and society. He was also an indefatigable advocate of Palestinian rights. I never met him, but I feel privileged to speak to you today in his memory. My topic is the tragic consequences of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians for them, for their region, for their backers and for the world as a whole.
"The saga of the Holy Land, ancient and modern, reminds someone with no personal connection to it of nothing so much as the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible. There seems to be something about Palestine that afflicts the innocent, tests the righteous and causes incomprehensible suffering to past and present inhabitants. Israeli Jews and Palestinians both claim descent from the ancient peoples of the lands they now contest. Their competing narratives are at the heart of the perverse drama there. In this drama, the spiritual descendants of Jews who left Palestine assert a religious duty to dispossess the biological descendants of those who chose to remain."
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