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Will the Ceasefire in Gaza Hold?

Op-Heads: a virtual chat on the issues that matter


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Click on the video above to watch Bob Zelnick, a professor of journalism in the College of Communication, and Susan Akram, a professor in the School of Law, discuss the ongoing Gaza Strip conflict. Click here to watch the short version. Click here to watch the full version. Download a transcript of the short version here.

More than 1,300 people were killed in the Gaza Strip when Israel launched a military campaign against the Palestinian political group Hamas on December 27, 2008. The attacks, which Israel claims were in retaliation for rocket fire launched toward Israel by Hamas, followed the expiration of a six-month truce between the two.

On January 18, Israel announced a ceasefire with Hamas, and troops were withdrawn three days later. But matters are far from resolved. Will the ceasefire hold? BU Today asked Bob Zelnick, a professor of journalism and national security affairs at the College of Communication, and Susan Akram, a School of Law professor specializing in refugee and international human rights law, to discuss the ongoing conflict.

Edward A. Brown can be reached at ebrown@bu.edu.


16 Comments on Will the Ceasefire in Gaza Hold?

  • Anonymous on 01.26.2009 at 9:39 am


    I do not know why Susan thinks she can get away with saying that Israel is committing war crimes. If she has evidence of such crime let her file charges against them. She does a nice job of not laughing while she tries to sell her crazy opinions to the people and for this I applaud her; I could never say such nonsense and keep straight face. But the fact remains that Israels response would not have been as severe if Hamas had simply stopped launching rockets and surrendered or agreed to an immediate cease fire. If anyone is guilty of inflicting damage on the Palestinian people it is Hamas which acts like a mafia and holds the people of Palestine subservient to them. Hamas claims to represent Palestine but if you believe Susan’s logic then you also have to believe that most Palestinians want peace too and then you have to ask yourself why these supposedly innocent victims are not ousting Hamas themselves or at least thanking Israel for try to do so on their behalf.

  • Anonymous on 01.26.2009 at 11:49 am

    just war; look it up

    the real question is how mr. zelnick can get away with dodging these substantial indictments of israel’s foreign policy with a clean conscience. the accusation of war crimes is no light issue–that is why ms. akram is not smiling–but she is absolutely right to point out that none of the accepted principles of international law governing combat have been observed in this palestinian holocaust, principally proportionality, to which neither israel, mr. zelnick, nor anyone else can reasonably respond; there is no excuse for such unspeakable violence.
    but don’t take her word for it; the international red cross, which hardly ever pronounces on these issues, raised the same complaints regarding violations of humanitarian norms in no uncertain language in the first days of the strikes.
    hamas is guilty of threatening such violence but for preventative war to be justified, as it might have been in ’67, they must be a credible threat.
    *this* really ought to be the source of laughter, tinged with pity of course; malnutrition and life expectancy in gaza are on par with sub-saharan africa, and were not much better under the occupation. electricity was only on for a few hours of the day before the strikes and many goods, including foodstuffs, must be smuggled through those same tunnels that israel blew up to break the ceasefire.
    by branding a whole country as either supported by or supporting terror, america and israel have unilaterally been able to keep a stranglehold on the palestinians. when hamas takes a swing on their behalf in the form of those glorified fireworks, the vast majority of which land in a field somewhere over the border, those two powers condone breaking both their arms.
    israel’s aim was to “change the situation on the ground” before a president astute enough to see through the media’s farcical presentation of the conflict assumed office. as they did in lebanon, israel has done so by decimating hard-fought infrastructural progress, killing UN peacekeepers and destroying UN property, and engendering even more hate that they can use as an excuse to maintain their checkpoint chokehold.

  • Fellow professor on 01.26.2009 at 12:10 pm

    How can you support religious totalitarianism?

    Hamas is a religiously bigoted, murderous, and homophobic group that terrorizes its own people (including rival Fatah members, whom it has been murdering with abandon since it took power) no less than it terrorizes Israelis.

    Hamas has full control over all media coming out of Gaza, and they have been cynically manipulating journalists and statistics to permit them to continue their reign of terror. For a more inquisitive perspective of how many actually died in Gaza (and who they were), take a look at:


  • Anonymous on 01.26.2009 at 12:53 pm

    RE: Hamas

    Did you actually use the word ‘SIMPLY’
    I quote you, ‘..Hamas had simply stopped launching rockets…”

    It’s amazing what some people will use to make their case.

    What about the siege and blockade an Gazans that made food and medicine the price of gold?
    Before rockets were fired!
    What about fisherman being turned away by Israeli gunboats?
    Before rockets were fired!
    What about the Palestinian college students that were supposed to come to the US to finish their degrees on scholarships and bring something good back to their land, but they were denied because of the Israeli blockade?
    What about the assassinations carried out about Israeli militants during the cease fire, which was never broken by Hamas?

    I’m not defending Hamas, but don’t act like Israel is innocent in everything that they do.
    Hamas was democratically elected, they’re not a mafia as you fabricate. Israel did not accept Fatah and don’t accept Hamas. Israel is, therefore, false as a democracy. Just look at how long the Likud has ruled.

    I hope you’re not a BU student or faculty because you just took us all down a peg, if so.
    When you don’t know your history and only single out one side, you end up sounding like a moron with nothing constructive to offer
    Remember Sabra and Shatila….how about those war crimes? Everyone please wikipedia ‘Sabra’ palestinian camp to see the trend. Know the facts and history, its the only way you won’t end up sounding like the original poster.

  • Anonymous on 01.26.2009 at 12:57 pm

    RE: How can you support religious totalitarianism?

    Don’t forget Israel’s reign of terror.
    Read Jimmy Carter’s book on Apartheid.
    This incident just shows that Carter is 100% correct.
    Watch the Man from Plains, good movie that will shed some light.
    In the movie, Dershowitz calls the Palestinians ‘roaches’ then tries to retract.

    Stop Apartheid, challenge Israeli policy!!!!

  • Anonymous on 01.26.2009 at 1:06 pm

    Hillel House

    I am a student from the middle-east. I look middle-eastern. Sometimes I study at the Hillel House on Bay State
    Anyway, one time another student stopped me and asked, “Do you know what this place is?”
    I said that I did and that I enjoyed lounging here and reading before my class.
    He said, “Oh, I just thought I would tell you, in case you didn’t know.”

    Isolated incident that didn’t happen again, but I was so embarrassed and it made me feel like a persona non-grata.
    I don’t go there anymore.
    Too bad, nice bathrooms, but I always felt like people didn’t want me there after that exchange.

  • Anonymous on 01.26.2009 at 1:26 pm

    War Crimes

    How come almost every other country except the US considers it war crimes?

    Look at the rest of the world.
    Italy condemned it.
    Greece had protests and riots.
    France…condemned Israel.
    The list goes on.

    Finally, the UN, shot at and fired upon, called it a human atrocity and will investigate the entire incident.

    Funny, in Copley, a protest of 1500 Israeli supporters were broken up by a mere 50 pro-Palestinian supporters.
    It looks like the minority stood up to them, even when outnumbered.
    My advice, get your news from outside the US.

  • Anonymous on 01.26.2009 at 1:34 pm

    The dangers of myopia

    Obviously some of you think that the acute pain and suffering you espouse to be war crimes is a proven fact but nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the allegations about war crime made against Israel during this conflict have already been dismissed. Importantly, you fail also to acknowledge the long history of this region and more importantly the overtly stated mission of Hamas which is to destroy Israel. Sorry to burst your bubble but in a military conflict you cannot ignore “some” of the history that led up to it or that Hamas is a terrorist organization. The points you make have merit only because they are taken out of context or reflect a very myopic view of the situation. You make it sound like “if only Israel allowed them access to more food etc. everything would all better” but he truth is that history has repeatedly shown the when it comes to groups like Hamas carrots only temporarily appease them but what is worse these give them time to regroup and strengthen the base for their next strike.

  • Anonymous on 01.26.2009 at 3:19 pm

    RE: The dangers of myopia

    Again, it really is pathetic when I read responses like that.
    All of your rants are lies or dreams. You failed to mention unicorns and rainbows, however.

    Creating dystopia has become a business and you’re just not intelligent enough to see it.
    Israel stole that land that they exist on. It does not belong to them, and that is the TRUTH.
    But I digress….
    Let me outline it for you since you’re not too bright.
    1) Israel created a blockade.
    2) Israel created power outages.
    3) Israel prevents fishing.
    4) Israel turns away humanitarian aid for the poor.

    These are undeniable facts that for some reason you wish to dispute (maybe, racism?) I cannot answer for your illness.

    Neverthless, those are some of the MANY reasons that poverty, hunger, and decrepit health conditions exist for the Palestinians.
    Are you still with me? I bet I lost you.
    Now, moving on, the poor congregate in camps trying to pick their lives back up. The camps now become prime recruiting locales for militants who wish to exact revenge.
    They cry, we ignore. They appeal to the UN, we ignore them. They ask for help, and we do not want to be burdened. So now, many of them have to join militant groups and become something they probably would not have become if they were allowed the most basic of human rights.
    The result, an organized militia willing to fight. Do you understand. Is any of this getting through to you?
    So what does Israel do? More of same by creating death, poverty, intolerable health conditions, allowing a trickle of aid if any, all while saying that they are victims.
    Now, do I care for Hamas? Not really, but don’t think Israel does not have blame. And if this is the way you speak, uneducated disregard for history and
    fact, then you are part of the problem as well.
    Have some more empathy in your life and less hate. Try to understand the suffering of others. My guess is that you had too much FOX NEWS punch and there is no hope, but try at least.

  • Anonymous on 01.26.2009 at 10:18 pm

    RE: The dangers of myopia

    Unfortunately, the last commentator is not so bright either. You ignore years and years of suicide attacks coming straight from Gaza by Hamas, which eventually led to the blockade. Hamas is a terror organization, just like Al-Qaeda is.

    How exactly would you respond to repeated suicide attacks killing civilians all over Israel (well within the ’67 lines)? How has the US responded to the suicide attacks of 9/11? Was this proportionate? Do you need to be reminded the ratio of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq inflicted by US attacks to the 9/11 victims? Under the same logic shouldn’t the US be accused for war crimes?

    I am surprised that Ms. Akram, being so concerned with international law, doesn’t mention Egypt’s ability to open their borders to Gaza and provide all the food and humanitarian support possible. At least they were not attacked by Hamas’s rockets and suicide bombs?

  • DIsgustedatIsraelBUStudent on 01.27.2009 at 4:40 pm

    disgust at Israeli war crimes

    takes allot of chutzpah Zelnick to with a straight face claim that you care at all about the civilian deaths in Gaza when you can in the light of the the horrific death toll of over 1300 of primarily civilians and specifically children and women, cripplings, burnings, complete destruction of houses , schools, water bearing infrastructure, orchards, etc. that some how this could ever not be “in vain” – their destruction just by themselves in principle are immoral and unjustified irrespective of the outcome , unless you adhere to the ghoulish, beastly ideology that ends justify the means: yet seeing Israel’s complete disregard for civilian life in both Lebanon and Gaza it is evident that this latter , fascist philosophy is Israel’s modus operandi and that thus they are in principle no better than the “terrorist” groups they attack, Israel justifies state terrorism and should be included among terrorist states as Iran as enemies of humanity

  • Anonymous on 01.28.2009 at 7:49 am

    Of Unicorns and Rainbows

    So, if Hamas did not agree to the cease fire just so they could regroup and resupply their terrorist troops why do we have the following happening right now?

    Wednesday to boost a 10-day-old Gaza cease-fire that was thrown into turmoil, as Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza smuggling tunnels in retaliation for a Palestinian bombing that killed a soldier.

  • Anonymous on 01.28.2009 at 8:18 am

    Wolves, sheep and the purpose of dogs

    There are few countries on earth in which the current inhabitants did not gain control without taking it forcefully from a past resident who too perceived the region as “theirs” when they first took control of it. And, so while it is unfortunate when one group of people ousts another, saying Israel stole the land is a little over the top.

    Ultimately the best group to control any region is the one that supports liberty for all peace loving inhabitants.

    If I were a peace loving Palestinian I would oust Hamas. Can you Hamas supporters think of a reason this has not happened? Could it possibly be that they fear retaliation? In all countries there are sheep, wolves and dogs. The innocent Palestinians are like sheep, the Hamas are like wolves and the Israelis are like dogs. Some people are angry at Israel right now because it is behaving at least in their opinion like a wolf but we must remember that without the dog to fend off the wolf the sheep will never be safe.

  • Anonymous on 01.28.2009 at 7:05 pm

    Hamas, Palestinians, Arabs

    “The Arabs will stop fighting us when they love their children more than they hate Jews.”
    – Golda Meir

  • Anonymous on 01.29.2009 at 6:50 am

    Zelnick and Akram

    Kudos to Bob Zelnick. What rarely gets mentioned is that Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that was responsible for the assasination of Sadat. The Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Qutb, is a virulently anti- western movement which believes that Muslims are in an existential battle with Crusaders and Jews for world domination. The Palestinians in Gaza had a chance to elect Fatah. After the election, all we heard was that Fatah was corrupt and at the very least, Hamas would provide social services to the poor of Gaza. What the Palestinians failed to realize was that Hamas embodied a cult of death. A front page article in the New York Times, hardly a Zionist organ, described how a Hamas fighter entered the hospital with an injury and a big smile on his face and told the doctor to patch him up fast so he could get back out and fight the Israelis. A distraught woman sat next to him with her injured child and screamed about what animals the Hamas fighters were. Professor Akram knows about Hamas, I presume, but refuses to concede that their awful philosophical roots are at the heart of the problem

  • Anonymous on 02.06.2009 at 3:18 pm

    Time to stop drinking the Kool Aid

    On February 6th the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Friday it has halted all aid shipments into the Gaza Strip due to interference by the ruling Hamas militant group. Like I have said previously Hamas is the problem….maybe now those of you who support them will stop drinking the Kool Aid!!

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