Urging a group of about 120 students not to overestimate Israel's military strength, six Harvard professors spoke on the current Arab-Israeli war Wednesday afternoon in a panel discussion at Lowell Lecture Hall sponsored by the Harvard Hillel Society.
Martin H. Peretz, Master of South House and panel moderator, told the group, "We can no longer believe that Israel is the invincible David-turned-Goliath. The news convinces me that the Israelis are outnumbered, beleaguered, and outclassed in weaponry and funds."
Peretz called the United Nations a "preposterous forum where ignorant discussions on great issues take place," and charged not only Egypt and Syria but also American oil industries and the American left with responsibility for the war.
Echoing the theme that Israel is only "a minor military power," Michael L. Walzer, professor of Government, said that what is at stake in the current conflict is not Israel's existence, but her "margin of safety."
"I have this terrible feeling that there's nothing I can do," Walzer said. "It's hard right now not to wish to be an Israeli soldier. The war, to me, is not an event in a faraway land, but a physical wound to my own body."
Benjamin I. Schwartz, professor of History and Government, warned the students, "The other side wants nothing less than the disappearance of Israel as a state. Even those in Israel who would like to deal flexibly with the problems are paralyzed by this."
"We must stick together and not allow ourselves to be influenced by anti-Israeli rhetoric in the coming weeks," Schwartz added. "We must maintain a mountain of solidarity. It's now a matter of survival."
The other participants in the panel discussion--Jacob Katz, visiting professor of History, Doris Kearns, associate professor of History, and David Landes, professor of History--also urged students to support Israel.