Mira Sucharov on Israel-Palestine

Mira Sucharov is a Canadian Jew and a professor of political science at Carleton University in Ottawa. She specializes in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Her research has included a survey of American Jews, 58% of whom self-identified as Zionists. When she asked if they believed in a Jewish and democratic state, 72% said they did. However, when she asked if Israel should privilege Jews over non-Jews, only 10% agreed, while 69% did not. More on Sucharov’s survey of American Jews is available in the section on “Beliefs” in the Wikipedia article on Zionism

If support for Hamas is due to Israel privileging Jews over non-Jews, this survey exposes opportunities for many things that could be done by the US government to end the cycle of violence in Israel-Palestine WITHOUT, e.g., pressuring Israel to accept a ceasefire that supporters of Israel believe would only allow Hamas a chance to rearm and again attack Israel. For example, US law could be changed to support rather than criminalize teaching nonviolence to anyone designated as a “terrorist” by the US State Department. It is currently a criminal violation of the Patriot Act to do so: In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the US Supreme Court said that teaching nonviolence to someone designated as a “terrorist” was “providing material support to terrorism”. 

Professor Sucharov is interviewed by Spencer Graves. 

Graves claims that political polarization is driven by differences in the media different people find credible.1 In a Wikiversity article on “How might the world be different if the PLO had followed Gandhi?“,2 he documents how billionaire Sheldon Adelson funded the newspaper Israel Hayom, delivered for free to anyone who wants it, allegedly to skirt Israel’s campaign finance laws. A 2022 survey in Israel found that the very conservative Israel Hayom had the largest weekday readership exposure of any newspapers in Israel at 31%. By comparison, the third most popular newspaer was the liberal Haaretz with only 4.7% readership exposure in that same survey. The dominance and documented editorial biases of Israel Hayom raises questions about the extent to which the biases of Israel Hayom are driving the current Israel-Hamas war.

Sucharov said that Haaretz is well respected for its reporting and opinion writing, though it’s rarely read by the Israeli Right. Sucharov mentioned Amira Hass, who is an Israeli Jew, but she lives in and reports from Ramallah. That is is very unusual, because Israelis don’t like their citizens even entering those Palestinian population centers. Because she lives and reports from Ramallah, she has a real sense of day to day Palestinian life. She does a lot of really important work in telling the world about what’s going on in Palestine.

Sucharov is fluent in Hebrew, has relatives and friends in Israel, and has visited and worked there on many occasions. However, she also has an understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is rare among Jews and supporters of Israel. She is currently working on a book with Omar Dajani, a Palestinian American professor of law at the University of the Pacific in Sacramento, California. Sucharov’s website includes a link to a video of a joint presentation the two of them made at Dartmouth

Sucharov and Dajani support “A Land for All“, which supports a modified two-state solution similar to the European Union, where French citizens can live, work, and own property in Germany but vote in French elections, not in German elections, and vice versa. 

In discussing Palestinian nonviolence, Sucharov mentions the “Great March of Return” in Gaza that ran almost 21 months from 2018-03-30 to 2019-12-27. These were mostly nonviolent protests involving thousands of Palestinians demanding a right to return to lands from which they had been expelled in what is now Israel. The Great March of Return also protested against Israel’s land, air and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip and the US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. A few Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails. Fewer still threw grenades or operated as snipers. In the last 9 months of 2018, over 9,000 Palestinians were killed or injured by Israelis vs. 5 Israelis killed or injured by Palestinians.  

Sucharov says that some Palestinian groups object to the term “cycle of violence,” because they think it implies a rough equivalence of power between Palestinians under occupation and Israel, which is clearly not the case. Similarly, Netanyahu and many of his supporters avoid the term “occupation”.

Sucharov also mentions two other organizations working for peace that she supports:

A younger Palestinian leader advocating nonviolence is Issa Amro in Hebron, born in 1980.   

Asked about a possible Palestinian Mandela, Sucharov mentioned Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli prison but still exerts great influence from within prison.

Sucharov also teaches a course on “political opinion writing” based on her (2019) Public Influence: A guide to op-ed writing and social media engagement (U. Toronto Pr.).

This interview was recorded 2024-05-23.

Copyright 2024 Mira Sucharov and Spencer Graves, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 international license.


  1. See, e.g., Wikiversity, “How might the world be different if the PLO had followed Gandhi?
  2. Wikiversity, “Information is a public good: Designing experiments to improve government“, accessed 2024-06-02.

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