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He investigated possible solutions to Arab/Israeli tension with Ilan Peleg, Charles A. Dana Professor of Social Science

Since 1947, when the Jewish state of Israel was formed, the nation has been wracked by violence and political turmoil. The conflict between the Jewish majority and Arab minority has inflamed sectarian tensions throughout the Middle East. Undoubtedly, reduced tensions between the factions in Israel would assist in the spread of peace throughout the tumultuous region.

This is the focus of a research project being developed by Ilan Peleg, Charles A. Dana Professor of Social Science, and government and law major Richard Krebs ’08 (Kennebunk, Maine).

Peleg and Krebs are delving into the possibilities of reducing tensions between the Jewish and Arab populations in Israel. They are examining constitutional, political, legal and other changes that may be necessary.

“We have come to argue that the solution to the inequalities that exist in Israel should involve a combination of both individual and group-based rights offered to the Arab minority,” says Krebs. “According to Professor Peleg’s thesis, Israel needs to redefine itself as both a ‘Jewish State and a state of all its citizens.’

“[This project] has exposed me to the very real and very difficult challenges that stand in the way of genuine peace and equality in the Middle East,” Krebs continues. “To say that our research is timely and relevant would be an understatement.”

The collaboration between Peleg and Krebs is part of Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations.

“Richard helps me identify sources, assemble them, summarize them, prepare summaries and discuss and analyze them,” says Peleg. “Through his involvement in the project, Richard learns a lot about the research process. I am very impressed by his abilities and his desire to learn.”

Krebs previously performed EXCEL research with Rebecca Kissane, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology, on recent developments in welfare reform.

“This unique program provides students with a level of research experience that is unmatched by any other institution,” says Krebs. “It has exposed me to the more tedious aspects of academic research; an important experience that I am sure will serve me well as I plan on studying law following graduation in the spring.”

According to Peleg, his joint research with Krebs could potentially result in a published article or a presentation at a scholarly conference.

“[The EXCEL program] is our very best educational program,” says Peleg. “It provides the opportunity for faculty and students to work together and a unique opportunity for close interaction.”

In addition to his EXCEL research, Krebs is a member of Kappa Delta Rho, an anthropology/sociology minor and beginning his third year as a Writing Associate. Last year, Krebs was selected to serve on the student search committee for new government and law faculty members.

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