If you wonder if peace has a future in the Middle East, Joel Migdal can offer more than a casual answer. We know that it is going to take the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the withdrawal of Israel from 95 or 96 percent of the Gaza strip, said Migdal, who will lecture on the subject next month as part of the Bainbridge Library Speakers Forum, and some compensation to the Palestinians for the 4 percent they don’t withdraw from.Migdal brings a lifetime of scholarship to the question.His interest in the Middle East was piqued when he visited Israel in 1972. Although Migdal already had a doctorate in an unrelated field, he did a study on West Bank villages and wrote a book.Several books later, he is a distinguished professor of international studies at the University of Washington.After considering the Israeli-Palestinian issue from all vantage points, Migdal has strong opinions on what it will take to resolve the conflict.The incentive for the Israelis, Migdal says, will be peace. But first, he said, they have to be convinced that it will work and that they’ll be safe.When event organizer Susan Bray invited Migdal to speak months ago, she couldn’t foresee just how devastatingly pertinent the choice would prove in the light of recent events of terrorism on American soilWhile Migdal, who has made a life’s work of studying the Middle East, is amazed at the scope of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington – and horrified at their success – he also finds reason for hope. With Europe behind the United States, the pressure on Arafat to gain control over Hamas and any other suicide bombers will increase tremendously, Migdal said in an interview this week. The pressure, before, was mediated because the Europeans were not in, Migdal said. In the next four months or so, we should see slow moves toward de-escalation.It’s an irony – the peacemakers could come out of this in better shape. Migdal says he is puzzled by one feature of the terrorist attacks.In considering (suspected terrorist leader Osama) bin Laden, I can’t imagine that even his organization could sustain this effort without a lot of help, Migdal said. It leaves me wondering who supported him.Bray believes the questions that Migdal raises may be as important as information he imparts. It’s important to recognize voices beyond Bainbridge Island, Bray said. The forum asks us to develop our own voice because we’re asked to develop our own questions.She structured an eclectic, open-ended series deliberately, to provide an open forum for issues, ideas and dialogue. Her choices – ranging from the director of education for Seattle Opera to a neurologist specializing in presidential disability – bear out her intention. Then she widened the circle still further by partnering, for the first time, with Bainbridge Arts and Crafts. BAC added two speakers on photography to the roster. Although many of the speakers are experts honored by peers, Bray says they often are happy to be recognized by the Bainbridge community, as well. The library purchases a book from each forum speaker to put into circulation, and if there is any money left over at the end of the day, Bray buys books. Bray, a former teacher of gifted children and ongoing student of linguistics, says she finds her volunteer work gratifying. I’ve always enjoyed working with this community, Bray said. We need each other very much. We need to understand our differences.