I am very much at peace with the fact that Student Association President Phil Robinson vetoed the resolution on joint Israel/United States relations. Taking a position unnecessarily on such a divisive issue puts the student government at odds with a significant portion of the student body. What I am concerned about is that this resolution does indeed produce division amongst the student body.
This debate stemming from this resolution highlights a very serious problem facing both sides of the conflict. From the debate stemming from this resolution it becomes clear that it is perceived that any statement in support of Israel is one slighting the grief of the Palestinians. This is quite disconcerting. There is no reason that someone cannot be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian. Both sides have legitimate claims and concerns. Discarding one at the expense of another would be a tragedy.
As a Jew, I continue to have difficulty articulating my views on Israel. Currently, I serve as the First Vice President of the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), an organization serving 15,000 reform Jewish teenagers across North America and an organization which articulates positions on many issues, including Israel. To put it plainly, I find myself in a position in which many people find themselves – comfortable with generalized statements of support for a cause, but frequently undereducated about the issue and searching for credible non-biased information.
It is time for a change. I envision an organization comprised of Jews and Muslims on college campuses in both the United States and Israel, united for peace in the Middle East and jointly working to develop a reasoned and rational blueprint for peace while being committed to learning about the intricacies of the conflict. It is time for the youth, which so disproportionately shoulder the burden of this conflict, to put forth proposals to end this conflict. Our elders have failed us miserably in this quest.
Such an organization would empower all students to stand up for peace, recognizing the full history and circumstance in which the current conflict is framed. The absence of such an organization will only worsen the rifts between both sides. Such rifts only lead to disastrous ethnic hatred. The current situation at Concordia University in Canada should serve as a reminder as to the urgency of this situation. There, in a cowardly anti-Semitic act, the student government revoked all funding and support for the campus Jewish Student Association and Hillel activities because of their support for Israel.
I flatly refuse to associate myself with any pro-Israel organization on campus because any pro-Israel statement they make is framed, mostly unintentionally, in an anti-Palestinian context. I’m sure there are Muslims on the opposite side who feel similarly regarding the positions being put forth by their organizations.
I hope the Muslim Student Association and the Jewish Student Association understand my fears and recognize the need for a meaningful dialogue on how to best address the widespread ignorance that exists about this very complex issue. This debate has far more significant implications than the resolution that started it. Let’s make sure that hatred does not outshine reason and justice. As it is said so well by the Grateful Dead, “What good is spilling blood? It does not grow a thing.”
-The writer, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.