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Hammerman ’13: The mission and purpose of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Week

Guest Columnist
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Correction appended.

In a recent column (“Shalom-Salaam: dialogue as distraction or dialogue as action?” March 7), Francesca Contreras ’11 critiqued two series of events on campus dedicated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — Israeli-Palestinian Peace Week and Israelis and Palestinians: Working Together for a Better Future. Contreras rejects the possibility for compromise by portraying the Israeli-Palestinian issue as black and white, with no room for nuance, complexity or gradation. I respectfully disagree with her polarization of the conflict into a binary of helpless victim and relentless victimizer, and I want to encourage our community to look deeper into the multifaceted set of issues that truly make up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Alongside a number of students organizing the week, I want to allow an entire umbrella of steadfast and committed opinions to be discussed throughout our programs. With a greater breadth of opinions, we wish to encourage more spirited — yet consistently civil — debate and discussion on campus. I both appreciate and admire Contreras’ strong stance, and I feel that it is necessary that she be present to share her perspective at our events. Her position is vital to understanding the nature of the conflict and working towards producing a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Throughout the week, we hope to delve into some of the more provocative and emotionally laden questions surrounding Israeli-Palestinian issues. Despite Contreras’ assertion otherwise, we had certainly planned to discuss the issue of systematic violations of international law and occupation in all of our events. We do not intend to skirt around any of the main issues — we feel that it is necessary to attack each issue head on and actually cut to the core of the conflict. We will discuss issues of nationalism, political and religious identity and various other misconceptions about both peoples. It is only then that any real change can be implemented.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is incredibly intricate, and Israeli-Palestinian Peace Week hopes to illuminate the nuances and complexities embedded in the situation so that we can reach a place where we can make positive changes and find solutions. Although we will resist simplifying a complex situation into a binary issue, the assertion that the week ignores Palestinian suffering is inaccurate at best and offensive at worst. Though I cannot speak for the Jewish community as a whole, I am personally an advocate for Palestinian nationalism and believe that they, like all peoples, are entitled to self-determination. We wish to show the full breadth of this conflict. People from all over the political, geographical and religious spectrum have lost their lives and livelihoods due to indiscriminate hatred, abominable racism and religious dogma. We will not only depict the conflicts within the region, we wish to inspire students to collaborate with each other and think and improve inter- and intra-community rifts here at Brown.

The week will feature action-based components as well. Even before the discussion aspects of our events, we will be asking students to take action by donating two dollars for two states. One dollar will go to an organization that promotes peace and coexistence within Israel. The other will be donated to an organization that builds infrastructure in the Palestinian territories. By investing in tolerance in Israel and stability in Palestine, we will actively contribute to making the shared the two nations’ future viable and sustainable. We will also provide suggested actions for students at the end of each event throughout this week, and brainstorm ideas to try and enact actual change that would benefit all sides.

I, along with the rest of the committee that has spearheaded the week, opt for a true exchange within the marketplace of ideas. We invite and encourage Contreras, along with anyone who wishes to discuss or learn about this complex conflict, to attend our events and engage in civil discussion. Contreras has already been personally asked to take part in a program called “A Walk In Their Shoes,” an interactive experience that will give students new insight into the different perspectives that surround this complex conflict. Other events during this week include the Encounter mediation program — hosted by North American coordinator of the program Benj Kamm ’06 — and an activity where we will analyze YouTube videos that present both sides and examine further the nuances of this conflict. All of these programs will be interactive and educational, and should inspire discussion and action on campus.

If there is one issue on which Contreras and I undoubtedly agree, it is that the status quo in which Israelis and Palestinians live — without true peace and security — is unjust and unsustainable. As students at Brown and members of the Jewish community, we feel that it is our right and duty to bring our communities together to enact real, positive change for all parties. This is not about who is right and who is wrong — this is about the need for reasonable discourse on campus, and we will seek to make that happen.

Ethan Hammerman ’13 hails from Stamford, Conn. and considers himself to be a passionate centrist.

A previous version of this column incorrectly stated that Benj Kamm ’06 founded the Encounter mediation program. Kamm is the North American Program Coordinator of Encounter. The Herald regrets the error.

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  1. All who wish to reproduce my comment on mailing lists, repost on other blogs, or send to congress, senators and state representatives, or use for lobbying are welcome to do so. Let justice be served:

    The only solution for a lasting piece is absolute democratic process (that we Americans cherish so passionately) for the entire territory in question, otherwise, the peace will not last. All people who lived there without regard to religion, race, etc. should vote on how they would like their one country to be run. I favor one state solution because two states would only attempt to ���legalize��� Zionist occupation that will be remembered in history until it is corrected by future large scale conflicts, so no lasting peace will result.

    The only issue with the fair democratic process is what to do with all manipulated Jewish people who the Zionist regime imported for decades to increase the Jewish population from around 100,000 to over 5 Million since the start of the occupation. This is obviously an attempt to unjustly manipulate any future democratic process by forcefully increasing the occupier���s population at the expense of others. Any compromise other than the absolute fair democratic process with no manipulated population will be temporary with terrible conflicts looming to correct it in the future.

    The truth is that the Zionist regime will not accept any democratic process even if the manipulated Jewish population is included because it cannot exist as a democratic country as Zionists will be outvoted by all others who live there (Zionists were in an infinite minority before the occupation). The Zionist regime can only temporarily exist through the force of its arms as a one people country where only select ones can vote and where different laws apply to different people.

    The world must stand up against the Zionist regime by cutting all diplomatic and economic relations with it. Many countries have already stopped all relations with the Zionist regime and others are in the process of doing the same. We Americans need to completely distance ourselves from this oppressive regime through urging our state representatives and senators to do what the rest of the world is doing.

  2. O'Brian37 says:

    If it is ever reached, the current and any other artificial ���peace agreement��� will be illegitimate before it is ever signed because (1) all people living in Palestine regardless of religion, race, origin, etc. (hereinafter ���All People of Palestine���) were never given a choice on how they want their land to be governed, and (2) all contracts signed under duress are null and void.
    The biggest problem in Palestine is that the Zionist regime never offered a choice to All People of Palestine on how they want to govern their land because the Zionist regime cannot exist as a democratic entity. If there was ever any democratic process in Palestine, Zionists would have been outvoted and the Zionist regime would have never existed. That is why the Zionist regime is the occupier because it does not offer choice (i.e. democracy), but instead imposes its regime (i.e. occupies). Imagine if Russians would simply occupy a town in the U.S. where they are in significant numbers and attempt to create a Russian state there without giving the rest of the Americans living there a choice. Imagine then if they would try to institute a ���peace agreement��� that would attempt to legitimize their occupation. The ���peace agreement��� would logically and legally be illegitimate because the Americans were not given a choice.

    Under all countries��� laws, any contract is null and void if it is signed under duress. The current Palestine ���peace agreement��� process reminds me of The Godfather movie where the mafia boss (i.e. the Zionist regime) made a guy ���an offer he could not refuse��� by placing a gun (i.e. Zionist conventional and nuclear arsenal) to his head and making him sign the contract. Like the mafia boss��� offer, any ���peace agreement��� other than the choice for All People of Palestine is a crime, and the contract is legally null and void.

    The bottom line is that All People of Palestine never wanted to divide their land into artificial two states the way the occupation and this ���peace agreement��� attempt to divide it. From the beginning of the Zionist regime to its unavoidable end, All People of Palestine and the region never wanted the Zionist regime and they do not want it even more after all the atrocities the Zionist regime committed. I just cannot believe how the Zionist regime can be so ignorant to think that this or any other ���peace agreement��� that does not allow people to choose how they want to be governed will last and ensure its people���s survival. The Zionist regime fails to realize that no matter if it succeeds in muscling this ���peace agreement��� by unspeakable historic coercion tens of millions of moral people around the world will oppose it until it is corrected, and until justice and free choice prevail. Also, ever increasing number of Jewish people are realizing that Zionism is becoming a destructive force for them and are leading the global resistance to it.

    P.S. feel free to copy this comment, email it to other bloggers, and repost it on other blogs, newspaper websites, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking websites, and include it in any correspondence/lobbying with senators, state representatives and any other public officials so the public learns the truth���

  3. Rain4Hope says:

    Why would Zionists want to discuss any peace agreement with the Palestinians when they have overwhelming military supremacy, seemingly ultimate power, and apparently bright future? Because the future is completely opposite and Zionists know it.

    1. All military powers in history with no exception ultimately came crashing down. Someone stronger always comes, and it does not take a rocket scientist to see (just look around you) this coming and not ending well for the current military power in Palestine. Forward-seeing Jewish people under the Zionist regime already started packing up and leaving for Australia, South America, and the U.S. before this occurs.

    2. It is obvious that the Zionist regime survives mainly because of its external allies who so far provided it with money, weapons, political support, access to markets, etc. After countless U.N. human rights violations, killing of its allies��� citizens (search on youtube for American ���Rachel Corrie��� video of Zionist bulldozer crushing her to death), forging of its allies��� passports in acts of murder, etc. its former allies are increasingly turning against the Zionist regime. Who would want to be remembered in history as an accomplice in international murders and especially of their own citizens.

    3. Not only that the list of remaining supporters is growing thinner, but an international coalition is formed and growing larger of countries that are cutting all economic and diplomatic relations with the Zionist regime.

    4. No country ever survived a complete isolation from its neighbors. No person of the area currently under Zionist occupation can obtain any type of visa from any of the surrounding countries for any reason ��� a complete land lock.

    5. Well attended speeches take place almost weekly at colleges and universities across the U.S. and the world condemning the Zionist regime, their remaining supporters, and companies that do any business there. These speeches are often lead by moral Jewish people, church leaders, business people, etc., in addition to traditional peace activists.

    6. The West where most of the traditional supporters of the Zionist regime are located is loosing global influence. China, the Middle East, South East Asia, Russia, South America, etc. are emerging as new pockets of economic and political power where the Zionist regime has angered most of the population.

    7. Not only that the West is declining, but Zionists are loosing political control in the declining West. Diversity is bringing minority groups into politics, groups that are actively opposing the Zionist regime.
    In conclusion, the Zionist regime is negotiating now because its future is changing for much worse. It knows that it temporarily exists now only through the force of its arms and this will be short-lived. It knows that it is at its peak and a downturn has come. It is a mistake to negotiate with the Zionist regime at the present time. But, if you have to negotiate, do not accept anything less than a single region in question (single state) where all who live there are equal. Any other ���solution��� would just reward the Zionist regime at the time of its demise. If the Zionist regime wants true piece, let���s not make it dependent on Zionist political and land acquisition goals, but on democratic vote for all who live there and making everyone equal (something we Americans cherish so passionately).

    Disclaimer: All who wish to reproduce my comment on mailing lists, repost on other blogs, or send to politicians and public officials are welcome to do so. Let justice be served!

  4. It appears that sharing and reposting others��� comments is becoming a trend. You can definitely copy, repost, or email mine to anyone including lobbying senators, state representatives and any other public officials who shape our country���s foreign policies.

    The main Zionist claim is that they have a supreme right to some of Palestinian territory because they lived there thousands of years ago. Let���s examine the core and real nature of this claim.

    Firstly, this claim is mistaken and selfish in its core concept because Zionists fail to recognize that history is a continuum and that there were other people living in majority in Palestine before the Jews and also after the Jews. Zionists simply cut history at a convenient point for them and claim ancestral ties to the land as of that convenient point.

    Secondly, whatever the claim, it is beyond absurd to try to shape modern world based on thousands of years old maps. Imagine if the rest of the world would be reshaped by who was on the land thousands of years ago. It would cause horrific wars, countless refugees, and unimaginable human suffering, exactly what is happening in Palestine.

    Thirdly and most disturbing, Zionist goal was to establish a Jewish state wherever possible. Palestine may have been a preference, but Palestine was not the only location that Zionists planned as their state in modern times. Another location was Argentina where Jews have been migrating for hundreds of years for the purpose of establishing a state. Also, locations in Europe were on the list and that���s why the Catholic Church was killing/expelling Jews since Roman times (read the history of the Holly Inquisition). Whatever the location, Zionist plan was to simply occupy the people living on the land even if that would mean imposing a regime worst than Nazi Germany���s from which they escaped. And Zionists would just use a different ideological coloring than the one used in Palestine in the attempt to rationalize the occupation.

    In conclusion, the main claim on which the Zionist regime is built in Palestine is erroneous, selfish, and a lie. I am categorically against generalizing, and recognize that many Jews are against the crimes the Zionist regime is committing and that many Jews are leading the global resistance to it. They should be proud.

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