Few topics have proven to be more inflammatory than the conflict between Israel and Palestine. While covering an Israeli-Palestinian forum, “painstakingly neutral” is the only possible way to write. However, that does not make the issue any less tricky to discuss with students – or any less important.
Ryerson’s own International Issues Discussion (IID) Series understands this. The IID had its third talk in Prospects for Peace: A Forum on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on Wednesday, Oct. 14; a free event where former Israeli defence officer and special advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister Yossi Alpher was invited to speak, presented in room 103 of the engineering building.
The political heavyweight prepared a talk called “Why are Israelis skeptical about peace?” for Ryerson students and as anticipated, received quite a response.
Despite these inevitable passions that arise in showcasing the conflict, the IID strives to engage students in the discussion of global affairs.
“It is definitely important to present both sides of any conflict,” said Kate Grisdale, one of the student hosts of the IID. “We have several talks scheduled to present different facets of this one.”
When you have family in Lebanon and Gaza, it isn’t easy to stay neutral or level-headed
Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin, a Ryerson physics professor, who encouraged all of her students to come and listen, came early to the forum and had extremely high hopes for the content.
“I am hopeful that there will be good ideas,” she said. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to learn about events like this. What everyone is looking for is real, lasting peace, not something written on paper.”
Alpher covered subjects like the “Two-State Solution,” the significance of the Arab Peace Initiative, and the political maneuverings of the Obama administration in the Middle East.
A lively speaker, he used large gestures and pregnant pauses to articulate his arguments. Most affecting was the emphasis on “comprehensive peace” between Israelis and Palestinians and the importance of reaching a lasting agreement between both sides.
As was somewhat expected, not all of the opinions expressed by Alpher went over well with everyone in the audience.
He took a distinct Israeli stance on many of the most controversial topics involved in the conflict. One of the emphasized subjects was the danger of losing Israeli identity, and the “threat to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State.”
The issue that sparked the strongest reaction during the forum regarded the actions taken against the “militant terrorist groups” that existed within the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.