Last week, Students for Justice in Palestine and Aztecs for Israel presented two different displays on campus regarding each group’s view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These events were covered by The Daily Aztec in the article column titled “Respect must be central to clubs’ conflict.” One of the column’s main themes is that since the two groups claim to be striving for a peaceful resolution, they should have an open channel of communication and engage in dialogue to reduce tension and misunderstanding.
As a member of Aztecs for Israel, I couldn’t agree more. No doubt that dialogue is crucial for creating a peaceful campus environment. In fact — and this is an important piece of information that the article column did not mention — Aztecs for Israel has put a lot of efforts into doing just that; creating a dialogue series between SJP and AFI to be hosted by the SDSU administration. In Nov. 2011, AFI President Guy Harel initiated contact with San Diego State University President Dr. Elliot Hirshman and Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Aaron Bruce to promote a series of direct dialogue between the two groups. Since AFI realizes the sensitivity of the issues, it was offered that the sessions be led and facilitated by university administration in order to uphold balance and objectivity.
Much to AFI’s disappointment, SJP turned down the initiative. At a formal lunch hosted by Dr. Hirshman and Dr. Bruce, SJP members announced that they will not cooperate with the initiative because the SJP bylaws do not allow dialogue with AFI since, according to them, the two groups do not address the same issues. This is twice that they have said no to dialogue.
The message of AFI’s display last week was “Peace Takes Two.” Israelis and Palestinians have a shared responsibility to resolve the conflict if both sides want to live in peace and raise their children in safe and prosperous conditions. Unfortunately, presidents, prime ministers and top diplomats from around the world have tried to resolve the conflict and have yet to succeed. I believe that it is presumptuous to think that we, as college students, can resolve it. More importantly, the dialogue is not in order to resolve the conflict in the Middle East. The dialogue series is to work to resolve the tension between the two clubs and create a civil and safe campus environment. Much like Israelis and Palestinians, AFI and SJP have a shared responsibility to resolve our own local conflict. This must be accomplished in order to maintain SDSU’s campus climate so that each group can express its opinion in a manner that upholds freedom of speech, yet respects the others’ points of views. The only way to achieve that is by talking to each other. The path to mutual understanding and respect between the clubs, as the article proposes, must go through the rocky terrain of dialogue and conversation. Aztecs for Israel is extending their open hand to Students for Justice in Palestine. We are still hoping for SJP to changes its mind and accept our offer to start something here. Because peace takes two.