Middle East Peace and U.S. panel. Photo by Tyrone McDonald.

Peace in the Middle East

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An interfaith community panel discussion

Middle East peace and the role of the U.S. was a panel discussion from three professors from Humboldt State and an Israeli filmmaker. The three professors from HSU were history teacher Leena Dallasheh, and political science teachers Swati Srivastava and Kathy Lee. The Israeli filmmaker was Udi Aloni. The moderator was John Meyer, HSU chair of the history department.

The panelists discussed how to give the Palestinians a voice. Palestinians have been consistently prevented from being heard.

“There is an exclusion of Palestinians in public space, and they are villainized in their representation by the media,” Dallasheh said. “American weapons have been used consistently against Palestinians. American money has been used to support a system that continues to suppress millions of people and continues to prevent millions of others to return to their homes, despite international decisions. That is why as Americans, we have a responsibility to address the plight of the Palestinians.”

There are Palestinian refugees in Berlin and Europe doesn’t want them.

“If something terrible happened to a Jew in France, they can come home to Israel and be surrounded by Jewishness. An experience I’ll never forget is seeing Palestinian refugees in Berlin. They come to find refuge in Berlin where Europe doesn’t want them, when really their home is in Palestine,” Aloni said.

The Palestinian situation is much worse than apartheid, it is an occupation.

“In apartheid, you don’t have people shooting at you from point blank range,” Dallasheh said.

It is not so much that Israel is using America, but America is using Israel. America pushes weapons on Israel.

“Israel is a place of colonialism in the Middle East to serve the purpose of America,” Aloni said.

The United Nations is supposed to support Palestine. In order to receive help from the UN, you must be an international state with recognition.

“You have to be a state to have international recognition. Palestine can’t just call itself a new state, it must have international authority and recognition. This needs to happen and it hasn’t so far,” Srivastava said.

The occupation of Palestine has something to be hopeful about.

“With the decline of the U.S. in the world stage, and the decline of the U.K. because of Brexit, does not automatically mean that the new right will take over. It might mean that the new left will take over and perhaps different kinds of nationalism will flourish that will not rely on antiquated ideas of what a state is,” Srivastava said.

A huge piece of the puzzle is the American arms industry and moving the American economy away from an industry of war.

“Vote for people that pledge to move the U.S. economy away from where it is today,” Lee said.

“The U.S. will enter trade agreements that will have nothing to do with weapons and make a provision in the agreement that the country will have to buy American-made weapons. That is something that we have been exporting for a long time. We should move away from these old models of trade agreements, supplying arms to countries that don’t even need them,” Srivastava said.

Why should we care about this?

“It is problematic that students coming to my class don’t know about this,” Srivastava said.

In closing, we are reminded that this is a tough topic.

“Gandhi said, ‘Almost everything that you do is insignificant, but it is important that you do it.’ That is the approach that we have to take,” Lee said.

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