The Anteaters for Israel were met with protesters outside the Barclay Theater Monday night when they invited spokesman of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., Mark Regev to speak about the Israeli government.
Regev began by explaining that Israel’s independence day is a time for Israelis to reflect on the things they did wrong as well as what they’ve done right with their country.
‘The wonderful depiction is of Castro’s Cuba or Kim Il Sung’s North Korea. Those have no problems because everything is perfect,’ Regev said. ‘In normal countries like the United States there are problems and these problems have to be dealt with.’
‘But then we make that balance of what we’ve achieved and what we haven’t achieved … what has been done well and what could be done better, what we’ve failed and where we’ve succeeded. There’s one thing that I as an Israeli can be proud of, and that is the fact that in our 56 years of independence, we’ve managed to build a very vibrant, diverse and powerful democracy.’
Regev also spoke of how the democracy of the Israeli government is represented through their press.
‘If you look at the Israeli press you see that it is a vibrant, powerful, maybe too tabloid-ish press,’ Regev said. ‘The Israeli press is always looking for a politician who took a bribe, always looking for the mistake the police made or the army made, a politician who has let society down.’
Regev admitted that the Israeli politicians are not above the law and that an active Supreme Court in the Israeli judiciary has been responsible for telling politicians that legislation is illegal and telling Israeli government administers what and what not to do.
Although students who attended the lecture were pleased by the overall content that Regev presented, students from several organizations on campus including the Society of Arab Students, Muslim Student Union and the Armenian Student Association held a protest outside regarding U.N. Resolution 194 which seeks to deal with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict of setting up an international Conciliation Commission to mediate between Arab and Israeli parties.
The resolution also deals with the Palestinian Arabs’ right to return to lands that are now part of the state of Israel.
AFI had originally invited Israel’s Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, Natan Sharansky to come and speak.
However, due to business matters and technical difficulties, his appearance will be postponed to a later date.
Although he was unable to come, Sharansky had an important message for the event’s attendees.
His main agenda for students was to discuss human rights, freedom and the Middle East. Sharansky believes the issue of human rights is the most important concern to students today since it creates one of humanity’s most cherished values.
According to Sharansky, Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, appears to have the highest standards of morality and is a champion of human rights. Arabs, Palestinians and all others living in Israel hold the same freedoms we in the West take for granted. He explained that people should strive to protect the human rights of all people and help all countries abide by the same moral standard.
Students like Osama Abuljebain, president of the Society of Arab Students were one of the protesters outside defending the idea of Human Rights.
‘We have support from the Students for Peace and Justice,’ Abuljebian said. ‘We have support from everyone who believes in humanity, everyone who believes in human rights.’
Merav Ceren, president of Anteaters for Israel, was in support of dialogue for the opposing groups.
‘It was nice to see that they’re actually listening, in a sense, that they’re aware that it’s happening, that there’s a discussion on campus. If they take that extra step into a situation in which we can hold a conversation is what I think would be most effective.’