While students rushed to class through the usual congestion something unique grasped their attention: a seven-foot wall in the middle of Ring Mall. The wall represented the original concrete wall separating Israel from the West Bank of Palestine. Political discussion, passionate debate and crowds of intent activists and listeners crowded Ring Mall during Israel Apartheid Resurrected Week, a six-year tradition that encourages students to come together to learn about and discuss one of the most significant and troubling issues of our time. The primary purpose of this event was to promote knowledge and student discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Third-year sociology and English double-major and public relations commissioner of the Muslim Student Union, Marya Bangee hopes to have an intellectual debate that includes opposing perspectives on the situation in the Holy Land. However, she said that each year MSU plans to have a debate with Jewish/Israeli student organizations they always cancel. ‘A debate would invoke much needed discussion, interest and fervor about this topic,’ she said.
Zoya Ahmed, a first-year literary journalism major said that the more this issue is publicized, the more people will learn about it, thus more motivation arises to do something to stop injustice.
For the week’s informative lectures and discussions, students viewed a thought-provoking documentary on the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ‘Operation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority,’ in Crystal Cove Auditorium. While the film played, cries of horror resonated throughout the audience, not merely because of the grotesque images of distorted dead bodies or clips of innocent children crying for their lives, but the facts the film announced about the conflict.
Some students liked that about ‘Occupation 101,’ not a film intended to proselytize, but rather present an analysis of the history, causes, and widely held misconceptions of the Holy Land. Fifth-year anthropology major, Kevin Michael Smith said, ‘The documentary gave a concise history of the conflict and it is accessible to all people. People cannot argue against the facts and numbers of innocent Palestinian civilians being killed even if they wanted to, they just choose to ignore it.’
Also, the documentary makes references to oppressions and conflicts outside of the Holy Land. Israeli Journalist Amira Hass states, ‘Any violence by a large population is not because these people [are] more violent than any other. It is an alarm, a sign, a signal that something is wrong in the treatment of this population,’ as illustrated by historical examples throughout the world.
In the film, Douglas Dicks of the Catholic Relief Services points out that the number one misconception that Westerns have about this conflict is that Arabs and Jews have been fighting for thousands of years. And, James Akins, a former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia explains that there is no congenital historical enmity between the Arabs and the Jews.
According to the film, when Jews were persecuted throughout Europe during World War II, they were welcomed to the Middle East. As a result of anti-Semitism in the 19th century, a small minority of European Zionist Jews proposed that the only place Jews would be safe was within a Jewish state, believing that Palestine was empty and open to settlement.
According the movie, Arabs and Jews lived peacefully for centuries, until the expansion of the Jewish State.First-year psychology and social behavior major, Saisma Hassanein wished that the film would ‘evoke any kind of emotion among students on campus.’ The wall, documentary, lectures and discussions tried to make students more aware of issues in the Middle East. Lastly, the documentary noted, ‘The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance: it is the illusion of knowledge.’