Editor, Daily Nexus,
Unfortunately, we were not able to attend Dennis Prager’s lecture at Isla Vista Theater. However, if the article (Daily Nexus, “Lecturer Gives Pro-Israel Perspective,” Feb. 13, 2003) quotes Prager’s words correctly, there was nothing fresh nor in depth about it but a basic rehashing of mainstream media commentary that simplifies a multifaceted conflict into Good Israelis vs. Bad Radical Muslim Fundamentalists. But as we were not there, we will not comment on the lecture itself. We will comment on the remarks quoted from a lecture attendee that concerns “the number of discussions about the Israeli- Palestinian conflict at our campus,” which holds “a heavy bias on the Palestinian side.”
There have not been any events at all that merely present a bias on the Palestinian side of the conflict, but rather a handful of events (Tom Segev, Rema Hammami/Oren Yiftachel, the Beyond the Mirage documentary, etc.) questioning the simplistic arguments provided by mainstream U.S. media. Dividing this conflict into an over-simplified issue fails to accurately convey the many different sides. Liberal Israeli individuals and organizations such as Jeff Halper (Ben Gurion University), Yoav Peled (Tel Aviv University) and Jessica Montell (Director of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization), are opposed to the illegal occupation and practices and struggle to find a viable solution to the conflict. They do not fit neatly into the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli paradigm since they are full Israeli citizens who live in Israel, yet oppose many of their government’s current policies.
The Student Action Forum on the Middle East seeks to promote on campus a fuller understanding of the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than one would hear from the likes of Mr. Prager. We have not been able to address the conflict as it deserves since our energies have been focused on the pending war against Iraq; however, we will continue to promote critical thought and discussion about this and other important issues concerning the Middle East.