April 11, 2002

Teach-In Addresses Middle East Dilemma

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Students, faculty and Ithaca community members filled Kennedy auditorium yesterday for “Israel and Palestine: A University Teach-In” sponsored by the vice provost for undergraduate education.

The teach-in involved presentations from five panelists on different topics involved in the crisis between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as an open forum section where audience members were able to ask questions of the panelists as well as give their own opinions on the issues.

Isaac Kramnick, vice provost for undergraduate education opened and moderated the event. According to Kramnick, “A teach-in is the coming together of the University community at times of public concern in order to explore the issues in crisis through faculty and expert presentation as well as commentary from the whole community. All this [is] done in civil terms respectful of those one disagrees with.”

Kramnick explained the reasons for holding the teach-in, “in my position as vice provost for undergraduate education, I’m aware of the need for informed understanding of what is clearly an incredibly pressing crisis and the obligation of the University to try to make available to students a range of opinions and attitudes as well as factual discussions.”

Prof. Ross Brann, chair of the department of Near Eastern studies, was the first speaker to discuss the crisis in the Middle East. Brann addressed the assumption that there is “a single Israeli and Jewish position and a particular Palestinian and Arab position on each and every question of strategy, tactics, and politics.”

“There is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Brann said, “those who send or carry bombs or dispatch tanks against civilians invest only in more death. They only succeed in convincing the other society that compromise is hopeless and that “the Jews” or “the Arabs” only respect the language of violence.”

Brann also stressed the importance of understanding that there are two sides to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “Two peoples, not one, live in the parcel of land west of the Jordan River. Both aspire to peace and security and the freedom to raise their children without fear of suicide bombs, snipers on rooftops or across the valley or soldiers rampaging through their towns or stationed at checkpoints in between them.”

The second speaker on the panel was Susan Heher, former South African Charg