By Rachel Epstein ’18
Arts & Life Editor
I genuinely believe that President Weinberg is absolutely right when he says that we gain more from a liberal arts education than any other form of higher learning structure. And more often than not, the people we bring to campus to discuss global issues and social justice movements reflect this sense of well-rounded, mature intellect.
So imagine my shock when, for the first time since I’ve been at Denison, I witnessed a speaker whose demeanor and attitude was more aggressive than lunch at Curtis during an accepted student visit day.
This is more than an issue of a one-sided group bringing a terrible speaker to campus to discuss a serious global issue. My biggest questions prior to my disappointment after the talk was why the Muslim Student Association had nothing to do with bringing a speaker in conjunction with DU it for Israel. I think that if you’re going to bring a Muslim speaker to campus to talk about a divisive issue within their culture, some effort should be made when it comes to inclusion and healthy discussion. Furthermore, why is a Jewish group hosting a talk regarding Israel at 7 p.m. on a Friday, the night of Shabbat?
DU it for Israel, an openly pro-Israel activist group that has made its name quite poorly known, in my opinion, chose to host their first major event last week. The group brought Bassem Eid, a Palestinian, to discuss life under the “Palestinian Authority” (not Hamas). I suppose it is an interesting tactic for an Israeli group to bring a Palestinian speaker to campus under the guise of coexistence and peace, but Eid really missed the boat on both of those ideals. It became startlingly clear that my previous questions would have to wait. The attention needs to be placed on this organization’s choice of speaker.
Eid spoke for a solid 17 minutes about his opinions on the conflict, and sure, he hit some key points: there’s a conflict, people are poor, many Palestinians rely on the Israeli infrastructure for jobs and security. All known facts. All pretty standard.
But then Eid chose to assert that of all the places to take a holiday in the Middle East, Gaza is the safest. I wonder if the Israeli children who have never been allowed to kick a soccer ball outside on the West Bank and are forced to play inside concrete buildings with no windows underground would agree. This was only one of the unsupported and outlandish claims Eid made.
Then came the question and answer session, which was really a question and aggressive evasion session coupled with some loud venting and pointed figures. Not a single one of the seven perfectly reasonable questions asked were answered respectfully by Eid and most ended with him turning bright red, hurling his finger in the air and screaming “I am not a victim!” It was callous and unnecessary.
In the end, none of these questions matter much since the talk itself concluded with Eid practically running out of the Barney-Davis building to avoid answering further questions. But it does bring up an interesting point about how we engage in meaningful discussion, even among groups with differing opinions, within our community.
And on a lighter note, the Chipotle served was neither Kosher, nor Halal.