The only way to peace and understanding is through civilized dialogue
DAVID Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, stated that "the test of democracy is freedom of criticism." In the early hours of Sept. 15, this test was failed egregiously when a bias crime was committed in a venue of free expression. When the perpetrators vandalized Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine's Beta Bridge message that "Palestine deserves a state," they not only disrespected the message's proponents, but also they placed a metaphorical block in the winding alley of dialogue towards peace.
On behalf of Hoos for Israel, I would like to extend our sympathies to SPJP and publicize our support for dialogue at all levels. Along with the Israeli government, as well as the vast majority of Israelis and members of the international community, our support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel weighs heavily in the formula for peace.
As in any conflict, the importance of constructive negotiation between responsible partners is paramount. Within the microcosm of the University, such dialogue about the Middle East peace process comes to include virtually all interested parties. When this audience extends to those unwilling to make a direct statement, opting instead to bypass the sphere of civilized discourse with a can of spray paint, it becomes necessary for students to reflect on what this means for the larger picture.
The juxtaposition of this attack and the Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence is remarkable. Just as the Beta Bridge vandals sidestepped the normal avenues for dialogue, so too would a successful UDI by the Palestinian National Authority effectively terminate the peace process by avoiding bilateral negotiations. If the United Nations approves the bid for statehood, the internationally supported "land for peace" formula will be contravened. Agreements between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities will be violated. Most importantly, the core issues of the conflict - Jerusalem, refugees and border disputes - will be left to fester in limbo.
Similarly at the University, when those members of the community willing to contribute to discourse about this issue do so in an irresponsible and deplorable manner, it intensifies the hurdles toward responsible dialogue and the eventual triumph of peace. Such behavior is antithetical to our values as students and as members of a community of trust.
Last year, the University earned its "green light" status from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education thanks to efforts of students and faculty alike. This made the University one of thirteen leaders in protecting free speech on college campuses. If we are to uphold this reputation, our community must vow to stand for constructive dialogue between responsible partners and denounce such acts of odium.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority, stated himself that "there is absolutely no substitute for dialogue." In keeping with this quote and Ben-Gurion's test of democracy, Hoos for Israel wishes to condemn this incident and all statements that go against positive discourse, and emphasize the importance of responsible partners engaging in continued dialogue - both at the University and in the Middle East.
Elena Weissmann is a third-year College student.