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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter: Willingness to learn and grow

I was disturbed on many levels to read Noah and Smita’s letter in the S&B. The symposium, “Transcending Conflict: Israel and Palestine,” was jointly sponsored by the Palestinian Solidarity Group, Chalutzim and Peace Studies. The authors fail to mention this crucial fact.
Leaders of the Palestinian Solidarity Group received and approved Roumani’s resume before he was asked to speak at Grinnell. Moreover, Chalutzim helped fund and organize all aspects of the Symposium, including a lecture by Harb Harb, a Palestinian American medical student, and Mariam Bazeed, an Egyptian American from Seeds of Peace. PSG and Chalutzim equally sponsored all aspects of the Symposium, including Professor Roumani’s visit, and each group is equally responsible for his presence on campus.

The jointly organized symposium aimed to “transcend conflict,” to foster constructive dialogue by bringing varying viewpoints to campus. Each presenter spoke and represented themselves, not Chalutzim, PSG or Peace Studies. We presented different perspectives because diversity is a core value of Grinnell. We hoped that these distinct individuals would allow students to learn and grow, to grapple with their own notions of truth and conflict resolution.

I spent months working on this symposium with my fellow organizers from PSG. I understood that we all approached these controversial issues without cruel intentions and strove, however unrealistically, to bring diverse scholars and presenters to campus. Last week’s letter offers neither me nor Chalutzim any such courtesy.

In the aftermath of this joint symposium, the first of its kind, I was excited to have found peers who shared my passion for resolving the Israel and Palestine conflict and thrilled to have created a program that constructively interacted with people whom I disagreed with. Clearly, not everyone agrees with these sentiments. I look forward to the day when Grinnellians can move beyond finger pointing and hurtful attacks, a day when we can recognize the value in all points of view and through mutual respect, explore solutions for peace.

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