Achieving peace at Georgetown

By:
01/15/2009

As the violence in Gaza stretches into its fourth week, signs of the conflict are seeping into campus life. On Monday, Students for Justice in Palestine gathered in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Red Square to decry Israeli actions, which have caused the destruction of schools and UN facilities in Gaza and the deaths of over 1,000 Palestinians. While Georgetown cannot be expected to solve a problem that has plagued policymakers for generations, the University’s faculty and students must work to facilitate dialogue on the issue, particularly among campus groups with a vested interest in the conflict.
Given its status as a premiere center of Arabic language instruction and as the home of a growing Jewish Civilization Program, Georgetown’s administration is in a unique position to facilitate this dialogue and must do everything in its power to make sure it happens.
This is an issue that has drawn worldwide attention, and here on our hyper-politicized campus, students and faculty are quick to line up on either side of the debate. The various relevant University departments and campus groups should come together to organize a formal forum for dialogue and debate on the contentious issue. As the war in Gaza escalates, such a display of respect and maturity will become even more crucial, and the need for dialogue more dire.
Though it is incredibly simplistic to think that such a forum will bring people to a quick and hearty consensus on such difficult, nuanced issues, the establishment of a respectful conversation will hopefully lead to more contemplative thought by those on either side of the Gaza conflict. Level-heads must prevail in order to get to the deep-seated problems that lie at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
To their credit, Georgetown students with opposing loyalties have largely been respectful of one another. Last year’s Georgetown Israel Alliance-sponsored “Israel: Still Sexy at Sixty” celebration might have erupted into a storm of confrontation. Instead, a group of about 50 students showed up to protest in a visible, respectful manner without disrupting the GIA celebration.
Universities are meant to be launching grounds of ideas and discussion, and Georgetown must live up to its commitment to fostering interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Concrete change begins with simple conversation, so let’s start talking.

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