Aztecs for Israel strive for dialogue with SJP

by Staff

—By AFI members Mor Frankle and Sheli Grumet

Last week, Aztecs for Israel began our second annual Israel Peace Week for the San Diego State campus. It has thus far been an extremely successful program and has brought about respectful, spirited conversation among SDSU students. Israel Peace Week is important because students are encouraged to open their minds and participate in a progressive dialogue between the two groups.

Peace Week is, above all, meant to educate SDSU students. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a complicated topic that most SDSU students may know very little about. The conflict is often skewed in the U.S. media and is not always represented in the most balanced way. Israel Peace Week provides a balanced narrative to Palestine Awareness Week, which is put on by Students for Justice in Palestine. The result is that the SDSU community is given the opportunity to learn about this conflict from those whose lives it affects on a day-to-day basis.

Not only does Israel Peace Week advocate for peace in the Middle East, it also gives a chance for pro- Israel students to voice their stories and experiences. This gives SDSU students the opportunity to ask questions, and learn their perspective from a fellow Aztec. Israel Peace Week is important to have on this campus, because it’s a direct reflection of the Jewish state’s many attempts to find a solution for peace. Israel has always had a hope to end this taxing conflict and taken the necessary steps in trying to achieve that peace.

Israel has repeatedly given up land to achieve peace, both in 1979 in honor of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and in 2005 as well, when Israel withdrew entirely from the Gaza Strip, which uprooted Jewish settlements and removed all Jewish civilians from the area. These are just a few examples that show the sacrifices Israel has made in hopes of peace. While Israel still consistently attempts to make many more foreword-moving compromises with its Palestinian neighbors, Palestinian leaders have rejected territorial compromises in 1937, 1947, 1967, 1979, 2000 and 2008, all which would have allowed them to create the first Palestinian state in history.

Our program adds value to the SDSU campus because it promotes a positive message of peace and understanding. Despite our university being thousands of miles away from this turmoil in the Middle East, during this week of awareness, the conflict is unfortunately brought onto SDSU’s campus. During Palestine Awareness Week, our campus climate is one of hostility because of recent actions, such as mock letters of eviction spamming student residences. AFI’s Peace Week is trying a different approach to engage students. We encouraged students to write on our peace board about what peace means to them, and inspire them to express their opinions as well as ask questions to better understand Israel’s narrative.

Despite minor setbacks, Israel Peace Week was successful and made an impact at SDSU this year. We were able to have substantial conversations with students who wanted to learn more about the Israeli-Arab conflict. AFI also has opened communication with SJP during the week. We were able to agree with SJP, shake hands, and make deals about respecting each other’s space. We believe that these are positive steps forward, and continuing in this direction will initiate change and bring forward a better campus climate at SDSU.

It is only through respect and understanding for one another that we can hope for a positive future. AFI has actively sought dialogue with SJP, which we believe would be a great first step. We know that these actions of working together and having respect for one another as Aztecs make the hope for peace in Israel and Palestine much brighter and more realistic.