New York, November 8, 2010–OneVoice Israel (OVI) youth leader Eliran Eyal and OneVoice Palestine (OVP) youth leader Mohammad Asideh informed students about the need for a two-state solution last week as the International Education Program (IEP) concluded the Colorado leg of its tour.
Two of Professor Amin Kazak’s classes, “Middle East and World Affairs” at DU and “Islam, Politics, and Culture” at UCD were included on the tour. Professor Kazak, who is Palestinian, expressed the importance of a grassroots presence in the classroom.
“It’s all about the message,” he said. “The message is about finding an alternative to the conflict, an alternative to the hate, that’s a good message that the students should know about. I wanted the students to get some ideas and learn different perspectives and not just gather information from the classroom or the textbooks. Nonprofits and community organizations who are involved in such an issue play a vital role in this regard.”
A student from Professor Kazak’s “Islam, Politics, and Culture” class asked Mohammad and Eliran how, in the name of peace and betterment for the next generation, extremists on both sides affect their work at OneVoice.
“First of all, peace for me is not the number one priority; Peace is good and will come later," replied Mohammad. "I don’t want peace without having a state. OneVoice believes that bringing a two-state solution will bring peace, and this is what we’re trying to project. I don’t like to throw around the word ‘extremists.’ To me an extremist uses violence against civilians and that is a very small percentage of both peoples. The media exploits their actions. What we are trying to do is amplify the majority who believe in peace.”
Commenting on his own interactions with Israeli extremists, Eliran added, “The conflict is a personal issue to many people. There are varying degrees of extremists. Some people are not extremists at all, but simply need to release their pent up frustration, like hot air coming out of the balloon. People have suffered for a long, long time and they’ve had enough. When I encounter extremists, I listen to them as they explain their position, but I also guide the conversation to a more rational point by repeatedly asking them what they see happening after their proposed actions have occured. Eventually, they come to realize that peace is the only sustainable future.”
On Thursday’s event open to the public, the theme of working toward a peaceful future took hold through a question posed to Eliran and Mohammad about what inspires them to continue to work toward peace in the region. Eliran received a round of applause as he cited “the guy standing next to me” as his motivation. Mohammad took the moment to mention his three-year-old brother and vowed “to do whatever it takes to make sure that he will get better opportunities than what I had.”
Catch Eliran and Mohammad this week as they bring their message of an end to the conflict to these universities and institutions around southern California:
University of California, San Diego – November 8, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm (Bear Room, Sungod Lounge)
San Diego State University – November 8, 6:00-8:00 pm (Hepner Hall 130)
University of California, Irvine – November 9, Time TBA (Room TBA)
University of California, Los Angeles – November 10, 6:00-8:00 pm (Dodd 121)
Santa Monica College – November 11, 11:15 am-12:30 pm (LS 103); 3:00-4:30 pm (Math Complex 11)
Occidental College – November 11, 7:30-9:00 pm (Fowler 202)
Leo Baeck Temple – November 12, 6:00 pm (1300 N. Sepulveda Boulevard)