New York, April 12, 2011—Freeing themselves from the toxic campus milieu, a small group of action-oriented DePaul students joined OneVoice youth activists Shir Lachish and Mohammad Asideh on Friday in dispelling fears and misconceptions of a two-state solution.
On a campus rife with mistrust, the contingent willing to brave the cold April rain and repair the cold community relations showed a shrewd understanding of the conflict and found a source of guidance and encouragement in Shir and Mohammad. The students and youth activists broached the issues DePaul faces, namely fear and misunderstanding. By sharing their own experiences, Shir and Mohammad helped the DePaul students find avenues through which to change the campus culture.
“Fear doesn’t help us progress,” Shir, of OneVoice Israel, affirmed.
The students in attendance, many of whom were members of the campus Hillel, brought forth concerns that members of their community have expressed regarding a two-state solution and named specific causes of polarization on campus. One student pointed to a propensity of his community to focus on the past as a polarizing force. In response, Shir stressed that in order reach a lasting peace we must put past grievances aside and resist the temptation to compare suffering.
Mohammad took the opportunity to share his own experience with that barrier. “Through my education, I’ve come to have a clearer understanding of the history,” he explained. “I use it to create awareness in my community. Instead of focusing only on the history, I make connections between history and the future.”
Another issue raised was the commonly held misconception that an independent Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution will be a haven for Palestinian extremists. This issue, according to the student in attendance, was a major factor in keeping many away from the gathering Friday. At OneVoice, we seek to break the patterns of mistrust that fuel such misconceptions and build mutual respect. OneVoice’s Imagine 2018 campaign envisages not a future of extremism, but a future of freedom and prosperity.
“This [current situation] is a haven for extremists,” Mohammad contended. “But when you talk about a solution, when you talk about independent states, you talk about people who want to live a good life, people who are seeking opportunities.”