Secrecy, Timing of “Three Days in Palestine” Counterproductive

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

I would like to start by stating that I am representing my opinion and only my opinion. My words are my own.

I don’t know how I feel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I am Jewish on my mother’s side but consider myself a cultural/ethnic Jew rather than a religious one. I have family in Israel so I am sympathetic toward their desire to live peaceful lives and concerned for their well being. That being said, my family went through the Holocaust and an era where their freedoms were restricted and they were not treated as equal citizens in the place they considered their homeland. While the two situations are obviously different, I feel I can be empathetic towards Palestinians whose personal freedoms have been violated.

Regardless of my feelings on the conflict, this event was not handled well. Clearly the administration provided guidance on this event (facilities helping set up the gate, someone in the group mentioning the timing kept getting pushed back).

Someone should have been aware that this event is taking place at the tail end of Passover, one of the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. While I know it was not meant this way, the way the event was handled feels to me like an attack. Being Jewish does not equate to being pro-Israel, but the administration did not sufficiently take into account the impact this would have on the Jewish community.

One of the other issues I have is the secrecy that surrounded the checkpoint. I understand that the secrecy was meant to further the impact, but I feel that it was vastly inappropriate for the checkpoint to go up without warning. Since I didn’t have the opportunity to prepare myself, my first reaction was one of hurt. When I feel attacked, I react defensively. I would have appreciated the time to process this and prepare a response more conducive to discourse.

I am not objecting to the days of awareness, not even specifically to the checkpoint. I am objecting to the secrecy, the timing and the one sided point of view. This conflict is not one-sided, nor is it even two-sided. I believe this is a multidimensional conflict that should be represented as such. I know there will be an open discussion that I would like to attend pending my time availability, but I do not feel this is enough. I would like to see multiple points of view represented.

I do not think the students who organized “Three Days in Palestine” were intending to offend anyone. I believe that the comments on the Daily Gazette that call Swarthmore students “terrorists” are extremely offensive. I believe the students were trying to inspire reflection and dialogue; in that vein, I think we should reflect and have open dialogue. I hope that this does not become a polarizing issue.

Furthermore, we should discuss how events such as these are organized and sanctioned by the administration. I don’t know what transpired within the administration, but it should have been handled more carefully and more transparently.

Despite my reservations about the way this was handled, I hope we can learn as campus community and move forward constructively.

Niki Machac

The Phoenix

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