Israeli Consulate Speaker Amir Ofik visited UR to share insight on the current affairs between Israel and Palestine on Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m.

“We don’t have all the answers,” Ofik said. “We need to be open-minded and not think that our solution is the only one.”

The evening started out with a brief overview of the history and relationship between Jews and Palestinians.

Ofik went farther back into history to point out the numerous Intifadas, or the many violent uprisings by Palestinian Arabs against Jews.

The different dates in history that Ofik pointed out – 1929, 1936-39, 1947, 1967, 1972 and 1987 – all had different reasons at the root of the attack.

Ofik also discussed the various solutions to the conflict. The one state solution was mentioned, and he went into discussion to help students explain why this solution would not work.

“It sounds tempting,” Ofik said. “But it’s not enough because even prior to the birth of the state of Israel, there was still a lot of tension and conflict.”

Ofik explained that he was not taking sides, but rather was pointing out the problem that is the simple fact that Jews live in the Middle East. He also mentioned the relationship between the Jews and Palestinians and that Palestine is advancing on Israelis. Ofik spoke of two different solutions and philosophies that have been offered in the past to try and reduce tensions and conflict.

The first one was to get involved with someone local and the second one was to negotiate and speak with Yasser Arafat, who was previously untouchable.

“From the first meeting with Arafat, it was clear to the Israeli people that this would not be a good idea,” Ofik said.

Since Arafat’s death, there have been positive changes in the Middle East and Ofik spoke positively of relations between Israel and Palestine.

The newly elected leader of Palestinians, Abu Mazin, offers great hope for helping Israel and Palestine try to work out the conflict.

Since he was elected by the people, with 65 percent of the votes, the Hamas group – which did not partake in the elections and do not feel obligated toward the government – have decided not to attack at this time because they do not want to be accused of killing the first dream of democratic hope and peace.

Afterward, Ofik addressed any questions that students and other members of the community had.

“He gave a good overview of Israeli-Palestinian relations,” senior Dave Mener said.

“I thought the speech was very good and it gave me a lot of insight,” freshman John Elkin said. “It was very optimistic. He explained well how important this time is and that we have this leadership. There is a big window of hope right now.”

Approximately 25 to 30 people attended the event. For more information on upcoming events, students can visit http://www.urhillel.org.

Ritterman can be reached at gritterman@campustimes.org.



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