Lest my words become lost in the perpetual though ultimately unproductive cycle of “I’m right, you’re wrong” counterclaims, I’ve always refrained from responding to columns and letters that deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But as I sit here in the city of Ramallah sipping my morning coffee, pondering yet another illegal Israeli settlement in perfect view of my kitchen window, and reading yet another article about senseless rockets into Israel from Gaza and settler price-tag violence, I’m going to toss a thought into the mix. Given that almost all of us approach this issue from a biased standpoint—I myself have Palestinian roots and grew up absorbing a fairly one-sided account of the conflict—and given our propensity to rely on news sources that most accurately reflect our predisposed views of the conflict, I’ve concluded that no one has the right to make sweeping claims about facts on the ground until they’ve come to Israel and Palestine and genuinely seen both sides of the conflict. Yes, friends, that means exploring both sides of the green line.... Oh, and when you cross into Palestine, go ahead and venture off the settler highway into Palestinian Authority-controlled cities like Ramallah and Nablus. And check out the settlements, too. Guess what? That American passport you’ve got—you know, since we’re like Israel’s staunchest ally and all—enables you to walk straight into most settlements and chat it out with Israelis living there. I’d say add Gaza to the itinerary, but unfortunately access to the Gaza Strip is painstakingly reserved by Israel for a limited number of humanitarian aid workers. And in the meantime, until you’ve managed to make the journey out here, inform yourselves. Read a spectrum of news sources: Israeli Haaretz (left-leaning) or Israel Hayom (more rightwing) and Palestinian publications such as Ma’an News Agency or Electronic Intifada, just to name a measly few. If you’re looking for on-campus dialogue about the conflict, give the Peace or Pieces Coalition a whirl. My fellow Dukies, let’s be the inquisitive, tolerant individuals we boast ourselves to be. Push yourselves outside of your comfort zones and venture to examine this issue from another’s point of view.
Leila Dal Santo, Trinity ’10
Former Co-President, Peace or Pieces Coalition