Germans, Jews, and Palestinians–A Dialogue

The question before our panel was whether the trauma of the Holocaust and the ever-present Palestinian-Israel conflict make dialogue between Jews and Germans, and between Jews and Palestinians extremely difficult, if not impossible to bridge the impossible?

Julia Chaitin, Senior Lecturer from the Sapir Academic College, Hof Ashkelon, Israel, examined the barriers that often make conversations across the divide difficult.  Particularly, the focus of her discussion was on navigating the opposing narratives of the past and present in the context of “perpetrators” and “victims” through techniques of reflective storytelling and listening to open up dialogue within the setting of conflict. The lecture and the accompanying discussion provoked an interesting discussion on the possibility of dialogue among conflictual parties and the difficulty of such dialogue.

Can the parents of a Palestinian suicide bombers dialogue with the Israeli parents who have lost their son/daughter to that suicide bombing?  Could they look each other in the eye and potentially have a meaningful conversation? Can the sons and daughters of a Holocaust survivor visit the death camps in Germany and Poland and dialogue with the descendants of the camp guards? Can a Palestinian family talk to the Israeli family, which has occupied its Palestinian family’s former home?  These are eternally difficult questions to answers, rife with unfathomable ethical, moral, and emotional issues.

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Human Rights Conference Report

Okay, here is my conference report. It was great to be a part of an intellectually invigorating and thought provoking Human Rights Conference at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. The weather was beautiful and the campus was neat, big and open, and the university seemed to be resource endowed. But, I spent most of my time in conference rooms slamming cups of coffee. Listed below are the panels that I attended. Would you like to guess what panel I presented in?

  • Human Rights and Restorative Justice
  • Gender and Human Rights
  • Rights of Immigrants
  • Media and Human Rights
  • Health and Human Rights
  • War on Terror and Human Rights
  • Human Rights and Economics
  • What are Human Rights?
  • UN and Human Rights
  • Human Rights and Religion

By the way looking at this list of panels should give you some ideas for paper topics. Anyway, the highlight of the conference, especially in the context of our First Year Seminar, is my brief meeting with Samantha Power, the author of A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. We are going to be reading her book in our class in a couple of weeks. Look forward to some good discussions in our class tomorrow.

Also, don’t forget tomorrow evening after our Model UN class at 7:30 pm Anne Fadiman–The author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down— is scheduled to give a talk at the Atwood Hall auditorium. Be sure to attend. I am positive this talk will bring perspective to the various discussions we had on Faidiman’s book during the orientation week.

Interdisciplinary Human Rights Conference

No blogging for a few days.  I am off to the America, Human Rights and the World Interdisciplinary Human Rights Conference to be held at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Will see you all early next week.  If you are interested in the Conference Program, Click Here.

Meanwhile here are some questions to think about:

  1. Was Columbia University right in inviting the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak in their campus?

  2. Was the President of Columbia University, Dr. Lee Bolinger, wrong in publicly castigating a visiting foreign dignitary without showing any respect, however unpleasant the visiting dignitary maybe?

  3. Is the President of Iran really a crazy guy with some bizarre ideas or is he putting an act on just to rile up the crowd and come up looking as a hero among his supporters?