Campus Dems Urge Constructive Dialogue, Excoriate Protest Groups

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Proving that even middle grounds can be staked forcefully, the Campus Democrats released a statement lambasting the recent Gaza protests on campus, accusing both camps of harmful divisiveness. They urged dialogue instead of separate protests and unveiled their plan to cosponsor, along with CIRCA, the College Republicans, Hillel, Turath, and the Chaplain’s Office, a “community conversation on the recent conflict” on February 10th. The Dems emphasized that “all perspectives are welcome” at the event.

Although underlining the openness of their upcoming conversation, the Democrats showed little restraint in criticizing the protest groups. They compared the quibbling in Morningside Heights to the battling in the Middle East. “If words possessed the force of rockets or the power of bombs,” the press release says, “Columbia’s campus would be as devastated as Gaza City or Sderot.” And that would no doubt suck.

The Dems concluded by declaring it “is time for us to beat our polemics into plowshares.” No word on whether the Dems apply that to their own press releases. Full statement after the jump.

Columbia University College Democrats



Five thousand miles away, a thin green line separates two goods from two evils, two oppressors from their oppressed, two rights from two wrongs. Five thousand miles away a night without death is merely a temporary blessing. Five thousand miles away two great religions have abandoned the power of faith that connects them through a common god and instead put their faith in power: the power to annihilate, the power to live without compassion. Five thousand miles away the Hebrew and Arabic words for peace differ by just a few phonemes, but the concept seems totally untranslatable.


And in Morningside Heights, we are no better.


If words possessed the force of rockets or the power of bombs, Columbia’s campus

would be as devastated as Gaza City or Sderot. On Monday two student factions faced off on College Walk. They stood in solidarity with Gaza. They stood in solidarity with Israel. But they did not stand in solidarity with peace. They did not stand in solidarity with dialogue. They did not stand in solidarity with compassion.


How can we expect our world leaders to negotiate for peace when college students can’t even critically engage with each other? We are so often told that we are the best and the brightest, the leaders of tomorrow. It’s time we started acting like it.


The Columbia University College Democrats call for a new era of pragmatic campus activism, activism that seeks to channel the emotional importance that this issue holds for so many of us into a meaningful exchange of ideas. We demand that the two sides of this conflict in academia take a higher moral position than the two sides have taken in the Middle East.  

We issue this call not with an idealism blind to centuries of strife, but with the firm

conviction that there are political steps to be taken in the United States in the interest of peace, steps that all sides, if they cannot agree upon, should at least discuss. The wedge-issues over patches of land and notions of history have long been used to break negotiations; we as students need not let these deal-breakers prevent us from uniting, at least in conversation, behind our common desire for peace.  

We hope to see the same passion that went into planning separate rallies channeled into good-faith attempts to launch community-wide discussion. We hope that those who have been vocal and those who have not on all sides of this conflict can join together to explore their convictions, achieve a greater understanding, and maybe even find common ground. As an organization, we are committed to fostering those opportunities, and are proudly cosponsoring “Perspectives on Conflict, Perspectives on Peace,” a community dialogue event, with the Columbia International Relations Council and Association, the College Republicans, Hillel, Turath, the Office of the University Chaplain, and others. The event, which will take place in Earl Hall on Tuesday, February 10 at 8:30 pm, will be a facilitated conversation to begin to react to the recent crisis in Gaza and southern Israel and think together about where to go from here. The College Democrats hope it will serve merely as a starting point that will grow into continuing dialogue and collective action.


Let’s replace opposing rallies with joint endeavors that seek not only to display our grief in a time of chaos, but also to unite to bring political pressure to those who have the power to end it. Let’s see renewed calls for a two-state solution, a US government critical of excessive force on both sides, and an effective negotiating process in which leaders are ready to make sacrifices in order to ensure a lasting peace.


Peace will only happen when we accept that it is possible. It is time for us to beat our polemics into plowshares. It is time to move forward.

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  1. wow  

    the hypocrisy here is stunning. Yeah not surprising that this comes from the college dems.

  2. i havent  

    read the whole thing but i agree. it looked so STUPID to see the israeli-supporters and the anti-zionists standing face to face making speeches against one another. i stood on the divide for a whole minute on my way to class because i found it so shocking and SILLY. whats more is that neither side suggested in their e-mails or whatever that the two sides have joint discussion of the events. whatever discussion they did happen to suggest did not seem welcoming of other ideas

  3. BWOG!  

    You're doing really well in the U.S. News voting. In fact, you're now beating Penn State. Funny, since your very positive readers just yesterday were sure that you were already too far behind Penn State to catch up. Good thing we're so optimistic at this school, ey?

  4. For #2  

    You're either failing at irony, or you completely agree with statement that you didn't read. The College Dems are doing exactly what you're saying: welcoming all ideas in an open discussion.

  5. are you serious?  

    who anointed these assholes? their self-importance is nauseatingly overflowing. "beat our polemics into plowshares"--this coming from a partisan political party? honestly, a group of snobby columbia kids are going to get together next week and solve the middle east crisis, and the dems are going to save the day?

    what the hell is their problem with protests, anyway? can't both groups--both very proud of their positions--demonstrate that pride on campus? why do we have a basic problem with disagreement on this campus? isn't it ok, dare i say, healthy, for two groups to take opposing sides? instead, we're going to have a discussion full of "concentric circle" and "fishbowl" exercises that "avoids history." sounds amazingly productive. what should be done: make friends first, and then get to the politics. that's pluralism 101, but of course the dems wouldn't know that because they are a partisan political party, not the effing messiah.

    columbia democrats: please understand that you are not biblical prophets. please take your self-righteous arrogance and shove it up your collective ass.

  6. Wow, Dems  

    Way to go. And for once, I actually mean that.

  7. hmm  

    i like the WE ARE NOT BEING IDEALISTIC part.

    i also think there's an interesting attitude towards the people whose lives are actually affected. like, on the one hand you have odd statements like, "in Morningside Heights, we are no better." and then you have calls to take a "higher moral position than the two sides have taken in the Middle East."

    it's like they invented the concept of dialogue, and didn't notice the word "Peace" in the title of the pro-Israel event, or any of the editorials that have been pouring out of Haaretz.

  8. free

    dickrubs at Barnard.
    Just sayin'.

  9. lol  

    while this kind of event is obviously long awaited, it's a bit ironic that the Dems would condemn the protesters and call for 'pragmatic campus activism' when just last year they held an event that involved washing the US flag and hanging it out to dry to wash off America's sins. Right, very pragmatic demonstration - we're closer to leave Iraq because of that and the symbolism has taught us so much.

  10. ????

    I am confused--is it boredom or just plain egoism that drove the college dems to construct such a cock and bull, self-righteous and utterly absurd statement. It is soooooooo easy to stand on a high horse and sing "why can't we be friends."

    Yet, it seems opening your eyes is an infinitely more complicated and taxing task. The "pro-Israel" rally, was a pro-peace rally. No where was there any racial slogans spewed, or cheap blows designed to inflict mass amounts of pain on opponents. In fact, I am not sure who the opponents were, or if there even were any. Certainly, they were not against palestinians as their many many signs and speeches made clear. In fact, I found a sort of dark humor in that all one can ever hear from anti-Israel advocates (and even those who claim neutrality)is that Israel uses disproportionate methods. When asked to explain further, they talk about the numbers that died, as if they would be happy if Israel just refused to let their citizens head for bomb shelters the every 10 seconds a rocket falls because it would allow the death tolls to at least be even on both sides-- if you are going to have a war it should at least be fair, right?

    Yet, even with these arguments, if we are really going to compare columbia's political life to the middle east crisis, the ones using disproportionate methods are certainly NOT the Israel supporters. (Note: I did not take part in either campaign--though after seeing these displays I am much more in line with the Israel side). Their rhetoric is always diplomatic, their actions quite muted really.

    As clearly pro-israel supporters, they obviously have an agenda and everyone knows it. They did need to have signs that intertwined Palestinian and Israeli flags. They did not need to make apologetic statements one after the other about Palestinian casualties and civilian suffering. I did not hear the same concern from the other side. In fact, with the terrible, not to mention tasteless, shoe display, I saw disrespect and uncalled for disproportionate responses.

    the pro-israel group said outright let's talk, let's have peace, repeatedly. The anti-zionist rally at that time was literally silent; the next day they fought back with tanks.

    Disproportionate indeed.

    Dems---there's your middle east comparison. take it and run.

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