Talk Israel Camping Out on Hamilton

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In case you were wondering why a large tent and tv screens have been set up on Hamilton Lawn, it’s for the Talk Israel initiative, “a program that fosters dialogue about the changing landscape of the Middle East by setting up tents in central areas on North American campuses.” They have lots of pizza and, last time Bwog walked by, were playing Balkan Beat Box.

Tensions in New York and on campus are high, as in addition to Ahmadinejad’s visit to the city, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seeks official recognition of statehood at the UN Assembly this week. Seven people were arrested yesterday for blocking 1st Ave in protest. A few pro-Palestinian students have been gathered on a bench across from the tent since this morning.

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  1. Anonymous  

    Who were these people? Israeli lobbyists? AIPIC? Didn't look like Columbia students to me...

  2. Anonymous

    That plot of grass is of religious importance to me so I think I'm going to have to bulldoze the Talk Israel tent and shoot at them if they try to set it back up. Sorry guys.

  3. Tyler

    It is amusing that at an event meant to foster honest discussion about issues related to Israel, Pro-Palestinan students were sitting across the way. Do they not care about the issue, or are they not willing to accept any kind of solutions that could be reached through open and honest discussion?

    • my impressions  

      It always seems that the Pro-Israel/Pro-Palestine groups at Columbia present two entirely different debates. The first presents political and security issues that concern the state of Israel, while the second focus on the humanitarian crisis and human rights side of the debate. So, like many an Israel/Palestine debate, both sides are using practially unrelated facts to support their own arguments. And to complicate matters further, both sides think they have some sort of sacred claim to the territory. It's no wonder student debate gets nowhere on this issue.

      Of course, this doesn't even acknowledge the blatantly unwelcoming atmosphere of tent I saw. The blue color scheme along with a tent (read: closed space that contrasts the open-air table that typically gets set up on Low steps)--really, do I need to point out the symbolism here? Not to mention the title "Talk Israel" and uncomfortable number of non-undergrads that approached you when you walked up to the tent

      • Anonymous

        "both sides think they have some sort of sacred claim to the territory"

        i was under the impression that the palestinian claim was merely to the homes and lands they had been brutally kicked out of. what sacred claim do u speak of?

        • Anonymous  

          Regardless of your political beliefs, the fact that both Israelis and Palestinians have at some point claimed religious entitlement to the land is hardly a refuted issue.

          • Anonymous

            Palestinians have never claimed 'religious entitlement' to the land. Being impartial isn't the same thing as assigning equal blame to both sides which is what you are now trying to do and in the process, distorting the facts.

      • weather  

        the tent was meant to be unwelcoming or closed off? well, since I walked by while it was raining I thought they were very smart to have checked the weather report before setting up screens outdoors. Was symbolism intended?

      • Abraham  

        right, a wall-less shelter is uninviting, while a wall in the middle of campus surrounded with angry just beckons you.

        how values have changed since my day!

      • Anonymous  

        Actually, I walked up to the tent and sat down with a very friendly and welcoming group of undergrads who touched on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but mostly just discussed Israeli culture with the goal, I assumed, of informing those who do not like to consider Israelis as people with ideals and life aspirations very similar to those of Americans.

        As an aside, studies have shown that blue is a very calming and welcoming color for most people.

  4. Anonymous  

    Does anyone else wish there were a more moderate voice on campus to talk about these things? Both side of the debate that are always standing across from each other on College Walk seem rather uninformed. I know we all want peace, but the groups on campus seem more inclined to scream at each other than to talk about compromise (let alone reading the paper - seriously, just read the paper).

    Plus, maybe it's an overused point, but where are the protests on campus for things happening in other parts of the Middle East. Police in Yemen killed 20 protesters the other day. How about we talk about the treatment of journalists in Russia or China. Where's the big angry student movement there?

  5. err  

    "a program that fosters dialogue about the changing landscape of the Middle East"

    ...this is setting itself up for a very one-sided dialogue just by calling itself Talk Israel.

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