Conflict evokes strong emotions from both sides as students react
Israeli-Palestinian conflict becomes reality for students
Students gathered to share experiences from their winter break trip to Israel, but weekend events at OU Hillel shifted to a more serious tone as they discussed the Gaza conflict.
OU Schusterman visiting professor Maurice Roumani said the West still does not understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. Roumani, a professor from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, led an informal discussion about the current conflict in Israel and Gaza Sunday morning at OU Hillel, a campus Jewish organization.
Sunday’s discussion considered the necessity of the offensive attack in an age of increasingly advanced weapon technology.
“What is going to be five months from now, five years from now, 10 years from now in the age of rockets?” Roumani said.
While most of the students at Hillel said they supported the Israeli offense, OU students in other organizations say the Israeli army caused unnecessary suffering among the Palestinians they attacked.
This discussion came only two days after Hillel’s first Shabbat of the semester dedicated to Israel advocacy. During the 22-day offensive, 12 students participated in a 10-day program called Birthright Israel, which sponsors Jewish college students in their first visit to Israel.
After returning from the trip, history junior Danielle Robinson spoke about the trip’s impact on her connection to Israel.
“More so than ever, I feel a great pain in my heart, I feel so upset when I hear things that are not going so well for Israel,” she said.
Israel has been criticized for not doing enough to avoid civilian deaths. Bekah Stone, Sooners for Peace in Palestine president and international and area studies junior, said the precautions Israel took to warn Palestinian civilians about impending attacks were not sufficient.
“It doesn’t matter your ethnic or religious ties to [the] conflict or what side you stand on,” said Stone, a former Daily copy editor. “No one can deny that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and that the plight of the Palestinians has been greater than that of the Israelis. You can’t deny that, no matter what side you’re on. You look at the numbers and it’s 1,300 Palestinians dead and thousands more wounded and maybe during the whole Gaza siege maybe three civilians and 10 Israeli soldiers were killed. It’s highly disproportionate.”
Sooners for Peace in Palestine is co-hosting the event, “Gaza: A Panel Discussion” with Hillel and the Muslim Student Association to spread awareness of the conflict and involve all parties who are looking for a just resolution to the conflict, Stone said.
Roumani will participate in this panel discussion as well.
The daily threat of missiles from Hamas sustained by the Israeli people is something that cannot be tolerated forever, Roumani said.
This complication arises from the pressure and support Iran continues to extend to the Palestinian militant government Hamas, Roumani said. During the discussion with Hillel members, OU students and visitors, Roumani said Iran is looking to support its own political ends by controlling the course other countries take against Israel.
Roumani was in Israel during the 22-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, which ended Jan. 17.