Approximately 60 people gathered in Sierra Hall’s room 386 for a discussion on the Gaza crisis Wed. with guest speakers Dr. Maher Hathout, a senior advisor of Muslim Public Affairs Council and Rabbi Steve Jacobs, founder of the Progressive Faith Foundation.
Both speakers said the United States needs to be the mediator between Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the crisis.
‘America should play a leadership role that was absent in the past eight years and deformed before then,’ said Hathout.
The guests also discussed about U.S. influence and how the pro-Israeli views of past U.S. presidents have prevented them from being fair negotiators.
‘Each president starts their campaign by pleading complete loyalty to Israel, but you can’t be an honest broker unless the American people smart out and say we really want America to play an honest broker,’ said Hathout.
‘The only way we’re going to have peace is if the occupation is ended and that depends on President Obama,’ said Jacobs.
Hathout provided a brief historical account of the events that led to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict and added that a paradigm shift is necessary because theological claims are based on interpretation.
‘Even within our own communities the narratives are different. The only way we are going to understand is to understand how we deal with one another,’ said Jacobs.
Both speakers agreed there’s a need to understand the Jewish and Palestine narrative. Hathout said that while Jews have had a tragic history or colonization and oppression, the Palestinians feel they’re paying a price for a crime they didn’t commit.
‘There is so much pain in both of our communities and it’s very hard to bridge that pain,’ said Jacobs. ‘History separates us, we are set up as enemy’s.’
When asked to define peace, Hathout said.
‘Peace without justic is a fallacy,’ he said. ‘Justice without understanding and’ compassion will not be achieved.’
Jacobs added to his earlier notion that peace will happen when the occupation ends that some might say what occupation? ‘We’re in a land that was given to us by God.’
According to Hathout the solution cannot be coming from people sitting in air conditioned rooms and telling the ones directly involved what to do. Instead, negotiations between both sides need to be arranged.
‘Anyone with a normal IQ can understand that there cannot be a military solution,’ Hathout said. ‘The U.S. position should be clear that there can be no more bloodshed and no more destroying the environment.’
‘If Israel continues this way, it’ll become more and more isolated,’ said Jacobs who added that the events overseas affect how people treat each other here and if we’re broken here, nothing can happen.
‘We should have more interfaith discussions like this so people can get educated,’ said Sarah Chaudhry, 21, biochemistry major. The word gets out when people are fighting on campuses, but you don’t hear about this.’
Both speakers pointed out that it was wonderful to see a group of people, mainly students, with different views come together and be open to hearing each other out.
‘You have to understand that you [the students] are very important group,’ Hathout said. ‘The more you understand the more you can equip yourself for roles to avoid this miserable situation.’
After the discussion ended and the guests left, many students lingered in the room and continued the conversation.
‘Instead of getting just a Muslim speaker we decided to invite a rabbi to have it more balanced and to initiate a dialogue we made sure to invite people from Israeli clubs,’ said MSA President Abdul Arain, 23, biotechnology, chemistry and anthropology major.
Matthew Stern, 22, religious and modern Jewish studies major, agreed with the MSA President.
‘I thought it was great that we had Jews and Muslims coming together,’ Stern said I hope that we can continue to build a foundation to continue a great working relationship here at CSUN with people of all faiths but especially between Jewish and Muslim.’
‘The best part was the co-collaboration between a rabbi and someone from a Muslim religion,’ said Saba Billoo, 22, liberal studies major. ‘It gives you hope. You can see that there is a possibility of peace in Palestine.’