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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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AU’s Students Supporting Israel hosted first guest speaker event featuring Palestinian activist Bassem Eid

Eid spoke to students on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the role of Israel in the Middle East

Activist and political analyst Bassem Eid discussed the relationship between the Israelis and Palestinians at an event hosted by members of American University’s Students Supporting Israel on Tuesday.

Jordan Bridwell, a senior in the School of International Service, introduced the event, which also had  a question-and-answer session.

Bridwell discussed SSI’s mission and goals on campus, which include familiarizing the AU community with current events in the Middle East, sharing Israeli history and culture and responding to “incidents of anti-Israel bias.”

“We are committed to promoting a better understanding of Israel as a member of a family of nations with a fundamental right to exist as a Jewish democratic state,” Bridwell said at the event.

According to Bridwell, Eid is the first speaker AU SSI has invited to campus.

Tamara Listenberg, a junior in SIS and the President of SSI, said that the mission of SSI is to be “clear, confident” and pro-Israel.

“I don't think that anyone should be scared to … form their opinion,” Listenberg said. “At the end of the day, we're at AU and such a liberal college. People say what they think but when it comes to this topic, if you're pro Israel, if you come from Israel, then you're very much kind of looked and frowned upon.”

Eid, a Palestinian living in Israel who supports Israel, is most well known for his work as a human rights activist. In 1996, he founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, an organization that monitors human rights abuses committed by both the Israeli Armed Forces and the Palestinian Authority.

According to Eid, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is complicated.

“[It] looks like everybody around the world is getting tired from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, except the Israelis and Palestinians,” Eid said. “I think that the Israelis and the Palestinians became experts on how to manage conflicts rather than to solve conflicts. This is unfortunately what the international community already taught us — how to manage rather than to solve.”

During the event, Eid discussed the role of Israel within the Middle East, and the role of other Arab countries in the conflict.

“The United Arab Emirates is going to invest in Israel,” Eid said. “And of course, the Palestinians, we benefit from that. What's wrong with that? Why were the Palestinians upset when the United Arab Emirates signed that agreement with Israel? …You don't think that the United Arab Emirates has its own interests, political interest and economic interest?”

During the question-and-answer portion, Eid was interrupted by an attendee. The protestor, a student at George Mason University, criticized Eid for his comments about the relationship between the Palestinian people and the Israeli government

The protestor said he took issue with the way Eid portrayed the conflict with bias towards Israel, and had “completely contradictory” statements about peace between the two sides.

Eid said he believes the U.S. has “completely failed” in negotiating between the two sides.

“The Palestinians and the Israelis used to be very optimistic when elections were taking place in the United States by saying, ‘Oh, maybe the coming president is really going to solve it,’” Eid said. “I am a person who believes that [with] economic prosperity, … we will be able to pave the way towards the future peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

According to Listenberg, as a new club, SSI is already catching a lot of “attention and fire.”

“Some people, you know, just by our name are not gonna like us, but that's not really our point,” Listenberg said. “We're not here to you know, like, throw shade at people … we're really just looking, and it's funny to say this, but like coexist on campus [and] be … respected and be involved and take action. And we don't want people to be afraid of us, just because we have Israel in our name.”

AU’s Students for Justice in Palestine did not respond to The Eagle’s request for comment about the event. 

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