“Israeli people want peace,” Deputy Consul General of Israel, David Reot, told a room full of students and local community members yesterday at the Michigan League.
Reot, keynote speaker of “Israel Under the Lens: An Academic Conference,” outlined some of the conference’s themes in his speech, including U.S.-Israel and Arab-Israeli relations. Yesterday’s conference also looked at the United Nations’ relationship with Israel, women’s roles and rights in Israel and terrorism in Israel.
Although Israel appreciates the “overwhelming” support from Congress, Reot does not think American involvement will be “the magic solution” to the problems in the Middle East. “Don’t be fooled by easy solutions. … Both sides understand they have to make concessions,” Reot said. Addressing recent terrorist attacks, Reot said more than 65 percent of Palestinians did not believe Arabs were behind the events of Sept. 11. This has led to an overall decline in Palestinian support.
“You don’t have to be a Zionist or a supporter of Israel against terrorism,” Reot said. “We shouldn’t be using suicide bombings.”
LSA senior and conference planner Jordan Nodel said the conference is not trying to support one specific idea, but “rather create space for academics.”
“It’s a placer to come, learn and discuss, not just advocate (ideas),” Nodel said. The event found support from different University groups, including the Frankel Center, the department of Women’s studies and Hillel.
“It’s not a pro-Israel conference. It’s an Israel conference,” LSA junior and conference planner Eric Buckstein said. “The best of the best were brought in. there’s a lot of rhetoric out there. We want to present an academic look (at the issues).” Buckstein said committee planners were careful in inviting speakers. They wanted people with “appropriate credentials.” All but three speakers held master degrees.
“The speakers represent a diverse range of opinions, not just one angle,” Nodel said. “I still think we can achieve a balance,” Conference planners invited speakers representing different views on the issues surrounding Israel and the Middle East in an attempt to appeal to different groups. “There is a direct appeal to Arab groups. Both sides are represented,” Nodel said.
“People are going to disagree,” Buckstein said. “It’s not cut and dry. No one knows the right answers.”
With large Arab and Jewish student populations, the planning committee felt the University would provide a good audience, Buckstein said. “Demographics dictate this is the place. Tensions are high,” he said.