HMD’s Israel Fellowship offers ways to form your own opinions.
On occasion, I have found myself watching an argument and observing that the foundation of the argument was a simple misunderstanding. How often has this happened in your life? As college students we find everything is about becoming the people we want to be and getting the tools and information to do so, it is astounding how some things are missing — like what you should believe in regarding morals, religion or politics. These are concepts that college cannot effectively try to teach.
However, when it comes to the contemporary issues and standard points of contention, do you think having as much information and data as possible before forming an opinion or starting a debate is the best course of action?
This semester, I took part in a program offered by Hillel of Metro Detroit called Israel Fellowship. It was a 10-session crash course in all things Israel. Informative reading assignments were assigned and dinner was provided. For each session, the main presentation was clear and well-presented and, more importantly, the presenters were third-party activists and lecturers from both sides of the political fence. This allowed for a better and more honest view of the facts.
We all must remember that those who differ in opinion are not automatically “wrong” or “bad.”
We had representatives from J Street and the ZOA, AIPAC, Jewish Religious Action Center and AJC that gave their take on the idea of “Israel advocacy.” Wayne State University professors Howard Lupovitch and Saeed Khan reviewed the history and political scene of the Middle East and the Israeli-Arab conflict as well as the difficulties faced by Israel and the Palestinians.
For each conflict, position and debate, many aspects were discussed. What is the fundamental root of the issue? What was the cause? Who blames whom and why? What should or could be done? What would those who are impacted by the issue think of our proposed solution? The purpose was not to definitively solve every or even any one specific problem. The main goal was to see each option or viewpoint for what it is and allow each participant to form his own well-informed opinion as he saw it.
We all must remember that those who differ in opinion are not automatically “wrong” or “bad.” It is the actions taken and ideals they stand for that should dictate our attitudes.
Finding common values, customs and characteristics is the first step for all conflict resolution. I have observed that the biggest issue, but also the greatest sign of potential for improvement, is passion. Each person on both sides in a debate feels so strongly about his position. This is encouraging because it means that all involved want to see an amicable resolution. The catch is that ego and rhetoric designed to play on emotion alone cloud the mind and sometimes lead to ill-advised actions.
My request is this: Take the time in all things in your life to be informed. Take the time to try to see things from the other viewpoint. If we all can do this, I think most of our conflicts will see a quick and amicable solution for all parties involved. @
Meyer Hochstadt of Oak Park is a senior at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.