Last Friday’s heated Israeli-Palestinian protests outside Coffman Union were but a microcosm of the intense turmoil currently swamping the region. Students from both sides of the conflict participated in a near-confrontational demonstration, the Minnesota Daily reported. The two deeply divided groups inched toward each other as the tension heightened, recreating in a single afternoon the same centuries-old discordance sparking catastrophic violence halfway around the world.
This is an extremely difficult issue, and it is important for us as students to remain involved and actively engaged in the events of an increasingly global community. But we also have a scholarly obligation to promote peaceful discussion and encourage respectful freedom of expression. For the vast majority of students at the University of Minnesota, our homes and relatives remain safe and unthreatened by unannounced tirades of deadly and destructive missiles. Therefore, many of us cannot hope to empathize or even understand the extremity of the emotional load some students must be bearing.
In conflicts like these, we are inclined to search for a “good” and an “evil.” Justifying violence becomes simpler when there is a right versus wrong; the deaths of innocent civilians are less uncomfortable when interpreted as martyrs for the aspiration of the morally just.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a long, bloody history, and in many ways, the distinctions between good and bad have been obscured by a haze of bomb fire that began long before we were even born. We hope students will reflect on what unites us: our community at the University of Minnesota, our academic interests and the inevitable disappointments of our struggling football team. We are fortunate to live and study in an environment where our differences are celebrated and respected.
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