Letter:  If We Cannot Agree, Might We at Least Live in Unity?

One Student Expresses Discomfort with BDS Rhetoric on Campus

In light of the recent death of former president of Israel, Shimon Peres, I’m writing this letter as a reminder of his message.

In his later years, Peres withdrew from a hands-on political career to pursue initiatives of peace amongst the nations of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. All three populaces developed with messages of hatred veered towards the other; Peres decided it was time to rewrite that narrative. He started programs of peace such as soccer leagues that integrated both Jewish and Arab children.

After my visit to the Peres Center for Peace this summer, I better understood his message. Neither he, nor I, as individuals, could solve the Middle Eastern conflict.

The UN and the U.S., at separate times, weren’t able to find terms that both sides could agree on. Peres might have asked himself, “What can the peoples look forward to then?” He answered, “If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact—not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.”

I would like to relate this to events that took place on my campus at Concordia. After leaving class this week, I was met with a large stand, with a poster of the map of Israel and the words “Palestine” written across. An event given by Student for Palestinian Human Rights was calling for the “Decolonization of Palestine.” Palestinian flags hung from Concordia building rooftops.

As I passed by, I felt targeted. I wore my necklace of the map of Israel with “Israel” engraved into it. I couldn’t help but feel that my student body had allowed what I saw to be nothing more than an attempt to intimidate me. I would have liked to approach the booth and explain my side of the story but felt that the topic wasn’t open for discussion.

I have my political stances but choose to keep them to myself because I wouldn’t like other students to feel targeted by them. I believe university is for getting educated and creating networks. When a student is marginalized, these opportunities diminish. We’re all here because we have chosen to study in Canada, in an environment that allows freedom of expression and intersectionality. Ultimately, everyone should have a personal and diverse opinion. But because we do, I would like to appeal to Peres’ message: If we cannot agree, might we at least live in unity?