With a simple goal of peace and unity, a group of students are working together to provide the campus with different perspectives on the Middle East conflict. Ethan Greenblatt, Sara Gonias, and Nava Berg are heading a new organization on campus called Choose Peace, which seeks a peaceful resolution to the Israeli Palestinian situation. The club’s name, Choose Peace, conveys its purpose: to communicate a non-violent, positive co-existence. They wish to show Israel not just as a political hotspot, but a land of merging cultures.
“With lectures and forums, Choose Peace will give people a chance to see more than a five second, one sided view on CNN,” says Greenblatt.
The club’s first event, Stand up for Peace, will feature Scott Blakeman and David Odleidallah, two of New York’s most prominent Jewish and Arab-American comedians. Scott Blakeman has made over thirty national television appearances including on the David Letterman show. He uses contemporary Jewish humor to portray his liberal beliefs. Dean Obleidallah is an Arab-American who has appeared on Saturday Night Live and Conan. The comedians lampoon their families, backgrounds, religions, and political issues while casting an undertone of understanding and interconnectedness. They present the Arab-Israeli conflict and propose a peaceful resolution to the conflict through humor.
Choose Peace and Hillel heard about this amazing event and wanted to bring it to William and Mary. The clubs are teaming up with Middle Eastern Culture Association (MECA), UCAB, and Reality in Israel and Palestine (RIP) to hold the function. In the future, Choose Peace would like to set up other lectures and forums with different perspectives on the Middle East. The club wishes to incite healthy conversation within the campus and celebrate diversity.
“There is a lot of finger pointing, and heated emotions concerning Israel. People don’t fully understand the entire issue. The main things we are interested in are education and bringing people together. This event hits that on the nose.” Gonias says.
Berg, who grew up in Israel feels deeply connected to the club’s mission. She expresses that people are misinformed about the situation in the Middle East.
“There are a lot of stigmas and myths that detract from the reality of the situation,” Berg says.
Gonias agreed with Berg and she found it interesting that by reading an Israeli, Palestinian and American newspaper every day, she receives very different perceptions. Greenblatt added that when he recently traveled to Israel, his friends thought he was crazy. Choose Peace wants to deter these opinions and celebrate Israel for its culture and history.
“It actually has a great nightlife,” Gonias smiled.
The event is free and open to the entire campus and the public. It will take place on 16 February in the Commonwealth Auditorium at 8 p.m. If anyone is interested in joining Choose Peace or wishes for more information they can contact Ethan Greenblatt at email@example.com.