One voice: an unfortunate oxymoron

One Voice
Eliran and Mohammed pose with the American Flag. Photo courtesy of Elda Dagan.

When Mr. Max Alexander, History teacher, asked me to help promote and facilitate discussions for the November 10th One Voice event on campus, I was thrilled to be involved with an activity which would help bring perspective to a central issue for the Milken Community: Israel. One Voice, an organization that aims for a two state solution in Israel, brings an Israeli and Palestinian speaker to help the youth understand that a two state solution will help solve the problem in the Middle East.

Given this hopeful context, I walked into the auditorium thinking I was about to meet an Israeli and a Palestinian who had put all preconceived notions of hate aside for the sake of making peace. Unfortunately, the event was far off from my prediction, and, in the end, only proved that peace will never occur in the Middle East. The organization obviously has good intentions, but it is ironic that the speakers themselves still hold animosity towards each other. I was disappointed when Mohammed Asideh, the Palestinian Voice, was talking in regards to Eliran Eyal, the Israeli voice, and he said, “We do not have a friendship, but we respect each other.” I was further irked when Mohammed continued to refer to Israel as the “Holy Land” or “Palestine” instead of just calling the land Israel. Furthermore, the two representatives would not pose for a photo putting their arms around each other, so they opted to have the American flag serve as a symbolic union. How disingenuous could an organization be? I pride my self on being equitable and open to original perspectives so that I can have a thorough understanding before making a decision, but this event showed me that even when one tries to stage a peace conference, something will go wrong. This event revealed to me that I do not even want any more perspective on the Middle East, but rather I would prefer to mentally block out any news about the region. Why invest so much time and emotion to a cause which seems to have no end?

There was only one statement during the entire forum that I found interesting, and although there was a constant language barrier throughout the event, Mohammed put this quite eloquently: “We were born, and immediately found ourselves to have enemies before we had a single friend.” But, I fear for Mohammed and Eliran that their children will be born into a world of enemies unless they can see each other as friends. Otherwise, the year 2018, the year which One Voice has set as its goal for the two state solution, can be in inverted to 8102 and still seem like an unlikely dream.