Conflict from Harvard view
By Becky Somerville
Harvard University professor Marc Ellis presented a controversial topic last night which spurred considerable debate "Creating a future beyond Oslo: A Jewish reflection on sharing of Jerusalem and the land of Israel/Palestine."
Hosted by the Arab Students' Association, Ellis' diverse audience in the Richard Ivey School of Business was comprised of people of many religions. Campus police were present at the lecture to ensure none of the controversial issues at hand would result in violent confrontation.
Not all the students welcomed Ellis' commentary with open arms, however. Mark Zelunka, a Jewish student in the audience, said Ellis presented rash generalizations about all groups of people and presented only one side of the story. "You don't have to accept his version of reality," Zelunka said.
Ellis outlined what he considered to be a critical reflection on his Jewish faith and beliefs. He divided his doctrine into three sections including "Where we have arrived," "Moving beyond Oslo" and "Jerusalem and the broken middle." His presentation served as an open forum for discussion.
The main idea which Ellis delivered, maintained that rather than using oppression as justification for displacing and humiliating Palestinians, Jews should use their own suffering as a bridge to the suffering of others.
Although Ellis recognized crime against Palestinians continues, he said the reconciliation between them and Jews is fundamental to using history in a constructive manner.
Ellis also addressed the victimization of the Arab and Palestinian societies by Jews and posed a rhetorical question. "Don't Palestinians have a right to be free in their homeland?
"You can't go back in history, so why don't we move forward?" he asked.
One student from the audience identified Ellis as proposing great idealizations and hopes. She asked Ellis how, realistically, the Canadian Arab youth can contribute to bringing the peace. "Construct a Diaspora that is a sign of your own dignity," he responded.