Mid East speaker talks bridge-building, peace
The atmosphere heated up during Clement Leibovitz’s
presentation at Western on Monday evening.
The author of The Chamberlain-Hitler Deal and In Our Time
was invited by Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights to speak
at the Social Science Centre.
According to Leibovitz, “building bridges” was
the key purpose of the talk.
“It’s very common to demonize people who we consider
the enemy,” Leibovitz said. “If we want to build
a bridge [between Palestinians and Israelis], we must believe
in decency. Both sides must believe in the potential for decency
of each other, or there will be no bridge.”
Leibovitz said the Zionist establishment is at the root of
the problems in the Middle East, and suggested that since Palestinians
and Israelis share common goals they should form an alliance.
“It is possible to have an alliance; to make progress
in the brotherhood between two people,” Leibovitz said. “[An
alliance] is needed to topple the Zionist expansionist establishment.
“Suicide bombers are people,” he said. “They
would have been dedicated members of Palestinian society if
it had been free, and had there been no occupation.”
During the question and answer period, a student asked how
Leibovitz intended to build a bridge between Israelis and Palestinians
when he was unable to condemn suicide bombers.
Leibovitz emphasized that he forcefully condemns the bombings,
but said he felt sympathy for the perpetrators, whom he referred
to as “innocent victims” of circumstance.
The room had to be called to order by an SPHR executive as
emotions ran high and a number of people began shouting.
“I felt the title and purpose of the lecture was to
open up the dialogue between Jewish and Palestinian people,
but when reasonable concerns and questions were raised, the
atmosphere was not receptive,” said first-year administrative
and commercial studies student Noah Farber.
First-year ACS student Maha Abdawi-Moussa said Leibovitz did
a good job of balancing the two sides of the debate, adding
some audience members were too quick to react to his statements.