Students, faculty, and guests gathered last night at 3100 Torgersen, for Israeli peace activist and teacher Dalit Baum?s presentation about the struggle for an equal coexistence in Palestine and Israel.
?Tonight, you will hear and see things that are not shown on CNN or Fox News. This will not be a matter of Israelis fighting Palestinians or about Palestinians fighting Israelis; this is about Israelis and Palestinians fighting together for a shared interest,? said Dr. Daniel Breslau, professor of science and technology studies.
The event was sponsored by Amnesty International, Women?s Space and the Virginia Anti-war Network.
Born in Israel, Baum began actively advocating for peace after she became a feminist and started fighting for women and lesbian rights. She realized that it was hard to think of doing anything without thinking about the situation she lived in first.
To show the audience the nature of the living situation in current Israel and Palestine, Baum supported her lively and heartfelt presentation with several maps, photographs, and videos of the Israeli separation wall and the many demonstrators advocating for its destruction.
Throughout her presentation, Baum also showed how the wall and the separation in the region hurt the Palestinians, because most of the wall is built on Palestinian land, in some cases even in land where Palestinian homes once stood.
?I am not surprised to see other people support taking down the wall. I wish people would become more educated on the subject in order to see that these issues are not religious, this is a matter of developing a national identity for peace,? said junior, International Studies major, Rachel Rizk.
Baum described how political leaders try to use religion to increase the tensions between the two groups and the absurdity in continuing to believe in such ideas. She also explained that most Israelis, who do support the construction of the wall, which started in 2002, do so because they are continuously told that the Palestinians are dangerous and vengeful, therefore they believe that the wall and separation symbolize a possibility for peace.
?Although Sharon is very clever, he is not working for peace?a separate Palestinian state means that they take care of themselves, while we [the Israelis] take all of their resources,? Baum said.
In order to advocate for peace, Baum is a member of organizations, with both Israeli and Palestinian members, such as the Coalition of Women for Peace, Black Laundry, Women in Black and the Israeli Anarchist group. Even though the Israeli and U.S. media often choose to ignore their demonstrations, where they have employed tactics as creative as writing on nude bodies, protesting during Madonna?s visit to Israel and laughing vigils, Baum and others will continue until their goal is reached.
?In my eyes, I think it is possible for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and to share one piece of land. I love that place. I want to live there in peace and I want everyone there to live in peace,? said Baum.
?Six or seven years ago, I would have never even agreed to listen to people like Baum, but someone like her influenced me and I think what she is doing is great. More people need to learn about the topics she discussed,? said Samer Al-Taher, senior industrial and systems engineering major.