by The Milton Measure on Friday, October 28th, 2011
On Tuesday October 25, students and teachers gathered in Wigg Hall for the first Strauss Dessert of the year, hosted by the Public Issues Board. Everyone enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies as Mr. Emmott and Mr. Pollans discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a fairly unbiased discussion of the topic, students with wide-ranging levels of awareness gained insight into the history surrounding the conflict.
After the discussion of the Arab Spring last year by Ms. Wade, Mr. Emmott, Mr. Ball, and Mr. Pollans, Public Issues Board co-head Christine Cahill (I) thought it would be beneficial to have two members of the History Department back for discussion since “students really seemed enthusiastic about listening to members of the History Department speak about current events.” This topic is, according to Christine, “extremely relevant right now, with the UN vote for Palestinian statehood coming up.”
The discussion on Tuesday was mainly based around student and teacher question. The goal was for an unbiased discussion that would help elucidate the complexities of the conflict.
As Mr. Pollans and Mr. Emmott clearly demonstrated at the Straus Dessert, this conflict can be traced back to a myriad of different time periods, even before the formation of the state of Israel. In response to a student’s question, both teachers discussed a parallel to the Native Americans and the first European settlers. No matter where one sees the beginning of this conflict, the many peace treaties and negotiations show that, as Mr. Pollans puts it, “there has been no sustainable peace.”
As a Jew, Mr. Pollans feels that, although he was born after WWII, he is “emotionally connected to Israel.” The formation of the state of Israel gave Jews hope that they “would finally be in control of their own political destiny” and also gives Jews today a place to connect to their heritage and be free from persecution, although some say anti-semitism is not as prevalent as it was when Israel first became a state.
Mr. Emmott also has a personal connection to the conflict. He lived and worked in the Middle East and now teaches History of the Middle East at Milton.
Mr. Emmott and Mr. Pollans did not discuss all of the events and issues surrounding the conflict. The recent release of Gilad Shalit by the Palestinians in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by the Israelis was never even mentioned. However, the countless view points and connections made in relation to the topic gave students and teachers a new perspective and background on an important global issue. rounding the conflict. The recent release of Gilad Shalit by the Palestinians in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by the Israelis was never even mentioned. However, the countless view points and connections made in relation to the topic gave students and teachers a new perspective and background on an important global issue.
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