“Peace, like charity, begins at home.”
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt
For the second consecutive year at Western, the dispute between the Israel Action Committee and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights arose during a University Students’ Council election.
Although it is impossible to determine how much of an effect their disputes had on the outcome of last year’s presidential election and this year’s race for VP-finance, the mere fact international politics has been mentioned during a campus election strikes me as sad.
There is no question the current state of Israel, its territories and government policies are a contentious source of debate, and will likely remain so for some time.
There is also no question that, because we believe in democratic values, every individual is entitled to his or her opinion on this issue.
Both SPHR and IAC claim their respective groups adhere to these principles while conveying their own messages towards the state of Israel. Their antagonistic actions toward one another over the past few years, however, have proven otherwise.
While negating debate on political events is contrary to university’s purpose, acts of disrespect have no place on campus. If the IAC and SPHR continue their respective “tit for tat” strategies of outmatching one another, then neither group deserves a place on this campus.
Fostering discussion, even heated discussion, on the state of Israel is not detrimental to our school; perpetuating stereotypes of contempt is a whole other matter.
Currently, many other groups on campus with traditional ‘adversarial’ relationships are able to co-exist and, even more so, co-operate in organizing annual events. The upcoming “Save Kashmir” event being put on by the Pakistani Students’ Association, in conjunction with the Hindu Students’ Association, is one particular example.
Living in a country with as rich and diverse a culture as Canada, there is no reason for descendants of first-generation immigrants (such as myself) to cling onto the disputes of the past with those we interact with daily.
As Western students, we may not have the power to correct perceived past or current global injustices that have caused individuals to suffer. What we can do, however, is bridge the differences among one another locally to create a better environment where we reside.
And that — as insignificant as it may sound — can make a world of difference for the future.