When the world is at war, we often view the situation as an “us vs. them” scenario. In order to make sense of what is happening people are dehumanized in the eyes of the opposing side. It is normal. It is natural. It is this mentality that allows us to continue on with life without the guilt of harming another’s weighing us down. But has this harmed too many for too long? Has this angered vision and rage left many unknowing and incapable of realizing the truth of human loss? Simply stated- yes!
On October 25, 2011, the Duchesne Center collaborated with a number of clubs including Seeds of Peace, the Muslim Student Association, Jewish Voice for Peace, Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Nonviolence, amongst others, to bring Jen Marlowe to Manhattanville. Marlowe is an independent filmmaker and author who addresses the Palestinian/Israeli conflict through her work. She presented Manhattanville with a new view; a non-violent view; in an event entitled, “Challenging Stereotypes: Palestinians, Non-violence, and Human Dignity.”
In her presentation, Marlowe spoke about friendships and alliances between Palestinians and Israelis, giving real life examples. She shared multiple clips of a family who had felt and still feels the pain of losing a child; of Juliano Mer-Khamis, a Palestinian Activist, and the ideology behind the Freedom Theatre; a program designed so Palestinian children have an outlet through the arts as well as preserving a culture; a non-violent means of “fighting back” and “standing up.”
Marlowe ended with one last clip of a former Palestinian Seeds of Peace member who was shot during a protest in Palestine. Before his death he wrote a peaceful letter about Youm El Ard (Land Day). In honor of his memory, a number of people read his letter in approximately 18 different languages all filmed in one video and posted online. After this she proceeded with questions and answers.
A man, whom no one knew, stood from his chair, projecting his voice. He viewed the entire presentation as having no context, and got louder and louder as he spoke. He blamed the Palestinians for the situation they were in and tried to convey that it was the fault of these families that stayed for the deaths of their children. He said he was a supporter for Israel but would give no further information of himself.
The fact of the matter is that not enough attention is being placed on the Palestinian children and broken families. Is it so wrong to hear another point of view? To allow the other side to be human? To remember that regardless of who you support, blood is being spilled? And if that is not enough, think of the children who aren’t allowed to think and feel as such. Can you really blame them for the hurt they bear? Because there is a war in which everyone is too biased to actually educate themselves on, that they only assume their “opinion” is right?
While watching the news did anyone ever notice how there is media coverage on a memorial for a missing Israeli soldier. I do not object to this. This is a human life that someone is tormented over. This is someone’s son; someone’s husband; brother; father. But did anyone ever stop to say, what about the other side? What was their loss? For the blockade in Gaza did anyone know that 13 Israeli’s were killed and 1380 Palestinians (431 children) were killed too? Regardless of what “side” you’re on, a life is a life. These are children and families paying for a war that their great grandparents began.
This was what Marlowe wanted to do. She wasn’t telling people what they should defend or support, but she shed light on a subject that hasn’t properly been addressed to many. It is for situations and people involved in such cases that Seeds of Peace was created. It was founded so that the youth from either side could form a relationship/bond with people, as opposed to the dehumanized “enemy” they’d been raised to hate. Taking individuals and putting them in the same living space and activities offered members of the youth a different view. This view allowed everyone involved to develop skills and a mentality that could make peace a possible solution. They saw each other as people; as friends; as hope!