Several groups host panel, conversation on Zionism
On Oct. 11 at 7 p.m., members of the Brandeis community joined in the International Lounge of the Usdan Student Center to attend "A to Zionism," an event designed to provoke discussion on Zionism.
The event, sponsored by the Brandeis Israel Public Affairs Committee, Hillel, J Street U and Brandeis Visions for Israel in an Evolving World featured three panel members, doubling as conversational facilitators in discussion on Zionism.
Panelists Rachel Fish, associate director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies; Stoll Family Chair in Israel Studies and Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies Prof. Ilan Troen (NEJS); and Professor Michael Zank of Boston University Ph.D. '94 spoke about Zionists Ze'ev(Vladimir) Jabotinsky, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Martin Buber, respectively. They discussed their theories and endeavors to promote Zionism in a lecture format.
Following the lecture, students broke up into three discussion groups with the panelists each leading one group. To conclude the event, the panelists shared their final thoughts, as well as opinions students expressed within the discussion groups.
The panelists reflected on the effectiveness of the event as whole. "On the Brandeis campus there is a great diversity of views about what Zionism is and what the state of Israel means, ... and it has to be a place where diversity can be expressed: in comfort, safety and without hostility," said Troen in an interview with the Justice. "This whole event has been structured to ensure that the most cherished of Brandeis value is diversity. ... Nobody cheered for one person as opposed to another, and everybody listened to one another."
Troen also discussed the connection between Justice Louis Brandeis and Zionism and the importance of these discussions on the University campus as well as the importance of diversity in opinion. "[Brandeis] was a Zionist leader who believed that it was absolutely American to ... have ethnic identities," said Troen. "He thought Jews who are here ought to fight for social justice, and he hoped the Jews there would create a state that represented social justice."
"This event is really trying to discover what it is to be a Zionist," said BIPAC Co-president Alex Thomson '15 in an interview with the Justice. "We think that the discussion of that has been stale and we really think that it needs to be explored in different views and really test people to see what their core beliefs are and try to get the broad array of opinions on what it is to be a Zionist from everyone in the spectrum."
According to Ryan Yuffe '15, BIPAC co-president and one of several student speakers at "A to Zionism," the event was an attempt to provoke discussion amongst those with different perspectives on Zionism and emphasize that there is no one vision or one solution for peace offered by Zionism. "Zionism has always been a multi-faceted group. ... You may not agree, but there has never been a model with Zionism," said Yuffe in an interview with the Justice.
"The point of today was to bring together the different beliefs, and to have them sit down and that has been something that has been lacking both at Brandeis, and I would say around the country and perhaps around the world."