Letter: An engaging way to spark discussion

Though I am of course familiar with the Israel-Palestine debate, I acknowledge that I am not well-versed enough to provide a solid argument either way. I leave that to those who know more about the issue. However, as a layman on the subject, I take issue with the column recently written by Leah Sarna and Yishai Schwartz (“Evicting the truth,” April 22). About half of their article takes issue with the facts presented on the flyers, while the other half attacks the method itself, asserting that there is not even “the faintest attempt at building a constructive dialogue.” It is to this that I now turn.

First of all, the assertion of “ambivalence towards constructive conversation” is simply incorrect. One only needs to turn the eviction notice around to see the words “open discussion” on whether home demolitions are an infringement on human rights. Furthermore, I have seen other flyers and emails by SJP, which do strive to promote conversation, just as YFI does. Where YFI has a former Israeli Chief Justice, Israeli soldiers and a Consul General, SJP has an American political scientist, an American journalist and an American and French anthropologist. Sounds like constructive conversation to me — even a balance in what would otherwise be a lopsided debate. But in order to have discussion, you need to get people’s attention, and that is exactly what these flyers did.

And why on Earth shouldn’t they capture people’s attention in a startling way? This group clearly believes that a serious human rights issue is at stake; must all activism be confined to “roundtable discussions”? I’ll wager that many people weren’t thinking about the issue at all before: it’s removed from our daily lives, and is out of the American political limelight. SJP managed to make a point and draw attention back to it in an innovative way by letting every suite in the college know about it. That’s bold. And why should such boldness be pooh-poohed as “infantile,” when even in this very newspaper it is sparking discourse about the topic?

At Yale, we are already suffused with forums and debates to discuss political and humanitarian issues. Often, these are addressed on an intellectual level and removed from real action. Seeing an immediate and personal tactic that brings the issue closer to home is effective and, frankly, refreshing.

Raja Pillai

April 22

The writer is a junior in Pierson College.

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