Israel-Palestine discussion promotes peace on campus

By Farah Bassyouni Oct 23, 2023

On Tuesday October 16, former Illinois State University Adjunct Professor Ky Ajayi facilitated a discussion providing listeners an education on the history of the Israel-Palestine region. IWU Vice President of Diversity Equity and Inclusion Dr. Dakesa Piña moderated the discussion. 

With rising tensions on Wesleyan’s campus, Dr. Piña set goals to establish “a foundation of understanding, to understand why Israel desires a homeland, to understand why Palestinians decry their loss of land and to figure out how to co-exist while nation-states figure things out,” Piña said. 

Opening with a general question, “Why are you here?”, many participants responded that they wanted to learn about the current state of affairs and admitted to not knowing much about the situation. Ajayi and Piña provided a history presentation on the land. Ajayi provided attendees with further contextual information on the nature of Israel-Palestine that may not have been known to participants. 

Ajayi and Piña also focused on clearing up misinformation about the situation, and expressed sympathy for all lives lost in Israel-Palestine. 

A pro-Israel rally was held on Monday, October 16 and a counter rally formed for pro-Palestine. One participant of the discussion, a Jewish student, expressed disappointment regarding the Rabbi from the Chabad movement that was brought to campus on Monday. 

Professor Adriana Ponce told the group about the struggles she faced raising her American-Palestinian son, and expressed gratitude to her Israeli friends who support Palestinian rights and have shown kindness to her family. There was an encouragement of peace on campus between opposing sides, and that this was a ‘humanitarian’ issue at its core. 

Many asked and were unsure on how to support loved ones dealing closely with the situation on both sides and other participants encouraged people to educate themselves and give grace to those that are struggling. 

Dr. Piña focused on creating a healthy discussion between participants, ensuring respectful dialogue versus debate. “The goal is not to agree – it is to gain a deeper understanding,” Piña said. 

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