Jewish, Muslim student organizations hold forum on Arab-Israeli conflict

Thursday, February 12, 2009 | 11:03 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The classroom was silent as a multicultural crowd listened to MU professor Robert Baum explain the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the religious history of the sacred territory in Israel.

Monica Solimani, Jewish Student Organization special events chair, was persistent when saying, “This is not a rally or a protest; it’s a discussion to give students a clear thought of the conflict happening.”

About 40 people gathered Thursday evening at MU for the forum, organized by the Jewish Student Organization and Muslim Student Organization.

Majed Dweik, a graduate student and assistant professor at MU, discussed with the group the political issues behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said that all three religions in Israel share a belief in one God and the idea of justice, but problems evolve from a lack of education and understanding.

Guest speaker Rabbi Yossi Feintuch said communication can be a solution but that people cannot learn everything from headlines on CNN.

“As a Jew, I’m supposed to see a brighter day, but I have to be realistic; I see no resolvement,” Feintuch said.

Nabihah Maqbool, Muslim Student Organization public relations chair, said that “before the discussion, I only saw hope for resolution from students, but after seeing the older people tonight, I think it’s a more entrenched problem that needs major resolvement.”

“There is no military solution," Baum said. "Forums like this here and in Israel are the key to the solution.”

Dweik agreed and said he hopes that the U.S. can provide an inspiration.

“This country and South Africa could be a model solution to that region,” he said.

After positive reaction to the forum, the Jewish and Muslim student organizations are planning a possible follow-up forum next month to discuss a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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