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Simulation furthers understanding of Middle East conflict


Student political groups worked to solve one of the longest ongoing conflicts between nations in an interactive setting at The Margie K. and Louis N. Cohen Center for Jewish Life, a chapter of the Hillel Foundation.

The “PeaceMaker” educational program is a computer game aimed at allowing players to analyze the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in a new light and consider the complex challenges facing the “other side,” according to The Peres Center for Peace website.

Held by the American-Israeli Student Coalition, the Illini Democrats and UIUC Republicans both participated in the game with the aim to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the game, each player chooses to either represent the Israeli government or Palestinian authority and the level of difficulty. Then the objective of the game is to work through peace talks, said Dana Feldman, campus relations coordinator for the coalition and senior in LAS. Players are allowed a variety of actions to take, including delivering speeches, funding certain events and negotiating with the opposing side.

“The computer throws different situations at you, such as a suicide bombing or a confrontation,” she said.

Feldman said organizers of the game hoped to shed light on the complexity of the Middle East conflict.

“It’s an educational opportunity to show how difficult this process is and how it’s not a black-and-white thing and show the different things that each side is dealing with,” she said.

Devin Mapes, president of the Illini Democrats and senior in LAS, played for the Palestinian Authority and said the group decided to participate because it was a chance to have greater interaction with the UIUC Republicans.

“Although we do have different perspectives on issues in the political world, we still would like to come together and have an event from time to time,” he said.

Mapes said he wanted to emphasize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an issue that both Democrats and Republicans are concerned with.

“We are coming together over an issue we both care about and have concerns with,” Mapes said.

Mike Kozlowski, president of the UIUC Republicans and junior in LAS, played for the Israeli government and said the whole experience would be fun.

He added that the group was looking forward to seeing their strategies play out.

“It’s difficult to know what happens in the real world,” Kozlowski said. “I think we’re going to see that one action has many reactions that reverberate through the whole area.”

Both groups tied in the simulated Middle East, with both the Democrats and Republicans receiving the Nobel Peace Prize within seconds of each other. Both groups finished with low violence scores and many said the game threw a variety of unexpected events at them, and many groups said it was an eye opening experience to the conflict.

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