Braverman’s lecture followed suit in promoting peace

In response to “the Feb. 12 opinion piece”: about the Mark Braverman lecture, I am deeply concerned that Dr. Braverman’s lecture and the discussion that followed have been construed as “hostile.” The lecture was intended to be a public forum dedicated to exploring grassroots, nonviolent efforts toward peace in Israel/Palestine.

During the public lecture, which was attended by members of the Champaign-Urbana community, students and faculty, Dr. Braverman spoke of his personal experiences being raised in traditions of Jewish orthodoxy and political Zionism and traveling as an adult to the West Bank, where he met Palestinians for the first time and realized that they did not hate him for being Jewish. He said that a pivotal moment of his trip was when he asked a woman who was a Palestinian Christian where she found her strength to endure under the difficult conditions of occupation, and she replied that it was through following the example of Jesus, a nonviolent Palestinian Jew. It is at that moment that Dr. Braverman connected the nonviolent struggle for Palestinian human rights with his own Jewish faith.

Not everyone agreed entirely with what was presented at the lecture. During the discussion, one person expressed a difference of opinion, which Dr. Braverman fully acknowledged and responded to in a respectful and courteous manner. The discussion was by no means hostile. Dr. Braverman came from a perspective of concern for Israel, urging the international community to insist on human rights for Palestinians in order for all people to live peaceably in a multicultural state. Although he was raised learning to celebrate Israeli independence, later in life Dr. Braverman learned that Palestinians have another name for it, al-nakba, or the catastrophe. By this he understood that there are two sides to every situation. He in no way justified or encouraged anything hostile.

Dr. Braverman expressed his love for Jewish culture; he has traveled to Israel throughout his life and is fluent in Hebrew. It is quite unfair to call him an anti-Semite just because he is looking critically at the situation with somewhat of an insider perspective that is not agreeable to all. I wish that Ms. Levitt had addressed her comments to Dr. Braverman within the public forum, as I feel that her contribution at the event would have created a more productive discussion.

_Angela Williams, associate director, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies_