By Laura Blanco
Before Roy Shohat was a sophomore at Barry majoring in exercise physiology, he served on the Israel Defensive Forces (IDF) for two years and eight months after high school graduation.
As an Israeli citizen, this was mandatory for him.
In May, he visited family and friends in his town of Givat Ada when hostilities between Jews and Arabs flared up. After his trip, he wrote a personal essay called “Are we actually in the 21st century?”
“From what I've experienced and learned, I just think too [many] people are being represented, but by a really extreme radical group from both sides,” said Shohat.
Tensions in the Gaza Strip escalated this year, as Israelis and Palestinians have grown anxious for their own territory. Both sides attacked each other in May following threat of eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem as Israelis, or Jews, feared more violence from Palestinian, or Arab, groups.
“I always aim to have logical thinking over irrational emotion. So, do you think we should let something irrational as religion separate us and lead to so much hate?” wrote Shohat. “Or we should think logically and find a solution that works for both sides and does not include murdering our loved ones?”
As discussed in his essay, Shohat grew up playing soccer with different types of people, which taught him how to get along with others. This is a principle he thinks should apply to the conflict in Palestine.
“I think there should be more interaction, more encouragement to get to know the other side,” said Shohat.
Dr. Stephen Sussman, associate professor of public administration at Barry, said the conflict dates back to the late 19th century.
“Theodor Herzl wrote the essay “The Jewish State,” emphasizing need for Jews to free themselves from anti-Semitism by having a modern state of their own, in their ancient homeland,” said Sussman.
Palestinians, however, have lived in that part of the world since the reign of the Ottoman Empire, said Dr. Leah Blumenfeld, associate professor in Barry's department of history and political science.
Decades later, the Israelis still had not found a place to call their “safe haven,” according Sussman.
In 1947, the United Nations created a partition plan which “calls for establishment of separate Arab and Jewish states in Palestine,” he said.
In 1948, the Jews accepted this offer. The Arabs, however, did not. Blumenfeld adds that there have been many offers since the partition plan to create a two-state area. This would create a Palestinian and Jewish state that co-exist. Arabs have continued to reject this offer, and a two-state area has not been created.
Due to the intense conflict, Israel strengthened their army to fight against Palestinian militant groups like Hamas.
Blumenfeld and Sussman agree that for both parties to reach some sort of agreement, they need to speak with one another.
Shohat still has hope and believes that the young generation may be the one to solve the issue since our world is more interconnected than ever.