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Denebola » Article » Students inflamed by Israeli-Palestinian debates
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Students inflamed by Israeli-Palestinian debates

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

By Penny Vlagopolous,
Volume 31
April 11, 1991

Newton South made history on Thursday, March 14. A major portion of the regular school day was pre-empted so that students and faculty could attend various assemblies and workshops about the situation in the Middle East.One of the largest and most exciting presentations was the debate between Attorney Richard Fraiman, who lived in Israel for eight years, and Professor Nadhim Rouhana, a Palestinian.
“The Israeli-Palestinian assembly was interesting because all the fighting caught my attention,” sophomore Rena Shief said. Freshman Adam Shamus was taken aback by all the commotion. “I was pretty amazed and shocked that they were all talking [so passionately] in front of us. It was my favorite period of the day because it was so aggressive.”
Some students felt the assembly made things more confusing than before.“The assembly was interesting, but it didn’t really give us a chance to explore the issue. Since both speakers were on such extreme sides, there was no room for working out a compromise,” junior Meri Kropp said.
Many agree that a follow-up discussion is necessary. After the Israeli-Palestinian, debate one teacher began arguing with Fraiman in the auditorium for the entire next block.
Because of the large Jewish population in the audience, Fraiman’s comments were often followed with applause as opposed to the one or two times Rouhana’s were.
At one point a student stood up and screamed his support for Israel, his homeland. Although the students were the ones participating in the applause, many were ashamed of some students reactions.
“I felt bad for the Palestinian. People couldn’t understand him very well and they didn’t really give him a chance to share his thoughts. He deserved [to speak] because he had a lot of courage coming to speak in a community with so many Jewish students,” senior Michelle Arroyo said.
“I felt the Palestinian held his ground very well despite the hostile environment. Of course Fraiman did not help with the way he egged on the mostly Jewish audience,” senior Dimitri Koureta said.
Once the assembly was over and audience members cooled their pro-Israel feelings, their thoughts towards the Palestinian and his ideas seemed to change.“Fraiman was full of proaganda, much more than Rouhana. He was comparing what American went through in the Iraqi was to what Israel went through to get affection, and this was wrong,” senior Asaf Mann said.
“I spoke with Rouhana afterwards. He agreed that most of the Palestinians throw stones and perform such acts, but he himself is definitely for negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
The assembly was a huge success in the eyes of most students. One student concluded, “We really need less hostility and more understanding, and this indeed was a positive step.”

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