It seems this discussion of the vandalism of the mural “The Unfinished Dream” (wrongly labeled the Third World Mural by many) has dominated our campus, and many conversations have taken place in different communities about the meaning behind the vandalism. When I first heard about it, I thought to myself, “They have every reason to be upset. Regardless of the intentions, it is an act of vandalism.” I do agree with some thoughts and beliefs that it might have been a call for coexistence (though defacing public property probably wasn’t the best way to get the message out). I hear all this angst and frustration, and various students with Palestinian or Arab backgrounds wanting to see something larger come out of this from the school.
I want to write today about that “something larger.” Last year a friend of mine and I wrote a guest opinion about a friend of ours who was killed by a drunk driver. He was a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, finished his service and was a student at Brown University when he was killed. His work at Brown was all about coexistence, and fostering conversations between the different sides. Inspired by Avi Schaefer, we put out a call for dialogue, and it fell on deaf ears.
So once again, I would like to reach out to the SJP community. Come, let’s sit as many great people – Anwar Sadat, Churchill, Clinton, Rabin and many others – have, and discuss the future of our people. Arguing over the past is foolish. When you get down to it, it becomes a childish kindergarten game of “but he started it.” Talking about the past will not solve the future, it will only keep us there. It is time to move forward, time to start a dialogue, start conversations. It is a lot harder to hate the so-called “others” (be it Jews or Arabs, depending on where you see yourself), if you can put a name, a face and details about one’s life to them. So I ask you, Students for Justice in Palestine, Muslim Student Association, Hillel, AEPi, Sigma AEPi, Davis College Democrats and Republicans, even, to come together, and at least talk about something. It’s the first step.
Visit avischaeferfund.org for more information about Avi’s cause.