Swarthmore student Nathaniel Frum invited former Israeli soldiers Hen Mazzig and Sharon to come to campus and share their experiences serving in the IDF. These former soldiers have not received the most cordial welcome at some other universities and I had never been to Swarthmore, so I was not sure what to expect.
More after the jump.
About twenty-five students attended this session. They reflected very well on Swarthmore. They were polite, listened attentively, and spoke when it was their turn. Their questions were very intelligent. They were collegial even when I could tell that they disagreed with the presenters.
Sharon and Hen described their childhoods during the first and second Intifadas, their military service, and their hopes for the future. The Swarthmore students were invited to ask whatever they liked. All the people in the room were engaged in a conversation about how to achieve peace in the Middle East.
This interaction achieved its goal: The Israelis got to connect with American and international students at Swarthmore. They all learned a little bit about each other. It made me feel very hopeful that conversations and connections such as these will one day lead to a better situation for everyone in the Middle East.