Israel-Palestine discussion brings listeners to KBC

A discussion on the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict hosted Friday at Kachemak Bay campus drew a standing-room only crowd to a Pioneer Hall conference room, with overflow listeners tuning in from the campus commons via a screen display.

Billed as an open-format discussion, the event was moderated by Associate Professor of History Jeff Meyers, and included panelists Jason Davis, Shaddin Tirhi, Alex Koplin, Tim Steinberg and Andy Haas.

Meyers started the discussion with the history of land and political conflict in the Middle East, particularly around the Gaza Strip, a 25-mile strip of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea bordered by Egypt to the south and Israel to the east.

Davis shared his political perspective on the region. He served in the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, where he and other young officers met separately with Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu. Later he served as political chief at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, where he met frequently with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and his top advisors.

Tirhi, who grew up in Seattle, is of Palestinian descent and shared her perspective on the conflict from her cultural and family experience.

Steinberg also shared some of his family experience of conflict in the region. Koplin’s comments were related to Jewish secularism.

Haas returned the panel discussion to the broader, more structured topic of international law and the role of the United Nations in the history of the conflict.

Following panel comments, audience members were provided the opportunity to ask questions or raise additional points of concern or interest. Questions and discussions continued until approximately 9:30 p.m.

Davis in an interview with the Homer News on Saturday, said he thought the event went well and that the biggest take-away was that despite the pain, conflict and tragedy of the situation, there are two sides of the story and there are ways to listen and find access to both.