*This post is by former Lion Writer Stephen Snowder and was written in 2012. The original post can be found here in The Lion Archives*

In today’s Spectator, Joshua Fattal has written a column titled “Discourse over division.” In it, he makes the case that more dialogue is needed between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups on campus. This is a good point. It also one that has been appearing in Spec op-eds for years.

Fattal, today: “…[C]an we not, as Columbia students, discuss the issues that divide us?”

Here’s an op-ed from 2011: “If we hope to end both the bickering on campus and the diplomatic war outside our gates, dialogue is the first step.”

Here’s another: “Student groups on campus cannot learn and grow if they refuse to dialogue…”

Here’s another: “While we at Columbia strive to maintain an open and healthy dialogue on tough issues, it seems that the columnist simply wished to fill and close the minds of those around her.” (This was written in response to an earlier op-ed on the Israel-Palestine issue).

Yet another: “We hope to give our community not only the opportunity for knowledge, but encourage critical engagement with the world…”

Why stop now? “[C]ommunication is the only way toward mutual understanding, compassion, and peace—presumably everyone’s goal. … I ask C-SJP once again to engage in a dialogue.”

This one is a staff editorial, and, in the interest of full disclosure, I was on the editorial board that authored it: “And any group that essentially talks to itself when discussing its opinions does nothing to encourage the development of nuanced, intelligent perspectives on the part of other students. After all, two monologues are not a dialogue.”

Round and round we go: “What can you do when the people you are supposed to be in dialogue with refuse to recognize your legitimacy?”

Countless more op-eds and columns on the campus Israel-Palestine debate have appeared in Spec over the years. I’m not linking to them here, because I chose only to list the ones that mention the need for dialogue. Here’s why: All of these people want dialogue, and by “dialogue” they mean that you should let them persuade you that they are right.

“We need dialogue” is a suggestion that gets used as a weapon — I want to talk, but the people who disagree with me refuse. Their arguments must be really weak!

Fattal seems to be writing in good faith, and the staff editorial I linked to was written by a group of people with varying opinions on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Not everyone who calls for dialogue is doing so disingenuously. Even the people who do just want to convince you that they are in the right probably honestly believe that they would win a fair debate. That’s not the point.

The point is we’ve been reading this same op-ed for years. It’s time for Spec to institute a ban on publishing columns and op-eds about this debate. The student groups involved in the fight don’t talk to each other, so why do we continue to let them talk to us?


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