The student-run Dartmouth Political Union hosted four internationally known Mideast scholars and commentators from a broad range of perspectives Thursday night for a forum, “Israel and Palestine: The History and the Conflict.”
Introducing the event, Jessica Chiriboga ’24, president of the DPU, acknowledged that discussions involving the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the subsequent Israeli bombardment and military offensive in Gaza, and the prospects for a future political solution in the region has prompted intense and difficult debate across higher education and throughout the world.
“We understand that students, staff, and faculty need avenues to engage in robust dialogue and discussion on this topic, and we view tonight’s panel as one such opportunity,” Chiriboga said. “Advancing the robust exchange of ideas is the responsibility of all of us here and online in a free and open democratic society.”
The event was also part of Dartmouth Dialogues, the initiative launched last month to expand programming across the institution dedicated to facilitating conversations and skills that bridge political and personal divides.
Speaking to an audience of some 120 students and community members in Filene Auditorium were Ussama Makdisi, a professor of history at the University of California Berkeley; Rachel Fish, a visiting assistant professor at George Washington University and special adviser to the Brandeis University Presidential Initiative to Counter Antisemitism in Higher Education; Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute; and Guy Ziv, an associate professor at American University’s School of International Service.
More than 370 people had also watched the livestream on YouTube by Monday morning.
On Thursday, DPU Vice President Dylan Griffith ’25 deftly moderated the sometimes difficult conversation which included discussion of the distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, the Israeli, U.S., and world role and responsibility in the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the question of whether Hamas can ever be eliminated, and if a two-state solution to the conflict can ever be achieved.
“All in all, it was an important conversation to have,” Griffith said a day later. “Sometimes discourse on public affairs is not pretty. Real people are involved. We will do our best to continue ensuring conversations are civil moving forward because it’s important for our academic community to hear diverse perspectives on consequential issues.”
The DPU is a nonpartisan, student-led political organization dedicated to promoting open discourse on campus. The group has hosted a Democracy Summit series that included a keynote speech last month by former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and co-sponsored the Path to the Presidency series with the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy. The DPU also is facilitating an ongoing student debate series that has engaged on topics including affirmative action, school vouchers, and drug legalization.