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Edward Said Lecture
an article by Shireen Tawil

On Tuesday, February 19th, 2002, the renowned scholar Edward Said came to Wesleyan University to deliver a lecture entitled "The Palestinian Situation Today". The whole campus was abuzz with excitement about his coming for days. I was involved with organizing the event, and was becoming more excited as the big day rapidly approached.

A few days before the lecture, the campus was plastered with posters defaming Said as a "Proponent of Violence". I was enraged, and deeply hurt that people would label him as such, indirectly accusing Students for a Free Palestine (the group organizing the event) of bringing somebody who in anyway advocates and participates in violence, to speak at our university. Then rumors began circulating that a protest was going to be held outside the lecture hall, we did not know the magnitude of it.

When Tuesday finally arrived, tensions were running extremely high on campus. SFP had asked for increased security at the event, because we did not know what to expect. The hall was packed; people who could not get in were peering in through the window. People wanted to listen. Said delivered an amazing lecture, stressing the importance of listening to different narratives, and of including and seeking out those that are silenced. He spoke eloquently of the rights of all people, and the illegality of the Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. When he was finished, he received thundering applause, and a standing ovation.

Later that night, I was speaking with a Jewish friend of mine, and she told me how much she appreciated the lecture. She said she'd learned many things she'd never known before about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She told me how important she realized it was to listen to people with an open mind. I was really touched to hear that the lecture had had that sort of impact on her.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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LATEST READER COMMENT:

Presenting the Palestinian side from the blog of Mazim Qumsiyeh:

1- Palestine is the Western part of the Fertile Crescent: an area that includes Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. In this Fertile Crescent the first human agriculture developed.  Here the first domestication of animals (e.g. goats, donkeys, camels) and plants (e.g. wheat, barley, chickpeas, lentils, olives) happened.

2- This is also where civilization began including development of the first alphabet (by Phoenician Canaanites) and the first laws.  It was where we first developed sciences like astronomy, engineering, and mathematics

3- The original inhabitants of the Western part of the Fertile Crescent were called Canaanites and the original language was called Aramaic which Jesus spoke (he was born in the country called then Palestine and thus he was Palestinian)

4- The old Aramaic language gave rise to derived languages including Syriac, Arabic, and Hebrew and this language group is called Semetic languages

5- Arabic alphabet evolved in Southern Canaan (today’s Jordan and Palestine) while the Latin alphabet evolved in Northern Canaan (Phoenicia, present day Lebanon and Syria).  The Alphabet used in Europe today came from our part of the world.

6- The people of Southern Canaan including Palestine endured many invasions of armies with nearly 15 times that local people were ruled by kings or emperors (Persian, Roman, Umayyad, Abbasid, Israelite etc). . ...more.


This report was posted on April 23, 2002.