Last weekend, I attended the "Conflict over Gaza: People Politics and Possibilities" conference, hosted by UNC's Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, and co-sponsored by over 30 academic and local organizations. Coming from a Jewish background, involvement in Israel-Palestine related organizations, and three months' experience in the region, I believe in the importance of a two-state solution. However, I felt like this conference missed out on an important opportunity by only providing one point of view, almost exclusively putting blame for the situation in Gaza on Israel, therefore neglecting expansion on other forces shaping this humanitarian crisis (ie. fractured relations with Egypt or the corruption within HAMAS, Gaza's governing body).
The moderators of the conference panels overly stressed that comments from audience members weren't welcome, but due to the one-sided bent of presenters, this prevented audience members from expressing any form of opposing viewpoint.
I'm grateful that this conference took place, even as someone who felt uncomfortable with its one-sided nature. It can only enhance future events on this topic if there are more diverse perspectives represented on the panel. I urge CMEIS and other campus organizations to bring a more balanced perspective that allows multiple viewpoints in the future.