Letter to the Editor: Rachel Scharf

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To the editor:

In recent campus discourse, both in and out of the Record, there have been many allusions made to Students for Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue (SIPD). In the wake of College Council’s (CC’s) rejection of the Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI), some have pointed to SIPD as an already existing pro-Israel group on campus.  I write as a founding member of the SIPD board in the hopes of clarifying the mission of the organization. 

SIPD is neither pro-Israel nor pro-Palestine. The group’s core value is discourse, recognizing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict/occupation is full of nuance. We founded SIPD last year upon noticing a gap in campus conversations, with the goal to create more open dialogue, education and compassion within the community. 

SIPD works towards this goal through inviting speakers to campus and creating workshops and trainings for students to engage thoughtfully and respectfully over this charged topic. Our events this year have included a visit from alumni of the Arava Institute, which brings together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian students to study environmental issues in the Negev Desert, and a workshop led by the organization Resetting the Table, where students learned about engaging in productive conversation about the conflict/occupation. 

SIPD is not affiliated with WIFI or any other campus group, although we aim for members from both sides of the political spectrum come to our events and engage in dialogue. SIPD is fundamentally a space for difference, and I for one am energized by the displays of empathy I’ve seen it bring out. I hope that it, and the College more broadly, continues to create spaces for empathy and conversation in the years to come. 

Rachel Scharf ’19