While Students for Justice in Palestine occupied Bruin Walk, busy practicing moral relativism (constructing a wall perpetuating a one-sided account while supporting Hamas [a terrorist organization]) and actively refusing dialogue with any students who might not share their worldview, Bruins for Israel brought together Bruin Republicans and Bruin Democrats for a constructive debate on Middle East foreign policy. The debate drew over 60 students to the event and created a safe space for the purest form of dialogue: direct, civilized discussion by representatives from both parties (William Chakar, current Chairman of Bruin Republicans, and Alexander Lyons, current External Vice President of Bruin Democrats).
Besides the expected questions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the respective parties’ views on peace negotiations and the United States’ role in Israeli affairs, one of the main emphases of the debate was that issues in the Middle East span far beyond one regional conflict — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Among topics discussed was Syria — a subject in part about refugees who were absent from SJP’s recent narrative of self-proclaimed solidarity with oppressed people — and Obama’s Middle East policy. Incidentally, also notably absent were any members of SJP, despite being specifically invited by BFI in the hope that SJP would listen to the opposing side.
In a community-wide context, the debate is part of BFI’s overarching attempt to both tie in the US-Israel relationship to campus affairs and to spread awareness of other issues in the Middle East. The Republican Party — and in a more implicit sense, most Bruin Republicans on campus — has always been supportive of Israel; the Democratic Party has less consistently shown its unwavering support. However, both parties eventually came to a consensus: continued support of Israel (although perhaps in different capacities across party lines) and the hope for peace and stability in the region.