Discussion became heated during the Q&A after Luke Peterson’s talk regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict. Luke Peterson, a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburg, came to Trinity to speak about the history of the conflict in the region. The presentation, titled “Palestine-Israel in the 21st Century: Ending Endless War,” discussed the history and background of the Palestine-Israel conflict.
Peterson went into depth on the different historical events that contributed to the ongoing conflict. Along with the historical background, Peterson noted that it will not be possible for the conflict to end in a peaceful two-state situation. Peterson argued that there is no way for the two states to coexist peacefully.
Many local members of the Jewish community were in attendance at the lecture and actively participated in the discussion immediately following the talk. Many members of the audience followed up the lecture with multiple questions for Peterson regarding the Israeli side of the conflict. Trinity’s Jewish Student Association president David Herman was among the community members who had concerns regarding Peterson.
“The speaker has been known to be anti-Israel and as a whole, the Jewish community is concerned that he may end up ranting or presenting false information,” Herman said.
Many members from local synagogues and the San Antonio Hillel came in support of representing the Israeli side of the talk. Herman noted that the community wanted to assure that both sides of the conflict were being portrayed in the discussion.
“I think some rabbis from local synagogue and some local members are coming as well. I don’t know the exact numbers. Just to make sure that our side is represented,” Herman said.
Herman also noted that the topic is a difficult one and it is a highly debated issue.
“We just really would like both sides of the issue to be presented because it’s a really complex issue that we need both sides for people to really be educated about that and then make their own decisions,” Herman said.
Among the members of the Jewish community in the audience, many students are also in attendance. Visiting professor Habiba Noor of the religion department encouraged the students of her Qur’an class to attend the talk for academic engagement.
“The reason I wanted people to go to this was because it offers some historical context,” Noor said. “The purpose of my class is to shed light on Muslim perspectives and to illustrate how religious texts support a variety of positions.”
Peterson was brought in to speak by Judith Norman a professor of the philosophy department at Trinity. Norman noted that she also desired to have both sides of the conflict discussed.
“I think the world needs some more balance. I think this is a horrible, horrible conflict we can’t really make headway on until we can have a better understanding of it,” Norman said.
Norman brought in Peterson to speak to shed light on additional views that may not have been heard in previous lectures at Trinity. Norman also noted that Peterson’s ability to speak to both sides was one of the reasons she was interested in having him speak.
“Luke Peterson speaks from a human rights perspective, a perspective that treats Israeli and Palestinian human rights as equal. I think the dominant discourse often doesn’t,” Norman said.
Trinity has previously hosted speakers on both sides of the Palestine-Israel conflict. Previous speakers on the subject have included members of the Israeli community such as the Prime Minister of Israel.
“It’s a position we have heard on Trinity, Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken here, Shimon Peres, the prime ministers of Israel have spoken here,” Norman said.
Norman noted that Peterson analyzes the situation from a perspective that is different from previous speakers.
“Luke Peterson, I think, is very fair in that he treats Palestinian human rights and Israeli human rights as both worthy of protection. That’s what made me think that this would be a great voice to hear on campus,” Norman said.
While the lecture centralized the tension to Trinity’s campus, the situation between Israel and Palestine continues the dialogue across the nation and the world regarding the conflict.