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Israeli Harvard students take to 'Hasbara'

April 19, 2012 19:12

After Harvard hosts controversial "One-State Solution" conference, Israelis try to change students' perceptions on home country.

Harvard University

Harvard University 370. (photo credit:Thinkstock)

Israeli students at Harvard University have long felt that many aspects of their country get overlooked in the campus dialogue. This week, they hope that will change.

Last month, Harvard students hosted the controversial ‘One-State Solution’ conference. But long before that meeting took place, a group of Israeli Harvard students has been hard at work planning a two-day inaugural Israel Conference at Harvard to shine a light on the reality of Israel.

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On April 19 and 20, a group of non-partisan Israeli Harvard students will gather to feature a confab of top leaders in Israeli discourse and innovation to promote another face of Israel.

The conference will feature panels that focus on innovations in technology, medicine, humanitarian aid, culture and peace. Featured speakers in the conference include Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and Dennis Ross, who worked under multiple US presidents to advance the peace process.

Israeli and Palestinian pundits will examine the status of economic development initiatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories. In addition to these experts, Harvard professors and Israeli academics will give their input on the topic.

Aside from the entrepreneurial focus, the conference will feature the results of the Avi Schaefer Peace Innovation Challenge, in which Harvard students developed ideas aimed at bridging the gap between Israeli and Palestinian societies. The author of the winning idea will be awarded a prize of $1,000. The idea of the initiative is to propel the conversation further instead of remaining in the deadlock in which most campuses find themselves.

The winner will be announced on Friday.

Earlier this month, fliers promoting the conference were vandalized with stickers saying “apartheid” and “white phosphorous.” In response, several conference organizers issued a call for civil discourse in The Harvard Crimson.

"In so many ways, our world views are probably more similar to the views of those who decided to deface the posters than they are different," they wrote. "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one part of Israel’s complex and multifaceted identity.”

The organizers expressed hope that the conference will bring people together and raise awareness of the many aspects of Israel's reality that often are overlooked in the campus dialogue. The hope, expressed in the Crimson article, is "to infuse new meaning into a campus discussion that has become polarized and one-dimensional."

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