07 October 2010

The Importance of Presentation. . .

Ok, I'm beginning to better understand what's going on here.  When we were creating Students for Peace in Palestine we thought a lot about what topics the group would discuss and what we wouldn't.  We talked about outreach programs and ways to begin a dialogue on campus about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  We talked about information we knew and information we'd like to learn.  We briefly talked about the name of our organization, chosen to affiliate us with the national organization.

We did not talk about what "Students for Justice in Palestine" would sound like to someone who knew nothing about our organization, nor did we discuss whether or not the name reflected our intentions or goals.  As it turns out, presentation is everything (my design professors were right!).  We began questioning our name just a few weeks after we created the group and decided to change it to "Students for Peace in Palestine."  It sounds a bit less militant, if you will.  I just got off the phone with my dad-- someone I regard as one of the wisest people I have access to-- and he brought to my attention that our name still doesn't convey who we are.  In fact, one could read our name and assume we're pro-Palestine (and maybe by default anti-Israel).  Perhaps "Students for Peace in Palestine and Israel"  would be better?  Maybe "Students for Better Understanding of Human Rights Violations in the Israel/Palestine Area"?  I'm honestly not sure.  Maybe we should simply join with a campus human rights group like the Social Justice League and create a sub-committee.

Be that as it may, we are a campus organization and the people who might be upset about our name have already heard our name.  So maybe now it's a moot point.  I'll admit, when I first heard the organization's name I was hesitant.  I'm still not a member of the Facebook group just in case it bodes ill for a job application.  I understand those who have initial reservations about Students for Peace in Palestine based solely on the name, I really do.  In a perfect world we would all do independent investigation to learn motives and reasoning behind controversial subjects, but we don't live in a perfect world and few people have time to learn both sides to every issue.

From that [newly found] observation, it's a shame my organization didn't give our name more thought at the beginning.  The importance of presentation cannot be questioned, and now we're dealing with some complications that *maybe* could have been avoided.

I'm still disappointed about the lecture though.  And more determined than ever to find a solution that works.


  1. Ok, I could easily write three posts a day about this topic, but I'll try to restrain myself. A friend contacted me and told me his group at another university had similar problems, and they were shut down. So the good news is we're not alone. The bad news is there are plenty of people out there who don't want people to talk about Israel and Palestine. I'm not sure how much our name would make a difference: it seems few people approach this topic with an open mind. Even if we had the most neutral name possible we would get opposition from both sides objecting to anyone portraying the conflict from both perspectives.

    But again, I feel encouraged. We're not alone, and there's always hope that we can make a small difference in our small corner of the world.