The Harvard Society of Arab Students (SAS) this week cancelled a barbecue that aimed to unite them with Harvard Students for Israel (HSI), saying such an event would be inappropriate.
“It would have been completely social, fake and uncomfortable,” said SAS President Leen M. Al-Alami ’04. “We did not feel [the barbecue] would be an appropriate forum.”
The barbecue, which was to be sponsored by Harvard Lovers of the Garden State (HLOGS), was the brainchild of HSI President David B. Adelman ’04. Adelman said one of his most important goals as president was to strengthen ties between HSI and SAS.
“Relations have not been good in the past, and [a barbecue] is a great opportunity for fun without debating or yelling about politics,” Adelman said.
HLOGS Co-presidents Albert Lin ’04 and Mike Jobbins ’04, who were excited about sponsoring the event “because we’re impartial and big fans of barbecues,” said they were disappointed by the cancellation.
“We were a little offended,” Lin said. “SAS gave us a verbal agreement, and it was a hassle planning and applying for grants.”
Lin also pointed out that HLOGS had been criticized in the past for its lack of community service and for not improving Harvard’s campus. The barbecue was an opportunity for the group to do so, he said.
The event was originally scheduled to take place Oct. 13, but was postponed to Oct. 27 because of ongoing negotiations, according to Lin. While he is still hopeful a barbecue will take place in November, both Al-Alami and Adelman said it has been postponed indefinitely.
But HLOGS and HSI are considering asking The Islamic Society to participate in place of SAS, group leaders said, though Adelman said no formal proposal has been made.
In response, Al-Alami said, “Kudos to both of them.”
Two years ago, both HSI and SAS held large, opposing rallies simultaneously about violence in the Middle East, which Adelman said led to tension.
“By tension, I mean isolation,” he said. “A few not-so-friendly e-mails were exchanged.”
Al-Alami said that despite her rejection of the barbecue, “We do support dialogue.”
Adelman said that despite the evident failure of his plan, he will continue to try to bring the two groups together.
“I still very much hope these two groups will be able to get together. I believe it is very important. I’m optimistic.”