Jane Collins ’71, a staff assistant in the Harvard College Deans Office, led our group silently from the Yard into the street. She knew the route well, as she has been walking every Wednesday during her lunch break for years.
When I signed up for the Harvard-Cambridge Walk for Peace, I did not have many expectations. I was however, expecting more than four other people to show up. The fact that there were more tourists meeting at the John Harvard Statue than walkers was disconcerting. Out of the six of us, only two were students: the Crimson photographer and myself.
We must have looked like an odd bunch: Collins, a veteran, two elderly women, and two students following along. Yet as we waited patiently for the stoplight to change, no one seemed to see us.
Students walked past and turned their heads in the opposite direction. Men in suits dragging leather briefcases paused in conversation but did not acknowledge the mismatched group begging for peace.
I was starting to think that I had grown invisible when one street performer gave us a shout out. “Let’s make some peace waves,” he said. “War is not the answer.”
The performer, draped in a suit of random instruments and stuffed animal monkeys, played the harmonica while singing, “Let it Be.” He was a regular. I’d seen him before. Or rather, I’d pretended not to see him before. Usually, I would look away or check the time on my cellphone, but not this time. This time I gave him a smile.
Disillusionment Is Not an OptionOur conference does not ignore the reality of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as some have blatantly and unjustly claimed. On the contrary, we devote half of our panel discussions and the concluding keynote speech to addressing the conflict and innovative peace initiatives.
University-Wide Conference Discusses Possibility of Peace for Israel
Weaning IsraelIf promoting human rights truly is a “central goal of U.S. foreign policy,” America must demonstrate this through encouraging peace and compromise instead of taking a passive approach in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Nobel, Noble No MoreThe Nobel Peace Prize increasingly seems like less of a clearly defined concept and more of a random lottery, and that’s truly a shame.
Peace in Palestine No Longer PossibleIn the coming decades, observers will ask themselves how the region slid from the promise of the Oslo Accords to these lows. They may discover that this last month’s events were the watershed moment when both sides committed their next generation of youth to the never-ending conflict.
ShalomSince “The Hillel Problem” was published, I have had conversations about these issues with members of the Modern Orthodox community at Harvard. The people to whom I have spoken think deeply about these matters.