Shalaam coalition to students: note on history

By Shalaam Coalition

We would like to begin this letter by thanking all of you who engaged in the events planned by the Shalaam Coalition for Israel-Palestine week. Your insightful contributions, suggestions and reflections–and, of course, your participation–made this week successful. We are grateful for both your engagement and your criticism. Criticism is an essential part of processing this week, and by offering it you show that you understand our goals for this week: to open conversation and challenge the community. Next, we would like to address the inaccuracies, omissions, and biases some of you have noted in our first publication of the history pamphlet. We understand that this history represents real suffering individuals in our community may have experienced. It pains us that our representation seems to belittle the anguish it discusses. Therefore we apologize to anyone, from any perspective, who feels that our pamphlet could be read as a justification for such suffering. We recognize that all “sides” of the conflict could write their own histories differently and take issue with our presentation. This truth plays a large part in our reflection about the failures and successes of the book, and will play a central role in revisions. In the long term, we want this book to be accepted by as broad a range of perspectives as possible. The short-term purpose of the book, however, was never to offer a full or objective perspective. As we wrote in our explanation on the back cover of the history book: “Our goal is for this to represent the bare minimum and inspire further research.” This sentiment is also echoed in our mission statement: “The Shalaam Coalition seeks to ignite discussion and controversy in a productive and non-hostile manner, and most importantly, to challenge the Macalester community to think in different ways about the conflict.” Thus, to raise criticism against our “history” was, in fact, a large part of the purpose of both the book and the week. In retrospect, there are many things we would have done differently with regard to presenting our history pamphlet. Firstly, we would have given ourselves much more time to create it, including time for more reflection, editing, and cross-referencing. We would also have made an effort to present multiple views for each event within the text rather than separately. Finally, we would like have shared it with professors and other professionals, who may have been able to lend different perspectives. In this light, we want to reiterate that Israel-Palestine Week was only the first step, and we as a Coalition look forward to much more discussion. Keep your eyes open for other Shalaam events next semester, and contact us if you are interested in joining the planning. Besides Shalaam, there are other ways to continue engaging in dialogue on this pivotal issue, both on and off campus. For example, SUPER (Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights) and J Street U are student organizations that are dedicated to activism around the conflict. While we recognize the challenges involved in this venture, we also feel that we, as a coalition, achieved our goal: beginning the conversation. To those who have critiques, and to all others, we say, “welcome.”