Almost 40 days have passed since an op-ed piece appeared in the Greenwich Time that attacked organizers of Greenwich High School’s Junior Class Forum as well as the speaker who appeared that day.
The speaker was Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian author, journalist, and screenwriter. Along with the forum’s organizers, Ms. Jebreal made the mistake of thinking that Greenwich High School was a place where all stories could be shared, all views heard, and that respectful dialogue and understanding would follow. Apparently, it’s not.
Two students proceeded to write an opinion piece in the local paper criticizing the forum for, among other things, featuring a portion of the movie “Miral,” which was based on Ms. Jebreal’s book. Here’s what they said:
Our discontent stems from the bias shown in the movie. The movie depicts scenes of what could be described as Israeli oppression during the First Intifada, an uprising against the Israeli government following the failure of peace negotiations. It was never explained to the students why a friend of Ms. Jebreal was fatally wounded by a stray bullet during a demonstration. It was never explained why the house of one of Ms. Jebreal’s neighbors was bulldozed. If issues are presented it is important that they are given a just portrayal. It is likely that some of the demonstrators were armed and aggressive towards the Israeli Defense Forces. According to the policy of the Israeli Defense Force, a house would be bulldozed if it had been proven that it belonged to a terrorist.
Additionally, the leaders of the First Intifada were portrayed as heroes in the movie. In reality, these leaders planned and carried out acts of aggression that targeted civilians and tourists in addition to military personnel, actions that should not be glorified.
They went on to call the presentation biased, arguing that “the dialogue was monopolized by one side,” and insisted that students received “a skewed perspective on the conflict.”
The students who wrote the piece are identified as co-presidents of the Israel Club at Greenwich High School. It’s an outstanding organization – run by a good friend of mine I might add – that does some amazing work.
That does not excuse the fact that what they wrote distorts what actually took place at the forum and what the true purpose of it was.
I also think it was a great insult to the person who organized the event, who, yet again, fell victim to the old saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” (I won’t name him here because he wasn’t named in the piece.) From Friday, June 22 – the day it appeared in the paper – to today, not one person has come out to defend this person or the forum. Except for me, of course.
Furthermore, I think it’s unfair to the speaker, who didn’t come to the high school to create conflict, just to shed light on one of the world’s biggest.
Believe me, I’m not taking sides here, just pointing out that all sides should have a right to tell their stories and share their thoughts.
Finally, you should know that the Israel Club, on occasion, brings Israeli soldiers to Greenwich High School to speak to students. While I don’t have a problem with this, I’m wondering how that promotes the “unbiased dialogue” the op-ed writers demand from everyone else.