Half a world away, the fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace was shattered recently by four bombings in Israel.
Although geographically distant, these events have affected the lives of members of the Oberlin community. Students and faculty with family members or friends in Israel worry for their safety and hear first hand of the fear and insecurity prevalent there.
"[It is a] tragedy that innocent civilians should be used as hostages in order to break tentative steps towards reprochment," Rabbi Shimon Brand said.
Citizens in Israel mourn the loss of friends and family and live in fear of the next attack. Meanwhile, the government struggles to ensure national security and continue the now-threatened peace process.
Brand's two children in Israel describe to him a country disrupted by violence. In a town in the north of the nation, where Brand's daughter works for the National Service, teachers are afraid to let children out to recess. The recent circumstances have put Israelis and Palestinians on edge. Each new face, on the bus, in the street, raises the question, "Could this be the one?" Brand said.
The bombings have also caused a renewed loss of trust between the two historical enemies. "I agree that there can't be just an ending to the peace agreements, but I don't think it would be considered a loss of good judgment or a rash act if the Israeli government acted with a swift and physical force against the demented terrorist groups," Ben Klein, college first-year, said.
According to Brand, there is no loss of hope in the government or the peace process. "Who doesn't want to live in harmony?" Brand said.
"I wish the peace talks would make a difference," junior Liz Edelstein said. Edelstein has a friend at Hebrew University, from which 100 American students have returned home because of the bombings. Other friends have canceled travel plans as a result of the attacks.
Matt Stinchcomb, a junior, thinks the peace discussions between Israelis and Palestinians are faltering. The success of the peace process is in the hands of the people. "If it's something the people want, it will happen," Stinchcomb said.
Brand and students held a candlelight vigil on the steps of Wilder last week. The vigil was an expression of support for friends and family members in Israel and a memorial service for those who were victims of the attacks. "I think the only response one can have is one of mourning," Jeff Israel, a first-year, said.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 18; March 15, 1996
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