כ״ו באייר ה׳תשע״ז (May 22, 2017) Gaining New Perspectives
Betsalel and the rest of the staff have encouraged us to put our previously held views aside as we meet with different speakers over these few weeks. Listening to and interacting with these speakers is important to our gaining new perspectives, and perhaps also forming new opinions, about what is happening here in Israel.
On May 11, TRY students heard a right-wing speaker named Bob Lang, an American Jew from New York who moved to Israel 40 years ago. He spent 20 minutes sharing his perspective on Israel and then another 25 answering questions. Indeed, the Q&A part was the most important part, because it gave us the opportunity to truly interact with Bob.
Hearing Bob speak gave us a chance to understand someone from one side of the political and ideological spectrum, whether or not we were predisposed to agree with him.
I thought that we had gone into our meeting with Bob with open minds. However, I saw afterwards that a lot of us had some preconceived notions. For example, we were surprised at how calm Bob remained throughout the session. We expected a very right-wing person to speak more emphatically as he became more passionate about his cause. Instead, we found someone who spoke calmly (almost in a monotone), and who readily responded to any question with ease.
Bob’s knowledge of the Palestinian side and willingness to engage with Arabs and Palestinians surprised me. He even told us a story about Palestinians and Israelis from Efrat sitting under a sukkah together and getting along well. While this seemed like a nice story, he probably used it to demonstrate Israel’s cooperation and efforts to interact with Palestinians and Arabs.
I ended up agreeing with Bob on more facets of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than I expected. Bob clearly wanted to convince us to adopt his ideology and move to Israel one day. Bob left us with a lot to think about.