May 11, 2010

The Amherst Club

May 11, 2010


"The Problem is Narrative."

This seemed to be the central contention of our speaker today, Dr. Justin Cammy, Assistant Professor of Jewish and Middle East Studies at Smith College.  He was speaking of the difficulty of finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when both parties appear to agree on what the terms of that solution must be.  The Jewish narrative remembers centuries of prayer for a return to Jerusalem and the centrality of the West Bank to Jewish historical aspirations..  The Palestinian narrative remembers that what is now Israel was once a Palestinian land taken from them, reducing them to refugee status. 

Dr, Cammy presented an eloquent defense of the Israeli narrative, but made it clear that both Israelis and Palestinians would have to give up central parts of their stories.  The Israelis would have to give up their dreams of the West Bank as a part of the greater Israeli state.  The Palestinians would have to give up the Right of Return to lands they believe are rightfully theirs.  But just as both sides would have to give up central aspects of their own stories, each side needs to acknowledge the narrative  of the other.

Dr. Cammy's presentation was complex and challenging and dealt with issues having an emotional valence for many, including Club members.

Before that, President Larry Siddell told us about a clever elephant able to draw a picture of an elephant.  (Reminiscent of the State of the Union address, a Club member shouted "you lie," or words to that effect.)  Mary Dunn was Rachel Mustin's guest, and Rev. Alison Wohler was Carolyn Holstein's guest.

Harry Brooks was in an automobile accident recently and is recuperating in Washington, D.C.  Nancy Foster is now in Rehab, and her husband, John, would be glad to have drivers to help him get to her facility.  See Carolyn Holstein or Ruth Miller if you are able to be of assistance to him.

Michael Greenebaum, Note-taker