Israeli Defense Sgt. to Speak

Hadas Binyamini, Leah Goldman, and Ari Feinberg

To the Editors:

On Feb. 22, Oberlin Students for Israel is bringing Sgt. Benjamin Anthony to campus to speak about his experiences as a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces. Sgt. Anthony is a combat veteran and reservist in the IDF, and founder of the organization Our Soldiers Speak. The diversity of our student body exposes us to a variety of speakers and lectures throughout the year. As the student handbook says, “Oberlin College is committed to maintaining an environment where open, vigorous debate and speech can occur.” We believe that Sgt. Anthony brings a unique and controversial perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is not a representative of Oberlin Students for Israel’s opinions and views, but rather one of many voices that should be heard in understanding the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflicts. His thoughts and opinions will reflect his real-life experiences as a soldier in the IDF; Oberlin students can only benefit from hearing his firsthand knowledge. Freedom of expression is crucial in our society and on our campus. Even if someone does not agree with the speaker, he or she can still respect the speaker’s right to communicate his or her message to the audience. We hope that Oberlin students will continue to uphold our values of respect, tolerance and plurality, and behave in a respectful, courteous manner to Sgt. Anthony.

Sgt. Anthony will speak for approximately one hour and is eager to then hear questions from the audience. He will respond to all questions, especially those from dissenters, to the best of his ability. In addition to having the opportunity to engage with the speaker, we believe that Oberlin students should have the opportunity to engage with each other. As such, Oberlin Students for Israel will be working with the Oberlin College Dialogue Center to hold a facilitated event to react to Sgt Anthony’s talk. This event will occur on Thursday, Feb. 24 and will be an open space for students to express their thoughts about his talk, the discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on campus, and how we can continue to engage with the issue in a critical manner. We hope that all interested parties will come to the event to discuss the issues in a well facilitated environment.

-Oberlin Students for Israel

Hadas Binyamini, College sophomore

Leah Goldman, College sophomore

Ari Feinberg, College First-year