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1 of the top Ivy League university adopted a fresh strategy to defuse the tensions created by the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Did it work?

There have been an increasing number of threats directed toward pro-Israeli, and pro-Gaza (Palestinian) students on college campuses.


Since the October 7 survival attacks on Israel and the brutal attack in Gaza (Palestine) that followed, there have been an increasing number of threats and assaults directed toward Jewish, Muslim, pro-Israeli, and pro-Gaza (Palestinian) students on college campuses.

However, students from those same groups told NBC News that they still feel safe at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, which they mostly attribute to the college’s innovative solution to the problem—talking about it.

The Muslim sophomore Ramsey Alsheikh, the son of a Palestinian refugee, recollects entering his class on October 10th and learning about the 1967 war between Israel (Palestine) and the Arab states. The students in the class, who were Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, had been talking about Arab-Israeli relations all fall, and now those topics were being discussed again, in real-time.

“There was a sort of silence. Like a sense of, almost like tragedy,” Alsheikh recalls. “Then we talked about it. We unpacked it. … The raw weight of the event was still in all of our minds. We were just kind of processing it together, I guess. It was something.”

strategy to defuse the conflict between Palestine and Israel

Subsequently, his instructor, Susannah Heschel, a professor of Jewish Studies, introduced the same idea to the entire campus. A few days later, she leased a space for seventy people and organized a forum facilitated by professors of Middle Eastern and Jewish studies. However, hundreds turned out, and about 600 participated by livestream.

“We aimed to clarify to the pupils that we cannot adopt a reductionist mindset; rather, we must consider intricacy and recognize that this is not a singular story,” Heschel stated. Many kids may be extremely sensitive because of their connections to Gaza (Palestine) and the illegal state of Israel, according to her. She added that although Dartmouth offers 24/7 counseling, her role was to provide an academic perspective on the region’s complicated history.

“You can condemn, but you also have to understand,” Heschel said.

President of Dartmouth Sian Beilock urged students to attend the inaugural event, which proved to be so popular that a second discussion was scheduled in no time. At a university with less than 5,000 undergraduate students, more than 1,300 people gathered both in person and via livestream for the second time.

Ezzedine Fishere, a Muslim professor of Middle Eastern Studies and a former Egyptian ambassador to Israel (Palestine), was among the panelists. She expressed her “dread” of the first forum’s attendance.

“This is going to be emotional, and there’s a good chance that things will spiral out of control,” Fishere recalled. “But in the end, I believe both forums went very well in that we were able to have this dialogue, of talking about the attacks and explaining, but also making clear that there is a difference between explaining and justifying,” despite the fact that there were strong emotions among the participants.

Attending the forums was senior Jewish student Owen Seiner, who is studying in Jewish studies. He claimed that wearing his Star of David necklace without worrying about being harassed by someone who holds anti-Semitic or anti-Israel sentiments makes him feel protected as a Jewish student at Dartmouth.

“I believe that by emphasizing academics and having professors participate in the discussions, many students’ feelings about these issues have been less intense and have instead been directed toward more constructive approaches, whatever those may be,” Seiner stated.

Since October 7, there has been some conflict at Dartmouth. In late October, two students, Kevin Engel, and Roan Wade, were taken into custody after erecting a tent outside the administration building, demanding that the institution disassociate itself from “Israeli apartheid,” and threatening to use “physical action.”

Wade, who is also a member of the Palestinian Student Coalition, claimed that there is still a great deal of fear among its members to speak out.

“A lot of people have said that, you know, they’re too afraid (to talk to the media) about being doxed or physically threatened,” Wade added. Doxing is the process by which someone’s personal information is released publicly in reprisal for their viewpoint. Alumni of some colleges have been urged not to hire pro-Palestinian students due to recent doxing at other colleges and universities.

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According to Heschel, inquiries about how to start conversations along these lines on their campuses have come from other colleges and universities.

According to Fishere, Dartmouth’s actions are “not really extraordinary.”

The overwhelmingly positive response is flattering. But our job is what we did. Furthermore, teaching is our responsibility; advocating is not,” Fishere stated.

Although he acknowledged that students would always demonstrate and support different causes, he stated that “teaching and learning is the primary mission of campuses, universities, and faculty.”