Iftah Burman delivered an eye-opening lecture about the different issues facing Israel and the neighboring middle-eastern countries. He walked us through an excellent historical recount of the events leading up to, and following the creation of the state of Israel. Some key points included the Arab refugees from 1948 living in neighboring countries, as well as the different proposals for creating a Palestinian state. We touched on the current status of Palestinian leadership and were left to ponder the different possibilities for the future of the region.
...With over 70 students in attendance, Burman spoke about the history of the region from the early 20th century to the modern day, illustrating both sides of the conflict. Students emerged with a greater understanding of why the Middle East is such a volatile region.
...Hillel, the Brandeis Zionist Alliance and the Brandeis Israel Public Affairs Committee co-sponsored an event titled “Israel 101: Understanding the Middle East with Iftah Burman... For every event that Burman described, he discussed the intentions and reactions of both sides... Burman said his intent was to be as neutral as possible... It’s good to look at the history to see why things are the way they are. [Burman] did a good job explaining how Israelis feel and how Palestinians feel, which provides for a good understanding of the conflict.” ”
I am always wary of presentations on Israel claiming to be “unbiased” — too often this implies not impartiality but instead a thin veil of diplomatic word choices over the very clear persuasions and agenda of the speaker and their organization. MELA was a breath of fresh air. I went in expecting yet another version of the “truth,” and was met with the most even handed account of the various perspectives I’ve heard from a single source. Truth is, “truth” is subjective, and I am grateful to have been able to look at Israel in that context.
...We had the honor of having Iftah talk to us about the history of Israel from around 1917 until present. He talked about various wars that occurred over the years, and spoke about the movements and the people of both Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Lennon. Throughout, Iftah presentation, various types of media was presented that correlated to the topics being discussed... Its interesting, the things that can be discovered if one just takes another looking. Following Iftah, wonderful talk, we all felt much more educated not only about Israel, but also its surrounding countries.
Iftah gave a long presentation on Israel’s history of military conflict. Iftah gave the group context for which how their history has influenced contemporary Israeli conflicts and politics, which are inextricably intertwined. Iftah’s ability to speak about Israel’s land, history, politics, and everything else — with immense knowledge and constant enthusiasm — has been extremely informative... was particularly impressive...