I am not opposed to Yossi Olmert or any other academic speaking at St. Thomas University.
In fact, I’d say the same about anyone well-versed in their area of expertise, so long as that area was one worth academic discussion. In other words, if a lecturer’s area of expertise is freeze tag, I don’t think St. Thomas is the appropriate venue.
It is, however, a venue for discussion of big issues and controversial ideas.
What happened at Olmert lecture is probably exactly what should have happened. He said his piece, some politely disagreed and others were not polite about it.
All of that is okay, all of that is allowed.
I’m not sure about all the protest tactics.
I worry that when people fly banners or recite the names of dead Palestinians they isolate others. And when people feel isolated, they probably won’t listen and they probably won’t understand where the protesters are coming from.
Last week, I spoke to one of my professors about the lecture. I told him that I was all for discussion of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but I didn’t see what, if anything was accomplished by Monday’s display. I didn’t see how anything was resolved by a bunch of people shouting at each other.
My professor said that they weren’t just shouting at each other.
I’m not sure of that. I’m not sure if anyone heard what his or her opposition was saying. I’m not sure that anyone listened.
On the other hand, the lecture did get students engaged. It prompted students to consider their opinion of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Those who didn’t have an opinion were it prompted to learn about the conflict, to see what all the fuss about.
So, in that sense, something was accomplished.