It is difficult to grapple with our complex understanding of the past. Sometimes we remember an event. Sometimes, at the very same time, we forget it. Late January 2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Tet Offensive. During this battle in the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese launched a full attack on many Southern cities.
I went to my friend’s event Tuesday night, a Hillel event, titled “A Funny Thing Happened On My Way to the Middle East,” in which Joel Chasnoff spoke about his life story, and in particular, his relationship to Israel. What started as a stand up bit—typical in its delivery, ingenuity, and laugh-generating ability but atypical in its Jewish-oriented humor—turned into a serious opportunity to discuss Israel in a safe space among mostly Jewish students. I had a ball in the first half of the event, chuckling to myself, sometimes even letting out a snort. During the second half, however, I listened intently, as this was one of my first opportunities of the year to be in dialogue about Israel in a conversation that was not necessarily among friends. On the State of Israel, Jews across the globe fall along a wide spectrum, and on what Zionism means, those in the Jewish diaspora struggle to define a term upon which we can all agree.
Part of President Donald Trump’s unorthodox approach to his presidency is his perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He recently declared that the conflict may be solved in ways other than a two-state solution, bucking several decades of U.S. policy. Many groups, both inside and outside Israel, have blasted the president for his views. A two state solution may sound like a reasonable resolution to the problem since it establishes two states for two peoples. However, the realities on the ground prevent such a solution from being implemented smoothly.