In the midst of world talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a possible peace, more than 100 students at Sarah Lawrence College gathered recently to celebrate Israeli-Arabic culture and to raise awareness about the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
The successful event was organized by the group Students for Peace and Israel, which raises awareness of the Middle Eastern conflict and brings students from both sides of the argument to better understand one another. The event featured a Middle Eastern band, which played the darbooka (African drum), authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, hookahs, Turkish coffee with Arabic spices, Israeli and Palestinian poetry and a dazzling belly-dancing performance by student Sheila Winslow. The student space, called CoffeeHaus, was transformed into a Bedouin tent with Arabian fabrics dangling from the ceiling and Oriental wall decorations. Some students sat inside and enjoyed the ethnic music and belly dancing while others sat in a circle around the fruit-flavored hookahs.
"It's so nice to see everyone sitting on the ground together like that," said Margot Kern, a Sarah Lawrence sophomore.
The event was publicized all over campus. During lunch hour on the day of the event, two students from the group, Aaron Lindenbaum and Ishan Banerjee, came to the campus main dining hall with a kafiya and a skullcap and played Israeli and Arabic music.
Banerjee said that students told him that they were glad that such a troubled part of the world represents himself apolitically. Some students described the event as "an attractive montage of cultures" and expressed their interest in visiting the Middle East.
Students for Peace and Israel, which is affiliated with Hillels of Westchester, said it plans on having more events like this one to bring students together and show that there is more to those two nations than political conflict and war.