Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Riots and Reconciliation

Saturday night’s Halloween chaos was disturbing and provocative. But it is also a useful tool for understanding the current state of our campus, our society, and our world.

The confrontation between students and police is, in some ways, a smaller scale of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and here’s why: Many of us Madisonians and UW students were on State Street for a good reason Saturday night — to celebrate. No diabolical schemes were hatched by the vast majority of the crowd; we were only there to celebrate the holiday and have a great time.

Similarly, the Palestinian people have a very good reason to demand their own state and an end to Israeli settlements and the occupation. Both of these legitimate ideas — celebrating Halloween and supporting the Palestinian cause — were hijacked and corrupted by individuals within the group.

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Irresponsible, immature, and disrespectful drunkards marred Saturday night’s celebration by lighting fires, breaking windows, and attacking local police. Even more so, Palestinian suicide bombers delegitimize their people’s cause by infuriating the Israeli people through horrific acts of murder and violence against innocent citizens.

In response to these condemnable acts by isolated individuals, the Madison Police responded in fear and urgency — tear-gassing, pepper-spraying and attacking many innocent students in order to restore order. The Israeli people are afraid and feel a sense of urgency to protect themselves, so they allow militant leaders to respond with excessive force and innocent Palestinians suffer tremendously in the process.

In both cases, normally neutral citizens (students in Madison and Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East) are forced into violent situations in which they would normally not participate.

Peaceful fun-loving students found themselves in the middle of a dangerous riot Saturday, and that same fearful confrontation captures Israelis and Palestinians in a much more intense way. Is it any wonder why the Palestinian and Israeli people are at each other’s throats?

Wouldn’t we be the same way if there were riots like Saturday not once a year, but once a week? It is time Madison stands up for what we believe to be true and good: peace. Only blaming the students or only blaming the police for last weekend’s conflict would be ignoring the craziness of the situation; the greater need is for both groups to cooperate in order to ensure a safer, more peaceful celebration in the future.

In the same way, Israelis and Palestinians both share the blame for the conflict they are in, but both sides are also understandable. The point is that we stop fighting with each other, on both the local level and international level, and focus on the positive future we can create together.

Student government, University officials, and local police should put their heads together to create solutions to the chaotic destruction of this past Halloween. Students who are passionate about Peace in the Middle East must come together to work towards peace rather than blaming the other side.

Act locally and think globally: The conflict is ours to solve, if only we take a stand, together.

Jeremy Manela ([email protected]) is a UW senior.

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