A couple of nights ago, the Likud on Campus group at Bar Ilan University (Ta Lavi) hosted a moderated debate between Yariv Oppenheimer, head of Peace Now, and Ayelet Shaked, head of My Israel. This was supposed to be a debate and open forum between leaders from the left and right.Already, I feel they screwed up. If you're going to bring in such an important person, such as Yariv Oppenheimer, then bring in a big name, such as Moshe Feiglin. I had never heard of either Shaked or My Israel until I got to the event. In my opinion, as well as some other people I spoke to, it showed. She raised some solid points, but she did well because she had virtually the entire crowd hanging on her every word. She could do no wrong. She controlled the crowd at her will. Had the exact same debate/forum taken place in virtually any other university in the country, she would've been eaten alive.
To the actual debate: Forum was supposed to be moderated with a supposedly impartial moderator asking questions to both, challenging each with points with points raised by the other, and finishing off with an equal amount of questions for each. Very quickly into this, the crowd proved this would be no civilized forum. It was an absolute debacle. A shouting match with who can come up with the most annoying time to yell the loudest and be the most obnoxious. Now I am no fan of Yariv Oppenheimer. But I came to listen to him. And I was denied that opportunity. What did the shouting accomplish? To get Oppenheimer to know what you're thinking? Trust me, he knows. To get him to change his viewpoint? Mission failed!
Here's the message I just sent to him on Facebook:
I'm writing this in English, and hope that's OK with you. I'm a student at Bar Ilan and was at the "debate" on Sunday night.I'll start off with I come from the Right. I'm quite to the Right. That being said, I wanted to personally thank you for the Mesirat Nefesh you showed simply by coming to Bar Ilan, and by coming to a Ta Lavi event at that. You impressed me with your courage, and standing strong in the face of the rudest of rude. I was appalled by members of "my camp" and the way they would listen, or refuse to listen. The way you were treated is disgusting, and I'm deeply ashamed. I came because I was genuinely interested in what you had to say, and I feel I was robbed of a unique opportunity.Do I agree with Shalom Achshav? Absolutely not. But something we share is the idea of democracy and human rights and freedom, and you weren't granted the most basic modicum of human decency. For that, I apologize.I apologize for those who called you anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist. As thick-skinned as this business might make all, I'm sure those aren't easy things to hear. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an anti-Zionist, and he's both my enemy and yours. But to call you anti-Zionist defeats the purpose of inviting you and listening to what you have to say. No one has a monopoly on Zionism. We disagree vehemently on what steps Israel must take, and on the rights/roles of the Palestinians. But we agree on the most basic of principles - Israel is the Jewish homeland. It's the historical land of our people, and it's the one place in the world that Jews can call "home."I hope you do come back to Bar Ilan at some point so I can hear you speak, and you don't allow people who treat you like an animal to get in the way of that.It's sad. And at the end of the day, Oppenheimer won. Why? Because he sat and listened to people act like animals, screaming and shouting, and calling him names, but he kept his cool. He never lost it. He behaved the way a mensch should behave, and he behaved while unfortunately, my side didn't.