A very unusual event occurred at the Boulder Jewish Community Center on Sunday night: a highly rational and mostly unemotional discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was held, featuring both an Israeli and a Palestinian refugee. That both speakers are highly educated, have spent many years in the United States, are both university professors, have taught the subject together, are friends, and have written a book together went a long way in keeping the evening organized and civil. Not to mention that the moderator successfully kept the large and mostly Jewish audience’s questions to questions, and not merely arguments or opinions.
Shaul Gabbay was born and raised in Tel Aviv. The son of Jewish Arab refugees, his coming of age in Israel filled him with a sense of belonging and pride. He served in the IDF during the Lebanon War, and in fact was stationed just blocks from where his writing partner lived in Beirut at the time. Educated in Israel, Gabbay’s Ph.D. is from Columbia University, followed by postdoctoral studies at the University of Chicago. He teaches at the University of Denver.
Amin Kazak was born in Haifa and became a Palestinian refugee in 1948 at the age of 7. He spent his formative years impoverished in a Palestinian refugee camp. Kazak completed advanced degrees from the American University in Beirut, Lebanon. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Denver and teaches at CU Boulder.