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Eagle's eye offers perspective on Israeli-Palestine conflict

Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 02:10

Aggies for Palestine

Roger Zhang

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has generated social and political unrest for decades, and debate and diplomacy is a constant resource utilized by world leaders. Harley Eagle, a Native American who has visited Palestine, is arguing a different approach based on personal encounters with those affected by the conflict.

Eagle’s presentation — An Eagle’s Eye View of Palestine — Tuesday night in Rudder Tower was presented by Aggies for Palestine, a student group focused on raising awareness about the conflict and the social issues stemming from it.

Eagle, who is of the Salteau and Dakota Nations (more commonly known as the Sioux), has visited Palestine several times through a connecting peoples exchange program through the faith-based non-profit organization he is a part of. His initial experience with the program had been with a group of Palestinians who visited the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He brought them onto a radio show he was working with.

“We had a little interview, had a little talk with them and the phone lines lit up because there were so many indigenous people from that community that found their stories so similar,” Eagle said.

Eagle said the similarities between the two groups stem from how themselves and their claims to land are treated by more dominant governments.

“They talked about the occupation of their land, of their forced confinement, to being removed from their land,” Eagle said. “Those kind of words are very familiar to indigenous people in this land.”

Eagle said the Palestinians were overwhelmed because they were experiencing firsthand what could potentially happen to Palestine.

“One of them asked ‘is this what is to become of Palestinians?’” Eagle said. “He saw, physically, the poverty and the difficult issues that people face and he wondered, ‘is this what is to become of my land, of my people?’”

For Eagle, visiting Palestine allowed him to see first hand how his people had been treated, something he said he had never personally experienced.

“When I went to Palestine and I saw what Palestinians have to live with and the general fear of the whole area, it really affected me,” Eagle said. “I saw how my own people were damaged and what they had to experience.”

Visiting political hotspots around the world and his personal experiences on Native American reservations has given Eagle a plethora of knowledge in regards to problem analysis and conflict resolution.

“Understand the connections to the situation rather than focusing on one specific event or occurrence,” Eagle said. “Conflict is something that shouldn’t be shied away from. We should figure out a way of embracing it.”

Eagle’s experiences and outlooks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and conflict in general, was something students — such as junior international studies major and Vice President of Aggies for Palestine Deniz Mustafa — said they had never seen.

“It gives us a Native American perspective that connects the stories of Native Americans to what Palestinians are going through now,” Mustafa said. “What happened to Native Americans is a sad tragedy and we don’t want that to happen to Palestinians, or any other group on Earth.”

Eagle said the best chance for any type of improvement for Palestinians and Native Americans is going to come from young people who are becoming more and more aware of their surroundings.

“I see that there is a desire to know the full story, desire to understand the story from a better perspective that gives us true solutions,” Eagle said.

Senior international studies major and public relations chair for Aggies for Palestine Jala Naguib said Eagle’s presentation was an opportunity for young people to get involved and become aware.

“It’s a really good opportunity because a lot of people here didn’t even know about the conflict,” Naguib said. “It’s great that we’re able to bring him here and he can educate and inform and engage us in critical thinking.”


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