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Israel and Palestine: The Search For Solutions Credit: William Staffeld

“Nothing that happens in this room will have any effect whatsoever on anything outside of this room,” said graduate student Murad Idris, discussion moderator of “Israel and Palestine: The Search for Solutions,” in his introductory remarks.

Nevertheless, enough students attended the Tuesday evening event to fill up a lecture hall in Cohen Hall. The program, which was organized by the Philomathean Society, the Penn Israel Coalition and Penn for Palestine, was a moderated discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It’s one that generally seems to draw large crowds,” Idris said of the conflict. “More practically, most of the thanks goes to the three organizations that came together to make this possible.”

Members of PIC and PFP debated three key issues — West Bank Settlements, Gaza and Jerusalem — and then turned to audience questions.

Members of PIC tended to defend the status quo while members of PFP highlighted the need for change in these areas and presented different solutions to attain peace.

Even though there was little consensus between the two sides — even among members of the same coalition at times — both groups expressed being impressed by the degree of civility maintained.

“I thought the vast majority of speakers were very civil and cordial and presented really good pragmatic solutions to the problem,” College senior and PIC President Evan Philipson said. “I think there were a couple of comments that were out of order but I think the moderator was good about showing that.”

While Philipson did not elaborate, one instance where the moderator told a participant she was out of line was when a student conveyed her view that the Israeli Army "beta tests" its weapons on Palestinian civilians.

Despite a few tense instances according to PIC, the three groups involved felt the event conveyed a civil and intellectual tone and was an overall success.

“Philo used to be the center of Penn student life,” College senior, Daily Pennsylvanian columnist and Philo moderator Alec Webley said. “I’m very hopeful that this marks the beginning of Philo taking its place at the center of our student intellectual life once again as we reach our 200th birthday in two years.”

Editor's note: This article has been edited from its print version to reflect that a student was told she was "out of line" when she conveyed her view that the Israeli Army "beta tests" its weapons on Palestinian civilians.

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