History Department Presents “Knowledge is the Beginning”

Dr. Priscilla Star­ratt, along with six UWS his­tory stu­dents, hosted Paul Smaczny’s doc­u­men­tary “Knowl­edge is the Begin­ning…” on Tues­day evening, April 9 in Erlen­bach Hall for Global Aware­ness Week.

Nearly 40 peo­ple gath­ered to watch the two-hour doc­u­men­tary, with the major­ity of atten­dants being stu­dents. As Star­ratt said, gath­er­ings such as this are intended to instill a sense of appre­ci­a­tion and aid in “learn­ing the value of a lib­eral arts edu­ca­tion.” UWS his­tory stu­dent pre­sen­ter Mar­shall Hans­berry explained that the event was also hosted on this spe­cific day for a rea­son. It was the 65th anniver­sary of a mas­sacre of Pales­tini­ans in a vil­lage called Deir Yassin. “It was a very strate­gi­cally impor­tant posi­tion for the Israelis to have dur­ing their war for inde­pen­dence,” Hans­berry said, “…as well as one of the more notable removals of Pales­tini­ans from Israel.”

This doc­u­men­tary illus­trates Daniel Baren­boim and Edward Sa’id’s efforts to bring Arab and Israeli coun­tries together through music, edu­ca­tion, and human­i­tar­i­an­ism. Baren­boim and Sa’id took the first steps towards this goal in 1999 by cre­at­ing The West-Eastern Divan Orches­tra, as well as the Friends music school. This orches­tra has caused a stir between the feud­ing coun­tries because the musi­cians include about 30 Arabs, 30 Israelis, and 20 indi­vid­u­als from their host, Germany.

The Friends Music School and Orches­tra is located in Spain due to the high risk of per­sonal harm to either Arab or Israeli stu­dents in other coun­tries. Regard­less, with the proper safety pre­cau­tions, the orches­tra has vol­un­tar­ily trav­eled to a few out­side coun­tries despite the high risks involved. UWS stu­dent Gianna Zappa, 19, said,  “I’d be too scared. It’s pretty coura­geous of these peo­ple to do that.”

Many reporters regard Barenboim’s efforts as an attempt for cre­at­ing peace between Arab and Israeli coun­tries, how­ever that is not the sole pur­pose of this orches­tra. Baren­boim is sim­ply a human­i­tar­ian and states, “a life with­out music is impov­er­ished,” though he wouldn’t mind if the two coun­tries could reside in peace for the sake of human­ity. UWS stu­dent Sarah Pet­znick, 20, said that over­all “it was a good expe­ri­ence…. I learned a lot.”

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