This blog was created by the Palestine Israel Action Group (PIAG), a subcommittee of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting. PIAG's deep concern about the 67-year old conflict has led us to action, education, and dialogue. We hope to contribute to a solution that is perceived as workable and fair by reasonable people on both sides.The blog is not meant to represent the views of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting as a whole. Relevant, civil comments will be posted.
Sunday, September 03, 2017
What is a Quaker education for?
Should a Quaker education go beyond the intellectual and into the realm of the moral, the spiritual, and the equitable?
We think so.
In this post, PIAG comments on the recent controversy at Friends Central School in Pennsylvania, where an invitation from high school student club to a distinguished Palestinian speaker was denied.
of School Craig Sellers
of the Board Philip Scott
1101 City Avenue
Wynnewood, PA 19096 August 23, 2017
Dear Mr. Sellers and Mr.
As the new school year
approaches, we are deeply saddened to learn the outcome of the controversy at
Friends Central last year regarding the invitation by the Peace and Equality in
Palestine Club to Dr. Sa’ed Atshan to deliver a talk at the school.
understand the situation, at the request of a number of parents who were
dismayed at the idea of a distinguished speaker talking about his experiences
as a Palestinian, you first rescinded Dr. Atshan’s invitation, then later,
reconsidered and re-issued it (though understandably, he declined to accept).
Distressingly, you suspended the student club and fired two teachers of color
who had supported the students. We are concerned about these teachers, and
wonder if you can share with us how the decision was made, their current
status, and the support the school may have given them in finding new
As for the school’s
treatment of the Israel Palestine conflict, we understand that hearing about
the experience of Palestinians under Israeli occupation can be deeply
However, fear has a way of eclipsing reason, reflection, fairness,
and compassion – all qualities that we expect a Friends School to cultivate in
its students. We ask you to find the courage to move beyond the emotions in
this conflict and start anew.
We ask that in the new
school year, you continue thinking about your reactions and those of your
students and parents, and begin working to make the study of thorny conflict –
with human beings on both sides -- a centerpiece in your classes involving
international relations, human rights, and history.
Although we are dismayed
that Friends Central has lost the opportunity to hear from one of the most
compassionate and compelling speakers on the Palestinian experience, we urge
you to invite others – or perhaps spokespeople on both sides of the conflict --
to engage your students so they can make up their own minds about what is fair
After all, isn’t critical thinking the goal of a superior education?
And shouldn’t a Friends education go beyond the intellectual and into the realm
of the moral, the spiritual, and the equitable?
The Palestine Israel
Action Group (PIAG) of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting