Regent’s Young Democrats hosted their first event this past Wednesday night. They invited Dr. Koev, Ph.D., Department Chair and Associate Professor of Government and Criminal Justice at Regent University, to give a lecture on the history of Palestine. In addition, he offered some considerations for Christians to contemplate as they think through the current conflict between Palestine and Israel.
Dr. Koev opened with prayer and then established the purpose of his lecture. He stated that although he is not a Democrat, he was happy to give this lecture because intellectual diversity is essential to a healthy community.
“Viewpoint conformity can only make us dumber,” Koev said before beginning his presentation.
According to Koev, Palestine and Israel each have valid claims as both nations have a history deeply rooted in the land. He said trying to deny either nation’s claim is an uninformed position, calling such arguments a “bogus narrative.”
He stressed the importance of understanding the context of maps, charts, and statistics as well as recognizing the need to research information. Koev encouraged those in attendance to consider both sides of the debate.
“Sometimes Christians can be wrong about politics,” Koev said while talking about the need to research all angles of the conflict.
Koev explained the difference between the West Bank, which is run by Fatah, and Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas. After explaining some of the history and culture of Palestine, Koev moved into an analysis of the current conflict between these two nations and possible resolutions.
A two-state resolution seems very unlikely, and a one-state situation also seems hard to achieve. He did point out there are currently 2 million Arabs living in Israel as full-functioning citizens, which provides evidence for the possibility of Muslims, Jews, and Christians living together in one nation. However, because of other factors unique to the current conflict, a one-state resolution does not seem possible at this point.
His conclusion focused on the immoral actions of Hamas, which is the current acting government in Gaza. He condemned terrorism, saying that Palestinians were “victims of their own corrupt government” and praying that the “Lord will protect civilians on both sides.”
There were roughly twenty people in attendance, and while they all had different opinions and reasons for attending, they all agreed that Dr. Koev’s presentation was well-researched and respectful toward both sides.
Hailey Todd, a government major at Regent University, said “Dr. Koev does a good job of giving an unbiased history, I’ve seen that in all his classes. I appreciate that a lot.” She described herself as a Christian Zionist and that, although the lecture did not change her mind, she appreciated the opportunity to talk to people who have different perspectives and left the event feeling more knowledgeable.
The faculty advisor for Regent Young Democrats, Kevin Grimm, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History at Regent University, said “I think it [the lecture] was good. Dr. Koev is much more of an expert than I am on this and he brought a good balanced view of the many complicated views that’s going on.”
Several people brought up the significance of the historical background and the educational value of Dr. Koev’s lecture. Michael Elam, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English Literature at Regent University, said, “He [Dr. Koev] mentioned things I didn’t really know. I think the historical underpinnings are especially important.”
Christine Payne, MFA, Evening Access Services Supervisor at the Regent University library, agreed that the focus on the history of Palestine was helpful and provided information she had not been aware of. She hopes that events like the lecture will help bridge the gap between conservative and liberal voices on campus and “shift conversations towards more bridge-building and a more humanitarian view.”
Payne also expressed interest in supporting the Young Democrats club, which was recently founded and is in its first year as an official student organization. Sarah Neer, a law and national security major and member of Regent Young Democrats, was there in support of the club as well as the Young Democrats Vice President, Becca Shaw-Fuller.
“I am proud to bring intellectual and thought diversity to our campus and I attended the event because I was raised as a Christian with the belief that the lives that God gave us matter above all else,” Shaw-Fuller said when asked about the event.
For more information on Regent Young Democrats, check out their Instagram @regentyoungdems.