On one of our first days here, another former student came to visit us at the hotel where we were spending the end of Passover with my family. As the last day of the holiday is one on which Jewish law forbids the use of electricity, we had agreed to meet up sometime in the afternoon. This particular student, not ritually observant, had spent the morning in Bethlehem. The kibbutz where we were staying is at Ramat Rahel, at the southernmost tip of the Green Line near Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority is literally across the street.

As we were out in the afternoon with my kids playing on a playground, I spotted this former student walking up the road to the kibbutz, but on the wrong side of the fence. We tried to figure out a way for her to get in, and after some walking down the length of the fence we found a spot where she could scale the fence and jump over, with my help. Border crossers or rule-breakers, depending on your frame of reference.

Natalie asked me at one point whether I thought one day the separation barrier–of which we saw plenty while driving on roads in or near the West Bank–would be thought of like the Berlin Wall. Yes and no. One hopes that one day two peoples will live peacefully together, and perhaps with time coexistence will become ever more possible. At the same time, the wall/fence/barrier was built at a time when it was needed, and it worked, at least as far as the Israelis are concerned: We rode the buses this week when we never rode them five years ago.

I remember, eleven years ago, traveling to Bethlehem with a friend to tutor Arab university students in English. It was a year of self-discovery for me, when I felt completely liberated to “be as Jewish as I wanted to be,” manifesting all the outward signs of my Jewishness that I had tucked in while living in America. But in traveling to Bethlehem, I tucked them in again: my tzitit in my pants, my kippah in my pocket. We passed through an army checkpoint in both directions, and a soldier came on the bus to check our passports.

At one point, one of the women we were working with asked me if I was Arab. I said no, but didn’t tell her I was Jewish. “You look like you could be an Arab,” she said. I remember on the bus ride back thinking how close these two peoples seemed–literally a few miles apart, so similar in so many aspects of custom and culture. And yet how far apart they were at the same time. I got back to Jerusalem, took out my tzitzit, put on my kippah. And those were in the heady days of Oslo, when peace was “right around the corner.”

So Norman Finkelstein spoke at Northwestern last night. I went for the beginning. And I don’t want to get into a debate with him or his supporters. It doesn’t bother me that he espouses an alternative view of history (though calling the Holocaust “a schmatte” is offensive). That’s really not the issue.

Here was the issue for me: The student who introduced him on behalf of Students for Justice in Palestine talked about the group’s goals, to bring justice and self-determination to the Palestinian people. At that point I thought, “Wow, I should join the group. I legitimately share their goals. I want the same thing.” But then she concluded with “and so we hope to form a community of resistance here at Northwestern.”

At this point she sort of lost me, and Finkelstein only complicated matters. Fine, call the Israeli operation a massacre if you want. And make provocative statements like “killing Arabs always scores political points in Israel,” as Finkelstein did. But beyond “lift the blockade,” I didn’t hear anything about solutions. How do you propose to bring peace and justice to Palestine? How do you propose to create a thriving, vibrant, democratic state that can live peacefully with its neighbor, Israel?

I’m not a right-winger, but I just found myself asking, “Israel has made its offers–in 1947, in 2000. What’s your counteroffer?” I wish someone would tell me.

Finally, the original title of the talk last night was “Lessons From Ghandi,” until it was changed to “Behind the Gaza Massacre.” As I have told numerous students, I have been waiting my entire life to see the emergence of a massive non-violent Palestinian protest movement. A Palestinian Ghandi. A Palestinian King. A Palestinian Mandela. “Creating a culture of resistance” is problematic because it leaves out the word “nonviolent.” Imagine the scene: a human chain of Palestinians marching towards the Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint peacefully singing “We Shall Overcome.” Not “Death to Israel,” not “Death to Jews,” but a song about nonviolent resistance.

I’m still waiting and praying for it. And I’ll do my part to help make it happen, if someone will just step forward.