After our research cluster’s theorizing of common impasses to conversations on Israel/Palestine, we wondered what sort of approaches might break through the usual blockages to discussion. A visit by BDS proponent Omar Barghouti to our campus provided an opportunity for application of a promising model, as the speaker later commented that the event was the most peaceful question-and-answer session he had ever experienced. By a careful consideration of the specific conditions of the conversation, organizers of the talk orchestrated a context in which potentially disruptive interlocutors were first invited in small mixed groups to fully expand on their concerns before tables of participants would take responsibility for a single shared question put to the speaker. Inviting face-to-face presence and shared ownership seemed to disarm the willingness to carry through with disruptive scripts. This article understands the space created as a sort of Levinasian ambush, destabilizing bad-faith plans by offering an unanticipated uptake, as if in good faith.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.