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What would you fight for? For Notre Dame, it should be peace in the Holy Land.

| Monday, October 30, 2023

Most of us are probably familiar with the running TV segment aired during Notre Dame football games highlighting the pioneering achievements of our student body, faculty and alumni. Right now, I call Notre Dame to harness its collective energy and resources to rally around advocating for a lasting peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Two months ago, I traveled to Jerusalem and the West Bank to visit various holy sites and witnessed first-hand Israeli-Palestinian relations. I had the opportunity to first visit the region as a Notre Dame student majoring in political science and Arabic in the summer of 2012, and ever since, I’ve tried to get back to this region as much as possible. 

My most recent return was jarring, to say the least. I visited the cosmopolitan beaches of Tel Aviv, the Palestinian refugee camps and stood at the wall dividing Bethlehem and Jerusalem where Pope Francis prayed for peace in 2014. Looking back, I felt the underlying tensions that would eventually boil over to cause such a calamitous act of terror we are now seeing on TV. 

I came away from my most recent trip with a distinct sense of purpose and a call to action — with the question “What can I do to help?” running through my head. 

I believe this response — the one I had to fight for change — is what Notre Dame wants all its graduates to go out into the world with after leaving the friendly confines of campus. To make a difference in the world. It’s why we have the TV spotlight during football games, right?

With my individual agency in this broader conflict, the immediate answer I came up with was: to return to campus, meet with old faculty, attend lectures and research what our various institutions on campus are doing to advance peace between Israel and Palestine. My solution was tapping back into the Notre Dame community to hopefully amplify the urgency and necessity to do more than we are presently doing. Based on my research, I came away with a sense that we can and must do more as America’s preeminent Catholic university to advance lasting peace in the Holy Land. 

Will Notre Dame tap into its global Rolodex of peace builders and lawmakers to advance a dialogue that breaks the decades-long cycle of violence? Will Notre Dame pivot and unleash the awesome transformative powers held by the brains at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies? As members of the Notre Dame family, we should all expect the answer to be an unequivocal and resounding yes. 

Presently, the narrative is and will be about arms shipments, aircraft carriers stationed offseas, retribution, antisemitism, Islamophobia and just a general dehumanization of innocents. Violence begets violence. 

Grounded in our religious roots, our global influence and our vast resources, we have a responsibility to make change. Peace in the Holy Land is what Notre Dame should be fighting for. 

Matthew Kent

Notre Dame class of 2013

Oct. 12

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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