Letters to the Editor: Rally and Speaker Highlight Middle East Issues



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As a participator in the rally, actually I was the protester pictured on the front page of this newspaper holding the sign of the Palestinian boy, I was utterly offended by Justin Azadivar's remarks ("Protester Rhetoric Leaves Something to Be Desired," Feb. 7).

His statements were completely nonanalytical and lacked any factual arguments. The cardboard box demolition by the student playing Ariel Sharon, which Azadivar thought was hilarious, was symbolic of the 600-plus houses that have been demolished in the past year, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless, acts that Amnesty International has called "a grave breach of international law."

Also, I and other protesters were not being mindless in our declaration of Israel being an apartheid-like state. It is. It's government upholds several laws which allow for inhumane, violent treatment of the Palestinians including the Law of Re-entry, Law of Return, and checkpoints. Israel has also broken several UN codes, which is again mysteriously hidden in the news.

Possibly, Students for Justice in Palestine need to think of more effective strategies to make people aware of this issue. Maybe protests and rallies are commonplace in Berkeley, but that doesn't undermine our struggle and message.

Genene Salman


UC Berkeley student

I am neither Jewish nor Arab, but an American. I read with some interest the excerpts and commentary on Amre Moussa's speech ("Middle East Leader Says United States Should Mediate Arab-Israeli Violence," Feb. 8).  One thing that was absent is any indication of protests against him, the government he represented, or the Arab League. I wonder whether his equivalent in the Jewish word, with a pro-Israeli position, would receive a similar reception at Berkeley. I think not, which is sad testimony to the decline of free speech at UC Berkeley.  

Were there truly free and healthy debate on campus, Mr. Moussa would have been taken to task on several fronts, not the least of which is the absolute lack of leadership on the part of all Arab states to sue for peace.  

It is not for Moussa or his allies to criticize the United States nor any other Western power. It is for him and for his peers to demand peace from his own people and take all actions to ensure that peace is possible. The Israeli people have shown clearly that, if presented with a sincere offer, they will take it. It was Yasser Arafat and the Arab states that rejected valid offers from Ehud Barak and from Bill Clinton. Their hypocrisy, weakness, and complicity grows more apparent with each passing month. Moussa, and his supporters on the UC Berkeley campus, should focus on the Arab world: reform in Islam, reform in the despotic states that persecute their own and spawn terror, and truthfulness in world affairs. Anything less is no longer acceptable to we average Americans.

Richard Stanaro


UC Berkeley alumnus

The Daily Californian missed the point of the demonstration ("Students Rally Against Israeli Military Actions in Palestine," Feb. 7). How can a fifth-year international relations major at UC Berkeley not know the Palestinians' situation in the middle east? And how can the Daily Cal refer to it as "alleged injustices"? Have they not read a book on the subject? Of course Israel wants peace! They have the land so now they want to close the book. Meanwhile, Palestinians must pay taxes while they have no rights to their own land, water, farms, educations, and basic freedoms, let alone the right to vote as their settler neighbors have.

In this "democratic" land of Israel Palestinians are exempt from Israel's laws against the death penalty and any right to a fair trial. They do not even have the right to simply live in their own homes. Please read a book.

Karen Maleski


San Jose, Calif.

It may appear as if the conflict is about two estranged student groups who just can't seem to make it to a discussion table ("Students Rally Against Israeli Military Actions in Palestine," Feb. 7). The back and forth dialogue sounds like a transcribed debate and yet the actual issue at hand is overlooked. The Students for Justice in Palestine organized the event to shed light on an illegal practice of home demolitions.

Home demolitions are prohibited by the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949, the basic legal instrument governing the conduct of occupying powers and to which Israel is a signatory. Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention states that no resident of an occupied territory "may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed." This passage explicitly forbids collective punishment and yet the Israeli government sanctions the mass destruction of Palestinian civilian homes!

As students we may disagree on everything-we may die never speaking a word to one another-but none of that changes the facts on the ground. From Sept. 2000 until April 2001, Israeli troops have demolished 226 homes. On Nov. 22 alone, they demolished 18 homes and left 600 Palestinian civilians homeless, in fact the Israeli army demolished three more homes during our rally on Wednesday! You can't negate the facts. In fact many of these figures are also collected by an Israeli human rights group, B'tselem (www.btselelem.com). Are the members of the counter-rally trying to let us know that they support home demolitions? Even if we can't agree on the future of the region we should agree on the basic fact that all humans are entitled to their human rights.

End the illegal and inhumane practice of home demolitions now.

Noura Erakat


UC Berkeley student

Egregious Misnomer

I am writing to express my deepest concern with your editorial practices specifically regarding an article in yesterday's paper ("UC Berkeley May Create Spot for Filipino American Studies Professor," Feb. 11). The difference between "Pilipino" and "Filipino" carries political and historical significance. Spanish colonization over the Philippines imposed the F, which technically does not exist in the Pilipino language. The Pilipino students at UC Berkeley identify themselves as Pilipino as a conscious decision. Yesterday, The Daily Californian deliberately chose to ignore the Pilipino students' right to name themselves and forced a name upon them, spelling Pilipino with an F. The Daily Cal editors made a decision to spell it with an F after the reporter had informed them repeatedly of the significance of using P. This editorial practice is incredibly disrespectful and ignorant.

The Daily Cal has infringed upon the students' right to define their identity. This is no less degrading than Spanish and American colonization.

Last Friday, Angela Davis, said, "Racism no longer exists explicitly; it hides in institutions and behind laws." In this instance, racism hides in the editorial practices that The Daily Californian uses and an editor's choice to abide by it.

Dexter Ligot-Gordon


UC student

regent-designate

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