Letters to the Editor: Repercussions of Israeli-Palestinian Protests

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How can we hope for peace in the Middle East when the divide between the Pro-Israeli and Pro-Palestine protesters only seems to grow? Does the terrorist bombings in Israel justify the innocent lives lost in Palestine? Should a little girl be allowed to die from terrorism in Israel because her people are in "occupation" of Palestinian territory? The fact is that senseless deaths are amounting on both sides that cannot be justified, no matter how far you dig into history. The protesters on campus for each side need to stop letting emotions drive them, and allow intellectual thought, compromise, and empathy to guide them. Only then can we have true peace.

Philip Lu

UC Berkeley student

Living abroad gives you an interesting outside perspective of American culture and events. This perspective, to my great chagrin, is that students at UC Berkeley are but a pale reflection of the chaotic hatred and finger-pointing currently taking place in the Mideast-minus, thankfully, the violence. At least, that is how European media describes the embarrassing clash between student supporters of Israel and Palestine on campus earlier this week.

Indeed, one would think that Berkeley, bastion of liberalism and tolerance, could be a meeting point where differing minds might sit down and seek solutions instead of slinging ugly slurs at each other.

This is apparently not the case. Though the rallies had all the trappings of the civil rights rallies of yesteryear, the content fell sadly well short. As for the foreign media, they did not fail to pick up on the gap between UC Berkeley's reputation and the ugly reality as demonstrated by the students.

Eric Chang

UC Berkeley alumnus

Universities are meant to be educational institutions, not political ones. While protesting various causes one or two oceans away is perfectly fine as a hobby, when such protests interfere with the workings of the university, and prevent other students from receiving a legitimate education because the instructor has to shout over the nursery rhymes that protest groups wield, it is time to simply tell them "no." This campus is as much ours, the students seeking a valid education, as it is theirs. Their free assembly rights don't overshadow the rights of others to walk along university pathways that have been earmarked for arm-in-arm marches. Let's turn this place back into an institution of higher learning, not one of louder voices.

Justin Azadivar

UC Berkeley student

I was excited to see UC Berkeley students once again taking a lead in seeking justice, this time in the Middle East, much as they did in the '60s in the war in Vietnam and the Civil Rights movements.

I am proud to have played a small part in the above causes many years ago. I fear the Middle East is a world-wide disaster ready to happen and neither the U.S. media or our politicians are any help. In fact I believe both are part of the problem, not the solution.

As a former VISTA volunteer and student of the '60s I want to applaud you and to encourage a groundswell from the campuses to demand justice in the Middle East. In doing so we will perhaps have found a bit more justice in our own country.

Ronald Coleman

UC Berkeley alumnus

I would like to extend a warm and hearty congratulations to the joint Palestinian-Israeli protests that took place Tuesday. I find that most of the protests on campus tend to be useless, but I found this one served a grander purpose. Yes, thank you protesters for getting both my 2 p.m. and my 3:30 p.m. classes in Wheeler Hall cancelled. Finally, a mass student movement effects some real change. To the protesters, I tell you that I will support any and all issues that you might feel the need to vociferously (very vociferously) protest ... as long as you do it every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:30 p.m. in the Haas School of Business. Once again, thank you and and if it is not too much trouble to drum up some injustice or something, feel free to protest on Apr. 17 at 4 p.m. in 2 Evans Hall. I want to go to the A's game that night and, well, you know ... Anyway, thank you very much for your help today and here's to future mass rallies in front of Wheeler. I believe in you, protesters.

Matt Talbot

UC Berkeley student

Today's rally demonstrates the frightening resemblance between Middle East discourse at UC Berkeley and the actual crisis the demonstration is based on, both of which have degenerated into unrelenting hostility and finger-pointing. The extremes on either side virtually dominate a debate which has become all but fruitless, because neither faction seems to be able to demonstrate a sympathy to any perspective other than their own. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between, but I despair that this will never be acknowledged, because the mushy middle ground never makes for good protest chants.

Gabriel Edwards

UC Berkeley student

I am a senior at Cal who was extremely hurt and offended by the protest held on Tuesday by the Students for Justice in Palestine. This is a time in which discussions, not yelling matches must be held, especially in light of the recent anti-Semitic acts committed around Berkeley recently. The Daily Californian reported that emotions remained fairly calm, and many discussions were held during the protest. I was there, a participant in some of those discussions, but I was also there when Jewish student after Jewish student broke into tears in response to what was chanted, and the insults they made concerning the Holocaust and Israelis.

There was nothing calm about this. Whether or not the Students for Justice in Palestine claim they mourn the loss of life during the Holocaust, they did not show that when they yelled back at Jewish students nearly on the verge of tears, "check points are the same as gas chambers." The fact that this had to be discussed, defended, and heard is disgusting and makes me very uncomfortable as a Jewish student on this campus where the lines between violent words and violent acts have recently blurred. In allowing this kind of atmosphere to perpetuate, hateful acts like the ones we have been seeing committed against Jews in the past few weeks are encouraged. We have no choice but to respect each other as human beings and individuals on this campus, in this country, and on this globe, not only for our own personal sakes, but for the sake of all of us. And if we can't do it here, I wonder if there is any hope.

Devorah Lauter

UC Berkeley student

Daily Cal Endorsements

We, the undersigned ASUC candidates, object to The Daily Californian's cynical and biased mischaracterization of ASUC candidates in its April 9, 2002 Endorsements.

In its endorsements, the Daily Cal proceeded to launch racist, personalistic attacks on ASUC candidates to purposely denigrate and belittle their intentions rather than stating each candidates platform and actually differentiating between them. Not a single viewpoint from an ASUC candidate was presented. The Daily Cal seems to be content with its consistent lack of professionalism and journalistic integrity.

The net effect of this slipshod reporting is the obstruction of basic democracy-students are not presented with objective information about the field of candidates as they enter the poll booth to cast their vote. Students are forced to wonder what is true and what is false or inaccurate, and to look past the Daily Cal's personal animosity toward many of the candidates.

The Daily Cal's coverage degrades this election, the student government and itself. The endorsements are not worthy of any college publication.

We call upon the Daily Cal to play the role it should play as a student newspaper by fully informing the students that is serves and making clear where candidates stand on current issues so that students can make more informed decisions.

Signed by: Hoku Jeffrey, Ronald Cruz, Josie Hyman, Kiesha Sheffield, Yesenia Turner, Grace Malvar, Omar Rodriguez, and Tara Tineal of Defend Affirmative Action Party; Adnan Iqbal and Sajid Khan of Goatmilk; Anna Elzeftawy and Shaudi Falamaki of APPLE; Peter Gee, Dan Komarek, Taina Gomez, David Garner, Patrick Hammon Amorette Yang, and Gustavo Mata of Cal-SERVE; Jesse Gabriel, Jimmy Bryant, Han Hong, John Wilson, Katie Mattesich, Jennifer Ro, Clifford Costa, Japneet Kaur, and Zhi Hu of Student Action; Tasvir Patel and Frank Lee of UNITE Greeks; Josie Ni of BECS; Salam Rafeedie, Independent; Eric England of Woodstock Party; Andy Ho of Ho-Train Express; Jon Fong of Fong Twins; Annabel Chang of You Want Me; Eric Anthony of Democratic Party; Jessica Richman, Independent; Crissy Solh of Fight for Your Rights Party.

A Salute to Cal

In my two and a half years here at UC Berkeley, I have learned the indelible lesson that Cal is a land of surprises and shocks. In recent months, another one of these wonders has gradually revealed itself in the form of the Cal community's reception toward military on the UC Berkeley campus. From the trends I have observed lately, it is more and more apparent to me that Cal is an environment that not only tolerates the presence of the military here on campus, but often respects us as well. This is quite a contrast from what I had expected, especially following the events of Sept. 11. As a cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, I was cautioned to be wary of negative reaction or feedback from the student community, a warning that stemmed from Berkeley's "interesting" past with the military. This was re-emphasized after the terrorist attacks, when the possibility of the targeting of cadets was even greater than before.

But I have come to see a more supportive and understanding environment than I had preconceived. For example, in many of the situations where certain hecklers had "voiced" their opinions to us before, such as during our campuswide formation marches, tabling sessions, or the wear of uniforms to classes, we are left to go about our business unbothered. Often times, visitors stop by to inquire about the leadership training or many scholarships that we offer, or even give words of support for our mission.

There is no direct cause I can attribute the change in Cal's attitude following Sept. 11; it could be a general re-realization that training and maintaining a military is vital to homeland security, or it could be a growing appreciation for the military's mission or cause, or a variety of other factors. Whatever the cause is, I applaud the student community for adopting it.

Emmanuel Cao

UC Berkeley student

Corn Research

Can we allow our public universities to continue to act like corporate monsters?

Science should not be used as a political weapon, but that is what is occurring on our very own campus ("UC Department Torn Over Corn Research," Apr. 9). As students, we have to be extremely concerned about what is happening to Ignacio Chapela and his graduate student David Quist if we want our university to continue to be respected for its forefront research. If Chapela is denied tenure because his research produced controversial results, what message does this send to all those seeking truth in their research? What will happen to research solely for the sake of answering a question? Will research gradually shift to purely profit-motivated?

The results that Chapela received in his study challenged fundamental concepts of biotechnology, which is why professors in the College of Natural Resources have attacked this study. Even Nature, a highly respected scientific journal has caved to this political pressure. More biotechnology research is necessary, and it is very disturbing that all supporters attempt to squash any negative findings.

What is happening to Chapela is the absolute worst case scenario of what can happen when the line between public and private is blurred in academics. We all have to ask ourselves if we want our public universities to continue these ties with private corporations at the expense of dignity.

Megan Konar

UC Berkeley student


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