Commentary | Letters

Censorship a sign of desperation?

Re: Human rights, genocide, and the children of Hamas | Commentary | January 22

Attending the January 14 lecture by Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper, I learned that McGill authorities had only hours before suddenly threatened to ban the talk unless organisers paid for extra security guards. This, after Halper’s scheduled speech of the following day had to be moved elsewhere when the original venue – the Jewish Gelber Centre – abruptly shut its doors. What gives?

True, Jeff Halper is a harsh critic of Israel. He lambasts its four-decadelong policy of West Bank settlement expansion, deliberately designed to thwart the creation of that Palestinian state Israel likes to claim it supports. He documents the transformation of Gaza into a vast and caged laboratory, where Israel can with total impunity test the latest counter-insurgency tools on a captive population of 1.5-million human guinea pigs. He exposes the charade of Israeli “democracy,” where Arab political parties must sign pledges to uphold the Jewish character of the state, and can still be arbitrarily disqualified – as two of them recently were.

This is indeed a damning indictment, but no harsher than the customary denunciations by the now-revered prophets and visionaries of Biblical times who vociferously decried their people’s transgressions – and who were consequently exiled by the official temple priesthood whose role was to serve the established order while safeguarding their own privileged positions.

Unable to banish dissidents to the desert, contemporary state apologists today resort to censorship and smears. With clockwork predictability, the Zionist lobby group named “Canadian Institute for Jewish Research” accused Halper of wanting Israel’s “annihilation” in a letter prominantly displayed by its ideological soulmate, the Asper-owned Montreal Gazette.

How sad that the self-anointed “leaders” of today’s organized Jewish community choose to assume the role of temple priests, rather than emulate the far nobler prophetic spirit of Judaism. History will judge these commissars with the contempt they deserve. They are as distant in spirit to that prophetic tradition as they are in chronological time.

Israel’s stomach-turning carnage in Gaza has provoked unprecedented public outrage. Could the frantic surge by Israel-worshippers of their intimidation campaign perhaps reflect their growing realization that the emperor not only stands naked, but increasingly ugly as well?

Shirley Groves

281 Westcroft, Beaconsfield

A brief history of Sderot, formerly known as Najd

Re: Human rights, genocide, and the children of Hamas | Commentary | January 22

Perhaps had you revisited a bit of the history of Sderot in your article, it would have had a very different tone, and possibly you would have learned a thing or two about human rights law, and last but not least, why individuals choose to defend the human rights of Gazans.

The city of Sderot has only existed since 1951. What was it before that? Well, it was an Arab village known as Najd. A village that on May 3, 1948 was bombarded and occupied by Jewish soldiers of the Negev Brigade. The inhabitants were all expelled from their village while it was being demolished, and eventually flattened beyond any recognition. The former residents, now refugees, escaped to Gaza, and now there they remain 60 years later, only to have their new homes flattened. Perhaps had you visited Sderot on May 3, 1948, or Najd as it was known then, you would see this a bit differently.

UN Resolution 194 and Article 13 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights gives Palestinians the right to choose to return to their towns and villages, most of which were demolished, or receive compensation for their destroyed properties. The current blockade of the Gaza Strip violates international law, as well as human rights law, and is in violation of UN Resolution 194, as well as Article 13 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It is for this reason that “individuals profess to be defending the human rights of Gazans.”

It is still possible for one to profess to be defending the human rights of Gazans while not abiding by or supporting the principles espoused by groups such as Hamas. One can, if they choose, support human rights, because they recognize that regardless of race, religion, or creed, human rights must be upheld for all.

Nadim Roberts

U3 Political Science

I want my bottled water

McGill Residence Food Services has stopped including bottled water as part of its bag lunch and dinner options, making a vague claim to greenness. Oh, please! Your mandate is to provide a service for the gazillion dollars McGill charges for residence meal plans, and the least you could do is to not make it increasingly less convenient for students so McGill can earn PR brownies.

First of all, those bottles are polyethylene terephthalate, which is completely recyclable. It’s literally the archetype for recyclable plastics, bearing the recycling number “1.” And this province does recycle up to 70 per cent of its bottles.

We don’t drink bottled water as an alternative to tap water, but more as an alternative to any other liquid that would be simple to carry into a class. That would be the endless cans of pop that have now become the dominant drink for the bag meal user.

Tell me, how is this healthier for caf students than plain old water – and isn’t our health one of your stated primary concerns? (A secondary concern being, by the way, choices.) Instead of plain old water in a recyclable plastic bottle, you’re encouraging us to drink carbonated drinks in a recyclable aluminium can. I don’t see what major planet-saving this is doing. Do the decent thing. Bring the water back.

Manosij Majumdar

U2 Chemical Engineering

Tell me more, tell me more

Re: January 15 issue

The McGill Daily has been “printing the whole picture since 1911.” It’s a shame they had to end this custom in 2009.

When I saw the front page of The Daily this week, I felt disgusted by my so-called non-biased educational institute. I had prided myself in believing that McGill was a place of learning and not a place for political propaganda. It’s a shame that I can no longer hold these beliefs. I have no problem whatsoever with The Daily printing articles on the recent anti-Israel rallies nor on the situation in Gaza. However, they could have easily balanced these articles and vivid pictures with information from the other side as well.

I doubt The Daily would ever put a picture of an Israeli flag on the cover or have a two-page foldout on the Israeli side of the conflict, and truthfully, that saddens me. When an educational institute picks a political side, I begin to question the education I am receiving and those that are in control of my education. What else is it that they are not telling me?

Vicky Tobianah

U1 Political Science and English Literature

Daily contributor

Come on, we all know that’s ridiguluss

Re: “Smashing one piñata at a time” | Commentary | January 15

I’m a regular Daily reader, so by this point I’m pretty desensitized to the extremes of political sentiment present in its pages. But I have to ask Mr. Sprague one thing: was he being serious? When examining the idea of bringing a lasting peace to the Holy Land, does he really believe that a revolution of the proletariat in Israel is the answer? I hope this was satire. I know this is The Daily, but seriously, we all know that’s one of the most laughable things ever said about the Middle East.

Jeff Vavasour-Williams

U2 History & Religious Studies

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