Commentary | Letters

Communications director responds
RE: Harper’s social justice hit list (Commentary, Page 8, January 28)

Tamkinat Mirza completely misrepresents NGO Monitor and displays a gross lack of knowledge about the NGOs “Alternatives” and “KAIROS” in Harper’s Social Justice Hit List (Commentary, Page 8, January 28).

NGO Monitor is a non-partisan, independent Jerusalem-based research institution that tracks 150 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict that claim to promote human rights.

For example, our systematic research on Alternatives exposes its support for “ Israeli Apartheid Week” in Montreal, and similar involvement in the immoral Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The objective of these activities is to end the existence of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Alternatives also invokes the demonizing and false apartheid analogy, which exploits the suffering of millions of South Africans for cheap, crude political objectives.

Similarly, KAIROS was involved in the hate-based anti-Israel divestment movement in Canada, and its “resources for education and action” included a publication that described Zionism – which simply expresses the Jewish right to self-determination – as an “ideology of empire, colonialism, and militarism.” KAIROS also sponsored last year’s Canadian speaking tour of Amira Hass, who called on her audience “to build a binational movement against Israeli apartheid.” This is a racist objective which seeks to deprive Jews equality among the nations. These are only a few of many examples where KAIROS activities were inconsistent with its moral claims.

As such, these actions and rhetoric represent the antithesis of a peaceful, two-state solution, and contradict Canadian government policy which promotes mutual understanding. Why should Canadian taxpayers agree to fund NGOs that make this goal more difficult to achieve?

Human rights should be protected by organizations without a biased political agenda. In this regard, legitimate criticism of Israel, Canada or any other state is entirely acceptable. But, the Canadian government was right to stop funding groups which contribute to hate and violence.

Jason Edelstein
Communications Director
NGO Monitor

 

An Innaccurate Comparison

RE: Socrates likes you for you (Features, Pgs 10-12, Feb 2)
After reading Mr Healey’s article on Professor Cornett, Socrates like you for you (Features, Pgs 10-12, February 2), I was surprised to see how Dr. Cornett’s method of teaching was being portrayed. Mr Healey seemingly perceives himself as an old-school student since he prefers formal “authoritarian” methods of education often relied upon and championed by McGill. I would like to join my appreciation of such education. I actually like learning from experts who have dedicated their lives to a field of study and let their knowledge become the primary authority in the room. However, I believe it would be an unfortunate mistake to oppose this traditional method to Dr. Cornett’s dialogic method as it creates a false dichotomy between two non-mutually [exclusive?] approaches.

Having been a student in Dr. Cornett’s classroom, I think that Universities should regard his method as a powerful asset rather than a threat. By bringing us to meet panels of top experts in their field (whether in politics, humanitarian aid, international law etc…), we were allowed to explore fascinating topics in a hands-on way: it’s one thing to follow the news by passively reading the newspaper; it is a very different experience to meet the actual author, politician or expert in humanitarian law in person and dialogue with him or her. In light of what I’ve tried to convey here, rather than just read my testimony, I encourage anybody who is interested in this topic to have their own “hands-on” experience by going to one of Dr. Cornett’s dialogic sessions which are always ongoing in Montreal. Just recently I learned that Dr. Cornett had one of his [dialogic deleted here for flow]  sessions in Paris as his name and his method has attracted the eyes of educators, not only in Canada and the US but the World. The primary memory I retain from Dr. Cornett’s classes is the level of intellectual stimulus and I am not in the least surprised to hear his dialogic sessions are maintaining that tradition whether in Europe or North America.

Giancarlo Maiolo

Bachelor of Science, 2008

Dr. Cornett’s teaching, a lesson for us all

RE: Socrates likes you for you (Features, Pgs 10-12, Feb 2)

University curriculums tend to focus on theory and memorizing but neglect the basics of creativity and thinking.

Dr. Cornett’s course was an exception to the rule. It was a course that challenged our way of thinking and broadened our horizons by asking us to  “Dialogue with it. Answer it. Question it. Challenge it. Accept it. Reject it.”

McGill prepared me for my job interviews. I was accepted into the top accounting firms and had an advantage over students from other universities but Dr. Cornett’s course prepared me for the job and for life. Dr. Cornett’s course pops into my head every time I have a challenging situation that requires me to analyze or think out of the box. I try not to take things for granted and do not make a decision or judgment without understanding the opposing position. I attribute this to Dr. Cornett and his approach to life (which I learnt through his course and teachings).

Joseph Cooper

Bachelor of Commerce 2008

Why Can’t We Be Smart and Funny

Its official: the “news” section of the Daily is now funnier than the back Compendium page. You know how Colbert plays the right-wing to a satirical extreme, that’s what the Daily does for the left. And the Compendium has just given up altogether. Changing Heather Munroe-Blum’s name to Checker Honcho-Plume does not count as humor in itself!. There needs to be actual jokes for it to be funny! Seriously. If you just printed Carnival team names instead, the puns would be better and readers would be happier. This is McGill, we can do better. You gotta step up your game or McGill Memes is going to steal all your business.

Eitan Blander
U3 Psychology

Fighting for democracy
I left campus not too long ago, and as I’ve watched the Occuparty and events of the last Fall unfold, I couldn’t help but notice a sleight of hand going on when a lot of people talk about “democracy.”

There seems to be a widely-held delusion that democracy means a discussion between the students and administration about various decisions the administration is making. This is no more democracy than a Board of Directors discussion about how a business should be run. At best, it’s an oligarchy.

That might sound harsh, but democracy is about people having power over the decisions that affect their lives. McGill University is an institution in the middle of a city filled with people whose first language is not McGill’s language of instruction ­– filled with people who can’t afford McGill’s tuition. It’s part of a global network of policy and research that affects millions of people. Making McGill more democratic means looking at the University as part of a larger structure.
Democracy is about the redistribution of power, and the ability of those affected to withdraw their consent to block the processes that affect them.

So even if those fighting for democracy on campus were small in number (and it doesn’t seem like they are), the issues they are fighting for – accessible education, collective bargaining, and funding for institutions that work to put power in people’s hands like CKUT and QPIRG (not to mention the ability to get a vote counted) – are objectively democratic. They are in alliance with those outside the university who are still affected by it.

Voting and discussion are democratic if they are a tool to bring about redistribution of power – if it has the ability to block unwanted processes. If voting or ideas about “majorities” are being used to centralize power, then they are objectively anti-democratic.

So I can say, from outside the university, keep fighting! Keep building mass support on campus if it helps you take control of the work you do as students, staff, and faculty at the university. But if mass support means an evacuated concept of “democracy,” then mass support should be neither desired nor sought.

Solidarity!

Sam Neylon
B.A. 2011
News Editor 2009-2010
Columnist 2010-2011

 

 

Please don’t call your pamphlet journalism

Re: Socrates likes you for you (Features, Pages 10-12, February 2)

 

Investigating the controversial dismissal of Dr. N. Cornett, and at the end of a series of insinuations, personal attacks and low sarcasm, M. Healey concludes that it was justified by the complaints of some students about their marks. How ironic! This is precisely why McGill needs creative teachers: to have students more interested about their personal education then about their final marks! Maybe we would then have better journalists.

Under the disguise of a commissioned article, M. Healey produced a pamphlet in which he attempts to discredit Dr. Cornett, he succeeded instead to discredit himself completely as an honest reporter. Unfortunately, such a discredit will undoubtedly spill over the McGill Daily and on my university.

Mounir Hanna Samy
Associate Professor of Psychiatry


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