Commentary  Letters

Security: at what expense?

Re: “Tadamon! is no Paragon” | Commentary | January 12

Yes, “let us not oversimplify.” The issue in Gaza at the moment is not one that anyone can even begin to assess in a weekly column or in a simple letter. It is an issue involving a history of charged emotions, deep-seated biases, and millions of well- and ill-informed opinions. Do not mistake me, I am not writing this in to be the archetypal Arab advocate of Palestinian human rights – I’m simply writing this to place an emphasis on the ill-informed nature of the debates and discussions taking place on this issue.

Hamas is and has been, for some time now, launching attacks on Israel at the expense of Gazan civilians. And we all know that number one on the Israeli government’s “to do list” is security. I just write this to prompt the question: at what expense? Let’s bring up the old Machiavellian concept, “the end justifies the means.” Really? Is that what the world has come down to?

Let me get this straight, Ricky. “The only way for Israel to win is to kill Hamas soldiers, but that’s hard when they hide behind the horribly literal skirts of Gazan civilians.” Right. So Israel is basically left with no alternatives. One of the richest, most powerful nations in the world is simply out of ideas. There is no other way to weaken Hamas. Let’s just aim at Hamas soldiers, and hey, if a couple of hundred children die in the process, it’s a price we are willing to pay.

Honestly, no matter who you are or what side you’re on, I think we should all agree that that is no price anyone should be willing to pay. C’mon, people. I remain unconvinced. There are other ways to handle Hamas and weaken its intelligence and military structures.

Heck yes, let us “never allow nihilists to use our own morality against us.” Let us instead challenge them, question their every move, and place pressure on those who claim to be working toward justifiable “ends” to come up with new “means.”

Sarah Albanna

U2 International Development Studies and Sociology

Education is anything but a commodity

Re: “Education isn’t a right, it’s a commodity” | Letters | January 12

Let me begin by saying that what I have to say it isn’t all bad: one part is an attack, but I will compensate by applauding Lofranco on one of his points as well. But first, the criticism.

I agree, Mr. Lofranco, education is not a right. Similarly though, water is not a right, and food is not a right either. It is access to these things which is a right. Now, perhaps we won’t find “access to university education” amongst the rights on the UN declarations, but I do believe that they are in the spirit of them. I hate to get bogged down in syntax, but I think that the main issue of your point of view, and in fact that of others depends on this linguistic misconception.

I will return to this point, but I wish to make clear that education is not, nor should it be, a commodity. Perhaps, Mr. Lofranco, you mean by commodity that it is something which is not essential to survival, and thus callously use this word instead of privilege or luxury, but it has much more ingrained significance than that. To say that it is a commodity is to claim that it should be reserved for those who can afford it, in a purely monetary sense, and that we should acquire it if we feel like it, as an extra little feather in our cap, so long as we can foot the bill. The consequences of this conception of education are far from desirable, particularly for a person of your persuasion.

I would like to end by agreeing with what you say at the very end of your letter, about making universities places for the academic elite. After all, isn’t that what we should be striving for? By all means, raise the fees if it will lead to better education, so long as we raise the standards as well. I would only suggest that we also invest in student aid to ensure that the “best and the brightest” can still afford to become part of this elite.

Charles Pitman

U2 Economics and Philosophy

Read before responding

Re: “Jews, Muslims, and Arabs should stand together” | Letters | January 15

I typically do not respond to Letters to the Editor, but in the last edition Isaac Binkovitz implied that opinion pieces that I, along with Ricky Kreitner and Mookie Kideckel, had written fuelled the supposed tensions between Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities in diaspora.

While I will not deny this claim about Kreitner and Kideckel – whose opinion pieces were rife with misinformation almost directly out of the mouths of an Israeli military spokesperson – I politely yet vehemently refute this assertion about my piece.

In it, I am in no way “dehumanizing, stereotyping, or otherwise denigrating innocent civilians and their diasporic counterparts,” as Binkovitz implies. Read my piece carefully; you will not find one mention of the words Jew, Muslim, or Arab.

As for Kreitner and Kideckel, I am quite sure that their extremist views are negated by the substantial participation of the Jewish community in social justice work throughout the world. Let us not forget, the demonstrations in Montreal over the past few weeks have been equalled by those in Tel Aviv in shock over the continuing Israeli assault on the people of Gaza.

While I’m at it, as is the case with all of my writings, I will gladly provide references for all of the facts used in my opinion pieces. My pieces are always submitted with references included, which the editors then remove before printing.

Nasser Mohieddin Abukhdeir

PhD IV Chemical Engineering

Does Hamas really want to talk?

Re: “Hamas must be talked to” | Features | January 15

In his article, Niko Block praises Hamas for calling Obama to congratulate him on his victory, yet fails to discuss the aid being sent from Israel into Gaza, and the extreme measures that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) take to prevent the killing of innocent civilians. He credits the recent violence to the “fact that Hamas has found nothing but closed doors in the diplomatic sphere…especially with Israel.” Merely taking a look at history since the creation of the State of Israel forces one to ask the question: at what point were these doors closed?

In 1937, the Arabs rejected the Peel Commission, which would have served as a compromise dividing the land west of the Jordan River into two independent states. In 1947, the United Nations proposed the Partition Plan, which would have made a Jewish state out of merely 15 per cent of the land originally promised to the Jews in 1917 in the Balfour Declaration.

In a quest for peace, mirroring their decision on the Peel Commission, the Jews ratified it and the Arab world rejected it. In 1979 at Camp David, Prime Minister Begin aspired to peace and returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and its president Anwar Sadat as a gesture of good faith. In 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak went back to Camp David and offered Palestinians 97 per cent of the territories, granting the right to return to many refugees, and military control over Eastern Jerusalem and parts of the Old City. Instead of sitting down to talk, Yasser Arafat waged a war of terror. In 2005, Israel disengaged from Gush Katif, a settlement in Gaza, only to be plagued by thousands of rockets.

So what have we learned from Hamas’ track record? We have learned that the Palestinians have yet to uphold their end of the “Land for Peace” negotiations. We have seen that while Israel has been willing to compromise, the Palestinians have not, and maybe, just maybe, Hamas doesn’t really want to talk.

Leanne Silberberg

U0 Psychology and Linguistics

First step to peace: end violence

Re: “What the World doesn’t know about Israel” | Letters | January 15

Bravo, well done! Eden Sagman has successfully regurgitated the popular mantras professed by mendacious world “leaders,” ideas held as common truths drilled into people’s minds day after day.

Essentially, that the Israeli government has the right to defend itself, that Hamas is a “terrorist” organization contributing to the destruction of Gaza, and finally, that the Israel Defense Force is making great efforts to reduce the amount of civilian casualties. Your words hold neither credibility nor truth when one accepts the undeniable fact that more than 1,300 Palestinians have been killed in a massacre orchestrated by one of the most powerful military forces on the face of this planet.

The Palestinians have been living under occupation for over 60 years – a dehumanizing and degrading situation that you and I will never be able to grasp. Sagman audaciously claims that Israel just wants “peace and quiet.” Well then I suggest it begins by ending its indiscriminate use of violent force against innocent civilians.

Amanie Antar

U3 Education

Serious or embarrassing – take your pick

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

Ahoy Comrade Ted,

Thanks so much for the delightfully tongue-in-cheek article this week. You so effectively caricatured the absurd conclusions and out-of-context half-truths that radical anti-Israel activists are constantly spouting. The obvious grammatical errors only heightened the satire.

Thank you for shedding some humour on such a dark situation. I only hope nobody will be silly enough to think you’re being serious here, as that would be very embarrassing for you.

In solidarity,

Mookie Kideckel

U1 Political Science

The Daily received more letters than it could print this issue, they will appear in the next possible issue. Send your non-offensive letters to at 300 words or less, and include your year and program.