Commentary  Letters

Anti-Semites do care about other issues

Re: “Where might a new anti-Semitism take root?” | Commentary | March 9

Defenders of Israel often accuse its critics of being anti-Semitic for focusing attention on Israel while ostensibly ignoring human rights abuses elsewhere in the world. Ironically, Ricky Kreitner brings this up in the context of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) – an event which seems explicitly about trying to make connections between important struggles.

In fact, IAW’s keynote address featured Ronnie Kasrils, a former leader within the African National Congress (ANC). He discussed the long history of common cause shared by the Palestinian and South African liberation movements. As Kasrils emphasized, despite their own efforts to end racist rule, ANC organisers spoke out frequently for anti-imperial movements around the world.

Kreitner’s criticism bothers me personally – as someone who has organised a Burmese solidarity event, who has organised against the repression of environmental activists in China, who has taken action for Coca-Cola workers in Colombia, who has donated to the Lac Barrière Algonquin community, and so on. The occupation of Palestine is only one among many oppressions that I care about ending.

Yet I have concentrated my organising on Chinese issues. How many people generally come to my events? Certainly not the hundreds and thousands who come out in support of Palestine. Jewish and Palestinian organisers have made great progress educating and mobilising, and have reached the point where they can employ broad-based, peaceful pressure such as boycotts and sanctions. Their dedication and success is truly impressive.

Some day, perhaps I will be accused of being a self-hating Chinese, or a self-hating Canadian. I hope that too will signal that my movement for peace and justice is so successful, and takes up so much of my time, that my critics can only muster the trite claim – that I must be a racist.

Trevor Chow-Fraser

B.A. 2008

You convinced me, but how about the Iraqis?

Re: “Righting our wrongs over Iraq” | Commentary | February 16

I was impressed by the intellectual acuity displayed by Ricky Kreitner, and thus in my eyes he is forgiven. However, will the mere 1.5 million Iraqis who died as a result of the war find it in their hearts to forgive him?

One is blown away by Bush’s ideology regarding the war and should recognize his prophetic nature. As Kreitner pointed out, who can disregard the success brought about by this morally upright war? I propose that the Iraqis who have died during this war and who did not decide nor calculate the loss they were about to incur in consequence to the demolition of the Saddam regime should probably answer this.

Kreitner gives us an insight of what the Iraq war was really about, and in comparison I might seem very ignorant to assume that Iraqis might just value their family and homes over the deposition of a unsympathetic dictator and eradication of non-existent nuclear weapons. I’m sure in Kreitner’s point of view, the statue of the shoe thrown at Bush recently made in Tikrit is the result of the Iraqis honouring a shoe that was in such close contact with the ever-so-noble Bush. Undoubtedly, this flawless plan of the U.S. government to liberate Iraqis and punish exploiting dictators has been misinterpreted and is free of hidden motives, even though in other countries, such as Pakistan, the U.S. administration supported a dictator that put the constitution in abeyance.

As a critic of the Iraq war, I think I might need to rethink my criticism. After all, I do not want to be “under the bizarre illusion that this would have just happened one day, no violence required?” – violence that Iraqis neither instigated nor showed a willingness to indulge in it.

The deaths, the instability, and the insecurity in Iraq can be overlooked by the fact that the U.S. had good intentions while inflicting this damage. Kreitner might have converted me, but I think it’ll take far more than prostrating and seeking forgiveness to convince the Iraqis.

Sana Malalai Isa

U1 Political Science and Philosophy

I demand that you take a stand

Re: “Bloody Iraq is no success” | Comment | March 5

It’s generally my policy not to respond to criticism of my columns in letters to the editor, because I think this space is for the readers. However, after reading David G. Koch’s article last Thursday, “Bloody Iraq is no success,” I feel obliged to clarify my position on the Iraq War and demand Mr. Koch reveal the true nature of his.

Koch takes issue with my statement: “After all the uproar about Bush’s surge – the Iraq War is well on the way to being a success.” In the comments section of The Daily’s web site, Mr. Koch noted, “Kreitner did not make a straightforward cause and effect claim. Nor did he directly praise the ‘surge.’ Instead, he offered this vague formulation.” He is absolutely correct that it was a vague formulation, and I intended it to be so, because the jury is still out on what exactly contributed to the new calm, the reality of which he never disputes.

One component was certainly the Anbar Province’s Awakening Council militias, a ragtag group of Sunni ex-insurgents whose salaries were paid by the American government. This idea, too, was ripped apart in the media as being foolishly optimistic. Its success, however, is indubitable. The only reason Mr. Koch ignored it is because he’d then have to admit that coalition forces actually did something right.

He wrote, “I am not nostalgic about the days of Saddam Hussein’s regime.” While convincing, that does not go far enough, so I hope no one thinks me rude for rephrasing and repeating my original demand: Mr. Koch, I will be forced to consider your position merely silly blathering unless you are willing to write in these pages the following sentence: “Because of the American-led invasion, the Iraqi and Kurdish peoples are worse off today than they would have otherwise been.”

Ricky Kreitner

U1 Humanistic Studies and Philosophy

Daily columnist

Choose free speech

If Voltaire could hear all you bastards, he would be rolling in his grave. Many people in this world-class institution have viciously attacked SSMU for allowing the Choose Life club to exist.

Is McGill not a bastion for free speech? Should my fellow students be silenced because their opinion, humble or not, does not jive with another’s? Riddle me that, good people. It is one thing to engage in discourse with Choose Life’s members, possibly tell them to what extent you jive, or not, with their ideology.

However, the notion that SSMU is the problem in granting them full club status is completely wrong. SSMU Clubs & Services exists to help students form groups of like-minded people with whom they can share ideas and engage in open discussion. In this respect, they have done a superb job in ignoring the large student voice urging SSMU to violate the individual’s right to free speech. When you are for free speech, you must accept that you will hear ideas that you like, as well as ones you don’t like so much.

So please, people of his esteemed institution, choose free speech.

Elliot Wiechula

U2 Geography

Come on Daily, I thought I knew ye

Re: “Lessons from South Africa” | News | March 9

Seriously, Daily? Is this what passes for hard-hitting questions right now? When a speaker comes to campus promoting a highly contentious position (i.e. that Israel is an apartheid state), then questions that assume his position to be objective truth, like the ones published here, are irresponsible and misleading journalism at best – and reek a lot more of deliberate misrepresentation of the truth.

Mookie Kideckel

U1 History

Daily contributor

I’m just not that into being treated badly

Re: “How suburban education brainwashes women” | Commentary | March 5

With the recent hype surrounding He’s Just Not That Into You, there has been a collective voilà moment: the root cause of women entering bad relationships is because they were told a couple of times as children that boys tease girls they have crushes on. Is this really the best explanation we can come up with?

Was I the only one who was told: you deserve to be treated like a princess? Was I the only one who admired mutually respectful relationships rather than emotionally abusive ones? As a perpetually single gal, I perhaps am not the best authority on relationships, but I think that women’s selling themselves short of what they deserve is part of a broader societal trend.

For example, the main reason for such significant gender-based pay discrepancies (even now, 20 years after the Ontario Pay Equity Act came into force, women earn 71 per cent of what men earn for the same work) is because when women negotiate their contracts they do not ask for what they are worth. Similarly, when it comes to relationships, women often do not set and enforce their standards for treatment high enough.

There are many great guys out there, but even those who fall into the douche-bag category can respect you if you demand and deserve it. Those that don’t, simply aren’t worth your time. Instead of rewarding assholes by dating them, women as a whole would be better served by socially sanctioning disrespectful behaviour. I think that if we buy into the He’s Just Not That Into You mantra which blames bad relationships on women’s psychotic tendencies inscribed in childhood, it lets disrespectful men off the hook too easily.

Honey, if he’s just not that good to you, tell him to take a hike!

Joan Christiansen

U3 Honours IDS and Women’s Studies

The Daily received more letters than it could print this issue. They will appear in the next issue.