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Some questions for the provoking profs

Re: “Boycotting profs have it all wrong” | Commentary | March 9

We initially hesitated to reply to the provocation issued by Professors Van den Berg, Waller, and Weinfeld because their reference to those who disagree with them as “the BDS gang” or “BDS crew” seems not only disingenuous and disrespectful, but also calculated to foreclose on genuine dialogue and honest intellectual exchange. In fact, it is difficult to understand why those of us who support non-violent resistance would be characterized as a “PR branch of Hamas, Hezbollah and their patron Iran.” Such a characterization of our position short-circuits a rational discussion and would appear to be an attempt to obfuscate the basic issues.

However, we do want briefly to clarify a few major points.

We support an academic boycott of Israeli universities because these institutions are integral to establishing and maintaining systemic and institutionalized violations of basic human rights as spelled out in international laws, protocols, and conventions. We support an academic boycott because it is a non-violent form of resistance to ongoing institutionalized violations of human rights and offers a powerful alternative to violent resistance.

To open a genuine dialogue, and because we would like a clearer understanding of the position of Professors Van den Berg, Waller, and Weinfeld – which can be seen as laying the blame for oppression on the oppressed – we would like to pose a series of questions for their response. Do they believe that an entire people forfeits its basic human rights if some of its members engage in violent resistance to military occupation and exploitation? Do they argue that Palestinians cannot be treated as legally human until violence ceases? Do they propose an unconditional surrender of Palestinians to Israel as a precondition for Palestinians to enjoy basic human rights?

We look forward to reading their answers.

In alphabetical order:

Sajida Alvi Institute of Islamic Studies

Wael Hallaq Institute of Islamic Studies

Steven Jordan Faculty of Education

Thomas LaMarre East Asian Studies

Abby Lippman Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health

Sam Noumoff Political Science

Anthony Paré Faculty of Education

Keep at it, Ricky!

Re: “Right our wrong over Iraq” | Commentary | February 16

I found your article well-researched and an excellent analysis of the current situation. I have often found myself deluged by the “hacks” you describe who offer their half-wit opinions on Iraq. Many of these so-called “experts” often state that the Iraq adventure was a foolhardy endeavour, where the chance for any sort of success has long since passed. Furthermore, the evidence to back up their quackery and opinions are often only based on what they have seen on the ground (or endured while fighting, in the case of soldiers), and lack the insight and understanding that is available to you as a McGill U1 Arts student.

Now I am the first to admit that I was one of those who opposed the Iraq war on the grounds that there was no reason to invade a sovereign state that had not directly threatened the U.S. However, now I realize the error of my ways and must concede that you are correct: the war is well on its way to being a success. I now realize that I failed to consider the following markers of success:

(1) Over 4,000 U.S. military deaths since the war began (the majority of which have come after President Bush declared an end to combat operations), and thousands more injured.

(2) Over 100,000 Iraqi citizens killed (according to The Lancet).

(3) An estimated cost of $100 million a day (money far better spent on a war than on alleviating the current financial crisis, fighting diseases, developing clean energy, or aiding the world’s poor).

So, with all this in mind I urge you to keep up the good work, and I wish you the same level success in journalism as those we are currently seeing in Iraq.

Rob Kozak

PhD IV Microbiology

Sorry for using you

Re: “I understand why AUS needs French translation” | Letters | March 16

Maya Frieser:

For having mentioned you and Mr. Louis-Michel Gauthier without reflecting on how you would react, I apologize. I should have thought of the people I was using as a pretext.

In response to your three points:

The article was in fact directed not at you and Mr. Gauthier, but rather at the general public, in order to raise the profile of translation, for I believe that it is a widely misunderstood practice, especially in the anglophone community. You did indeed ask me for directions on where to obtain a good translator; for writing as though you had not, I apologize once again. I ought not to have used you and Mr. Gauthier as an excuse to write my little FAQ; you both clearly know the value of translation.

However, though it’s true that francophones generally have a more acute linguistic consciousness than anglophones, I must draw your attention to the very low profile of the French language and literature department, not only at McGill, but in the entire province. The department’s low visibility is a frequent topic of discussion at departmental meetings. An illustrative anecdote: some of my colleagues at the Commission des affaires francophones (CAF) did not know of the department, nor of its translation program, until I joined the CAF in January. (That was my impression, at least.) Merely speaking French as one’s mother tongue does not guarantee knowledge of a French department at a prestigious anglo institution.

As for your third point: touché. Well played, Ms Frieser, well played indeed. And merci à vous, for having called me to order.

William Burton

U3 Lettres et traduction françaises

CAF member

French Literature Students’ Association (AGELF) VP External

Dead votes don’t count

Re: “I demand that you take a stand” | Letters | March 12

In a recent letter to the editor, Daily columnist Ricky Kreitner asked me to clarify whether or not I think the Iraqis and Kurds are worse off due to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Kreitner may be aware of the results of a public opinion poll released by the British company ORB last March, which indicated that more than half of Iraqis (51 per cent) prefer their life today over life under Saddam Hussein (22 per cent).

But even if the following point is obvious, it deserves emphasis: dead people cannot respond to opinion polls. A callous observer may dismiss the astronomical civilian death tolls in Iraq by adapting the Cold War slogan “Better dead than red” to the 21st century under Saddam Hussein. However, I maintain that the human cost of this war has been unacceptable.

We should not ignore those who see a better life beyond the rubble. These survivors may be better off for the invasion. But neither should we ignore the chance that a better life could be achieved without following some “decider” headlong into carnage.

David Koch

U3 Political Science

Daily Staffer

Ghetto kids are little shits

Posted on

I lived in the McGill Ghetto for 12 years and endured ongoing disturbances and vandalism from McGill students every weekend and more. My old car was vandalized about seven times over the course of three to four years, to the point where this driver, with 30 years’ experience and no responsibility for any accident, is now uninsurable. I recently moved to the other side of the campus, at Sherbrooke and Drummond. I picked up my new car yesterday and am writing to thank the screaming McGill shits who ripped off my side-view mirror last night, less than 24 hours after I took possession of my new car. I studied at McGill and earned an MBA (I didn’t trash anyone’s things back then). I make enough money to make generous donations to the school, but you know what? I’ll fix my car instead and keep the rest for a worthy group. It is depressing to think that McGill is educating the leaders of tomorrow. McGill’s tolerance for the disturbances caused around its campus is incredibly hypocritical, as if nothing could be done to control the vandals. I can hear the counter argument now: how do you know it was McGill? Gna gna gna… Let’s not act too surprised when these self-entitled little people continue to cheat and steal once they reach the job market; we will have given them the license to do it all.

Richard Holder

MBA ‘96