Volume 91, Issue 64

Thursday, January 22, 1998



Israel Day protestor a USC member?

By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Gazette Staff

Sparked by a recent protest on Israel Day, claims of distasteful and hurtful behaviour rang out during the University Students' Council meeting last night as councillors suggested the guilty parties involved in the protest were in their midst.

The Jan. 19 event, involved an individual dressed in a scarf and robe splattered in artificial blood circling the atrium of the University Community Centre and distributing literature contrary to Israel Day. Social science councillor Michael Rubinoff read a statement describing the event and he twice stated the two individuals involved were USC members.

Delaware residence representative Alice Barnett and USC councillor Efrem Mandelcorn helped put the statement together but were silent as Rubinoff described the lack of responsibility taken by the protestors and their participation in what he said were blatantly harmful acts. Once finished, councillors sharing this concern were asked to sign the statement as a show of support.

Although Rubinoff would not be specific as to who he thought was involved, USC President Ryan Parks said he believed the two USC members being referred to were Mohammed Zebian and Yakeem Abdool-Ghany, both fourth-year engineering representatives. "I did see Mohammed but don't know the extent to which he was there."

Abdool-Ghany had to leave the council meeting early because of his commitment to the religious holiday of Ramadan, but said the point made on Monday was there is another side to the story. "[The protest] was not made against Jewish people, it was a political statement."

He went on to ask if the protestor had committed a crime on Monday, why was he not arrested? "The USC can't be judge, jury and executioner for every action on council," Abdool-Ghany said.

As to who was implicated in the statement read by Rubinoff, Zebian said he would like Rubinoff to be very specific, but if he has no evidence then he should sit down and fulfill his role as a USC member rather than acting as a mercenary.

"The person who demonstrated was expressing their God-given right to show their concern," Zebian said. "If Mr. Rubinoff would like to override my God-given right, maybe he would like to take that to the Human Rights Commission – not to the USC."

Some councillors, like social science representative Damon Berlin, were shocked by the statement but wanted to hear both sides before deciding whether anyone should be kicked off council.

Others, however, were clear-cut in their decision. "I think it's unbecoming of a councillor [to act in the protest] and it wasn't the right time or place," said arts councillor Valerie Vojnic. "There were children there that witnessed what happened."

Rubinoff would not be specific as to what action would follow last night's discussion, but added removal of the parties from council has not been ruled out.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998