Volume 93, Issue 52

Wednesday, December 1, 1999


Fund-raising success announced

$10 million question a no-brainer for council

Tissue investigation reveals no wrong-doing

Scientists identify six new planets

Speakers focus energy on human rights violations

Reform party deals with Ramsay

Caught on campus


Speakers focus energy on human rights violations

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

Finding a path towards peace in a war-torn region was the focus of a lecture on human rights violations in the Middle East last night.

As part of a talk held to increase awareness of concerns over human rights violations in the Middle East, students gathered to hear several Western professors give their two cents on what could be done to alleviate the embattled region.

"International law has a lot to say about the final status talks that are going on now between Israel and the Palestinian authority," said Michael Lynk, a professor of law. Lynk said several resolutions put forth by the United Nations to bring peace to the embroiled region have not been fully enforced, which has contributed to instability in the region. "History shows us a just peace almost always works and an unjust peace almost always unravels," he said.

Robert Barsky, an English professor at Western, said he believed there was a broad misunderstanding about the way Canadians deal with human rights abuses beyond Canadian borders.

"The focus upon Israel for purposes of this talk should not be taken as an effort to single out a single nation as a human rights abuser as though this was in some ways outside the international norm," he said.

Barsky, who is Jewish, said he was personally concerned about the issue since he believed there could be a well-founded element of persecution in Israel, not only between Jews and Palestinians, but also amongst Jews themselves.

"We could have avoided all of these tragedies, but now we have to learn our lesson," said political science professor Salim Mansur.

Mansur said it was more important to focus on what Jews and Palestinians have in common, rather than pointing out what wrongs have been done on either side. "OK, we have had grievances, but we must work it out. My point is fighting over that history is going to get us nowhere," he added.

Tal Dehtiar, a second-year Media Information and Technoculture student said the lecture highlighted the importance of talking out the differences. "It's not so much about showing certain acts, how one person said something right or wrong, it's about working together, sitting down at a table and discussing, together, what our ignorance is and what we know and what we don't," he said. "There's lot of stuff I think I know as a Jew that an Arab might think is false. We have to talk about what's going on," he said.

Khaled Irani, president of the Arab Students' Association, which hosted the event, said he believed the goal to increase awareness of the situation in the Middle East was achieved. "Every time we do such an event, our goal is, if we look around and see one person who walks past the information on the table and attends even half the lecture and is being informed of the other side of the coin, we are more than happy," he said.

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