Volume 93, Issue 101

Friday, April 7, 2000


A big (sarcastic) thank you for letter

Feeling of discrimination excruciating

Xenophobia hurts Jewish groups

Writer on mark, editorial misguided

American inputs his two cents

Misinformed opinions enlightened

Was letter written as complaint or question?

Israeli flag instills pride

A poem on profs

We need study day

Xenophobia hurts Jewish groups

Re: "Racy Western" April 4

To the Editor:

In their xenophobic campaign to tarnish the reputations of Jewish organizations and clubs to which Jewish students belong, I believe Lillian Wong and Stephen Black truly flaunt their ignorance and lack of understanding.

The pair began their letter by stating how segregated they felt by not being welcomed into Jewish events, such as Yom Kippur ceremonies, because they could not speak Hebrew.

I can say without hyperbole that half of my friends do not speak Hebrew, yet they are all admitted into these Jewish events. Many times have I brought non-Jewish friends to Sabbath dinners or to witness Jewish ceremonies. If Lillian and Stephen are truly having problems getting an inside look at Judaism, they can look me up in the Western student directory and join me next time I go to synagogue or to a friend's place for Friday night dinner. They might even pick up a word or two of Hebrew through osmosis.

The duo then imply that Jewish people have permeated into other clubs, transforming them into Jewish entities that exclude non-Jewish people. Specifically, they stated that an Israeli flag was draped across the Western Debating Society's table in the University Community Centre.

The Western Debating Society's table was situated beside the Jewish Students' Union table and it was their flag which overlapped, (by only a few inches) onto the WDS' table. Through their attempts to portray a Jewish infiltration of Western clubs, the duo has seemed to overlook one very important piece of information – the facts.

As for fraternities being stereotyped as "glorified Jewish cliques," what planet were you born on? Growing up, I was always under the impression that frats were filled with varsity athletics team members and that sororities were comprised of the most beautiful girls. And then I turned 12. Now I know that frats are for boys and sororities are for girls. End of story.

Even though their party was open to all students, money raised by the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity was donated to the Jewish National Fund, because they are a Jewish fraternity. The writers seemed to have missed this point entirely.

I decided to go to the AEPi web site and discovered that the fraternity was created in the early 1900s when Charles Moskowitz, a young basketball star, was rushed by most fraternities at his university due to his athletic ability. All the other Jewish people were excluded due to their religion, so Moskowitz decided to start his own fraternity. That's why there are Jewish fraternities, Jewish founded hospitals and even Jewish universities for that matter. That does not mean, however, that non-Jewish people cannot join these organizations.

The fact that the fraternity even donated the money, instead of keeping it in their coffers, shows their high level of ethics and values. They were not saying, as the duo suggested, that planting trees is more important than feeding hungry people. They were merely exercising their democratic right and freely choose to whom to donate their money.

When one donates money to the Christian Children's Fund instead of Covenant House, they are not necessarily saying that helping deserving children in other countries is more important than helping street kids in Canada. They are simply saying that the former is important. And I cannot even begin to dissect what the pair meant by stating that planting trees in Israel represented AEPi's "warped priorities."

The pair proceeds to state, "It's time that we stop blatantly segregating on the basis of religious beliefs and start acting as a nation of Canadians." Unlike the cultural melting pot of the United States, Canadians have come to accept and enjoy other groups' culture, heritage, religious beliefs and nationalities.

While Lillian Wong and Stephen Black might be content if everyone was a carbon copy of the other, this is not the case in our country. Let's start celebrating our diversity, not drawing lines in the sand. If you want to learn more about the Jewish Students' Union, the Chinese Students' Association, the Islamic Students' Association or any other, just drop by the University Students' Council office. It is diversity that makes this country strong, not homogeneity.

Jeff Baryshnik
Economics and Philosophy II

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