Volume 94, Issue 93

Friday, March 16, 2001


Atrium protest disrupts Israel Day

FTAA protesters get ready for summit

Homeless get funding

Teachers oppose criminal checks

Third meningitis scare lands boy in hospital

Crush the octogenarian uprising!


Corroded Disorder

Atrium protest disrupts Israel Day

By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

Protesters bearing signs with slogans such as "Israel = Injustice" walked the University Community Centre Atrium yesterday afternoon, in protest of the Jewish Students' Union's Israel Day celebration.

"These students have nothing against Jewish faith or culture, but against the state of Israel," said Nabil Sultan, a first-year medicine student who acted as the protesters' spokesperson.

Sultan said the protest, which ran from about noon to 3 p.m. was not formally sponsored by any Western club, and the students protesting were not necessarily all of Palestinian heritage.

"We're basically standing up for justice, is how we see it," he said. "Raising the flag of Israel on campus is raising the flag of injustice, in our view."

Sultan said he and his fellow protesters consulted with the University Students' Council before staging their protest. "They said, 'just make sure there's no pushing or direct conflict'," he said.

Israel Day is an annual event organized by the Jewish Students' Union at Western to celebrate religious and cultural aspects of Israel, said Jordan Cares, president of the JSU and a fourth-year history major.

Yesterday's celebration ran from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and included live musical performances and two rows of information booths.

"I think it's too bad that instead of working together, which we have continually tried to do this year, we seem to be at odds," Cares said.

He pointed to an information booth featuring a poster on "The Peace Process" between Israelis and Palestinians as the event's acknowledgment of long-standing tensions in the Middle East.

Cares said he was not surprised Israel Day had drawn protesters, as this has been the case, to his knowledge, for the past four years.

Andrea Boulay, USC VP-campus issues, said she was keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings, as she wanted to be available to address any student questions or concerns. "I spoke with the gentleman this morning," she said, referring to Sultan, the [protesters'] spokesperson. "I was made aware of their picketing."

Boulay also said she had spoken to both the JSU and the Muslim Students' Association before the Israel Day festivities took place and was satisfied with the way things were running.

"Everything seems calm," she said. "People have been able to go on their way."

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