Volume 95, Issue 71

Thursday, February 7, 2002

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Day of Action protests sweep the country

London protest targets MPP's office

Candidates seek crucial political geek vote

Controversial speaker visits Huron

SSSC cash problem solved?

Controversial speaker visits Huron

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Writer

A controversial speaker returned to Western yesterday for an academic debate at Huron University College.

An international and comparative studies class at Huron held the event, entitled "Peace in the Middle East," which featured lawyer and former Western law student Hussein Hamdani as one of the speakers.

Controversy surrounded the debate partly because of public speech made by Hamdani while he was attending Western four years ago, said University Students' Council VP-campus issues Sera Vavala.

In 1998, the Jewish Students' Union accused Hamdani of making anti-Semitic comments at a Palestine Day celebration, she said.

As a result, prior to yesterday's event, the JSU voiced concerns to the USC, prompting Vavala to recommend extra security in anticipation of a possible uproar.

Lisa Armony, communications director for the Canadian Jewish Congress, joined Hamdani in the discussion entitled "The M.E. A War of the Press" with both sides discussing the media's portrayals of Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

"The North American media is pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian and anti-truth," Hamdani argued, attributing this bias to "a smear campaign against Palestinians.

"If a journalist writes something pro-Palestinian, they are either fired, demoted or their column won't get published," he added.

Armony, however, supported the media's portrayal of the conflict. She noted the diversity of views are not available to foreign journalists in Palestine, due to stricter censorship of the media by the ruling Palestinian Authority.

Hamdani stressed the importance of consulting various media outlets, especially independent sources, because readers can be "duped" by only consulting large distributors, like CNN.

One of the event's organizers, Paul Hong a second-year Honours Business Administration student, said the turnout was greater than expected with over 170 people attending and remained peaceful.

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