Volume 96, Issue 13
Thursday September 19, 2002

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Academics comments naive

Re: "Answer violence with non-violence," Sept. 11

To the Editor:

I was dismayed by the content of a recent Gazette column. In one paragraph, Douglass Drozdow, apparently an anthropology professor here at Western, and thus a respected member of our intellectual community, wrote about Ariel Sharon's intensification of "Israel's racist and genocidal occupation of Palestine."

I am not an advocate of Ariel Sharon's heavy-handed tactics; however, I do believe that there is a marked difference between providing fair criticism of Israel and its policies, and making inflammatory, na•ve comments. Drozdow's remarks both implicitly deny Israel's legitimacy as a country (painting Israelis to be no more than brutal, colonialist oppressors), and exaggerate the culpability of one side of what most reasonable people understand to be an extremely complex political situation.

As many of us know, the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has been accompanied by a war of semantics.

For example, depending on your sources, the current situation could be called either merely an "uprising" or a "resistance to the Zionist occupation," and the Palestinian attackers could be called "suicide bombers" or "martyrs."

One thing is certain: the truth will most effectively be conveyed only by those who do not use language favouring one side over the other. If progress is ever to be made towards resolving this terrible conflict, it will most certainly not be achieved by making incendiary comments such as those uttered by Drozdow.

David Kates
MIT III

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