Volume 96, Issue 74
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

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Israel and Iraq on activist agenda

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

Several hundred people crowded into the King's College lecture theatre Sunday night as activists Leila Khaled Mouammar and Jaggi Singh spoke about the pending war in Iraq, the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the riot at Concordia University last fall.

"The weeks I spent in the West Bank and Israel were a profound experience," Singh said, noting his journey took place during November and December of 2002.

According to Singh, the second intifada began as a non-violent uprising that was sparked when Ariel Sharon, who was later elected and remains Israeli Prime Minister, visited the Jerusalem mosque, adding it only turned into an armed uprising when the Israeli Defence Force violently clamped down on Palestinian civil resistance.

"[The] occupation is the daily humiliation of the Palestinians – their crime is to be Palestinian," Singh said.

The Israeli occupation is doing more to create Palestinian suicide bombers than anything else, Singh said, who noted that collective punishment against the entire villages of suicide bombers is a violation of human rights.

"Concordia's motto is 'real education for the real world,'" Mouammar said, adding the riot at Concordia began as a non-violent sit-in at the building in which former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to speak.

The riot was sparked when the 150 riot police officers violently dispersed the peaceful protesters in front of news cameras, Mouammar said.

"The United States has never let United Nations inspectors into their territory – the U.S. is the only country in the world that had the audacity to use it against an urban population," Mouammar said, referring to the U.S. foreign policy towards Iraq.

The war against Iraq has never formally ended, Mouammar explained, noting airplanes still bomb Iraqi targets, two million people have died from the trade sanctions and U.S. army depleted uranium shells have caused cancer outbreaks.

"[I heard] one-sided testimony – both speakers are known for their views and it would be kind of silly to attend this event with the hopes of moderation and understanding of the other side of the table," said second-year political science student Aaron Goldberg.

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2002 THE GAZETTE