October 3, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 21  

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Israel's self-interest

Re: "Debate over Finkelstein speech," Sep. 30, 2003

To the Editor:

Brian Gray writes: "Jewish people won't let the memories of the Holocaust rest because Jews won't let it happen again." It is precisely this kind of self-serving propaganda Norman Finkelstein reviles. The use of the Holocaust - a horrific tragedy suffered by Jewish people (including my grandmother) and other minorities under Hitler - in order to protect only Jews from any form of negativity is a betrayal of the broader humanistic lessons that should have been learned from the catastrophe.

Rather than becoming the standard-bearer against oppression in the tradition of the Jewish prophets to speak out against injustice, the state of Israel has supported the worst regimes - including Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Uganda and apartheid South Africa - and has enacted a brutal occupation that degrades millions of Palestinians.

It is this hypocrisy Finkelstein ruthlessly and pitilessly condemns, because if Jewish officials can be relentless in their pursuit of justice for Jews, then why must they be so lax when it comes to justice for others? I agree with Mr. Gray: "We should all try to prevent tragedies," whether perpetuated by Jew or Gentile.

Dmitry Guller
Medicine III


Wet/Dry a USC must

To the Editor:

It had to happen sometime.

The suspension of the Wet/Dry program on campus is unfortunate considering the average age of this year's freshman class. The program allowed all students to socialize on campus regardless of age. It appears that opportunity has now been put on the back burner indefinitely.

The Spoke and The Wave are much sought after destinations for clubs, residences and affiliates to hold their meetings and events on campus in a familiar and relaxed atmosphere. The suspension of the program puts the future of this type of programming into question.

Every student at Western, regardless of age, is subsidizing the costs of the campus bars and restaurants through their student fees. Since the University Students' Council itself is based on the generosity of these student fees, its members need to represent ALL students.

It is incumbent on the USC to show leadership and ensure all students have access to a full range of student programs on campus.

The masses should not have to suffer because of the mistakes of a few.

I encourage the USC to work hard to ensure the Wet/Dry program is not lost. The onus is on the USC to fight for keeping The Wave and The Spoke open for use by every student on campus.

Brook Dyson
Political Science IV


Defending Norman's cred...

Re: "Speaker not an academic scholar," Oct. 1, 2003

To the Editor:

It is unfortunate individuals such as Paul Rakowski, who attended Dr. Norman Finkelstein's lecture, gained nothing whatsoever. It is not due to the fact that Rakowski disagrees with Finkelstein's views, but rather the fact he persists in discrediting Finkelstein's academic stature.

Let me list the doctor's credentials. He received his doctorate from the department of political science at Princeton University for his thesis on the theory of Zionism. If Princeton is not one of the leaders of academia, then what is?

His writings have also appeared in prestigious journals such as the London Review of Books, Index on Censorship, Middle East Report and Christian Science Monitor. Besides all this, Finkelstein reinforced his facts by quoting directly from leading Israeli officials and heads of state. Your claims of "historical revisionism," specifically about the 1948 and 1967 wars, are absolutely groundless.

While I, for example, do not necessarily agree with Daniel Pipes' views given on campus last year on the grassroots of terrorism, I would never attempt to discredit Mr. Pipes' rightful academic status in the hopes of supporting an alternative view.

If we live in a world in which academics are discredited based on the fact we share alternative views, there would not be any academics left. If the Israel Action Committee you co-chair reflects your insulting attitude towards academics, then I fear the doors of intellectual debate will be closed and the doors of ignorant feuds will continue to remain open.

Rami Sultan
Software Engineering IV
Muslim Students' Association President


... and the doctor's controversial opinions

Re: "Debate over Finkelstein speech," Sep. 30, 2003

To the Editor:

Brian Gray begins by suggesting a person with unsympathetic, anti-American views of the Sep. 11 attacks on the United States should not be able to speak his mind on campus. So I would like to start by saying the deaths resulting from that tragedy do not sadden me any more than do the daily deaths occurring worldwide from war, malnutrition and disease. I believe the U.S. DID use Sep. 11 to gain sympathy and political favour from others. I also believe the terrorist stereotype of Arabs was purposely spread after 9/11 and used to justify the attack on Iraq.

The rest of Gray's letter is equally ridiculous. He asks, "How could they let this anti-Semite spew his views on impressionable students?" as if we haven't yet passed the stage of life where everything an older person tells us is perceived as infallible. Having graduated from high school (and kindergarten), university students should be capable of analyzing what is said and come up with our own views.

And I don't think Finkelstein should be classified as an anti-Semite. I could talk for hours about history and what white people did wrong, but that doesn't make me anti-Caucasian. Instead of throwing around accusations of racism, maybe Gray should do some research and tell us, intelligently, why he thinks Finkelstein is wrong. Sparking an educational debate could be one of those "no good reasons" for sponsoring the lecture.

Jacqueline MacDonald
Genetics IV


Holy Roman rebuttal

Re: "Pamela Evans wants psychic studies at Western," Sep. 30, 2003

To the Editor:

I somewhat agree with Ms. Evans that all religion tends to brainwash their followers and shape/control their lives. Yet, doesn't every society brainwash their citizens some way or another? Her comment "if you have been brought up Catholic, you've been brainwashed" is too immature.

Although I don't necessarily follow all of Catholic teachings, I must admit my Catholic experience has been good so far. The church has "brainwashed" me to do good to others, to persevere, not to give up hope in times of distress, to love my neighbour. If these are the consequences, then I don't see what's wrong with getting "brainwashed" by the Catholic church.

Michelle Jung
Biochemistry & Genetics II


Indiana WUFS and the raiders of the lost arts
Take one

Re: "English causes film studies scandal?," Sep. 26, 2003

To the Editor:

Congratulations to The Gazette for exposing the controversial issue of the film department if, indeed, one exists. When I applied to Western four years ago, their ads boasted about having a balance in academics. I have since discovered this is a lie. Not to worry if you are in sciences, law or business, but if you were duped into the arts faculty, you have my sympathy.

Describing the film department as "one of the best in Canada" is the equivalent of proclaiming we have the best moose; there really isn't much competition. Film is shoved in the bowels of University College and is comprised of one-and-a-half decent classrooms. Just this year we were granted an acceptable screening room and our editing technology is deplorable.

Whenever there is a faculty reorganization there is always an outcry from loyal students because they are worth fighting for and retaining. However, the Western Undergraduate Film Society (WUFS) isn't exactly pulling their weight in uniting film students and enthusiasts. Blockbuster Video is doing an admirable job of making commercial North American flicks available - we don't need an overdose in the weekly screenings. I prefer to see films I haven't already intensely studied in class. And don't get me started on the film publication The Still, a pamphlet progressing as much as the title suggests.

How about English studies, where you are expected to pay ridiculous fees to use the grubby Talbot Theatre? And the music faculty which has been neglected for years. It's a wonder how anyone can be inspired to create art with this total lack of funding and attention. Must be all that wishful thinking.

Sabrina Noble
English/Film IV

Take two

Re: "English causes film studies scandal?," Sep. 26, 2003

To the Editor:

The students that spoke in the article do not fairly represent the film studies student body. Friday's article seemed to focus on the departure of three film studies professors and place the blame solely upon the English department. Have we resorted to pointing fingers?

The faculty of arts has jumped through hoops to ensure the film program at Western survives and strives for a complete education. While Dr. Stukator and Dr. Zryd were largely responsible for implementing the honours program in film studies at Western, I do not believe their departure can be equated with a collapse of the program. Dr. Janina Falkowska was also a driving force behind the honors programs, as well as one of the people responsible for the annual UWO Student Film Festival.

Don't get me wrong, I wish certain professors could have stayed at Western, but if anything, the film program has evolved in terms of production. Technical Services has added state-of-the-art new equipment, the video library and viewing room has been expanded and University College Rm. 84 has been strictly reserved for film classes and screenings.

Dr. Kneale, who was under fire in Friday's article, has been a longtime supporter of the Western Undergraduate Film Society. He has gone to great lengths to see that UC Rm. 74 remains the WUFS office, that WUFS receives funding for The Still and the WUFS Friday screenings remain free and open to all.

I look forward to the rest of the year with four experienced professors, who most people have judged after only three weeks. A few years ago, no one would have complained profs from York and Ryerson were now teaching at Western in some capacity. Then again, the people complaining don't even attend this university anymore.

Robert McCallum
Film Studies IV



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