January 22, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 62  

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NEWS

Mixed response to IAC speaker

By Angela Marie Denstedt
and Anton Vidgen

Gazette Staff

The Israel Action Committee brought in two speakers to talk about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict yesterday, however, the presentation caused a stir with several students walking out and others staying to voice their opposition.

New York City radio personality and Rabbi Tovia Singer said as a Jewish child growing up in Brooklyn, he never thought possible the friendship or union of different religions. Now, however, he sees it as possible, but not without a struggle. “Those of you who are not Jewish and stand up for the Jewish state will be called racists,” he said. “I want to warn you: You will be hated by some, but loved by many.”

Singer expressed his hope for a future with Canada in the fight against racism. “Do we look at you, Canada, and see a great chance at partnership? Of course we do,” he said, adding acceptance could be achieved through education and speaking out.

“If you had asked me if I’d ever be introducing a man who sought out to murder Jews just because they were Jewish — a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization — I’d say it wasn’t possible,” Singer said as he introduced the second speaker, Walid Shoebat.
A former PLO member, Shoebat expressed his desire for peace but also the need for a better global understanding of the Middle East conflict.

Born in Bethlehem, Shoebat said he grew up as a Palestinian trained to hate Jewish people, but was now reformed. He wanted to educate people about where he came from and what he saw as the reality of the conflict. “Not all the stereotypes believed by citizens of Canada or the United States are true,” Shoebat said. “Not all Muslims are Jew-hating; not all Muslims are evil.”

He also discussed various times in his childhood, consistently referring to them as a time when he was being “brainwashed” by his community into hating Jews. According to Shoebat, one of the lines in a song he learned in school was, “Arabs are beloved and Jews are dogs.”

As a society that is now aware of what is going on, Shoebat argued that we must help and “speak out,” but also warned that “anti-Semitism is alive and well, whether we want to believe it or not.”
During Shoebat’s presentation, several students walked out of the room in protest.

“[It was] the most one-sided horse shit to ever come out of this university,” said a fourth-year history student who declined to be named.

“What [Shoebat] demonstrated today was the essence of the conflict and is the reason why the conflict is escalating today,” said Hussam Ayyad, president of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights. “He demonstrated denial.”

But IAC President Mat Abramsky said he disagreed. “The result that he showed was that Israel is an answer, not the problem.”

“It was nice to hear both sides of the story,” said second-year administration and commercial studies student Adam Walman, adding he found it very informative.

 

 

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