Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Newsrecord Controversies!

My second article was printed in the Newsrecord today! I've already published that piece here so I won't re-post it.

More exciting, however, is the debate that I stirred up with my article on the Goldstone Report (previous post.) I was very excited to read a counter-article published in today's paper. This is exactly what I am going for. Let's have some real debate on campus!

Below is my response to this article which I posted both to the Newsrecord's website, and to the author personally:


This is great and exactly what I wanted - a public discussion on where our taxdollars are going and human rights throughout the world.

Unfortunately, I think you and I are talking past each other on a couple of points. This keeps going back to the chicken or the egg. You think radical Islamists started this when they began firing rockets over the wall that keeps them locked in Gaza. I urge you to ask yourself why they do so. Is it blind anti-semitism? That is possible. But more than likely, it is because they are locked in Gaza.

Consider the words of Frederick Douglass: "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." Those trapped in Gaza are kept lacking food, medicine, water, and electricity. The borders are closed by Israel which has a truce with Egypt to keep their border closed. The United States funds their military. Is that not an organized conspiracy to oppress and degrade them?

These slow starvations are what I refer to when I use the words "ethnic cleansing." March 1948 and the six month period following saw 531 Palestinian villages wiped off the face of the map. This is what I refer to when I use these words.

And yet, the folks I met in Palestine were not religious extremists. They were not anti-semetic. They were hungry.

As for the point that the US would have mass bombed people, I agree, the United States would have mass bombed them. I have publicly denounced mass punishment done by the United States before and do so again right now.

The Israeli folks that I met with that lived under daily rocket fire were surprisingly sympathetic to the Palestinians that fired those rockets. This included people living in Sderot and at Kibbutz Zikim. I cannot claim that these few people can speak for the entirety of Israel, they can only speak for themselves. The point is - that Israeli perspective also exists.

From my brief talks with Palestinians citizens of Israel, those folks dislike the term "Israeli Arabs" and prefer the aforementioned term, because they still feel Palestinian. They are not ambiguously "Arab." They are Palestinian.

On Liberty and being American: I did not feel at Liberty when I went through checkpoints, when I had guns pointed at me by the IDF, when I stayed up all night when a Palestinian family because they were afraid of the military raiding their house in the middle of the night.

On dictators and radical clerics: The United States props up dictators all throughout the middle east. The Department of Defense is the number one arms dealer in the world. Saudi Arabia is our number one client.

On democracy: not all speech is protected in Israel. It is illegal to try and dissuade someone from joining the military. There is no freedom of movement. Israelis and Palestinians drive on separate roads. Palestinians have to take a full stop in the rare places where these roads meet and simply wait and wait until the road is cleared enough for them to drive. Israelis always have the right of way. They have different colored license plates, different water rations, different rights.

I do not pretend that radical religious fanatics do not exist. Obviously they do. But they are not the majority of Palestinians, they are not the majority of Arabs, they are not the majority of Muslims, and to speak of extremists in that way borders on racism. To couch this situation in those terms is dangerous for the Arab and Muslim communities that we co-exist with here on campus and in the world. If we are to move anywhere on this issue, it must be with religious and cultural acceptance and understanding.

Thank you for taking the time to write this article. I look forward to reading more in the future.

-Nancy Paraskevopoulos

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