Letters to the Editor

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published June 17, 2001

Israel, Taliban comparison "laughable"

To the Daily:

At long last the Daily has blessed the community with an addition to the editorial pages a humor column. We speak, of course, of Amer Zahr"s column comparing Israel and Afghanistan ("Israeli legacy in Afghanistan," 6/11/01). While columnists often stretch the truth to fit their ideological spectrum, we have never seen a column that was so hyperbolized and divorced from reality.

Initially, Zahr asserts, without evidence, that Israel is a religious state. Anyone who has studied Israel should find this notion laughable. The majority of Israelis are secular. Israel is governed by secular law codified in the democratically elected parliament where all members, Jews and Non-Jews, serve on an equal plane. Afghanistan offers no such thing as democracy, but rather the Taliban"s version of Shuria which makes secular life a crime. Zahr conveniently overlooks this difference.

Zahr correctly states that Israel is trying to maintain a Jewish state. However Jewish is used here to denote a nationality not simply a religion. That is, Israel is trying to maintain a Jewish state no more so than France is trying to maintain a French state or Germany a German state. The reality is simply this: The majorities of nation states in the 21st century are nationalistic in origin and strive to protect their national heritage. Israel is no different than these states and until the day that we compare France or Germany to the Taliban, a comparison of Israel to the Taliban is asinine.

Zahr claims that Israel attempts to eradicate the country of religious and ethnic minorities. This is yet another lie. In the Israeli Parliament there are 10 Arab-Israelis who serve with the rest of the Knesset members. Those Arabs form a powerful voting block and have significant influence on legislation. Additionally, last week Israeli-Arab Yusef Mishlav was appointed a Major-General, one of the highest posts in the Israeli Defense Forces. Does this sound like the actions of a country purging its minority population?

Mr. Zahr claims that the differences presented out above are simply a matter of nuance and his own views are indicative of a larger picture. However, it is precisely these nuances that are indicative of the fundamental differences between Israel and the Taliban, while Zahr"s larger picture is based on misleading generalizations and a distortion of current events. He tries to pass off this distortion as looking at a situation "intellectually." In reality his "intellectual" analysis consists of hyperboles rather than content-driven factual understanding of the issue. If Mr. Zahr truly wants to look at international affairs in an intellectual light, he should focus on content and fact rather than distortion and lies.

Jeremy M. Menchik

David Livshiz

LSA seniors

The letter writers are the Education/Political Action Chair and Co-Chair, respectively, of the American Movement for Israel

Media ignored "irony" of death sentence

To the Daily:

It seems like everyone is talking about Timothy McVeigh: The question people want answered is how the boy next door could commit such a horrendous crime against humanity.

However, often overlooked is the fact that what McVeigh did was nothing new for him and probably would not have been made possible had it not been for the U.S. government itself. The same man that was executed last week for the murder of 168 innocent people in Oklahoma in 1995 was awarded medals just four years earlier for murdering countless innocent people in Iraq during the Gulf War. What stumps me is how media coverage of this event so cleverly avoided this irony. McVeigh was a murderer before Oklahoma, but back then he was honored for it. In fact, McVeigh was even quoted as saying that taking the life of another human was hard until he was trained to do so by the U.S. Army.

Another double standard that is rarely mentioned by media is if the cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians is considered deserving of the ultimate punishment, then it should be declared that all those guilty of the deaths of over half a million innocent children due to sanctions imposed on Iraq since the Gulf War face similar punishment After all, it is only fair.

Hiba Ghalib

LSA junior