Skipping class to protest war not an effective strategy

To the Daily:

I was disappointed to see an otherwise eloquent and well-reasoned staff editorial in Wednesday’s Daily, Unjust war (03/05/03), tarnished by a statement advocating that students cut class as a form of protest against possible war in the Middle East. The notion of cutting class as a form of political statement is ludicrous. Not only is missing class detrimental to a student’s education, the already-nonexistent political impact of cutting class is further diluted by the fact that cutting class in protest is indistinguishable from missing class due to illness or skipping class out of laziness.

A far more effective way to make a political statement would be to write to one’s elected representatives or to participate in an organized protest, but I suppose these alternatives would be too much work for someone who would prefer to make a political statement by cutting class.

Elson Liu

Rackham

Daily coverage of recent Arab-Israeli skirmish skewed and inaccurate

To the Daily:

In regard to the Daily’s article, Student’s remember bus bombing victims at vigil (03/05/03), it should be noted that 20 students came out in the freezing cold to show dedication to peace. But instead of focusing on those that were lost and mourning with the families that have suffered, the headlines read “Missile hits Gaza after suicide bombing.”

It should be noted that Israeli Defense Force sources say that there is a wave of disinformation regarding the killing of 11 Arabs in the operation. It is being said that the 11 were killed when IDF troops fired at a terrorist engaged in firing a missile at them, but the commander at the scene said that he “knows for sure that the only casualty was the man firing the rocket.” The army says that eight of the 11 were killed when an Arab-built bomb went off inside a store, causing a fire and an explosion that had been aimed for an IDF vehicle parked outside. The vehicle and its crew were not hurt. Others of the dead Arabs were armed terrorists engaged in battle with the troops.

In addition, it is clear that last night’s action was planned long before yesterday’s attack. In trying times, we must focus on the dead and not divert attention from the casualties that were lost by such a horrific crime against all humans.

Daniel Aghion

LSA junior

Protesting certain government actions a patriotic duty

To the Daily:

Robert DeVore’s letter, Student opposition to U.S. government ‘a slap in the face’ (03/05/03), showed exactly why those students who choose to protest the current administration should continue their protests and feel proud to do so. First, DeVore makes the mistake of assuming his peers are protesting his “actions.” This protest is to try and prevent an invasion of a country that has never committed an aggressive act against the United States. Even during direct armed conflict, Iraq wasn’t able to inflict more damage on our troops than our “friendly fire” did. The protest is not against containment of Saddam Hussein or even to end the sanctions our government has placed on Iraq. Secondly, whether or not Saddam remains in power is meaningless to the protection of the Constitution. What is most dangerous to the integrity of the Constitution are bills like the PATRIOT Act which effectively rescind guaranteed rights that our president is sworn to uphold. Finally, this protest was not against the U.S. government, as DeVore states, but against U.S. government policy, which will effect every citizen. As a citizen, it is everyone’s patriotic duty to speak their mind and act on what they believe is right, regardless of political pressure from those who believe unthinking, blind support of every policy decision a president makes is the American way. To end, I hope that slap in the face wakes DeVore up.

Andrew Hall

Alumnus

‘Negative reaction’ to Finkelstein, SAFE distorts words, facts

To the Daily:

Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, co-sponsored by the Muslim Students Association and the Coalition of Arab Students, has invited Norman Finkelstein to speak on March 11. Unfortunately, there has been a negative reaction on campus by a marginalized few that have set out to defame Finkelstein’s character, and that of SAFE, by making inflammatory and contextually distorted remarks in a letter to the Daily SAFE guest lecturer is insult to Holocaust remembrances (03/06/03). As the sponsors of the event, we feel that it is our place to provide the University community with what are so frequently lost in emotionally-heated debates (and in the aforementioned letter): the facts.

To begin with, the letter writer asserts that Finkelstein will discuss his book, “The Holocaust Industry.” This is simply not true, as the title of Finkelstein’s lecture as it has been publicized is “Prospects for Peace in Israel/Palestine.” Irrespective, the allegations against Finkelstein that he mitigates the Holocaust are patently false and extremely offensive. Finkelstein dedicated his first book to his parents, Holocaust survivors of the Auschwitz and Maidanek concentration camps, as well as the Warsaw Ghetto. His dedication reads: “May I never forgive or forget what was done to them.”

Indeed, Finkelstein has devoted the majority of his academic career to maintaining the integrity of the historical memory of the Nazi Holocaust, which he seeks to protect from manipulation and distortion. Finkelstein’s book, “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering,” is an effort to expose those who have disgracefully used the Holocaust for their own gain. In the opening pages of his book, Finkelstein clearly distinguishes between the historical Nazi Holocaust where millions of Jews were killed and the Holocaust as a public discourse, which is the subject of his study. The book has aroused much controversy among some elements of the Jewish community in America, who have labeled Finkelstein as an “anti-Semite” and a “Holocaust-revisionist.”

Amidst, the academic community, Finkelstein is highly-regarded, and invited by Middle East studies departments on campuses around the country. Furthermore, perhaps the greatest living authority on the Holocaust, Raul Hilberg, has repeatedly praised “The Holocaust Industry,” calling it a “breakthrough.” Seeking to bring such a renowned and articulate scholar to the University, SAFE has invited Finkelstein to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict. To selectively quote from his book, and place them completely out of context, is a serious attack on his integrity and humanity. SAFE wishes that apologists for Israeli brutality and war crimes, with the mere objective of stifling any debate on the Middle East conflict, refrain from their continued smear campaigns and inflammatory attacks on us, in our efforts to bring world-renowned scholars to educate the campus.

Ashraf Zahr

Engineering senior

Eric Reichenberger

Rackham

The letters writers are the communications chairs of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality.

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