Letters to the Editors

Change financial aid system with votes

Dear Editors:

Re: “Two sides of the educational coin” (Journal, November 30, 2006).

Although it’s important that students recognize the way in which financial aid is flawed, it’s important that we are also aware of the ways in which we can change it.

Jason Laker, associate vice-principal and dean of student affairs, points out that reform “requires a national commitment as well as a provincial one.” This is absolutely true, but how can we get politicians to focus on financial aid and make those commitments? Laker explained that “those commitments are important but so are safe streets and good health care.”

We must exercise our democratic power as voters. The youth vote is a huge and much coveted demographic, and if providing better aid was a priority for the group as a whole, politicians would listen.

As students, it’s understandable that our drive for better financial aid would be greater than a senior citizen.

Yet how many of us looked after student interests in voting for either Nathaniel Erskine-Smith or Alex
Huntley for city councillor? How many of us voted at all? Although we can scream and shout out the institutions until we are blue in the face, in a democratic society change ultimately has to come from the people.

If we don’t put our support behind parties with a platform of financial aid reform as voters, then we can only blame ourselves when they consider our issues not worth their time.

Michael Carens-Nedelsky
ArtSci ’10

Wiesel not indifferent to Palestinian suffering

Dear Editors:

Re: Letter, “Elie Wiesel’s indifference ‘completely undermines his credibility’” (Journal, November 30, 2006).

Elie Wiesel is not indifferent to the Palestinians as Helga Mankovitz claims in her letter. He has a clear
position which was well articulated when he spoke here, namely that he cannot support a movement
which advocates violence against another people as both a means and an end.

Palestinian suicide bombers, which have targeted Israeli civilians far before 9/11, made terrorism an international issue. Their families have been financially supported by Hamas, a multi-million dollar network listed as a terrorist organization by most Western nations.

South African freedom fighters rising up from settlements in violence during Apartheid years were never similarly organized or funded, so Mankovitz’s comparison doesn’t hold.

The Palestinians surely are a suffering and displaced people who deserve and will one day have their own land. However, it seems Mankovitz fails to grasp the difficult position Israel faces when forced to negotiate with a partner that believes it should not exist.

Hamas has a charter which calls for the absolute destruction of the state of Israel and additionally
states “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.” The virulent anti-semitism that characterizes the current Palestinian leadership is the reason Western nations have cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, something Mankovitz notes.

The great majority of Israelis support a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, and it’s likely that that if the Palestinian people had chosen different leadership, they would have their own state already.
Finally, for Mankovitz to suggest that Wiesel lacks courage, or his analysis of the situation in Israel is undermined because of his “Jewish voice,” is shameful.

Although Mankovitz may disagree with Wiesel, to suggest his opinion is less valid or ought to be qualified by his religion is outright bigoted and fails to do justice to a complex issue in which many
free-thinking Jewish people, Muslim people and others will reliably arrive at different conclusions.

Joseph Berger
ArtSci ’07

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