Letters to the Editors

Boycott oppressive

Dear Editors,

Re: “Right to education” (Nov. 3, 2009).

It’s ironic the author of “Right to education” supports a discriminatory and oppressive boycott of Israeli academics while enjoying the privilege of publishing opinions in the name of free speech at an institution that cherishes the “core value of academic freedom,” as stated by Karen Hitchcock.

Israel’s action in Gaza was a direct reaction to escalated rocket attacks. Israel has made concerted efforts to avoid harming civilians, while Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields, firing rockets from academic institutions to provoke Israel and garner world sympathy.

The attack on Islamic University came in response to its identification as a Hamas bomb factory and weapons development facility. Although controversy exists over this report, one is hard-pressed to claim Israel’s motive was an assault on Palestinian education. Conversely, Hamas rockets have been deliberately timed to strike when children are on their way to and from school, threatening Israelis’ right to education. In 2004, Hamas boasted responsibility for a Qassam rocket killing a grandfather and grandson walking up the path to the boy’s kindergarten. Hamas has targeted Sapir College in Sderot. In 2002, a Hamas terrorist blew up Hebrew University’s cafeteria.

Israeli scholars are world-renowned for their academic contributions and should be celebrated by institutions like Queen’s.

The very idea of an academic boycott goes against the right to education. A petition of over 300 signatures against the proposed boycott was presented to Principal Williams in February 2009 by Israel on Campus.

What can Queen’s stand for? The “right to education” free from an unwarranted and prejudiced boycott of Israel.

Shira Taylor, MSc. Epidemiology ’10

Queen’s isn’t racist

Dear Editors,

Re: “Queen’s, we need to talk” (Nov. 3, 2009).

I was very surprised to see an opinion piece on racism at Queen’s. Several times, the author mentioned the white-centric nature of the university and the need to selectively recruit students of ethnic minorities.

Isn’t this the literal definition of racism? Targeting a specific group based on the colour of their skin? Even if we’re supposedly trying to do visible minorities a favor, selecting them for racist reasons is a great way to perpetuate racism.

Contrary to the implicit claims of the article, Queen’s does have a fair representation of students of different ethnic backgrounds. By Canada’s 2006 census, just over 16 per cent of the population is a visible minority.

Queen’s conducts an applicant equity census each year to determine the demographic makeup of each incoming class.

From 2003 to 2008, Queen’s has registered an average of 24.9 per cent visible minorities in its undergraduate class—a rate that’s markedly higher than the proportion of Canadians who are visible minorities. How can this possibly be construed as racist?

Of course, there have been instances of racism or intolerance on campus and these have been treated very seriously—as they should be. But suggesting Queen’s is “an exclusive university that isn’t meant to make people of colour welcome” is patently incorrect.

James Simpson, Artsci ’11

Irrational decisions

Dear Editors,

I’m shocked at the absurdity of the politics in my country. This year, the Harper government barred George Galloway—an anti-war activist—from entering Canada. Their reason? Because he donated roughly $50,000 for humanitarian aid to Hamas which our government claims is a “terrorist organization.” I’ve noticed Israel hasn’t yet made this list despite the blatant war crimes it committed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza—read paragraphs 260 and 350-360 of the Goldstone Report authored by Justice Richard Goldstone.

Yet this past month, the same government let in George W. Bush, who openly authorized torture, waged two illegal wars killing 50 times as many innocent civilians as were killed in the tragic Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

If such irrational decisions persist, Canada will lose its global reputation as one of world’s most peaceful countries.

I hope the next government can do a better job.

Alyssa Selma, ArtSci ’97

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