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Letters to the Editor

by Archives January 27, 2009

From the civic rights movement to basic manners

Dear editor,

I just came back from a lecture with Charles E. Cobb Jr. “From Martin Luther King, Jr. to BARACK OBAMA” organized by the Special Individualized Programs (SIP) of Concordia’s School of Graduate Studies (co-sponsored by ASAC, CSU, LSA and PSSA).
Mr. Cobb’s words were profound and simple at the same time. With a calm tone he told us the story of people whom we never heard about, but had a great impact on the course of things until this very day.
I was looking forward for this evening and I am glad I had the chance to attend it during such a unique time – the day before Obama’s Inauguration.
Unfortunately, I am not writing to tell you about how interesting the lecture was, but about the ugly way in which the evening ended. We were told there would be 45 minutes of speech and then half an hour for questions. Anyone who has been to these kinds of events before knows that time estimations can never be too accurate, especially if you let people ask their questions. And if you ask me, we should probably be thankful if we get a two-hour lecture instead of one, as it is a lecture we attend out of personal interest, and not as an obligation.
The point is that if Mr. Cobb found the time and interest to come to our university, and answer our questions, while showing respect to each student by letting them ask any question (although some questions were quite bizarre) and answering thoughtfully, why can’t we show him the same level of respect?
People started leaving the room long before the session was over. At first it was just a few people here and there. So you figure they have someone waiting for them or a train to catch, etc. But during the question-answer session it seemed like at least a third of the audience had left the room. Making other people stand up in order for them to walk out, putting their coats on slowly and noisily and walking in front of Mr. Cobb while he is still talking, and all with a nonchalant ease, as if it was a normal thing to do.
I know many people do it in classes. Sometimes you just have something that cannot wait or somewhere you need to be and the professor hasn’t noticed the class time has ended. Things happen.
But this evening it was really too much. I think that as Concordia students we should strive to better present ourselves and our university to visitors. It simply showed a lack of respect to both the lecturer and the rest of the audience who was trying to listen.
Anyone who came to this lecture did it voluntarily, and therefore if you choose to come listen to a speech at 8:30 p.m., the least you could do is keep your butt on the seat until the end. The fact that the lecturer is a distinguished journalist is not even the issue. We heard him talk about the civil rights movements and how simple people did simple but hard things every day to change their society and make it better. Nevertheless, it looks like some people in the audience forgot the importance of an allegedly simple thing, like showing respect to one other. If you want – just call it basic manners.
I wonder how people would have reacted if Mr. Cobb would start putting his coat on and getting ready to leave while a student was standing in front of him and asking him a question.

Touma’ Kafri
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Rewriting history

Dear editor,

On Jan. 6, The Concordian published an editorial by Conor Lynch arguing Israel is “under siege.” In it, Lynch says “Hamas broke the ceasefire,” and then goes on to write what is probably the most one-sided, simplistic lesson in history I have ever read. I do not wish to nitpick every detail he mentions (there are dozens of published books with that purpose), but rather present the facts that led to the current conflict, proving Hamas did not break the ceasefire.
The Israeli “Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center” reported “Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire.” The rockets fired into Israel during the period of the ceasefire were not from Hamas, but in fact from other organizations “in some instance in defiance of Hamas (especially by Fatah and Al-Qaeda supporters).”
On Nov. 4, while the world was busy with the United States presidential elections, the Israel Defense Forces attacked Hamas pre-emptively and killed six of its men. The IDF claimed Hamas was digging a tunnel, with the purpose of carrying out an abduction. Only then did Hamas fire rockets at Israel.
If even an Israeli intelligence source shows Hamas attacked Israel only when the latter attacked, then one thing is clear: reality has a pro-Palestinian bias.
In the last couple of weeks, Israel killed more than a thousand Palestinians, almost half of which are women and children. This means that either Israel’s multimillion weapons industry manufactures rockets that are about as accurate as Palestinian handmade ones, or that the Israeli government is a terrorist regime. Either way, it is mind-boggling to believe that “if the world had any moral backbone at all” it would stand with Israel. Its attacks are, at the very least, an extremely disproportionate overreaction.

Abdullah Alhomoud
Journalism and political science student
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let us not forget our English heritage

Dear editor,

As a former Concordia student I feel compelled to write to you regarding the wonderful, respectful “Here we answer in French” article by Benjamin Woodman (Jan. 13). The writer was right on the money. Yet I doubt he has young, born-in-Montreal children who are being brought up through our tattered English school system and who ask him, “Is it against the law to speak English, Dad?” I wonder how he would respond. I am still at a loss for words on how to respond to my two youngsters’ intelligent questions.
In fact, our children are much more protective of our English Montreal heritage than we so-called adults. They see the government slowly exterminating the English culture here in their own backyards, and they ask us what they should do. How can we instruct them, when we ourselves are allowing the extinction of our own distinct society through our own apathetic ways?
I’ve retreated to responding to their questions, with a meek, “Do well in school, and let your success be your revenge.” Yet, they know that is still not enough, even coming from a still strongly proud English Montreal family.
I would hope Mr. Woodman, in his follow-up articles, could provide clearer suggestions on how we may save our English Montreal culture, and better answer our children’s valid concerns by looking straight into their eyes, rather than simply looking away from this province’s linguistic cleansing of the English language.

Rohinton Ghandhi
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Poetry

Dear editor,

I am Gaza
By Sumaiya Beshir

It is as if you don’t see us
We stand before you beaten raw
But it is you who are paralyzed
Immobilized
Petrified like a solid rock

How can a whole nation be invisible?
I know I am here
For I can hear myself breathing
Feel my eyes watering
The throbbing of my body
The crushing of my bones
They are all too real
And yet, I begin to doubt my existence
Because time and time again, I am told that I do not exist

You do not see me on the 6 o’clock news
You will not find my picture on the front page of the paper
For I am hidden from your wondering eyes
Tucked behind thick curtains
Swept under the proverbial rug
Trapped under the rubble of my fallen home
Away from the camera’s lens I sob,
Throb
Pound my fist on the broken walls
Splattered with my mothers blood
But my cries fall on deaf ears,
For there is no one to listen here,
No one to tell my forgotten story

But deep in your heart of hearts, you know I am here
So far away, and too close for comfort all at the same time
You can hear my inaudible whimper in the dark night
Just before dawn, the whimper turns to a sob,
A persistent moan that cannot be shaken off
So I beg of you, stand up for me even if on wobbly feet
For without you, I cannot be heard

Justice cannot be heard
Over the voices of madness and lunacy
You are my stifled voice
I am Gaza.

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