Letters to the Editor – 02.20.04

By Letters from Readers

*Mideast conflict*

Rabbi David Rosenberg of the Newberger Hillel Center complained that a February 12 panel about the separation barrier Israel is building on occupied Palestinian land was unbalanced because "no campus group or outside group that is known to be supportive of Israel was extended an invitation to cosponsor" and that "no speaker has been chosen who will articulate why Israel might have chosen to have built a fence" ("Events Explore Middle East Controversy," 2/6/04).

But what does Rosenberg really mean when he calls for balance? I've reviewed the Hillel schedule of upcoming events and found that none of the Israel-related events that the Rabbi's organization has endorsed or promoted reveal any attempt to live up to the lofty standard he proposes.

On February 12, the Hillel center hosted a luncheon with Ilai Alon, a professor of philosophy from Tel Aviv University in Israel. The topic of his discussion was "Negotiations in Arabic-speaking Islam." Despite the perverse phrasing of the topic, one could argue that the best way to provide insight would be to invite some of the University community's Arab and Muslim scholars. Yet Alon appeared—as it were—alone.

On February 29, the Hillel center is collaborating with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on the annual "AIPAC Israel Summit, Tools for Action" event. AIPAC is the leading pro-Israel lobby organization on Capitol Hill. The keynote speakers include Alan Dershowitz, a law professor from Harvard. Critics have charged that his latest book The Case for Israel is plagiarized from a 20 year old, verified hoax by Joan Peters. Dershowitz has also advocated the legalization of torture.

Will the Rabbi demand that AIPAC invite a Palestinian representative to challenge Dershowitz and demand that AIPAC organize panels including (for example) Jewish critics of Israel to balance the pro-Israel propaganda that AIPAC exists to promote?

The Rabbi's organization prominently promotes the Birthright Israel program, which provides free trips for Jews to visit Israel. Will he demand that this program be expanded so that all Americans can go to Israel and see the devastating effects of Israeli policies on Palestinians and so that Palestinians, who have never had a chance to go to their homeland due to Israeli exclusion, be invited along as well?

From what he practices, it appears that Rosenberg's idea of "balance" is that those who disagree with him about Israel are committing a thought crime by organizing the kind of events of their choosing. Whereas groups like Hillel and AIPAC, which make no serious attempt to include views that disagree with theirs, are simply exercising their constitutional right to free speech and association.

Rosenberg's agenda is not to promote balanced dialogue on campus but to be an apologist for Israel. His double standard on the issue of free speech proves that he is merely an uncomplicated hypocrite.

Benjamin J. Doherty

SSA Library

*Gay marriage debate*

As the speaker against gay marriage in Monday's debate ("Two Scholars Face Off Over Gay Marriage Controversy," 2/17/04), I wanted to correct one mistake caused by my own failure to make the point clear.

I am not opposing gay marriage because it would lessen our "commitment to society." On the contrary, I am opposing it precisely because of the consequences to the happiness of future generations that would grow up in a world without the marriage that we now take for granted. Disconnecting marriage so completely from procreation (or from the potential for reproduction in one man joining with one woman) would make it seem less bound up with a world larger than we are. Marriage would seem more like a commitment we make, an act of the will, and less like an acceptance of or conformity to the fundamental order of things. Such a change would, to some extent, constitute greater realism, but it would also lead to greater unhappiness, both in itself and in its consequences, which would include people taking their marriages less seriously, considering alternatives more readily when the going gets rough, and seeking guidance more often in desire, whim, and fashion.

Easy, widespread divorce has already caused many children to grow up in a world of distrusting, atomized individuals and makes it difficult for them as adults to form a lasting, loving attachment to another. But at least divorce is an admission of failure in a marriage, and not presented as the model. I would like to add that this is not a religious argument—I am an atheist. Nor is this argument "homophobic" or bigoted—I am gay. It is simply trying to look at what we're jeopardizing in our thoughtless rush to radically alter our oldest and dearest of institutions.

Manuel Lopez

Graduate student in the Committee on

Social Thought

*Iraqi reconstruction*

George Anesi's article "America is Winning the War on Terror," (2/17/04) painted a rather positive outlook on the war in Iraq. I was amused by how much Anesi delighted in the fact that Al Qaeda operative Musab al-Zaqwari sent out a letter to his cronies about how the American's are "getting better" at acting on intelligence. Another poignant moment was when Anesi quoted the operative saying, "We might just have to pack up and go somewhere else again." With respect to winning the war in Iraq, I don't think Anesi is entirely wrong—we actually might be moving towards some sort of conclusion. I, however, do not see such a cheery overall forecast as Anesi and thus have to voice a concern. I will not discuss WMDs, the constantly rising death tolls, or the astronomical bill we are incurring by fighting the war in Iraq. Instead, the key issue I wish to address is how Anesi equates winning in Iraq with winning the war on terror. When Anesi brings up the fact that the operatives are considering "packing up" and moving as evidence of success in the war in Iraq, he basically destroys any legitimate claim that there is a chance of winning the war on terror. I'm reminded of Carl Schmitt's (the somewhat infamous German theorist) book The Concept of the Political. In the work, Schmitt comments that a "war on war" (i.e. war on terrorism) will be the "last war of humanity." Rather ominous, no? Schmitt also says that the "war will be unusually intense and inhumane" because it transcends political framework and the enemy will no longer be compelled to retreat into his own border. Don't get me wrong: I was as happy as the next guy when Saddam was pulled out of his hole in the ground, but the only benefit I see from that and this more efficient intelligence operation is a quicker exit from Iraq.

Richard Bass

Second-year in the College

*Police brutality*

On Wednesday, February 11, 2004, I, Valerie Curro, was interviewed by Art Kimball-Stanley from the Maroon regarding the incident between Clemmie Carthans and the University of Chicago Police Department. I am writing this letter to express my shock upon reading his version of my story in the February 13 issue of the Maroon ("Alleged Brutality Victim Recounts Violent Night"). Kimball-Stanley misrepresented my comments regarding the event and, on the day of the article's printing, I expressed my desire that he print a correction. He informed me that he would do so in a follow-up article that would be published on Friday, February 20. Yet I feel it important to address this issue directly.

It is my understanding that students have referenced the February 13 article when refusing to sign the letter protesting the police officer's treatment of Carthans. I would like to clarify my version of the events. Specifically, there are three sections to which I object. First, the article states "Curro said she did not remember the first police officer ever speaking to her… the only time a police officer spoke to her was after Carthans had been placed in a patrol car…" In the correct account of the story, two police officers, Patrolman Jenkins, the first on the scene, and another officer, the third on the scene, spoke to me. They questioned me regarding Carthan's status as a student, his presence with me, and my well-being. Additionally, Kimball-Stanley wrote, "she also stated that Carthans and the first police officer were fighting by the time the second police officer arrived." "Fighting" does not represent the situation accurately. It implies a physical altercation, and Carthans was never violent towards the officer. The article goes on to report, "Curro said she did see the police officers treating Carthans violently while he was on the ground, but she did not mention the second police officer choking, throwing, or punching Carthans." I found this statement misleading. Both officers were, in fact, kicking Carthans while he was on the ground. The article does not mention other violent acts, which I did recall, including kicking and pushing. However, it does include those violent acts that I did not specify.

In closing, I would like to emphasize two points. I reiterate the concerns that Madeleine Bair mentioned in her letter to the editor regarding the relevance of Carthans's police record. The issues of importance here are the events of January 23 and the unlawful actions of the police officers. Carthans did nothing to warrant such treatment that night. His criminal history is, therefore, irrelevant. I feel that the police officers' brutal actions were not justified.

Valerie Curro

First-year in the College

While the Maroon would like to express its regret over Valerie Curro's "shock," we maintain that all the information printed in the article in question was correct, as it was communicated to the Maroon the Thursday evening before printing.

*Gibson's "The Passion of Christ"*

Matt Holtzman's article, "Gibson's ‘Passion' Stirs Controversy," (2/17/04), contains one factual error and one ridiculous idea. In the first paragraph, Holtzman uses the Caiaphas quote, "His blood be on us and our children," as his prime piece of evidence to condemn Mel Gibson's Passion, despite the fact that according to the most recent reports, the line was cut from the film ("Who Killed Jesus?" Newsweek, 2/16/04). Later, Holtzman suggests that Gibson is aiming to place himself in the Vatican. The idea is laughable, as the man is married with several children, and therefore clearly not an eligible candidate. If this line was to be in jest, the intention was not clear. As it is, the suggestion is offensive.

The nature of Gibson's latest film should be taken under serious consideration, as it raises troubling questions about the nature of the Gospels and their accuracy over who is to blame for the death of Christ. Also worthy of consideration is the material Gibson has added, material with no biblical source, which may have anti-Semitic undertones. Holtzman fails to analyze any of these points of concern, and simply rants on incoherently over the irrelevant opinions of Gibson's father, lines cut from the film, and unfounded accusations of Gibson's true motives.

Mary Conner

First-year in the College

Matt Holtzman's article on Mel Gibson's movie Passion ("Gibson's ‘Passion' Stirs Controversy," 2/17/04) indicts Gibson's father, his religious denomination, and even the roles he's played. None of this is enough to hide the fact that Holtzman has very little on Gibson himself.

Holzman moves from a description of the religious denomination with which Gibson is affiliated to the totally unsubstantiated allegation that "Mel lays blame squarely on the Jews for the death of Christ." This strikes me as a rather irresponsible extrapolation on Gibson's character with (to my knowledge) no root in his speech or actions.

Holtzman also attempts to challenge the legitimacy of Gibson's religious interests by conflating him with a role he played—he refers to Lethal Weapon three times. How Holtzman reaches the conclusion that this character has anything to do with Gibson as a person is beyond me. Couldn't we just as easily say that Gibson (the man who brought us Braveheart) must be making the film as part of a scam to liberate Scotland?

In making this film, Gibson has gone out of his way to accommodate the Jewish community. Holtzman neglects to mention that Gibson voluntarily invited rabbis to screenings and listened to their stipulations. If his aim were merely to lash out at Jews, he could have saved himself a lot of effort and many millions of his own dollars by simply saying so. But Gibson's actions show that this is a project that matters to him personally and spiritually—not because he wants to be the Pope.

I expected such baseless rhetoric in an article whose author professes to be "unleashing [his] preconceived thoughts" about the movie. I did not, however, expect to see such an article in the Maroon.

Collin Freer

Second-year in the College