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October 07, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-10-07

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 7, 2002


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SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

If this is the best
we can do, limping
from one crisis to
another, then maybe
it's time to reconsider
those policies."
- Center for Economic Policy Research
economist Mark Weisbrot, as quoted in
Saturday's New York Times. Weisbrot was
speaking in reference to neo-liberal
economic policies imposed on Brazil
by the International Monetary Fund.


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Divestment conference not about divestment
f you haven't heard useless semantic debate). We divested from nizers know it, the connection here to anti-
about it, you haven't South Africa, yes, and the idea of divesting Semitism is not so abstract, not so far-fetched.
been paying attention, from Israel is on the table so, again, yes - let's If this conference is about anti-Zionism,
and believe me, I am truly talk about it. The problem with divestment is then, it's also not about ending the occupation.
jealous of you. when the concept ceases to exist individually. The occupation should end. A lot of Israelis, a
But if you do know Divestment is a means of economic pressure - lot of Jews (the two groups are not the same)
about it, you know it's in South Africa, economic pressure was a tool agree. If this conference is about anti-Zionism,
controversial. The Second for political change. When it comes to Israel, it's about reversing the "Naqba," it's about not
National Student Confer- however, divestment advocates' motives wanting there to be a State of Israel at all. To
ence on the Palestine Soli- become suspicious when they don't see divest- some, then, of the organizers, - I assure you
darity Movement is coming to the University ment as being about economics, but instead not all - this conference is not even about
from Oct. 12-14 - happily over fall break. about the permanent destruction and vilification divestment. They know that the University is
From here on out I'll call it by what it is (the of a country. Their motives become suspicious not going to divest.
long and sloppy official name is just for show when not one speaker at a conference about The conference is, instead, intended to shift
anyway), the Divestment Conference. If you divestment is addressing economics. the set of assumptions that the common person
disagree with my inference, tell the organizers The framework of this upcoming conference not so up on the politics of the Middle East has.
- you can find their contact info at www.divest- comes with exactly the kind of nasty baggage When someone presents me with the statement
mentconference.com. that people (take Larry Summers, the president "Israel is apartheid; we should divest," it's easy
What you can't find in the mission state- of Harvard or the Anti-Defamation League, for for me to miss that there are two components of
ment at divestmentconference.com, however, is example) have been worried about. this statement that I need to challenge. I'll con-
a single mention of the word "peace." Some of those who are organizing the con- sider whether we should divest, but now I'll
This conference has already received a slight ference are truly engaging, intellectual and simply assume that the situation in Israel is
nod from the national media; it was mentioned in, compassionate activists. However, whether comparable to apartheid. My internal supposi-
among other outlets, last week's issue of Time. these people are aware of it, there is language tions will have therefore adjusted through text-
When it happens, people will pay attention. in the conference's mission statement that is book rhetorical strategy. You have to hand it to
Argument about whether a conference like ugly and wrong. The conference "condemns these people; it's a pretty smart strategy.
this should be allowed to take place at this Uni- the racism and discrimination inherent in "Divestment may be only a fall fad on col-
versity is silly and irrelevant; it's going to hap- Zionism." Herein lays the problem. If racism lege campuses, but it's political nitroglycerin,"
pen. It should. We should be happy to have it and discrimination are inherent in - inextri- wrote John Alter in his Oct. 7 Newsweek col-
here; we should be especially happy to have a cable from - Zionism, an elementary transi- umn. He believes that it undermines work
thriving Hillel and a vibrant Jewish community tive approach could reconfigure this statement toward a two-state solution. I agree with him.
that can organize a wonderful and intellectual to say that the conference condemns Zionism. Maybe I'll be less cynical when I see a divest-
schedule of events in reaction to it. If there's Merriam Webster defines Zionism as "An ment conference talking about - just to stay in
going to be dialogue, let it happen at Michigan. international movement originally for the the neighborhood - the Syrian occupation of
Let it happen at a school where everyone has an establishment of a Jewish national or religious Lebanon. Or maybe I'll be less cynical when the
opinion and there is a means to express it. community in Palestine and later for the sup- word "peace" finally appears on that website.
The concept of divestment itself is not inher- port of modern Israel." Condemnation of
ently anti-Semitic (we all know that anti-Semit- Zionism is general condemnation of the State Johanna Hanink can be reached at
ic means anti-Jewish, so let's not start any of Israel. And once again, whether the orga- jhanink@umich.edu.
Cole, despite self-proclaimed organization and the real failure lies elsewhere himself on one of his web sites - in Ann
.This is like David Koresh in Waco. It's a Arbor.
expertise, erred in labeling small cult." Zvi GITELMAN
i , We have learned that al-Qaida and groups Professor of Political Science
al' ada irrelevant cooperating with it have been operating in
places as far flung as Hamburg, Kuala Lumpur, Co p toC r
TO THE DAILY: Madrid, Jakarta, Yemen, the Philippines, Italy ar son (o Charw
Prof. Juan Cole is, of course, entitled to his and possibly Detroit, Portland, Lackawanna, Borug not a racial slur
views on the Middle East and anything else. If N.Y. and other places. Letters from al-Qaida
he chooses to use childish vulgarities in the recruits found in Afghanistan mention men
Daily (Prof, 'U' targets on watchdog website, from Morocco, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Syria, To THE DAILY:
10/04/02) to describe his critics ("a loud fart Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey, Kuwait, Yemen, I am writing in response to Friday's
from a boor in Philadelphia"), that, too, is his Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Tajik- article, Students speak out on the power of
privilege. But one may wonder about his exper- istan, the Philippines, Sudan, Canada, the Unit- words. There are many things I like about
tise and understanding. The University's web- ed States, the West Bank and the Caucasus. the University, and the diverse campus
site describes Cole, no doubt in his own words, (New York Times, Nov. 24, 2001). After 30 filled with opportunity for everyone is one
as someone who has "studied the politics, cul- years of studying Islam, Prof Cole somehow of them. Yet it seems sometimes that we
ture and history of Shi'ite and Sunni Islam and missed the extent and significance of this "irrel- do not always know where to draw the
is familiar with Islamic radicalism in both evant" group. As an "expert," he was invited by line.
branches." Yet, two weeks after the Sept. 11 our International Institute to participate again in Apparently now, commenting that
atrocities, Prof Cole opined at a public forum at a symposium last month reflecting on the someone looks like a "black Charlie
the University, "I've spent 30 years now study- events of the previous year. One hopes that Brown" is a racial slur. Do we live in such .
ing Islam and this scenario does not sound to Prof. Cole devoted some time over the past a distorted PC world that differences can-
me like Islamic fundamentalism. I mean maybe not be commented on, just ignored?
it sounds ahlttle bit like the Applegate people (a year to studying the texts taught in Saudi ntb omne n utinrd
group in California who believed they were schools, the sermons preached in mosques Should tall people start reporting that Uni-
ascending UFOs for outer space) but it doesn't the world over'and the activities of the versity employees have compared them to
sound to me like it has anything to do with "small cult" in places ranging from New (gasp) tall Charlie Browns? I say again,
Islam." He went on to tell several hundred peo- York to Jakarta. "Loud farts" may be ema- where do we draw the line between racial
ple that, "In a very real sense, al-Qaida ... is nating from "boors in Philadelphia," but problems and ridiculous accusations?
probably fairly irrelevant ... It's a fringe group, some might feel hot air coming from "pub- KYLE ARON
a small group ... al- Qaida is a relatively minor lic intellectuals" - Cole's description of Engineeringjunior
Democracy, not Kashmir, core issue in South Asia


While Najeeb Jan presents a well-written
article in the Oct. 3 issue of the Daily, (Why
South Asia Matters) the identification of the
Kashmir issue as the "heart of South Asia's cri-
sis" is incorrect. Jan touched upon the true cause
of much of the turmoil that plagues South Asia
today and that is the lack of democracy in certain
nations. To be specific, it is the militarization of
Pakistan that has held South Asia captive to
poverty and extremism for over 50 years.
The Pakistani military has a long history of
interference in Pakistani domestic politics, even
when there have been elected Prime Ministers at
the head of government. Additionally, this insti-
tution has spread trouble in the region as a whole.
To start, no war has ever taken place between
India and Pakistan while Pakistan was under
civilian rule. Furthermore, Pakistan's Inter-Ser-
vices Intelligence, which is directed by the mili-

shortly after Pakistani civilian leader, Nawaz
Sharif, was involved in a peace summit with the
Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in
Lahore, Pakistan, General Musharraf led a small
scale invasion of Indian-administered portions of
Kashmir (the Kargil conflict). In addition, a read-
ing of General Musharraf's speech this Septem-
ber at the United Nations will indicate nothing
but a venomous attack on India by an army com-
mando, not the words of reconciliation from a
So, it is clear that the militarization of Pak-
istan has been bad news for South Asia, and the
world, but how does this constitute the heart of
the problems in the region?
The horrendous consequences of a military
man at the helm are clear for Pakistan itself. One
only needs to read the columns of the well-
respected Pakistani journalist, Ayaz Amir to
understand this. For India, when there is a mili-
tary next door which has shown nothing but

bilateral relations in Lahore? The answer to this
question can be found in Jan's article. "Civil
society in Pakistan and Bangladesh must contin-
ue to wrestle with the central issue of how and
why the military has been able to thwart real
democratic development in the name of national
security." Please note the four words of this sen-
tence "in the name of" In other words, the mili-
tary justifies its hold on Pakistan using lousy
excuses. Harping on Kashmir and fomenting
hatred for India are a way ofjustifying its rule.
This is not to say that the Pakistani military
doesn't have a sincere hatred for India as well as
a desire to grab the whole of Kashmir. However,
we should be clear that wresting Kashmir from
India will not bring peace. Furthermore, the track
record suggests that even if the whole of Kash-
mir went to Pakistan tomorrow, the military
regime in Islamabad would sustain their belliger-
ence against India as a justification for its rule.
One must agree with Jan's implication that

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