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November 17, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-17

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 17, 2004



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 pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

'We cannot,
on the basis of TV
images, no matter
how disturbing and
disconcerting they
are, arrive at a
judgment about an
- Florian Westphal, a spokesman for the
International Committee for the Red Cross,
referring to the recently released videotape
of a U.S. Marine apparently shooting and
killing a wounded Iraqi in a mosque, as
reported yesterday by the Associated Press.

l AA

SAM BUTLER _ :T Sp,'s:~ x

4 ,

My culture is mine own

hile visit-
ing family
in India two
years ago, I often got into
discussions about Indi-
an politics and human
rights issues. During
one such heated debate
with my cousins about
the ubiquitous caste sys-
tem, the conversation
took an unexpected turn. In an attempt to
show my misgivings, my cousin said, "Well,
you're Indian too. You are part of this." To
which I exasperatedly retorted, "No, I am
not. I am an American." When a slight lull
fell over the dinner table, my grandmother,
who until then had shown little interest in
the conversation, raised her frail head and
commented, "For them, you will never be
an American."
Where do I fit in? My family had moved
to America when I was young, and for a
few years, I found comfort in those who
had just arrived from the motherland. We
found common ground in Americans' inces-
sant mispronunciation of our names and the
desire to change our names in order to ease
adaptation into American society (I remain
grateful that my parents opted against this
drastic change, especially because so much
of my family's history is intrinsic in our
name.). But currently, there aren't even
derogatory terms to describe my identity
- I am not an "American-Born Confused
Desi" because I am not American born, nor
am I "Fresh Off the Boat" any longer since I

came ashore more than a dozen years ago.
When I came to this country, I was sur-
prised to learn that the Indian identity
included components that I had never been
introduced to while living in India: Bhangra,
garba raas and Bollywood are all parts of a
completely foreign culture to someone from
the South Indian city I grew up in because we
had kuchipudi, koolaatam and a vibrant Telugu
movie industry. This manufactured Indian-
American identity is relevant to a few people
but is fed to all of us as though we are part of
an unified culture. And nowhere is this mis-
leading identity more prevalent than in the
Indian American Student Association's annu-
al cultural show. For the past four years, these
cultural shows have offered little in terms
of the diversity of the country: Few dances
represent the varied cultures, most songs are
chosen from Bollywood films and even cos-
tumes lack authenticity.
This is not to say, however, that fragmen-
tation into smaller groups is the answer,
though that is the cause for forming a dozen
South Asian organizations on campus, each
with its own decree for inception: Punjabi
culture is expressed in the Punjabi Student
Organization, garba raas is explored through
the Raas Core and ABCDs, and FOBs stay
apart from one another with their corre-
sponding cliques in IASA and the Indian
Students Association. While organizing a
large Telugu conference, few of the youth
organizers knew of or wanted to include
speakers or prevalent figures from the com-
munity, instead opting to create a meat mar-
ket for marriage-ready singles with cruises,

fashion shows and speed dating. Indian cul-
ture had been boiled down to choreographed
dances and hookups with similarly colored
peoples and made me want to renounce it for
a more American identity mostly because
I had failed to recognize that my cultural
identity is determined not by a behemoth,
cookie-cutter program that is mass pro-
duced for Hill Auditorium or COBO Hall.
It is not an easy task to discover one's
character in a country that is set on acclima-
tion to a certain norm, and I regret that all
too often I have taken out my angst against
my parents. Over the past few years, I have
grown to appreciate that I am a product of
my forefathers and cherish that very little of
my culture has to do with dance and song.
It is of little consequence that I recognize
the virtues of arranged marriage and have
trouble saying certain words with a "w" or
"v" because I similarly question authority
and embrace challenges. My identity is not
determined by the language I speak but by
the awareness I gain from understanding it.
I find my identity in the nuances of citizen-
ship in a boundary-free global community.
I inherit the passion with which my pater-
nal grandfather followed his dreams and
the strength with which my maternal grand-
mother raised the most capable and success-
ful women I know. I no longer worry about
understanding my culture because it is clear
to me where I can find my identity: in the
history and heritage of my family.
Chirumamilla can be reached
at schiruma@umich.edu.


Terrorism is not a legitimate
means of resistance
I am writing in response to Tarek Dika's
letter (Unified Palestinian leadership criti-
cal to Mideast peace, 11/15/2004). I find
Dika's opinion to be quite disturbing as
an Israeli citizen and a human being. "If
you want to end terrorism, you must end
the occupation" is Dika's main argument.
Furthermore, Dika's refers to terror as a
legitimate means of resistance. What Dika
is suggesting is that Palestinians should
continue to target innocent people by
blowing up buses, coffee shops or just kill
innocent children until the Israeli govern-
ment decides to give in to his demands. I
do not know what Dika's moral standards
are, but as a former Israeli soldier, the last
thing I want is another human being killed,
no matter his nationality. Both Israelis and
Palestinians have suffered a great deal, and
no innocent bystander should die because
of any political dispute.
This might be shocking to Dika, but the
Israeli people do not want their soldiers
to be inside Gaza or Ramalla. In fact, our
prime minister is leading a one-sided with-
drawal from the Gaza Strip and numerous
settlements in the West Bank. The reason
this withdrawal is one sided is because the
former Palestinian leadership had similar
views as Dika.
As an Israeli who would like to ride a bus
without looking over his shoulder, I could
only hope the next Palestinian leadership
would choose communication and negotia-
tions to solve its political problems instead
of guns and suicide bombers. As long as
Palestinians such as Dika continue to sup-
port terror, Israel has no choice but to con-
tinue fighting terrorism. I can only pray
that my neighboring Palestinians do not
share Dika's views. Peace between nations
cannot be based on terrorism and intimida-
tion; it can only be based on negotiations
and political sacrifice.
Or Shotan
LSA freshman
The letter writer is the chair of the
Israeli Student Organization.

a coherent vision and strategy" to oppose2
Israeli control of the West Bank and7
Gaza. This is to suggest that Arafat had
not caused enough harm already. Arafat's
legacy rests with his irreversible damage tot
the Middle East peace process, somethingI
noble for which Dika and Students Alliedt
for Freedom and Equality appear to have;
low regard.c
At Camp David during the summer of
2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak<
made a generous offer to Yasser Arafat int
which he proposed putting 97 percent of<
the disputed territories under control of theE
Palestinian Authority. Because Arafat was
committed to the destruction of the Jew-1
ish state instead of coexistence, he turnedI
town Barak's generous offer and called
on Palestinian youths to launch attacks
against Israel. Because of this, Israel has
had to put its youths in danger by sending
them into Palestinian towns to stop ter-
ror attacks that have claimed the lives oft
over 1,000 innocent Israelis. These vic-
tims were people doing things such as eat-t
ing at restaurants, socializing in bars and
riding on buses. Their murderers targeted
them regardless of age and gender. The
perpetrators carried out their murderous
acts because they had been indoctrinated
from an early age to hate Jews and to reject1
the existence of the state of Israel. If Dika
doesn't believe that this is terror, then thereI
is something significantly wrong with him
and his organization, assuming that there
wasn't already.
Dika absurdly asserts that terrorism is a
result of Israeli occupation. Israel launches1
operations against terrorists because they
pose a threat that shows no sign of cessa-
tion. In addition, it is absurd to allege that a
progressive democratic state such as Israel
would just maliciously oppress an inno-
cent civilian population. And people for-
get about all of the terror attacks that are
thankfully thwarted. Yet in Dika's view,
it is probably a shame that these attempts
bore no fruit and destroyed more Israeli
lives. Israel needs to defend itself, and
unfortunately many Palestinians who have
nothing to do with terrorist activity end up
suffering because of this. It is an absolute
shame that SAFE openly advocates ter-
rorist attacks that kill innocents and ruin

A. Schramm (Terrorism, not Israel, is the
roadblock to Mideast peace, 11/16/04), I
would, as a reasonable member of the Uni-
versity, the Muslim community, the Pales-
tinian community and the Arab community,
like to agree that terrorism is the roadblock
to peace in Palestine. However, unlike Sch-
ramm, I do not define "terrorism" as an
occupied people fighting for freedom. The
resistance against Apartheid in South Afri-
ca wasn't "terrorism" nor was the resistance
to the British occupation in India. I do not
condone the death of innocent civilians on
either side, which is what terrorism truly is.
In agreement with Schramm, I say that
terrorism must end. This means that the wall
being built around and in the West Bank,
the inhumane conditions in the Gaza Strip,
the construction of the Israeli settlements
on Palestinian land, the mass destruction
of Palestinian homes and land, the massa-
cre of innocent Palestinians, in addition to
the suicide bombings, must end. It is not, by
any means, fair to say that an entire popula-
tion living under occupation and in constant
fear should become completely passive and
allow for the genocide of their people before
"peace" can be achieved.
I would also like to draw attention to the
fact that there is resistance to the occupa-
tion on both sides of the wall. Nonviolent
resistance movements have been started by
both Palestinians and Israelis, protesting
the occupation, such as Women in Black and
the International Solidarity Movement. The
question I would like to pose to the commu-
nity now is "Why is it that we feed into the
belief that 'terrorism' is the act of an olive-
skinned man with black hair and brown eyes
who happens to pray five times a day and not
that of an oppressive government?" I agree
with Tarek Dika in saying that the Palestin-
ians must resist the occupation (Unified Pal-
estinian leadership critical to Mideast peace,
11/15/2004), because it is this terrorism that
is the roadblock to peace.
Rama A. Sahi
LSA junior
Advertising insert, people
who read it stupid

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