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April 10, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-04-10

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4 - Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890,
413 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
andillustrations represent solelytheviews oftheirauthors.
Tackling discrim-ination
End of MHSAA case a big win for female athletes
Thanks to Title IX of the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity
in Education Act, gender doesn't determine the number of
sports available to high school students. Or at least it plays
a lesser role than it did 30 years ago. But inequality has persisted
in Michigan, with high schools required only to assure that male
sports coincide with their respective college seasons. Until last
week, no such guarantee existed for women's sports.

It scares the business
out of me."
- Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on the "rabid, rabid Republican
nature of a man who lives near the Edwards home in North Carolina and has been known t
brandish a gun at the site of trespassers, as reported yesterday by The Associated Press
A Detroit love story


The advocacy group Communities for
Equity took the Michigan High School
Athletic Association to court over its
sports seasons in 1998. After a nearly nine-
year battle, the case is finally decided,
and it turns out they were right. The U.S.
Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal
from the MHSAA last week, meaning that
sports seasons must change beginning next
fall. This case has finally brought Michigan
in line with every other state, and it has
also drawn attention to lingering gender
inequality in high school athletics.
The case was straightforward. Girls bas-
ketball, soccer, volleyball, golf and tennis
are played in the off-season in relation to
colleges, while all boys sports are scheduled
to match the college seasons. Playing in the
off-season hurts girls' access to regional and
national tournaments and lessens top ath-
letes' chances of receiving athletic scholar-
ships. It also didn't help that the off-season
scheduling meant girls' basketball, soccer
and volleyball seasons were several weeks
shorter than seasons in other states.
The MHSAA argued that practicality
trumped Title IX. If boys and girls basket-
the teams would compete for practice space
and fans. What was commonly understood,
if not explicitly stated, is that any change
would hurt female athletes. No one would
dare jeopardize male athletes' access to
practice space, and few would watch girls'
basketball when boys are playing at the
same time.
Although this rationale may be true, it

should be interpreted to mean that more
action, not less, is necessary to address gen-
der discrimination in sports. If balancing lim-
ited space is a serious concern, then why don't
boys play their basketball in the off-season?
As of last week, the situation is fairer.
The final decision will move girls basketball
and volleyball seasons to their appropriate
national times, leave girl's soccer and swim-
ming in the off-season and shift boys' golf
and tennis to the off-season as an equalizer
to satisfy Title IX.
Schools will have to juggle facilities and
resources in order to accommodate the rul-
ing. For some female high school athletes,
new conflicts between sports seasons mean
they will have to pick between sports. The
Detroit Free Press dedicated several pages
of coverage to the "new hurdles" the switch
will bring. The current female athletes who
will be negatively impacted by the ruling
have every right to be angry. But the switch
is not the fault of Communities for Equality;
Michigan should have adjusted its sports
schedules years ago.
The MHSAA and individual high schools
are not yet off the hook. Female athletes still
face gender discrimination, most notably
in the attention and prestige they receive.
During the court battle, MHSAA agreed to
provide female athletes with better public-
ity, more television coverage and expanded
facilities for state championships. These
long overdue changes show that while treat-
ment of female athletics has significantly
improved, the status quo is still a long way
from true equality.

y parents' decision to love
one another is the great-
est act of political courage
I have ever known. I recognize, of
course, that it might have begun as a
political statement. Young and naive,
it is possible they were trying to prove
something to the world and to them-
selves. Maybe they
were, dare I say it,
curious. But some-
how, right here in ,
nearby Detroit, the
most segregated
city in the country,
my white mother
metmy black father. ARA
They fell in love.
I cannot imag- GAY
ine a more unlikely
backdrop for their relationship than
1970s Detroit. It is, after all, the city
where my maternal grandmother
- a single mother of three in the 1950s
- fed her children by redlining along
with the rest of her colleagues in the
real estate business. Refusing to show
homes in certain predominately white
neighborhoods to black families, she
could not have dreamt she would one
day have a grandchild who would be
"one of them."
Detroit is also the city where my
father's father worked his way through
Wayne State University Law School.
My grandfather ripped the pages out
of his law books and pasted them on
the inside of his jacket so he could
study on Ford's assembly line. One of
only two black students, he graduated
first in his class.
My grandmother explicitly asked
that my mother not marry a black man.
I have white cousins who live in subur-
ban Detroit suburbs whom I've rarely
ever seen. And in the almost 30 years
that my parents have been married,
they've been denied housing, service
in restaurants and even acknowledge-
ment from friends and family. As soon

as their paychecks could take them
there, they fled for New York City,
where I was born and raised. Sheltered
from Detroit's tensions, I arrived at the
University 17 years old and oblivious to
Detroit's problems.
My freshman year - which began
less than 12 months after the Universi-
ty confirmed its commitment to diver-
sity in the Supreme Court - was a rude
However I had chosen to define
myself in New York - biracial, black
and white or simply Mara - was no
longer relevant. I was "Black at Michi-
gan," and there were days when little
else seemed to matter.
The fact of our separateness is
undeniable. At a university that trum-
pets the value of diversity, we sense
that magnitude of our segregation -
from our residence halls to our majors
to our parties - is embarrassing. But
now, even those of us who claim to
support diversity are tired of talking
about it.
After a Supreme Court battle and
a two-year fight over Proposal 2, the
conversation seems as exhausted as
we are. It has become easier to believe
that such segregation is inevitable or
even natural than it is to challenge it.
The University is, after all, simply a
microcosm of our divided society. The
vast majority of us - black, white and
others - were robbed of the experi-
ence of diversity in our upbringing and
were raised alongside people who look
exactly like we do.
For most students on this campus,
diversity is meaningless. Immersed
within our own small worlds, we leave
the University without ever under-
standing the beauty of our differences
at all.
But when I think of my parents, I
don't think of difference. My mind
pours over all the things thatrun deep-
er than race. I think of all that unites
us. And I wonder what and who we're

missing out on.
Twenty-seven years later, my par-
ents' marriage is legal is all 50 states.
My grandmother doesn't like to talk
about the day she asked my mother
not to marry a black man. But it isn't
the difficulty of their circumstances
that inspires me. It is the depth of their
courage, their decision to make a com-
mitment to one another and challenge
the world.
I walk around campus and won-
der what it will look like in the years
to come. I want to believe that we can
make that same commitment to one
another, that we can be as courageous.
Diversity is a
sacrifice worth
every hardship.
It's a unique opportunity we've been
given. We can dare to know one anoth-
er and be more educated, interesting
people for it. But we will have to fight
to make diversity a reality. The choice
is ours. We do not have to retreat from
one another and live exactly as the
vworld expects us to. We do not have to
repeat life exactly as our parents lived
it or do what is easy instead of what is
better or what is right.
My parents could have saved them-
selves from a life that required a thou-
sand acts of courage. Instead they did
what was scarier, braver and far more
incredible. They chose to invest in one
another, to bet on one another and to
question the world as it was by daring
to love one another.
Maybe it's optimistic. Maybe it's
fantastically naive. But it is still the
only way I know.
Mara Gay can be reached
at maracl@umich.edu.



A blueprint for conversation

b 3 n"
I gum .April's Fools
Day a few dqs
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Letters Policy
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Letters will be printed according to timeliness, order received
and the amount of space available. Send letters to tothedaily@


Any productive conversation about the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be predi-
cated on the understanding that the Zionist
occupation and settlement of the West Bank
is the real impediment to the "peace process."
Unfortunately, much of the campus conversa-
tion revolves around Palestinian aggression
and resistance. This makes the situation in
Palestine appear one-sided and paints the Pal-
estinians asa brutal people who condone wan-
ton violence.
But violence on the part of the Palestinians
is only one of the forms of resistance to anoth-
er form of violence demonstrated by Israeli
occupation. This includes Israeli military
incursions into Palestinian neighborhoods,
harassment of Palestinians at more than 500
checkpoints inside the West Bank and the con-
struction of a militarized apartheid wall. Any
attempt to explain or academically explore the
impetus behind Palestinian violence is stifled
immediately. Admittedly, these are difficult
topics to deal with consideringthat many peo-
ple on campus have family living in Palestine,
Israel or the surrounding areas.
Thus an environment that fosters useful
dialogue and constructive conversation should
be subject to the following conditions:
" There is no clash of civilizations. Jews
do not inherently hate Palestinians, and Pal-
estinians do not inherently hate Jews. The
conflict is not primarily one of coexistence.
The Palestinians' right to self-determina-
tion and Israel's territorial expansionist ini-
tiatives are the underlying issues behind the
hostilities. Israeli policies of collective pun-
ishment under the auspices of security have
consistently proven ineffective and continue
to deny the Palestinians basic human rights.
Under no circumstances should anyone
support "security" initiatives that directly
endanger the very safety and livelihood of an
entire people.
* Criticizing Zionism is not the same as
anti-Semitism. Since its inception, Zionism
has been a secular vehicle to achieve a reli-
gious goal. It is nonsensical for any discussion
to render a nationalist ideology synonymous
with a religion. Likewise, any criticism of Pal-
estinian leadership should not imply Islamo-

phobia. Open criticism of leadership, ideology
and international agendas can begin the pro-
cess that leads to some sort of understanding.
The fear of being labeled anti-Semitic should
not stifle this important conversation under
any circumstances. Blanket statements that
enforce the notion that Palestinians uphold
violent and racist principles are a blatant road-
block to intelligent debate.
* Zionist insistence that pro-Palestin-
ian organizations recognize Israel's legiti-
macy ignores Zionists' own responsibility to
acknowledge Palestinian identity, autonomy,
ownership of land and an unalienable right
to a dignified human existence. It also skirts
the underlying issue of Israel's final status as
a state considering that Israel's borders are
expanding at this very moment.
" Understanding the impetus behind sui-
cide attacks does not imply approval. People
should not be marginalized because they seek
a greater understanding of the conflict. That
said, the validity of one's call for Palestinian
liberation and a right to self-determination
should not depend on whether he or she con-
dones suicide attacks. Intellectual discourse on
suicide bombings benefits all parties involved.
. The denial of the very existence of a Pal-
estinian people or a Palestinian identity is not
only tantamount to ethnic cleansing; it is his-
torically unfounded as well. The Palestinians
do exist, and they deserve the ability to enjoy
the unalienable human rights that many take
for granted.
As members of an institution ofhigher learn-
ing, we owe it to ourselves and to each other
to remain as informed as possible on issues
of global importance. Our collective quest for
knowledge should not be inhibited by precon-
ceived notions or a reluctance to leave our com-
fort zones. This viewpoint is not some sort of
demand thatall pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli
students on campus mustgetalong. Rather, itis
a reminder that in this seemingly endless war
of words, we have a duty to remain civil, well-
informed, open-minded and proactive.
Andrew Dalack is an LSA freshman and Julia
Eden Ris is an LSA senior. They are members of
Students Advocating Freedom and Equality.

I am not a racist

"I believe that Zionism is racism,
because in establishing the racially
exclusive state of Israel, in 1948, and
expelling the indigenous Palestinians
from the land, the Zionists severed
a relationship that people had to the
land for over 4,000 years, uninter-
rupted, since beforeAbraham."
- Rabee' Sahyoun, a post-doctor-
al economic policy advisor and col-
umnist living in Beirut, Lebanon.
The day after the ballot initiative
toban affirmative action in Michigan
was passed in November, University
President Mary Sue Coleman gave
an address on the Diag. As I listened
intently, I noticed a young woman,
perhaps in her early 20s, passing out
pamphlets to the crowd. I recognized
the pamphlet as a piece of anti-Israel
propaganda from Students Advocat-
ing Freedom and Equality.
I casually tucked in my Star of
David and approached the woman
to ask a few questions about the
handout. After I pointed out each
inaccuracy, she realized that I was
not going to be someone she could
brainwash. She called me a racist
and a "Zionist pig" and walked away.
This woman must have been blind to
what it means to be a Zionist. Unfor-
tunately, she didn't seem to have any
intention of opening her eyes.
The words of the young woman,
Rabee' Sahyoun and countless oth-
ers reveal an ideological threat that
plagues supporters of Israel every-
where: the widespread manipula-

tion and distortion of a word closely
linked to the survival of Israel.
Earlier in his article, Sahyoun
compares Zionism to Bolshevism,
Nazism and Apartheid. Coupling
Zionism with words so linked to
hate and oppression does an injus-
tice to the rich history of the Zion-
ist movement. Sadly, Sahyoun is not
alone in his erroneous views.
To combat the equation of Zion-
ism to genocidal and racist regimes,
a clear and comprehensive defini-
tion of Zionism must be presented:
Zionism is an international move-
ment supporting the establishment
and the sustained protection of
Israel as a homeland for the Jew-
ish nation. I've been on campus for
almost a year, and I now realize
that most people don't even know
what the word Zionism means.
When people equate Zionism to
racism they assume that Israel is a
racist, apartheid state like histori-
cal South Africa, and they separate
Zionism from its true meaning.
Those who make this accusa-
tion refer to the supposed "racial
oppression" of the Arabs living in
Israel. Yet Arabs living in Israel
enjoy more rights than many of
the Arabs living in the Arab world,
including gender equality, freedom
of speech and freedom of the press.
Had the young woman on the Diag
been interested in an intelligent
debate, I would have referred her
to these facts. However, she chose
to leave the conversation. I should
have thanked the young woman,

because Iwill always be proud to be
a "Zionist pig." Yet, I am not and will
never be a racist. Those who equate
Zionism to racism are not only igno-
rant but anti-Semitic.
Last year, I spent nine months in
Israel. My friends and I often trav-
eled the country on our days off
and I was able to experience Israeli
diversity in a way that few Ameri-
cans have the privilege to do. I saw
the checkpoints. I drove through
the Arab villages. I even had a con-
versation with a young Muslim boy
on the top of the Temple Mount.
Those who accuse Israel of rac-
ism must have not taken the time
to learn about Israel. These people
don't understand the source of
Israeli-Arab hardships.
Instead of demonizing Israel
for strip searches at checkpoints,
people should hold accountable
the men who try to pass the check-
point with a bomb in a baby car-
riage. And don't accuse Israel of
being an apartheid state because
of widespread poverty within the
Palestinian territories. Blame the
Palestinian leadership that has
embezzled money from its citizens
to finance terrorism for years.
Anti-Israel rhetoric is filled with
gross inaccuracies and oversim-
plifications, seldom examining
the roots of the conflict. Zionism
affirms not only the right for the
state of Israel to exist but the right
of Israel to defend itself at all costs.


Ad Parritz is an LSA freshman. i

Editorial Board Members: Emily Beam, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns, Sam Butler, Ben Caleca,
Mike Eber, Brian Flaherty, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg, Emmarie Huetteman, Toby Mitchell,
David Russell, Gavin Stern, John Stiglich, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya,
Rachel Wagner, Christopher Zbrozek


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