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July 22, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2002-07-22

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0 Living under Israeli apartheid
BY AMENAH IBRAHIM Palestinian catastrophe in 1948 where
800,000 of them were forced out and
I was just turning 13 years old their villages were destroyed to make
and still at the mercy of my good room for the immigrant Jews coming
intentioned parents. From Palestine, from Europe. I met the children of
they had immigrated to the United innocent men who were slain by
States in 1977 to find better oppor- Israeli soldiers; I met Palestinian
tunities and a better living, not civilians young and old among the
unlike the motives of many of our "injured" category who some had lost
American ancestors. The time came an eye, others had lost limbs, and
when their children were growing many who were paralyzed - again
up, not speaking their native tongue thanks to our tax dollars funding
and ignorant of the traditions and Israeli bullets. I saw hundreds of
rich culture of their Palestinian her- homes bulldozed and Palestinians
itage. Before I knew it, I was on a homes becade and Palstia
plane to Tel Aviv to discover this homeless because they huilt their
somewhat foreign culture. It was homes despite their applications
1991 and the first Intifada was heing denied, or were some way relat-
slowly dying, but Israeli apartheid ed to a suicide homher. I wonder if
was apparent everywhere. Baruch Goldstein's family - and his
Looking directly across my town likes - had their homes demolished.
stood Madarus, an Israeli settlement. After all these years and "peace
The Israelis, unlike the Palestinians, processes" it seems to be an occupa-
are heavily armed. Made up of Jews tion set in stone. Just recently as a
coming from all parts of the world, form of their ongoing illegal collec-
settlers lived on land that was taken tive punishments, the Israeli govern-
from the indigenous Palestinians. At ment once again struck two places
that time, there were 100,500 settle- near Nablus claiming they were the
ments, according to official records, relatives of suicide bombers. "In the
last years figures estimated 198,000 Askar camp, Palestinians said about
- this is only in the occupied West six other flimsy houses nearby were
' Bank. So much for the halting of set- destroyed or badly damaged when the
tlements that was promised by the army blew up the Ajouri residence,
Israelis in 1993. Many times they leaving at least 22 people homeless.
would come in, raid our town at night Reporters saw an elderly neighbor,
and take off. They smashed cars, Tahir Farms, sobbing at the ruins of his
house windows - like animals - house, home to 11 relatives. 'All my
whatever was in their way. They house was lost,' he cried. 'What did I
wanted to instill fear in the townspeo- do, God? I worked all my life to build
ple. "Behind the growth, officials and the house, and now it's lost.'" stated
analysts said, lies an elaborate system The New York Times.
of governent incentives and a pow- The situation today is much more
erful network of political support. The alarming. Since Israel's seizure of
government provides the settlers with most West Bank towns, which began
cheap land, discounted loans, tax on June 20, 2002, about 800,000
breaks and other aid," The New York Palestinians remain under strict cur-
Times states. Of course its cheap, its Pestniany un er c t cur-
stolen. All this, while Palestinians few and many unarmed civilians have
went through hell and back to obtain bem killed in those fewthat have been
permits from the Israeli apartheid nmher of Palsi nthat hs hro
government to build a home on their killed in this recent conflict is approx-
land or to add a room to their over- imately 1,555 according to human
crowded homes, only to find their rights reports.
applications were denied - another B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights
clear form of Israeli apartheid. organization states, "Israel's poliry of
During my years in occupied restrictions on movement is based on
Palestine, I saw live bullets go blatant discrimination between the
through the library window while I two populations living in the occu-
was writing a research paper on the pied territories - Palestinians and
history of the Berlin wall; my PE Jews - solely on the basis of nation-
class was hit with tear gas while play- ality. The restrictions are imposed
ing soccer; I saw the blood of Pales- exclusively on the Palestinian popula-
tinian civilians covering the streets of tion. Furthermore, in many cases, the
Ramallah; I was forbidden to attend explicit aim of the restrictions is to
school some days because there was a ensure freedom of movement for the
checkpoint in my way and the Israelis Jewish settler population at the
decided that schoolgirls were some- expense of the growing desperation
how a threat to the security of Israel. I of the local population:"
was forbidden to attend school One does not need to look far to
because of a curfew imposed by the see Israel as an apartheid state.
Israeli apartheid government for three Their policies and laws illustrate it.
weeks straight because Baruch Gold- I've presented a limited Palestinian
stein, a militant Israeli terrorist, went perspective of my experience living
on a shooting spree and killed 48 in Apartheid Israel, in response to
Palestinians in a mosque while they the Israeli perspective that has been
were prostrating in prayer. I stood theentedeltspewspkt"vsrtha: Hapeben
watching helplessly as cowardly, presented last week, "Israel: Hope
heavily-protected Israeli soldiers beat the face of terror" (07/15/02). There
children with their bats and M-16's, are always two sides to the story.
whenever they felt like it. I met Pales- _
tinian refugees who recounted the Ibrahim is a Rackham student.

Monday, July 22, 2002 - The Michigan Daily - 5
Us and them

>:< he crowds'
a n g e r
swelled, as
the chants grew
louder. "No justice,
no peace, no racist
Placards dotted
the mass of angry
protesters. "Why are
blacks easy targets?" one sign read.
Another proclaimed, "This happens
every day in LA."
Civil rights leader Martin Luther
King III pointed to the incident as a
marked example of how little has
changed in the history of police bru-
tality since his father's death. He even
pointed to Sept. 11 as a critical junc-
ture in the long battle against police
aggression charging, "As a result of
our fight against terrorism, the police
have been re-empowered so they are
out beating people's heads."
The images of Jeremy Morse, a
white Los Angeles Police Department
officer, slamming handcuffed Dono-
van Jackson, a 16-year-old black, onto
the hood of a patrol car and punching
him in the face rolled across cable
news screens while anchors evoked
memories of the 1992 riots following
the acquittal of officers charged in the
video taped beating of Rodney King.
The scenes certainly had to make
even the most staunchly conservative
white male stop and say that some-
thing was wrong. Six cops to investi-

gate an expired license while a white
male with an outstanding warrant
stood across the way and videotaped
the entire event? The image of that
hulking police officer slamming that
teenager into the hood of the squad car
was enough to make you want to stand
up and call for action - to go out and
do something, until ....
Until you realized that you weren't
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), an
ardent and often outspoken proponent
of "black issues" drew the line sepa-
rating "us" and "them" when she wel-
comed white camera man Mitchell
Crooks "into the family" for his
efforts in capturing the entire incident
on video.
"I believe our community owes
him a debt of gratitude for bringing
this incident to light. Without the
videotape he shot, the world would
never have known about this brutal
Our community?
Never mind that Crooks had been
convicted of driving under the influ-
ence, hit and run and petty theft of two
videocassette recorders - now sitting
in a California prison serving out his
sentence - but to welcome him while
excluding the support of all others,
white or black, to which this incident
is a gross offense?
Is not police brutality a problem to
which all of society must contend?
Aren't we as Americans most defined

by the protections and freedoms that
we are afforded? Does not an offense
against our human rights and civil
freedoms give us all cause to call for
justice and work for change?
Apparently not if you are white.
As fast as one is compelled to rise
up and make a stand, all one has to do
is turn to the black leaders who wel-
come petty criminals, while decrying
all others who look with horror as that
young boy is beaten, and realize that
their calls for justice are a rally against
For many black leaders, issues can-
not be relevant to the "black communi-
ty" unless they draw that sharp
distinction between who is the victim
and who is the agent along the black-
white divide. Predatory lending, dis-
criminatory hiring practices and police
brutality - issues that leaders such as
Maxine Waters have quietly worked
against for many years - transform
from societal problems to "black
issues" only when "us" and "them" are
so clearly defined.
And that is when those of us who
are moved by calls for change and
justice realize that we aren't part of
the "us" to which those calls are
made. We are in fact the "them" to
which protests rally against and riots
target. After all, it's not our problem
KevinMcNeilcan bereachedat

Transparency needed in University's searches

As a former Michigan Journalism Fellow
grateful for my recent experience at the Uni-
versity, I wish to clarify and expand my
remarks in a Daily news article two weeks
ago, "'U' presidential search input outlined"
(07/08/02). I haven't the slightest objection to
the regents' selection of President Mary Sue
Coleman, who seems well-qualified for the
job. What disappoints me and others is the
extreme and unnecessary secrecy of the
process, which I think should change to better
balance competing public interests next time.
Even as a professional journalist who
strongly advocates open government asa fun-
damental and necessary democratic principle,
it seems to me that the process for choosing
Lee Bollinger was too open. For example,
having to bring reporters along to candidate
interview dinners was ridiculous. No wonder
participants in the process chafed against it
and wanted to change it.
But I think they've badly overreacted, to
the detriment of the people of Michigan. Now
the public has gone from knowing which can-
didates slurp their soup to not knowing any-
thing about the choice until it's too late to
weigh in on the candidates and influence the
decision, as the public should.
The president of the University is a public
official, leading a public university, spending
public tax dollars, serving the public. The
public should have the chance to evaluate and
comment on finalists, at least before the
choice is made. That might make for a better
selection. And a more open process certainly

would inspire more public confidence in the
Rackham Dean Earl Lewis and the Presi-
dential Search Advisory Committee were
kind enough to come to the Wallace House
last winter and talk with us Michigan Journal-
ism Fellows about the selection process. We
discussed, among other things, its secrecy.
Some of the fellows argued that asa mat-
ter of principle the selection process should
be entirely open and that all candidates'
names should be released during the search.
Lewis cited the common objection that identi-
fying candidates would discourage some
potential applicants, because public knowl-
edge of their possible departure from their
current schools could get them in trouble. No
doubt that occasionally happens, but the dan-
ger seems exaggerated.
Yes, it was uncomfortable for Bollinger,
and perhaps annoying to some University
officials, when word leaked last year that he
was a finalist for Harvard's presidency. And
few were glad to see him leave this year for
Columbia. But he kept his job in the interim.
And, be honest, didn't it reflect well on the
University for its president to be so highly
regarded attwo superioruniversities?
In any case, it seems reasonable to me to
accept the cost of occasionally stymieing
someone's career advancement for the sake of
honoring the sometimes difficult demands of
democracy. It's often a rough and inefficient
way to govern, but it beats all the alternatives.
To get the considerable benefits, we have to
pay the price.
To the PSAC, I proposed a reasonable,
workable, middle ground: Releasing the

names of the finalists only and inviting public
comment on them before making the final
selection. That approach, which works well in
other states, has the virtue of balancing the
competing public interests of openness and
quality of choice.
Candidates would know that they will be
publicly identified only if they reach the final-
ist stage, by which time the search commit-
tee's investigation of their credentials may
wcll be apparent to people at their home uni-
versities anyway. Besides, what's wrong with
finalists having something valuable at stake in
the process? Mightn't that be a good thing, to
help weed out candidates who aren't willing
to take worthwhile risks and those who aren't
excited about the prospect of leading the Uni-
versity? Shouldn'tthey really, really want it?
The public would have asay in the choice
- which could improve it - and greater
confidence in the result. We could gauge the
finalists' character and reduce the potential
for bad surprises, all without probing, or car-
ing, how fastidiously they dine. We would
know what kind of leader we might get before
it was a fait accompli. If it's smart to allow
drop/add for something as ordinary as college
classes, isn't it wise to test the public waters
on something as extraordinary and crucial as
choosing a public university president?
The next time the University needs a new
leader, I hope the public she or he serves will
get more of a say. That'sthe right kind of tra-
dition for a "Public Ivy" like the University.
Eisleyserved as a Michigan Journalism
Fellow during 2001-2002 and is a reporter
for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C

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