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May 05, 2003 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2003-05-05

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Monday, May 5, 2003 - The Michigan Daily - 5
What does my religion have to offer?
JASON PESICK ONE SMALL YOICE

Governor's remarks
distasteful, she
should apologize
TO THE DAILY:
I am a graduating senior, and I
am thoroughly disappointed and
upset about the outcome of the
commencement ceremony. Gover-
nor Jennifer Granholm's remarka
in her speech were inappropriate
for a day of celebration. Being
called potential "total losers" and
reminded of the terrible economic
crisis facing graduates damaged
all the graduates' sense of accom-
plishment and joy. Granholm
should issue a statement of apolo-
gy to the graduating class of 2003
for her remarks. I only get one col-
lege graduation day, and mine was
dampened by her rude behavior.
Thanks Governor. You know, being
elected to office does not guaran-
tee success. There are some who
have been elected to office that
you have never heard of and will
never hear of. Some are complete
and total losers.
NATALIE MORAN
Alumnus

Letter inaccurate,
'U' should divest
from Caterpillar
TO THE DAILY:
In his letter (Story left out
important details of divestment
vote, 4/29/03), Brad Sugar false-
ly claims that, "Realizing that
this resolution was asinine for
singling out Israel, two-thirds of
the assembly voted to take the
resolution off the table." In reali-
ty, a large number of MSA repre-
sentatives voted to table the
resolution because of their belief
that the student government
should not consider resolutions
dealing with international issues.
This took place, unfortunately,
} despite an overwhelming pres-
ence of supporters of the resolu-
tion and hundreds of supportive
e-mails that flooded representa-
tives' inboxes.
Sugar himself forwards the
argument that the resolution,
which would support divesting
from Caterpillar Corp. for its
role in illegal house demolitions,
was asinine for singling out
Israel. Apparently, with this
logic, one cannot criticize an
immoral act without criticizing
every immoral act in the world.
This is absurd, and goes to show
the desperation of Israeli apolo-
gists, including the mainstream
pro-Israel groups that rallied
against the resolution in their
attempts to find excuses for any
and every Israeli act, no matter
how overtly sadistic and criminal
they may be.
Specifically, Israel's practice
of house demolitions contra-
venes countless doctrines of
international law, human rights

and any sense of morality. This
act of collective punishment has
resuilt; n tit drdstrction of
over 1,000 Palestinian homes
over the past six months. As a
result, it has brought the criti-
cism of countless Israeli and
international human rights orga-
nizations, international bodies
and even our own president.
For those Israelis, Palestini-
ans and supporters of either side
that strive for peace, it is impera-
tive that we take principled
stances against acts that only
fuel the wanton death and
destruction, no matter who may
be committing them. This in
mind, urging the University to
divest from Caterpillar Corp.
until they cease knowingly sell-
ing their equipment for illegal
Israeli actions will exonerate us
from some of the loss of morali-
ty we share as our tuition dollars
bring down innocent Palestini-
ans' homes and subsequently,
peace in the Middle East.
FADI KIBLAWI
Alumnus
Opposition to war
groundless, Iraqis
better off now
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing this letter partly
in response to a letter to the edi-
tor in your paper (Coverage of
war in Iraq balanced, yet inade-
quate, 04/29/03) and partly in
response to the ridiculous com-
plaints I keep hearing about U.S.
involvement in Iraq. Everybody
keeps complaining about how
many civilians have died, but
when you compare it to how
many civilians have been killed
by Saddam in the past, the num-
ber of deaths is very low. Sad-
dam was the dictator of Iraq for
about 23 years. During that time,
his regime brutally murdered at
least 750,000 people. If you take
750,00 murders and divide it by
the number of days he was in
power, 8,395, you see that on
average, his regime was respon-
sible for 89 deaths a day. Grant-
ed, many of these deaths came in
large mass murders, such as the
gassing of the Kurds, but you
get the idea. It is important to
limit civilian casualties of any
war, but some will die. The bot-
tom line in this case, however, is
that more people are alive in
Iraq than would be the case had
we not invaded. Not only that,
but everybody is free now. No
matter if you had doubts before,
all legitimate worries in this
regard have been proved false. I
suspect that the only people still
complaining do so because they
would rather still have Saddam
in power. No doubt that was the
goal of the Marxist organiza-
tions responsible for organizing
worldwide anti-war protests the
past few months.
DAN KRAWIEc
LSA unior

When I went
home for
Passover a
couple of weeks ago,
I gained a valuable
insight that reinforced
some of my fears
about the way that my
religion is practiced
and crushed some of
the naive idealism I have associated with
Judaism my whole life.
As I sat around the table, the younger
children began teaching everyone the new
things they had been learning about
Passover. Some of it was cute, some of it
interesting, some of it inane, but something
that one of these children said was truly
frightening and at the same time, very
telling. One of them, who attends a promi-
nent local Hebrew elementary school, told
us that his Hebrew teacher taught him and
his classmates that ifa non-Jewish person
touches some of the traditional Passover
food, it is no longer acceptable to be con-
sumed or"kosher for Passover."
Besides the fact that anyone with such
an antiquated belief system should not be
teaching young children about religion ina
secular society - or any society for that
matter - this ridiculous statement is part
of a larger pattern of behavior within my
community. Many supporters of the state
of Israel try to make their case by implicit-
ly arguing that somehow Jews are superior
to their Arab neighbors. There can be no
denying that this takes place, and anyone
who tries to should take a look at the cam-

pustmth.org advertisements that have run
in the Daily. Jews study and play sports
while Arabs teach their kids to blow peo-
ple up is how the argument goes.
My other story before I get to the point
is one that took place during the most
recent High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and
Yom Kippur). Every year, the members of
my synagogue purchase Israel bonds to
help support the Jewish state. This year,
the president of the congregation shouted
his way through an impassioned speech
about the importance of purchasing these
bonds because Israel is surroundedby hos-
tile neighbors and desperately needs the
support of U.S. Jews. He was clearly try-
ing to tap into the segment of Jewish
thought that feels that Jews are continually
under attack. A large segment of the Jew-
ish population believes that it is important
to adhere to Jewish doctrine because Jews
are often persecuted. Jews should marry
Jews to halt the decline in the Jewish pop-
ulation for example. Every issue is seen
through this lens of persecution.
Unfortunately, those who hold these
beliefs are not merely rank and file U.S.
Jews. They are often the leaders of the
Jewish community. Synagogue boards are
packed with people who send their kids to
the day school mentioned above. These
"leaders" try to appeal to their fellow U.S.
Jews by teaching them that Jews are supe-
rior to non-Jews, by rejecting a secular
interpretation of Judaism and by constant-
ly reminding them of the persecution Jews
have faced for thousands of years.
I use Judaism as an example to make

my point because I am the most familiar
with this community, but U.S. Judaism has
adapted to modernity as well as - likely
better than - any other major religion.
Religions typically try to appeal to their
followers through these tactics. Religious
leaders, however, would be wise to start
making their belief systems appealing in
and of themselves. No religion deserves to
survive by playing upon the fears of its fol-
lowers. Instead, religions should attract
supporters through the power of their
ideas. Arab and Muslim leaders too often
stress how evil Israel and the United States
are, not the richness of their own culture's
history. Likewise, my congregation's presi-
dent would better serve his faith by asking
for funds by saying that Israel, despite its
flaws, is a democracy, a country where
more Arabs have the right to vote than in
any other country in the world, except the
United States. He would be a more effec-
tive advocate and leader if he would
appeal to his congregation's ideology and
beliefs, not its fears.
This negativity further divides peo-
ple of different traditions by making
everyone fear everyone else. This strate-
gy has been moderately effective in get-
ting people to cling to their faiths, but
negativity cannot be all that the world's
great religions have to offer. I think that
they can do better, and recent events
show that the world's future depends on
them doing better.
Pesiccan be reached at
jzpesick@umich.eds.

Squelching abortion's flame

AYMAR JEAN No RHYME,
NEW YORK -
uring the past
two months,
one word,
hidden in headlines
and outshone by sto-
ries on the war, the
economy and affir-
mative action, is
omnipresent in the
news: abortion. Certainly, over the course
of its history, abortion has always made
the news, it's a pressing and controversial
issue. Yet recently, it seems the issue is
coming to a head. And so this raises some
valuable questions: Is abortion the next
affirmative action? How will this issue
change our social fabric? Will it?
Let me quell your concerns. Abortion
is here to stay. This, I feel, is not a brazen
declaration by a self-proclaimed liberal,
but it is what I assume to be fact. In the
grander scheme, abortion is in many ways
like the issue of contraception or
Medicare, issues that starkly divide con-
servatives and liberals but are nonetheless
unavoidable and irrevocable. As Ameri-
cans, we can fear or extol the conservative
or liberal judicial, legislative and execu-
tive powers that be, but we must reconcile
that getting rid of abortion would be polit-
ical and social suicide.
Where is the fire and controversy over
this issue? Legislators and citizens fight
the abortion battle over seemingly minor
issues that represent larger ideological
wars, like the battle over late-term abor-
tions, which, though medically minor in
scope, scared pro-choice advocates

because of its overt conservative overtones.
For another example, President Bush's
Global AIDS Initiative bill stalemated in
Congress over this very issue - whether
or not to finance organizations that "pro-
mote" (i.e. "offer") abortion procedures.
That said, in order to moisten this
incendiary issue, Americans need to iden-
tify the flaws in each extreme ideology
and discover that, by meeting in the mid-
dle, both sides can be equally satisfied.
On the conservative side, there are the
adamant pro-life advocates like current
federal appeals court nominee Judge
Priscilla Owen, who wants abortion to be
illegal. These opponents, who mix reli-
gion and law, negate individual rights and
ignore cases of rape and parental irre-
sponsibility. They fail to realize the com-
plex interplay between government and
society. The stock example is Prohibition,
which taught the nation that government
regulation of an entrenched, widespread
social practice is simply impossible. Vio-
lence, societal agitation, and various ille-
gal practices inevitably arise from this
sort of government action, so making
abortion illegal is not practical.
On the other less reprehensible
extreme, are those who are resolutely pro-
choice and secular. Justifiably, these advo-
cates factor in incidents of rape and sexual
abuse into the abortion equation and
renounce the puritanical overtones of
abortion opponents. Yet, there is a small-
mindedness here too. Often, liberals
negate the complexities of the issue,
including rare late-term abortions and the
scope of government regulation. They

also neglect the adoption option, which is
a very viable alternative to simply ending
an embryo's existence.
The solution to the abortion issue is
this: Make pragmatic concessions. Abor-
tion opponents need to be practically con-
servative, base their dissension on a
general morality rather than religion and
consider the legislative reality of abortion.
Understanding that making abortion ille-
gal creates all new problems, a practical
conservative separates personal conviction
and political persuasion. It is possible to
disapprove of and discourage an abortion
procedure for a friend or family member
but realize that it is impossible to sway the
hearts of thousands.
On the other hand, by conceding that
religion and abortion will fbrever be
linked and that certainly some abortions
are unnecessary, pro-choice advocates will
refine their viewpoint. Ina South Carolina
court case, a judge ruled it permissible for
a clergyman to be on call at abortion clin-
ics. A pragmatic abortion advocate should
concede that this action, though riddled
with church and state issues, does little to
challenge the existence of abortion.
The final lesson for America: Meet in
the middle. It is very possible to compro-
mise on the smaller issues and still retain
personal conviction. The sooner Ameri-
cans learn the healthy parameters of legis-
lation, religion, society and personal
preference, the sooner abortion ceases to
be such a divisive issue in this nation.
Jean can be reached at
acjean@umich.edu.

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