Volume 98, Issue 28
January 22, 2009
Celebrating the Inauguration News 3, Commentary 14, Compendium 18, Editorsâ€™ note 19
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The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
Calm masses congregate in D.C. Alison Withers The McGill Daily
a record-breaking sea of people assembled on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama, America’s 44th president, a deep serenity washed over the crowd. From all over the world, a pilgrimage of supporters calmly waited in anticipation to witness the historic ascent of the first black U.S. President, though their tranquility was perforated with intense displays of pride, relief, and jubilation. The masses, stretching back from the Capitol Building where the swearing-in occurred, cheered appropriately with the entrance of Congressmen, Senators, and other dignitaries – which many viewers watched from the two dozen jumbotron screens erected on the Mall. A brief display of negativity occurred with the entrance of outgoing-President George W. Bush. Some booed, though most remained respectively silent. Spectators held their breath for Obama’s address to the nation, which soberly and sincerely called on the American people to commit to a new
age of action and responsibility. “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” the new president proclaimed. “For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.” With the official announcement of Obama’s inauguration, the crowd once again erupted into cheers, and furiously waved their freely-distributed American flags. A Bermudan man, who had traveled to Washington to witness this event, captured the spirit of the crowd well. “Today is a new day,” he said. “Now there is hope for change.” A commercialization of the historic event was found on the sidewalks: inauguration paraphernalia t-shirts, oversized buttons, caps, and posters, all to commemorate the symbolic day of change. The cheering quickly died down, though, as many began to automatically drift away. With many recognizing the President as a sign of change, and endowed with their full confidence, the populous sensed their work was done: America had elected Obama. They could go home. Suddenly Washington was faced with two-million lost people, who
Arjun Kumar for The McGill Daily
Crowds in D.C. fell silent during Obama’s inauguration speech on Tuesday afternoon. either could not access transit, or were impeded by barricades set up by over 8,000 security personnel on the northern side of Mall. The smiling crowds – both cold and tired– moved
Alice Walker for The McGill Daily
Courtney Graham and Emma Goold packed into their crowded campus bar to watch the inauguration.
Obama fans cram into Gert’s Humera Jabir News Writer
ith applause, standing ovations, a few salutes, and even tears, McGill students packed into a crowded
Gert’s bar yesterday morning to watch as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. Standing shoulder to shoulder, inches from the television screen, the crowd became silent as the moment drew near. In Washington, there was
prayer, performance, and anxiety as President Barack Obama stumbled through the oath. Visibly moved, Eby Heller from Chicago was overwhelmed and happy. “It means there is a little bit of hope. He knows he has a long, hard
slowly, with little yelling, chanting, or pushing. No arrests were made at the inauguration. Tuesday’s event was the final of three days of the inauguration pro-
gram. On Sunday, burgeoning crowds inched toward the Lincoln Memorial for a patriotic concert featuring performances from international artists, actors, and actresses.
road ahead of him. I hope that he respects himself as a human being, his family, and from there he will do good work.” The feeling of hope in the room was so infectious that Eva-Queen Ngayap from Toronto couldn’t help but join Aretha Franklin in a chorus of “Freedom Ring.” “I am expecting a breath of fresh air, a different stance, a new perspective and attitude,” Ngayap said. “This is history and we all know it. Everyone is cherishing this moment.” The Gert’s crowd fell silent as attention turned toward President Obama’s inauguration speech. Obama’s rather solemn words muted the celebration, as he spoke frankly to both Americans and the world about the challenges ahead. Samantha Perera from Florida commented, “I feel like we are in really dark times, not only as a nation but as a world. Listening to Obama talk gives me hope that we will prevail, and that America will mean something in the end.” There was, however, some skepticism. “As a European, we’ve detested Bush from the start. And as much as we’d like to believe Obama will bring change, we are a little bit weary. We will give it a few months before we believe in Obama like Americans do,” one student who asked to remain anonymous said. If they weren’t already believers, though, many in the Gert’s crowd walked away wanting to hope that the coming presidency will be as significant as it is symbolic.
Nairobi students celebrate Obama Ian Martin News Writer NAIROBI, Kenya—Nairobi’s storefronts were covered in posters with Obama’s face as the city geared up for his inauguration on Tuesday. A Nairobi University professor explained that students “unilaterally took a day off school,” opting instead to watch Obama’s inauguration on a stage set up by Citizen TV, a local station. Bands were set to play for a party afterward. Students buzzed around with smiles on their faces, and a few sported Obama t-shirts. “I’ve never seen this many people at the University. It’s so busy!” said one student. Nairobians appeared visibly proud that Obama – whose father is Kenyan – was taking his oath as the President of the U.S. For many, this election represents a new hope, a change mentality within the world’s most powerful nation and globally. Expectations have never been higher for one man. Fred, a third-year student in Geography who hopes to one day be involved in politics, was inspired by Tuesday’s events. “I’m proud to be a Kenyan. I’m happy to be an African. But now I’m proud to be a citizen of humanity. I know he will not help me personally in any way, but I’m proud of [Obama],” he said.
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The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
Israel supporters want peace Hillel McGill rally sought to add Pro-Israel voices to the university forum Vicky Tobianah News Writer
hree hundred people gathered in front of the Roddick Gates Monday afternoon in solidarity with Israel three weeks after the conflict in Gaza intensified. Noah Kochman, U2 Political Science and a representative of the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students, kicked off the event with a speech. “This is not an American issue, a European issue, or an Israeli issue, [but] a universal issue,” said Kochman. “And so, I remain proud that the Canadian government has stood among the few who have spoken on behalf of victims of terror wherever they may be, recognizing that the residents of southern Israel deserve the same peace and security as the residents of Mumbai or Montreal.” As his speech continued, cars passing by the group on Sherbrooke honked in support of the rally, which prompted students to cheer. Kochman called upon his fellow students to “speak for peace and educate for peace,” as students broke out into dancing and singing Israeli songs. An account of a resident from Sderot, the Israeli city that has been most bombarded by rockets, was read by Dana Remer, an Honors Social Science and Law student at Marianopolis College. In the crowd, one student remarked, “This is so nice to see. I just hope we will achieve peace.” But protesting the rally were representatives from Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), yelling “Zionism is racism” and “Israel is apartheid.” “[We don’t] celebrate war.... We think it is crazy that Israel used any excuse it could to bomb innocent people,” explained IJV representative
Roxy Kirshenbaum for the McGill Daily
The rally attracted opposition who yelled, “Zionism is racism.” Emanuel Lowi. Lowi claimed there are many Israelis who opposed the war, despite the fact that polls show 97 per cent of Israelis support this operation. “All violent regimes will fall eventually,” Lowi said. The Consul General of Israel, Yoram Elron, defended Israel’s actions at the rally. “What would you have done? We have to quell our threats,” Elron said.
Rabbi Pupko from the Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation of Cote St. Luc stirred the audience by addressing those who have questioned Israel’s actions. “Maybe we would have taken you seriously had you gathered after terror attacks in London, in Madrid,” the rabbi said. “You didn’t gather when Muslims are killed by Muslims or by Christians.... You only care about Muslim life when you can point an
accusatory finger at Israel.” Hillel debated whether or not the rally was necessary, yet ultimately concluded that the lack of pro-Israel support on campus was a valid reason for them to demonstrate and communicate their viewpoints safely. Yael Smiley, the head of Israeli Affairs at Hillel McGill, said the rally was happening “in the spirit of education, moderation, and peace.” Unlike the students, though, he
stressed the event was not a protest, but a way to communicate to other students that Israel wants peace. Students held signs with slogans such as “Stop preaching hate!” and “Human rights does not equal human shields,” which they explained was a reference to Hamas’s practice of launching rockets from civilian homes for the past nine years. Hillel McGill partnered with the greater Montreal Jewish community to host the rally.
With Israel in conflict, experts urge intervention International apathy leaves Hamas alone to protect Palestinians: anthropologist Ethan Feldman News Writer
ulius Grey, civil rights lawyer and human rights activist and Israeli-American political activist and anthropologist Jeff Halper spoke about the barriers to peace in the Middle East at McGill last Wednesday. The event was hosted by Young Jews for Social Justice (YJSJ) and Independent Jewish Voices (IJV). Applause and cheers rang as Halper stood to speak. Halper blamed Israeli tribal nationalism and a belief in exclusive ownership of land as the reasons why peace remains so elusive, lik-
ening “this is our land, but you can live here too” attitude to nationalist periods seen in Germany, Poland, Russia. “Think of ‘The Motherland, The Homeland!’ People say Israel is a Western democracy, but it isn’t,” Halper said. “Zionism comes out of Eastern Europe, not Western Europe.” Halper also claimed that this “doctrine of the permanent enemy” guides Israelis to assume that Arabs want to kill them, and thus that there is no political solution. “Israel is a military state. It is run by generals and Israel has set up a set of parameters that make peace impossible,” Halper said.
Halper then used his “doctrine” to argue Hamas is the only group capable of protecting Palestinians from Israel, concluding that as a result armed resistance is legitimate according to international law. Halper stopped once during his presentation and allowed a question to be asked by an upset Israeli, which was met with a raucous response from the audience – including one student who tactfully turned around, shouted, and dramatically mimed “zip-it-up.” Halper concluded his presentation by claiming that the world was forgetting Palestinians and turning them into “surplus humanity” by apathy. He proposed the abandonment
of the two-state concept and a focus on a single-state solution, an option on neither party’s radar. He noted Israel has historically come to the negotiating table expecting to walk away with everything. “I hope my message wasn’t a ‘down’ message, but there cannot be a win/lose resolution.” Grey’s discussion preceded Halper. He felt Canadians have been far too passive in human rights activism, explaining that “safe” human rights activists avoid controversy– such as language laws and labour issues in Canada, and the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. “Human rights are quite useless if not accompanied by courage,”Grey said.
Grey implied Israel’s recent action in Gaza has darker Machiavellian undertones. “Condemning the invasion is in the interest of Israel,” added Grey. He found any real resolution to be in the hands of Israel’s government, who he said needs to step away from policies of hate and war. He then outlined how Canadian action can speed up that process. Representatives from QPIRG and IJV claimed McGill tried to censor the event when it demanded an additional $250 for security on the day of the talk. The audience was asked for further donations to cover the unexpected cost.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
Principal defends tuition increase, travel policy at Council The majority of international tuition goes to provincial government Erin Hale The McGill Daily
Shu Jiang / The McGill Daily
“There is no one more helpless than an unborn human being,” said Mary Meehan.
Pro-lifer seeks liberal support Eugenics sparks debate on abortion rights Ariel Lefkowitz News Writer
ro-life speaker Mary Meehan was met with general applause and a significant number of boos at her talk on liberal and feminist support for the pro-life cause during an event at McGill on Monday. The question and answer period, which lasted over an hour, saw many heated and a few virulent arguments. The talk, organized by Choose Life and entitled “Why Liberals and Feminists Should Defend the Unborn,” drew almost 100 individuals of varying opinions on the issue of abortion. The left side of Leacock 232 attracted the pro-choice supporters, while the pro-life supporters and event organizers opted to sit on the far right. Meehan criticized the left side’s current position of “worship[ping] at the shrine of choice.” “Some choices really should not even be considered, because they do involve harming or taking the lives of other people,” she said. “Liberals indeed are anti-choice on many issues... the death penalty, most wars, torture, rape, racial discrimination, and many more. They should add abortion to the list.” Speaking at length, Meehan suggested the existence of a “eugenics influence” in the pro-choice movement. She alleged that abortion is a new tool used for population control in the United States and around the world. Meehan also cast abortion as a civil rights issue.
“Early in the 20th century, the eugenicists in the U.S. used compulsory sterilization of poor whites and poor African-Americans to keep their numbers down,” Meehan said. “But eugenicists did not have to use coercion after our Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.... One of the ways they do it is by supporting public funding of abortion.” Elise Eisenkraft Klein, U2 Jewish Studies, objected to what she believed was Meehan’s conflation of eugenics and the pro-choice movement. “Choosing to have an abortion is not the same as forced sterilization,” she said. Charles Pitman, U2 Economics and Philosophy, argued that support from eugenicists does not invalidate the legitimacy of the pro-choice position. “All sides of the [abortion] issue have allies that they aren’t proud of. It’s not like the pro-life side has only friends that are reputable,” he said. Meehan argued that abortions performed after neonatal testing for disabilities were wrong and that access to abortions increases paternal irresponsibility. “Guys have to talk to guys about walking out [on women]. We need to reinstate the old stigma against guys walking out on their children.” During the question period, Salma Moolji, U1 International Development Studies, told her story of becoming pro-choice while running a school for abused girls in Nicaragua. “The day that I decided to be ‘pro-choice’ was the day that I saw the child [of a] child die of starvation.... If I put myself one generation
back, I would be in India, where my grandfather was sold into child slave labour.... I might have been that girl.” A few students in attendance were particularly incensed by Meehan’s sentiments. One such student, Elsa Beaulieu, a PhD candidate in Anthropology, called Meehan “arrogant” and “insidious.” At the end of a detailed and emotional criticism of Meehan’s points, she pleaded, “What about addressing the reality of women’s lives? What about the consequences of illegal abortions on women’s lives? What about it?” But derogatory comments from the audience toward Meehan convinced Raphael Dumas, U1 Civil Engineering, to reconsider his position. “Those few rude students actually pushed me in the direction of [the pro-life stance],” Dumas said. Meehan insisted that her position is not hostile to women who have had abortions. “I want to say to [those women who have had abortions] that I’m not out to make you feel badly or send you on a guilt trip, but I appeal to you to take another look at this issue, because there are more lives at stake every day. I hope that you will help save some of them.” Choose Life, granted interim club status by SSMU in October 2008, will be applying for full club status at the end of this month. According to Choose Life’s Community Outreach coordinator Kathryn Sawyer, the group tries to offer resources to “women who want an alternative to abortion” on campus.
rincipal Heather Monroe-Blum was the highlight of the first SSMU Council session of the semester last Thursday evening. In her opening remarks, Monroe-Blum expressed a wish to stay in contact with Council on a more regular basis, and her intention to respond to all councillors’ questions. When Law Senator Alexandre Shee asked about tuition increases, Monroe-Blum tried to explain the financial logic behind her support for a form of deregulation of tuition fees, which she calls “re-regulation,” and described as deregulation with principles. “What you should know is with our international students...McGill receives only the Quebec tuition from your fees. If you pay, say $12,000, McGill receives $1,750, and the rest goes into the Quebec system to subsidize students who come in free from France and from the Francophonie. I think if you want to look at a fairness issue you should look at that,” Monroe-Blum said. Monroe-Blum noted that under her proposed system, the full amount charged to international students would get channelled back to the postsecondary institution they attend, and would theoretically benefit all students. She also defended McGill’s capital campaign and drive for private funding.
NEWS BRIEF Right to write in French to be on syllabuses The right of students to submit graded assessments in French will be more widely publicized, thanks to two amended motions passed at yesterday’s Senate meeting. The first motion clarified the sort of assignments students are allowed to submit in French, and the second required all course outlines to reiterate that students have this right. Jane Everett, Dean of Students, introduced the motions on behalf of the Senate Committee on Student Affairs (CSA). “The right has been around since the eighties, but there is some question as to whether or not it exists in practice,” Everett explained. She stressed how important it is to remind students who are more comfortable using French than English
“There’s often a question about [if we are] overly corporatized.... My experience is not that the private sector or philanthropists want to tell us how to do our business,” she said. “[But the] government tries to tell us all the time how to do our research. Government values certain disciplines over others...Humanities and social sciences get short [changed].” Arts Representative Sebastien Ronderos-Morgan asked about McGill’s new travel policy, which restricts students from travelling to countries with formal travel warnings from the Canadian government. After commenting on the “international nature of McGill,” MonroeBlum stressed how dangerous travel to insecure areas can be. She mentioned that Canadian diplomatic and federal support pulls out of the countries that the directive would prevent travel to. “I’ve lost three colleagues [in Afghanistan and Mumbai] in less than six months. These aren’t casual concerns about safety,” she said. SSMU VP External Devin Alfaro asked why former Quebec Health Minister Philipe Couillard was appointed as a Senior Fellow at McGill’s Law School. Couillard is under investigation by Quebec’s lobby commissioner for talks he held with a private health care company that was not registered with the provincial lobby bank and that hired Couillard two months after he retired as Health Minister. “Controversy, in itself, does not have us shy away if something is good at McGill. We actually invite a lot of people to come work in as a distinguished speaker or a fellow. If the guy’s corrupted, I think there’s no record on that,” Munroe-Blum said in his defence.
that they will not be at an academic disadvantage at McGill. “The motion will establish a level playing ground for any student who is more familiar in French than in English. We are trying to accommodate that.” Adding the article to course outlines was a contentious move – several professors felt that the syllabus is not the proper medium through which to communicate students’ rights – and only passed narrowly after three recounts. With the second motion, CSA hoped to clarify the rule on submitting assignments in French and proposed changing the description of work that can be submitted from “essays, examinations, and theses” to “written work that is to be graded.” As before, this allowance does not apply to language proficiency courses. The motion passed overwhelmingly. The two proposals were originally introduced to Senate in last May, but procedural errors made their approval void, postponing their reevaluation. – Jennifer Markowitz
The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
Re: “Smashing one piñata at a time” | Commentary | January 15
Thank you for shedding some humour on such a dark situation. I only hope nobody will be silly enough to think you’re being serious here, as that would be very embarrassing for you. Mookie Kideckel “Serious or embarrsssing – take your pick”
Security: at what expense?
Does Hamas really want to talk?
First step to peace: end violence
Re: “Tadamon! is no Paragon” | Commentary | January 12
Re: “Hamas must be talked to” | Features | January 15
Re: “What the World doesn’t know about Israel” | Letters | January 15
Yes, “let us not oversimplify.” The issue in Gaza at the moment is not one that anyone can even begin to assess in a weekly column or in a simple letter. It is an issue involving a history of charged emotions, deep-seated biases, and millions of well- and ill-informed opinions. Do not mistake me, I am not writing this in to be the archetypal Arab advocate of Palestinian human rights – I’m simply writing this to place an emphasis on the ill-informed nature of the debates and discussions taking place on this issue. Hamas is and has been, for some time now, launching attacks on Israel at the expense of Gazan civilians. And we all know that number one on the Israeli government’s “to do list” is security. I just write this to prompt the question: at what expense? Let’s bring up the old Machiavellian concept, “the end justifies the means.” Really? Is that what the world has come down to? Let me get this straight, Ricky. “The only way for Israel to win is to kill Hamas soldiers, but that’s hard when they hide behind the horribly literal skirts of Gazan civilians.” Right. So Israel is basically left with no alternatives. One of the richest, most powerful nations in the world is simply out of ideas. There is no other way to weaken Hamas. Let’s just aim at Hamas soldiers, and hey, if a couple of hundred children die in the process, it’s a price we are willing to pay. Honestly, no matter who you are or what side you’re on, I think we should all agree that that is no price anyone should be willing to pay. C’mon, people. I remain unconvinced. There are other ways to handle Hamas and weaken its intelligence and military structures. Heck yes, let us “never allow nihilists to use our own morality against us.” Let us instead challenge them, question their every move, and place pressure on those who claim to be working toward justifiable “ends” to come up with new “means.”
In his article, Niko Block praises Hamas for calling Obama to congratulate him on his victory, yet fails to discuss the aid being sent from Israel into Gaza, and the extreme measures that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) take to prevent the killing of innocent civilians. He credits the recent violence to the “fact that Hamas has found nothing but closed doors in the diplomatic sphere…especially with Israel.” Merely taking a look at history since the creation of the State of Israel forces one to ask the question: at what point were these doors closed? In 1937, the Arabs rejected the Peel Commission, which would have served as a compromise dividing the land west of the Jordan River into two independent states. In 1947, the United Nations proposed the Partition Plan, which would have made a Jewish state out of merely 15 per cent of the land originally promised to the Jews in 1917 in the Balfour Declaration. In a quest for peace, mirroring their decision on the Peel Commission, the Jews ratified it and the Arab world rejected it. In 1979 at Camp David, Prime Minister Begin aspired to peace and returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and its president Anwar Sadat as a gesture of good faith. In 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak went back to Camp David and offered Palestinians 97 per cent of the territories, granting the right to return to many refugees, and military control over Eastern Jerusalem and parts of the Old City. Instead of sitting down to talk, Yasser Arafat waged a war of terror. In 2005, Israel disengaged from Gush Katif, a settlement in Gaza, only to be plagued by thousands of rockets. So what have we learned from Hamas’ track record? We have learned that the Palestinians have yet to uphold their end of the “Land for Peace” negotiations. We have seen that while Israel has been willing to compromise, the Palestinians have not, and maybe, just maybe, Hamas doesn’t really want to talk.
Bravo, well done! Eden Sagman has successfully regurgitated the popular mantras professed by mendacious world “leaders,” ideas held as common truths drilled into people’s minds day after day. Essentially, that the Israeli government has the right to defend itself, that Hamas is a “terrorist” organization contributing to the destruction of Gaza, and finally, that the Israel Defense Force is making great efforts to reduce the amount of civilian casualties. Your words hold neither credibility nor truth when one accepts the undeniable fact that more than 1,300 Palestinians have been killed in a massacre orchestrated by one of the most powerful military forces on the face of this planet. The Palestinians have been living under occupation for over 60 years – a dehumanizing and degrading situation that you and I will never be able to grasp. Sagman audaciously claims that Israel just wants “peace and quiet.” Well then I suggest it begins by ending its indiscriminate use of violent force against innocent civilians.
Re: “Education isn’t a right, it’s a commodity” | Letters | January 12 Let me begin by saying that what I have to say it isn’t all bad: one part is an attack, but I will compensate by applauding Lofranco on one of his points as well. But first, the criticism. I agree, Mr. Lofranco, education is not a right. Similarly though, water is not a right, and food is not a right either. It is access to these things which is a right. Now, perhaps we won’t find “access to university education” amongst the rights on the UN declarations, but I do believe that they are in the spirit of them. I hate to get bogged down in syntax, but I think that the main issue of your point of view, and in fact that of others depends on this linguistic misconception. I will return to this point, but I wish to make clear that education is not, nor should it be, a commodity. Perhaps, Mr. Lofranco, you mean by commodity that it is something which is not essential to survival, and thus callously use this word instead of privilege or luxury, but it has much more ingrained significance than that. To say that it is a commodity is to claim that it should be reserved for those who can afford it, in a purely monetary sense, and that we should acquire it if we feel like it, as an extra little feather in our cap, so long as we can foot the bill. The consequences of this conception of education are far from desirable, particularly for a person of your persuasion. I would like to end by agreeing with what you say at the very end of your letter, about making universities places for the academic elite. After all, isn’t that what we should be striving for? By all means, raise the fees if it will lead to better education, so long as we raise the standards as well. I would only suggest that we also invest in student aid to ensure that the “best and the brightest” can still afford to become part of this elite. Charles Pitman U2 Economics and Philosophy
Read before responding Re: “Jews, Muslims, and Arabs should stand together” | Letters | January 15 I typically do not respond to Letters to the Editor, but in the last edition Isaac Binkovitz implied that opinion pieces that I, along with Ricky Kreitner and Mookie Kideckel, had written fuelled the supposed tensions between Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities in diaspora. While I will not deny this claim about Kreitner and Kideckel – whose opinion pieces were rife with misinformation almost directly out of the mouths of an Israeli military spokesperson – I politely yet vehemently refute this assertion about my piece. In it, I am in no way “dehumanizing, stereotyping, or otherwise denigrating innocent civilians and their diasporic counterparts,” as Binkovitz implies. Read my piece carefully; you will not find one mention of the words Jew, Muslim, or Arab. As for Kreitner and Kideckel, I am quite sure that their extremist views are negated by the substantial participation of the Jewish community in social justice work throughout the world. Let us not forget, the demonstrations in Montreal over the past few weeks have been equalled by those in Tel Aviv in shock over the continuing Israeli assault on the people of Gaza. While I’m at it, as is the case with all of my writings, I will gladly provide references for all of the facts used in my opinion pieces. My pieces are always submitted with references included, which the editors then remove before printing. Nasser Mohieddin Abukhdeir PhD IV Chemical Engineering
Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily
Sarah Albanna U2 International Development Studies and Sociology
Education is anything but a commodity
Leanne Silberberg U0 Psychology and Linguistics
Amanie Antar U3 Education
Serious or embarrassing – take your pick Re: “Smashing one piñata at a time” | Commentary | January 15 Ahoy Comrade Ted, Thanks so much for the delightfully tongue-in-cheek article this week. You so effectively caricatured the absurd conclusions and outof-context half-truths that radical anti-Israel activists are constantly spouting. The obvious grammatical errors only heightened the satire. Thank you for shedding some humour on such a dark situation. I only hope nobody will be silly enough to think you’re being serious here, as that would be very embarrassing for you. In solidarity, Mookie Kideckel U1 Political Science
The Daily received more letters than it could print this issue, they will appear in the next possible issue. Send your non-offensive letters to email@example.com at 300 words or less, and include your year and program.
Mind&Body All hopped up Joseph Watts
epanneurs are peculiar stages for the drama of life. If you’ve been in one, you’ve been in 20, but everyone has a favourite. There is a cozy familiarity one has with the dep closest to their apartment. Maybe the old man behind the counter smiles when you come in, but it’s a shame that beer in Montreal is sold almost exclusively in deps, which are little more
than glorified newsstands peddling cigarettes, forties of Molson dry, and overpriced groceries despite such minor charms. Where to buy good beer is the question I’m asked the most. It seems that people are interested in drinking quality brew but reluctant to shell out $7 a pint at a bar. But never fear! There are deps that suit your purpose if you’re after something more than a Molson Ex. Well, actually, some aren’t deps – in fact they may scoff at the stereotype that beer needs be sold next to bottles of Porte d’Enfer. Nevertheless, these four establishments are the best purveyors of local, craft-brewed beer in the city. Along with a description, each review has the manager’s pick, my own, and a reason to go more than once. Find All Hopped Up in the Mind&Body section every other Thursday. Can’t wait? Send Joe your top ten encounters with your elderly, smiling dep manager to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Les Délires du Terroir
Épicerie José inc.
470 Duluth E.
This small shop in Rosemount is big on beer, as long as it’s from Quebec. Owner Sylfranc Côté orders beers with age in mind so that two or three years from now that strong beer will be at its best. Côté is also passionate about pairing beer with food. They have a fine working relationship with sausages from Le Queue de Cochon, the artesian butcher next door.
The “most like a classic dep” dep. You can stop pick up a loaf of bread or cigarettes on your way home and get lost amid a staggering beer selection, or roped into one of their weekly beer, cider, or wine tastings. Épicerie José gets brownie points for having the best prices of the bunch with lots of deals on 12 packs and 6 packs you can make yourself.
Selection: 195 styles, all from Quebec Manager’s Pick: La Barbarie – India Pale Ale All Hopped Up’s Pick: À l’Abri de la Tempête – Corne de Brume an aged scotch ale Reason to come back: When the Saint Reserve beers from Microbrasserie Charlevoix arrive, you’ll have a chance to taste what Côté considers to be Quebec’s best beer.
Selection: 350 styles total, about 200 from Quebec brewers Manager’s Pick: Les Trois Mousquetaires – Signature Series All Hopped Up’s Pick: Something from the brand new Brasseurs de Montreal Reason to come back: Tastings. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from 5-9 p.m.
Super Marché Rahman
151 Laurier O.
The ultimate beer dep, “Le Paradis de la Bière” has been a purveyor of Quebec microbrews for 18 years. Its massive selection places forties of Black Label next to magnums of nobler stuff, but the shining stars are the five kinds of house beer. Rahman himself formulated the recipes for the Paradisiac beers – traditional styles brewed with Indian spices, all bottled at local breweries.
Okay, it’s a cheese shop, but they’re serious about their beer. With 20 new styles in since Christmas, they’re constantly updating their supply with the freshest, most current offerings from Quebec’s micro breweries. The best part is that you can shop for the best cheese to pair with your beer in the same store. Just ask any of the knowledgeable staff who will gladly tell you what complements what.
Selection: around 500 styles, 250-300 of which are from Quebec Manager’s Pick: Paradisiac Scotch Ale All Hopped Up’s Pick: Paradisiac Cuivrée – a strong, hoppy beer Reason to come back: Trying a different beer each time you come in will keep you busy for years.
Selection: 125 styles total, 95 from Quebec brewers Manager’s Pick: Au Maitre Brasseur – Noire de Fromagerie Atwater All Hopped Up’s Pick: Buy a bottle of Maudite from Unibroue and a cheese called Le Fêtard which spent its formative years being washed in the aforementioned stuff Reason to come back: Lots of beer, lots of cheese, lots of tasty combo possibilities.
All photos by Joseph Watts / The McGill Daily
The wide world of deps
The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
Passing the smell test Romantic love skews heterosexual females’ ability to sniff out potential partners, McGill postdoc’s study finds The McGill Daily
ove can skew women’s scent recognition when it comes to male body odour, according to a recent study published in the December 2008 issue of Hormones and Behavior. The study, “Romantic love modulates women’s identification of men’s body odors,” which was carried out by McGill postdoc student Johan Lundström under the supervision of Professor Marilyn Jones-Gotman, states that the more in love heterosexual female participants claimed to be with their male partners, the worse they were at identifying the body odour of another potential partner, such as a male friend. However, the magnitude of love reported had no effect on the ability to detect the scent of female friends, because, in the case of this heterosexual femalecentred study, they were not viewed as potential romantic partners. Lundström, who is no longer a McGill student and is now working at Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia, wrote in an email to The Daily that the inspiration behind the study was based upon anecdotal observations regarding
body odours combined with his academic interests. “You really like smelling your partner’s body odour, and when really in love, you don’t particularly like the body odour emitted by others,” Lundström said. “The focus of my research regarding body odours is to determine what form of social and biological signals are hiding within [them], and how are we able to extract and process these [olfactory] cues,” he added. The study’s representative sample consisted of 20 couples, along with a male and a female friend of each female partner. According to Jones-Gotman, a professor in McGill’s Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, and specialist in the neural correlates of smell and taste, who oversaw Lundström’s study, only female partners were evaluated because of their greater sensitivity to scent recognition. She stated that the findings would not be valid if the results from male and female partners were compared in the same study. “The ability for scent recognition is not always the same between sexes,” Jones-Gotman noted, adding that women are better at detecting scents in general.
Jones-Gotman also said that she did not think the results would have been much different had a larger sample group been used. However, she noted the need to address the question of how the use of samesex couples would change the outcome of such a study, adding that a study using same-sex couples is the logical next step as a continuation of Lundström’s work. Jones-Gotman also suggested doing a study of couples in more short-term relationships, lasting six months or less, or longer ones, lasting up to seven years. These results could then be compared to those of Lundström’s more recent study, in which subject couples had been in a relationship for one to three years. Lundström has his own plans for future behavioural studies investigating the ways our brains process partners’ body odours. “We have already investigated how maternal love is manifested in the brain in [the] lab here at [the University of Pennsylvania].... This is a logical extension of [such a] line of research,” he said. Beyond his initial personal interest in the subject, Lundström also argued that his work is important in more concrete ways.
“This goes to show that even such complex emotions such as love [are] but a part of a more complex network of emotions and psychobiological processes, and that our sense of smell is capable of conveying complex information,” he said. However, Lundström is not suggesting that his study may be a new way to predict “true love;” the study merely shows the connection between emotion, scent, and the mysterious and intricate organ that is the brain.
The nose can be a powerful tool in women’s search for compatible partners.
Evan Newton / The McGill Daily
Daniel Lametti / The McGill Daily
Out cold With only grade-school camping experience under his belt, Daniel Lametti braves a winter’s night in the Adirondacks
topic (I hadn’t been camping since grade school), I figured that an outdoors club might be a good place to start. Sasan Ghinani, a second year Masters student and MOC executive, replied to my email: In a week’s time he’d be leading a trip to New York’s Adirondack Mountains, and he had saved me a spot. But the trip, he explained, had a twist. Apparently, the MOC has a few longstanding traditions. One tradition has members hike up Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York State, with a four-piece band in tow. Another has canoeists paddle through ice on Lake Saranac, shortly after the winter’s first freeze. And one of the more storied MOC traditions – the trip Ghinani wanted me to come on – involves winter camping without the use of zippers: no tents, no sleeping bags, no jackets, no fancy Mountain Equipment Co-op backpacks.
hen waking at night with a full bladder, a true winter camper will opt to urinate into a bottle and then hug the warm vessel of urine against her chest as she drifts back to sleep. You see, precious body heat – heat that might stop your fingers and toes from freezing as you sleep – will be used to keep any urine in your bladder at body temperature. Nalgenes, with their large volume and extra-wide lid, work best in these situations.
I know this because I overheard two members of the McGill Outdoors Club (MOC) discussing just such a situation as I sat in the back of a station wagon en route to the Adirondacks for a weekend of winter camping – zipperless winter camping.
first contacted the MOC in the middle of November. I wanted to write a story on wilderness survival and, knowing nothing about the
The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
hree days after receiving Ghinani’s email, I make my way to a MOC meeting on the third floor of the Shatner building; I’m there to get more information on the zipperless trip and to decide whether I actually want to go. Several dozen students have shown up and, to my dismay, they all look much more equipped to deal with the outdoors than I do. In contrast to my boat shoes, everyone seems to be wearing serious hiking boots. Nalgenes, cargo pants, and extraordinarily large backpacks also appear quite popular. In fact, most of the students seem ready to jump up and go camping that instant. And as I take a seat in the crowd, I start to wonder if I’m in over my head. Ghinani’s opener does not reassure me. “People have been dropping out like flies,” he says, referring to the trip. Everyone laughs but me. Bring blankets, Ghinani says – “all the blankets you own.” And clothes – “more clothes than you think you can carry.” And boots – “winter boots are essential.” I glance down at my boat shoes. I’d have to borrow a pair of boots. The trip costs $40. But The Daily had agreed to pay. My excuses are running out. Plus, camping without zippers, how bad could it be? I hand Ghinani two twenties and walk out. And thus, the following Saturday, having just learned that I may have to spend the night with a bottle of urine pressed against my chest, I step out of a Ford Taurus, and am greeted by 4,000 foot mountains covered in several feet of snow.
reparing to camp without zippers had proven difficult – everything has a fucking zipper. Even the six MOC members who had decided to come on the trip had found it challenging. And waiting beside our cars for Ghinani to return from the ranger’s hut, in subzero weather, jacketless, layered in sweaters, and carrying reusable grocery bags stuffed with blankets, well, we look like a bunch of amateurs. The park ranger seems to agree. Ghinani had planned for us to hike Algonquin Peak – the second highest peak in New York, at 5,114 feet. After the hike, we would build a shelter and a campfire to, presumably, keep us alive during the night. That was the plan, at least, until he emerges from the ranger’s hut with a disappointed look on his face. The ranger, upon observing our ragtag apparel and lack of appropriate hiking gear, was not going to allow us to climb Algonquin Peak. And in another blow, we’re told that it’s against state law to build a campfire in the park. (We later discover that we had mistakenly driven to the wrong campsite. A private facility, five minutes up the road, allows campfires). By this point, I’m starting to wonder if going on the trip was a big mistake. I glance over at Ghinani, who, surprisingly, doesn’t seem too worried. In fact, he’s convinced the ranger to let us climb a smaller, less challenging, peak – Mount Phelps, a tame 4,161 feet – and he’s adamant that we can survive the night without a campfire. I’m not as sure.
hinani, who is built like a tree trunk and sports a pair of overly large and wellgroomed sideburns, is no stranger to taking risks in the wild. Once, while paddling in whitewater, he came upon a canoe flipped over, pinned against a tree. “Strainers are trees that fall into the river,” he told me, “and if your canoe hits one, the pressure of the water and the river pins you down there. That’s how most canoeists die.” Assuming the worst, he dove into the freezing water to search for dead bodies. He didn’t
find any, but he decided to stay in the river to remove both the canoe and the tree. “Nobody wanted to do the dangerous parts,” he said, “so I volunteered.” He was in the water for more than an hour and came out with hypothermia. “I was delirious,” he said, “I didn’t know my name.” Ghinani is the definition of an altruist. I ran into him once at the gym and, in between sets on the bench press, he mentioned that he wasn’t doing cardio that day because he’d spent the past half hour pushing cars stuck in the snow up Docteur-Penfield. So as we depart from the rangers’ station, en route to our campsite, I’m somewhat reassured by the thought that if anything bad does happen in the woods, Ghinani will at least be there to throw me over his shoulder and carry me to safety.
y the time we reach the campsite and drop off our gear, the sun has passed the midway point in the sky and we have but a few hours to ascend Mount Phelps and make it back to camp before dark. With this in mind, we push ourselves up the icy trail, stopping only briefly to take in the magnificent views and to gulp water. Mount Phelps, located in the northeast of New York State, is part of 46 mountains that are collectively known as the Adirondack “High Peaks.” All but four are greater than 4,000 feet. To date, more than 6,000 people have climbed all 46 of the Peaks. Those that achieve this feat are entitled to membership in the “Adirondack 46ers” and a commemorative badge. As we approach the top of Mount Phelps, breathless from a final scramble up a particularly icy slope, the trees give way to a clearing that provides a panoramic view of the area. White Face, the site of the alpine events in the 1980 Winter Olympics, is to the North; Mount Marcy, the highest of the High Peaks, towers over us to the South; and Algonquin Peak, the forbidden fruit, the sun setting behind its back, glares at us from the West. “A picture is never as good as the real thing,” Ghinani offers, staring off into the horizon. We snap a few photos, pass around a granola bar, and head down the trail, determined to make it back to camp before dark. Having just climbed a mountain, the mood of the group on the way down is noticeably upbeat. The MOC members joke about different techniques for shitting in the woods (the “friendship lean” involves two people and a great deal of trust), while I skip along beside the group, gleefully scribbling notes. I’m starting to understand why people do these things – climb mountains, that is. Hiking a mountain gives one an intense adrenaline rush. In fact, I’m so wired that as we approach our campsite, with the sun slipping behind the mountains and the temperature rapidly dropping, I’ve completely forgotten that the trip is far from over – we still have to spend a night outdoors, in subzero weather, without tents, sleeping bags, or a fire.
ypothermia progresses in six stages. Stages one and two are characterized by a decrease in blood flow to the non-essential organs, an aching in the fingers and toes, and uncontrollable contractions in the muscles of the body, or shivering, in an attempt to generate heat. In stages three and four blood flow to the brain is greatly decreased, decision-making becomes impaired, and fine motor skills are lost. By stage five, body temperature has typically dropped by more than seven degrees. At this point most people lose consciousness. Stage six is death.
Standing by our campsite, shivering, wondering when I would enter stage three, I start to worry that I might not make it through the night. My feet, which had gotten wet during the climb, are especially cold. I ask Ghinani if he has a backup plan in case things get worse. “There are ways of keeping warm,” he says. “Body heat will keep you so warm, and if it comes down to it, and you’re cold, fuck, get down and give me ten pushups. It actually helps a lot.” He pauses. “If your feet are completely frozen and you think they’re going to fall off, you take your feet and you put them – I mean, it sucks for the other person – but you put your feet inside a person’s jacket, on their stomach.” Without a fire, Ghinani explains, this is really the only way to defrost cold feet in the bush. Unable to imagine myself shoeless, feet pressed against Ghinani’s burly stomach, I opt to put on three pairs of socks and run laps around the campsite.
hen spending a winter’s night in the bush, a quinzhee, or hollowed-out mound of snow, provides the best possible shelter. Quinzhees are entirely windproof, and with body heat and a candle the inside can reach two or three degrees Celcius. The downside of a quinzhee is that they take four or five hours to construct and are typically only big enough for a couple of people. Winter camping with a large group usually calls for tents. Or, if you’re moronic enough to go camping without zippers, several tarps and a roll of twine can be used to construct a tent-like shelter. And, as I watch, this is exactly what Ghinani and first year student Marc Kojima proceed to do. Kojima places a tarp on the snow to form a ground sheet while Ghinani runs twine between two adjacent trees. Over the line they drape a second tarp, stretching it over the ground sheet and tacking its end into the snow. It looks like a wedge of cheese. They call it an A-frame. I hope it will keep me alive that night. Several camping stoves are lit and dinner is prepared. The food brings a feeling of warmth to the group, and the mood, which had fallen with the disappearance of the sun, lightens. As we sit in a circle, cradling cups of hot chocolate, headlamps shining into each others’ eyes, the survival stories start to come out. “I’ve done 72 hours with nothing,” says fourth year student Chloe Dumouchel-Fournier. “You’re thrown in the woods and you have to build a shelter. I was unlucky and had pouring rain for 24 of the 72 hours.” “Did you ever fast on a solo?” asks third year student Anya Bernton. Nobody had. Berton had been on a three-day solo and, given almost no provisions, she decided to fast for the duration of the trip. “After you start eating again,” she explains, “you barf a lot.” “I did a solo,” Ghinani chimes in, “but mine was completely different than you guys.” Dropped off on an island, in the middle of nowhere, free from society’s watchful eyes, Ghinani decided to spend 48 hours in the nude. “So I’m lying naked on my island,” he continues, “on a rock, right by the shore, and randomly there was another group of canoeists – I don’t know, teenage kids. And you could imagine how weird this looks: You’re canoeing in
the wilderness for nine days, and on the ninth day you see a naked guy on an island.” We all laugh. Ghinani’s story, although not really about survival, seems to top them all.
or the night’s sleep, we’d trucked 22 blankets into the woods. These included a queen-sized duvet and a sleeping bag that Ghinani had ceremoniously cut the zippers off of the night before. Before retiring for the evening I cocoon myself in three of the blankets. Underneath, I’m wearing three wool sweaters, two pairs of fleece pants, three pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, and a wool toque. I wrap another wool sweater around my feet, for good measure, and worm my way into the middle of the A-frame. I’m optimistic about my heat situation: I’m wrapped in a fucking sheep. How could I get cold? I wake up three hours later – freezing. An icicle of drool has formed at the side of my mouth, and I can’t feel my toes. Stage six immediately comes to mind. I pull my toque over my face, bring my knees up to my chest and curl into a fetal position. I don’t move, or sleep, for another five hours. Thankfully, I never have to pee.
I’m optimistic about my heat situation: I’m wrapped in a fucking sheep. How could I get cold? The next morning we find out that the temperature in the High Peaks had dropped to -15ºC during the night. In fact, before going to sleep we’d come across two campers, just down the trail from us, who had full zippered gear and a lean-to to sleep in, but had still broken the rules and made a fire. “We’re fucking cold,” one complained. They weren’t at their campsite in the morning. It looked like they had bailed during the night. I was pretty cold, and I hadn’t slept very much, but at least I’d stuck it out till the morning.
wo weeks later, back in Montreal, I meet up with Ghinani at Thomson House for a beer. We start talking about Chris McCandless, a college grad who wandered into the wilds of Alaska in an attempt to escape society. After several months in the bush, he ended up dying of starvation. McCandless’s death has since been made famous by the 1996 Jon Krakauer book Into the Wild and the 2008 movie of the same name. “McCandless greatly underestimated nature,” says Ghinani, “which you should never do. The idea is romantic – being outside in the wilderness on your own. I can see eye-to-eye with him on that for sure. I can see his reasoning about wanting to go into the woods to escape society,” he says. “But in order to do that you have to be prepared. You have to know what you’re doing and how to do it.” And what about our trip, I ask, remembering the high of the mountain climb and the low of the sleepless, freezing cold night. How did he think it went? “Flawless,” he replies. For more photos from Dan’s expedition, visit mcgilldaily.com and click on Features.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
Evan Newton / The McGill Daily
Halper should stick to facts, not calumny Oliver Moore
Beyond the dichotomous debate Perle Nicolle
ar is a terrible thing. It comes with tears, deaths, devastation and raging fires. It comes with aghast civilians caught in fighting, dying children, rubble, shells, rockets, and fear. Some think there is not enough horror there and would like to add smear and lies. In light of the crisis between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, many of us have stakes and many would like to simply take a stand. It should be a stand for dialogue. It has become crucial when writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to decrease not the passion but the tension. The utterly restrictive and sadly widespread belief that those expressing support for one side must consider the other people as their enemies, and as such unworthy of their compassion, has been propagated on our own campus by irresponsible medias and agitated group leaders. This incredibly divisive argument keeps the moderate voices in the dark. Perhaps especially in the context of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, words have great meaning and numbers have little bearing.
There is little meaning to considerations on the exact proportion of Hamas men to civilians in the 1,300 Palestinian deaths in Gaza, and only pettiness in thinking the exact numbers actually matter. It is plain that too many innocents have died, in Israel as in Gaza. Yet, as we awake to a ceasefire and realize the extent of the devastation caused in Gaza, let us use some restraint before indulging in the all-too-usual branding of Israel as an evil creation of colonialist power. In a sometimes seemingly senseless world, words have power and sense. It is in no way negating the suffering of civilians in Gaza to remark that Israel is far from committing genocide. Israel is not trying to annihilate the Palestinians, is not deliberately targeting civilians, and is not starving an entire people. Israel is not a fascist state, in fact it is (arguably with Lebanon) the only democratic country of this region. It is in no way denying that Palestinian civilians have been the primary victims of this conflict to remind that some of their suffering has also been self-inflicted: by the Hamas government using its own population as human shields, rejecting ceasefires, and Egyptian mediations, and by the terrorists using schools and homes
as rocket launching bases. If anything, the use of such words as genocide – along with slogans that borderline anti-Semitism in demonstrations, and with words negating Israel’s right to exist – isolate the voices calling for compromise on both sides of the front lines. They cloud the debate and alienate, they divide along Manichean lines a conflict so old and so long that its complexity is hard to grasp. What’s more, they insinuate that the suffering of the population of Gaza is not great enough, not terrible enough to be described by words that actually apply. Have the Gazans really not suffered enough that proper characterization would fail to catch the world’s attention? Or is it just rather that it failed to arouse enough anger and calls for revenge? This ceasefire brings a renewed opportunity for dialogue. Our campus leaders would do well to seize it to appease their own base. An educational institution is no place for slander and hate, but an ideal environment for discussion and exchange. Perle Nicolle is a U4 Mechanical Engineering student. Get the discussion started at perle.nicolle@mail. mcgill.ca.
emerged from Jeff Halper’s January 14 talk at McGill deeply disappointed at how acceptable it has become to distort and misrepresent facts when the purpose is to denigrate Israel. I wasn’t expecting to agree with much of what was said at the Halper event, but – call me crazy – I wasn’t expecting to be subjected to a barrage of unabashed misrepresentations, either. Let me provide a few examples of what I mean. Halper’s address stuck to one consistent and dismally dishonest theme. His overall approach consisted of projecting the political positions of the Israeli right-wing fringe onto the country as a whole. He presented the notion of the historical “Land of Israel” as if there existed an Israeli consensus in favour of maintaining control over its entirety. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s a working estimate: of the 120 representatives in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), approximately nine to 20 stand for ideological attachment to the concept of the “Land of Israel.” Some 70 are either willing or eager to make territorial concessions, of varying extent. The remaining number of representatives, perhaps about 35, may or may not favour territorial concessions, depending on various contingent factors. And yet Halper, addressing an audience who, we must assume, is less familiar than he with Israeli politics, depicts the right-wing fringe as representative of the entire country. This is the stuff of calumny; it is simply untrue. The fact – as has been widely covered in the international media – is that Israeli governments of the left, the right, and the centre have been negotiating territorial withdrawal with the Palestinians since 1991 and thus obviously cannot
have been guided by the ideological concept of the “Land of Israel.” Halper stated that “in Israel we don’t talk about ‘Palestinians’ – only about ‘Arabs.’” To call them Palestinians would legitimize them, he explained. He was referring to the Arab citizens of Israel, who indeed are generally, though not exclusively, conceived of inside and outside of Israel as “Israeli Arabs.” And yet Halper, by leaving his statement unqualified, blithely allowed his audience to conclude that he was referring to the Palestinians at large rather than only to Arab citizens of Israel. The fact is that just about every part of Israeli society, even most of the right-wing fringe with which he would like to identify Israel as a whole, refers to the Palestinians, be they in the West Bank, Gaza, or any other place outside of Israel, as “Palestinians.” Yet Halper chose to imply that Israel is some sort of strange place, in denial and disconnection from the world, where the very term “Palestinian” does not exist. Once again, especially when presented to an audience not likely to have travelled to Israel, this is the stuff of calumny. Halper had the effrontery, as part of a most unenlightening discussion as to whether or not Israel is a “Western” country, to say that Israel appears to be superficially Western because Israelis are “kinda white.” Never mind the various loathsome, illogical, and even nonsensical aspects of such a statement: it is about as accurate as saying that Americans are white. It constitutes yet another example of the cheesy attitude evinced by Halper throughout his talk: he pandered to the lowest instincts of a hapless audience. Oliver Moore is a Law IV student. Send your kinda whiteness to oliver. email@example.com.
books on tape < words on paper Write in The Daily. Pitch your potential Hyde Park topics to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
Human rights, genocide, Obama must and the children of Hamas push AIDS reform Nadja Popovich
he Inauguration is just two days behind us and the next four years are stretched in front of us with all of their hopeful promise still in tact. Everyone is looking to Obama to fix a slew of problems left after a retrospectively dark eight years under the Bush administration. But with the economy teetering on the edge of unparalleled crisis – not to mention the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the new year’s Israeli-Palestinian crisis, the $10-trillion U.S. debt, and the onslaught of climate change – it would be easy to see how so many of those promises of change which were the main rhetoric of Obama’s presidential run, could fall by the wayside. I, however, would like to focus on an issue which seems to be left out of the mainstream dialogue: the ongoing international fight against HIV/AIDS. It may come as a surprise to many, but the role of the U.S. in funding the global HIV/AIDS battle has been hailed as one of the few shining lights of the Bush years, by no less than the New York Times, among others. With the authorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003, the U.S. committed an unprecedented US $15-billion over five years to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic internationally. It has been hailed as the largest health initiative directed at a single disease to be initiated by one country – ever. The successes of PEPFAR are many; the program more than doubled the number of people receiving anti-retroviral treatment (ART) in the most hard-hit countries from 2004 to 2008. Yet, it has also faced its fair share of problems and criticisms. PEPFAR has most prominently been accused of being largely morally motivated. Of the US $15-billion allotted in 2003, 20 per cent was outlined to be spent on prevention efforts, one-third of which was earmarked to go toward non-scientifically based “abstinence only” education programs. These sorts of programs have been largely dismissed as unconstructive both in the U.S. and abroad, as they provide a narrow educational lens and leave participants more vulnerable when they do choose to engage in sexual relations at a later time. PEPFAR’s ideological policing of funding has also required agencies to sign an anti-prostitution pledge – requiring an explicit opposition to sex work – before being eligible for funding, leaving one of the most stigmatized and at-risk groups out of a constructive dialogue of prevention and care. PEPFAR has also turned a blind eye to another marginalized community – intravenous drug-users – by not supporting clean-needleexchange programs. Other criticisms levied against
PEPFAR include its initial refusal to use generic drugs, instead requiring FDA-regulated, name-brands despite the high costs associated with them. However, this clause has been reformed to an extent since 2005, making generic ARTs at least partially available. Due to the ideological short-sightedness implicit in PEPFAR’s requirements for gaining program funding, many organizations and governments have chosen to turn their backs to this considerable tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS. For instance, the BBC media outreach program in Tanzania and the Brazilian government, both at odds with the antiprostitution pledge, have refused PEPFAR sponsored funds. While the Bush administration showed positive initiative in its bipartisan and globally oriented proposal of PEPFAR, the mire of moral baggage that comes along with funding only weighs down the full potential such an initiative could offer. PEPFAR funding can no longer be tied to ideology and unproven science. While steps have been taken to remove some specifications from the 2008 PEPFAR reauthorization – such as the exact percentages of money allotted for prevention and abstinence programs – the general atmosphere of moral stringency associated with the Bush administration’s agenda remains. With administration change, however, comes a new opportunity to set PEPFAR funding free from previous moral constraints. Obama’s pledge to “ensure that best practices – not ideology – [sic] drive funding for HIV/ AIDS programs,” is certainly a firm step in that direction. But now, upon officially entering office, Obama must work toward the structural changes that can provide a more comprehensive and wide-reaching access to antiHIV/AIDS funding from the U.S. for all of those countries in need. Now is the time to act on AIDS worldwide; now that gains are already being made, we cannot sit idly by and feel as if our part of the work is finished. Instead, Bush’s initiative must be set for a more expansive course. In hard economic times, it may be easy to say that a reformation of PEPFAR may not be at the top of the agenda, but millions of lives literally depend upon such reforms. Global as well as domestic expansion of anti-HIV/AIDS funding and reforms of existing legislation should be a top priority for the new administration.
For a full outline of the Obama administration’s HIV/AIDS initiative pledges, visit change.gov/ agenda/the_obama_biden_ plan_ to_combat_ global_hiv_aids/. Nadja Popovich is The Daily’s Mind&Body editor. Send your used condoms to email@example.com.
he memories are etched in my mind: the unease, the looks of silent terror. The fear was palpable, unconvincingly shielded behind the guise of outward bravado. This is the reality of the city of Sderot, located less than a mile from Gaza, a city that I visited this past summer. Over the past eight years, Sderot has been bombarded by close to 7,000 Qassam rockets that fall indiscriminately on streets, houses, hospitals, and schools. I walked through the streets of Sderot, where every bus stop has been turned into a makeshift bomb shelter. I witnessed a school with overhanging cement reinforcement covering half of the building due to the inability to pay for shelter over the entire structure. When the Code Red sirens sound indicating that residents have 15 seconds to reach a bomb shelter, all of the schoolchildren are forced to leave their studies and run to the side of the building that has been reinforced. These rockets are the work of Hamas, and they are the reason why kindergarten children in Sderot grow up singing songs to remind them to run to the shelter when the sirens sound. While they sing
songs that could potentially save their lives, Gazan children are also taught to sing about killing Jews and Americans. This is why I fail to see how individuals profess to be defending the human rights of Gazans while failing to understand Hamas for what it truly is – a hateful, self-interested, and genocidal terrorist organization. Hamas’ violent rhetoric is evident in the founding principles of its Charter. The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement openly states in its 1988 preface: “Israel will exist and continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” It explicitly calls for the genocide of the Jewish people, stating in Article 7: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” In Article 8, Hamas’s Slogan proclaims, “Jihad is its path, and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.” As a result, the lives of civilian men, women, and children are seen as mere instruments in the hands of a murderous regime that would sooner see Palestinian children become “martyrs” than doctors, lawyers, or teachers. They would rather pour funds into Qassam rock-
ets than agriculture, infrastructure, and basic human provisions. Rather than improving their hospitals following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas leaders chose to construct an underground lair beneath the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza’s largest hospital, built by Israel in order to improve the living conditions of Gaza residents. Terrorism is not Hamas’s last resort, but its primary tactic. The adage goes that democracy ensures that the people get the government they deserve. In the case of the civilian residents of Gaza, I find it difficult to agree. Gazans do not deserve a government that values death above life, one that teaches Palestinian children to hate and kill their neighbours. Both the children of Gaza and of Sderot deserve better. Hamas’s stated goals are clear, including the destruction of Israel and the eradication of the Jewish people. Golda Meir’s words ring true, a rallying cry for Israeli morality: “We can forgive you for killing our children, but we can never forgive you for making us kill your children. We will only have peace when you love your children more than you hate ours.”
Adam Plotkin is a U3 Honours Sociology student. Send your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applying some logic to conflict terminology Gilad Ben-Shach
s a math student, I have come to appreciate logical reasoning. Although I realize that the real world is not perfect, I am appalled by the blatant lies and propaganda presented not only in international newspapers, but in our very own Daily, which I expect to be wellresearched and fact-checked. There are no sides to be taken in the current conflict in the Middle East, which should be thought of as conflict-resolution. Instead, there are eight years of rocket attacks by terrorists on innocent civilians, with a delayed military response to protect these citizens. It is time to correct The Daily’s grievous errors, avoiding the use of emotional appeals and words of convoluted meaning. Here we go: First, there is no occupation in Gaza. Period. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. In other words, every Israeli civilian and soldier left the Gaza Strip. Therefore, the term “occupation” is a misnomer. Logical conclusion: All references to an occupation of Gaza are lies and misrepresentations.
Second, there is no Israeli siege of Gaza. For those who do not know geography, Gaza is roughly rectangular. Gaza borders Israel on two sides, and the Mediterranean Sea on another. The fourth side of Gaza borders Egypt. So, yes, Israel has imposed a sea-blockade since the beginning of the crisis – which has prevented Iran from shipping weapons – and yes, Israel closed off the land borders, although humanitarian aid still passes through. However, this leaves a fourth side, which Israel does not control. Logical conclusion: Israel is not responsible for any siege. Such claims are, again, lies and misrepresentations. Lastly, the subtitle of the article “Hamas must be talked to” refers to “Israel’s repeated refusal to negotiate openly with the Palestinian authority.” The entire article speaks about Hamas. For those who do not know: Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are not the same thing. Hamas is a terrorist organization that, after being elected in Gaza in 2006, began a civil war in the Gaza strip killing many Palestinians. For some reason, I don’t recall protests condemning Hamas for killing Palestinians, but then again,
there are no protests when Hamas kills Israelis either. Besides being a terrorist organization, Hamas’s mandate calls for the destruction of Israel; not a friendly stance if Hamas really wants peace. Hamas also uses civilians as human shields, and hoards the humanitarian aid sent in to Gaza by Israel. The PA is a political organization – with strong historical ties to terrorism, but they beefed up their public image through dialogue with Israel and denunciation of Hamas operatives as terrorists – and the PA governs the West Bank. Israel negotiates openly with the PA, and Israel’s relationship with the PA is not the subject of the article. Logical conclusion: the editors either never checked the facts, or, similar to the poor terminology I described earlier, The Daily has published lies and misrepresentations. Many more points should be made. I hope The Daily adopts more rigorous editing procedures, so that the situation is properly portrayed. Gilad Ben-Shach is a U3 Math and Physics student. Send him fun facts about rectangles to email@example.com.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
Where words often fail “A Village United Against the Wall” uses photography to confront the devastation of conflict in the Middle East Ian Becker Culture Writer
ike most people who have at least some basic knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I’ve engaged in heated discussions over the past weeks. I’ve read articles from writers on all sides of the political spectrum, and read the heartshattering personal testaments of both Israelis and Gazans. These exchanges, however nuanced and thorough they were, still left me with the feeling that I knew relatively nothing. And despite the constant media exposure, I still couldn’t help but feel utterly removed from the situation. Perhaps I had simply been reading the wrong things. After all, even the infamous Joe the Plumber travelled to Israel to give an assessment of the situation. It’s getting infinitely harder to validate sources, and to cut through the complexity and bullshit. But, while difficult, it is absolutely essential. In fact, if there is one thing that all of these commentators would probably agree on, it’s that the situation is dire, and neutrality has become unconscionable. It was not until last week, when I went with a friend to view a photo exhibition documenting the lives and actions of Palestinian civil dissidents in the village of Bil’in, that I felt that I had a clear understanding of the greater conflict. The photo exhibition, put on jointly by Tadamon! and ActiveStills – a group of documentary photographers working out of Israel and Palestine – displays the lives and civil resistance of the citizens of the West Bank town. The photographs are currently showing in Café L’Escalier (552 Ste. Catherine E.) until February 9, and will be at Bar Populaire (6584 St. Laurent) from February 13 to 28. While there’s no particular significance to these two locations, the
photo exhibit will move during the first week of March to Café Aquin, a student café at UQÀM and location with distinct importance. “The photos will be shown during the 5th international Israeli Apartheid Week,” says Aaron Lakoff, a member of Montreal-based social justice collective Tadamon! “This is significant because the student movement in Quebec, largely via the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) student union, has been instrumental in supporting the Palestinian struggle, especially via the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.” In the context of the recentlyescalated conflict between Israel and Gaza, Lakoff thinks the exhibit has renewed importance. “This photo exhibit shows the commitment of the Palestinian people to stand up against oppression at all odds. Every Friday for the last three years, the villagers of Bil’in have marched peacefully out to the wall, built on their olive groves, and every week they have stood down brutal violence from the Israeli occupation forces, usually in the form of rubber bullets, tear gas, and beatings. The fact that they keep going back shows an unbreakable will on their part, just as the residents of the Gaza ghetto have been saying that this most recent slaughter will not break their spirits.” And this comes through in the exhibit, albeit in a sometimes-bizarre way. At Café L’Escalier, photos rest above quaint tables where couples sip coffee and nibble on baked goods, seemingly oblivious to the starving eyes above them. The jarring contrast brings out the importance of discussing the situation and displaying reminders of what’s going on wherever possible. “The photos encourage the kind of conversation and rational discussion that such an ethically and morally conflicting issue necessitates,” says Ariel Appel, a U0 Arts student who
Evan Newton / The McGill Daily
joined me in attending the exhibit’s opening. “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict becomes immediately more human, more personal and more urgent when it infiltrates into your daily life. I was not particularly knowledgeable about the conflict prior to seeing the exhibit and I don’t know if I would say I walked away knowing more, but I did walk away feeling
more of an obligation to know and more of an obligation to contemplate these issues on my own.” I think what the exhibit really shows – though I say this somewhat grudgingly, being a firm believer in rational discussion – is the ability of art to succeed where words often fail. The pictures speak volumes, and with their startling immediacy,
explore the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the truest, raw sense. When looking at these photos, I saw more than I expected. In the fearful, tired faces of the citizens of Bil’in I also saw the angst of southern Israelis. I saw my Jewish ancestors that died in the Holocaust, and the innocent Palestinians who at this moment continue to face incredible adversity.
ple out there who can render their thoughts musical and whimsical no matter the topic, and that speakers and listeners can come together to stimulate thought in a vibrant, laidback setting. Along with performance venues, the Throw Slam Collective offers workshops for poetry and an organic jam session called The Vibe, where people can create sounds, movements, and poetry of all sorts. Last November, four of the Throw Slam Collective members went to the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word’s National Slam in Alberta. Rob Hoover, Jay Alexander Brown, Jason Freure, and Chris Masson performed pieces collectively and indi-
vidually among some of Canada’s best. To hear some of the pieces they performed at the festival, go to the Collective’s founder and podcaster Michelle Dabrowski’s blog and look for Episode 15 of her podcast of Throw Radio. The Throw Slam Collective is always looking for new members and will be putting on more events for those who want to participate by snapping their fingers, performing, and listening.
Politics, faith, and toilet paper All subjects are poetic at the Throw Slam Collective Pamela Fillion Culture Writer
n Sunday, at Casa del Popolo, the Throw Slam Collective launched their first album, 3, 2, 1 Throw!, sponsored by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. To celebrate the best of their 2008 poetry session, the collective
brought their live poetry to cosy Casa Del Popolo, featuring the music of Instant Release, band of fellow poet Ritalin from Ottawa’s Capital Slam Poetry Collective. Throw Slam Collective is dedicated to creating a stronger spoken word community in Montreal. Members range from “groups of poets, spoken word artists, multidisciplinary artists, volunteers, dreamers, and lovers of linguistic phenomenon,” as stated on the group’s web site. I first heard of the collective in October when a friend told me about a group he’d gotten involved in, where people worked on and performed their poems. I was initiated into the world of the Throw Slam Collective the fol-
lowing November at Casa Del Popolo. There, the Throw Slam Collective Best of 2008 album was recorded live; members of Throw, with special guests Moe Clark and Kaie Kellough along with members of Capital Slam, spoke of politics, racism, love, faith, toilet paper, and fleeting time. That night, I returned home energized and intellectually riveted, and immediately imported some slam poetry onto my iTunes. For many years, I complained that I was one of those lonely people who thought too much, destined to end my days writing delirious tracts on a boat amongst salty water and tears. I no longer think this, now that I know there are peo-
For details on the album and shows, check out throwcollective.com. You can also hear podcasts at michelledabrowkski.blogspot.com, or sign up for Throw Radio on iTunes.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
Thomas Kim Culture Writer
ooking for something different to do on a Saturday night? Interested in an event that combines fashion with Montreal’s great nightlife scene, all for a good cause? Then head out to Metropolis to see SynesthASIA, an Asia-inspired charity fashion show. With an expected audience of 2,000, this show promises to be one of the biggest parties of the year. A joint effort between McGill’s Association of North American Born Asians (Manaba) and McGill Taiwanese Student’s Association as well as Concordia’s Canadian-Asian Society, SynesthASIA strives to be more than just the stereotypical cultural fashion show, moving away from simply showcasing traditional Asian clothes and music. While you’re enjoying yourself at SynesthASIA, you’re also benefitting orphans in India. Proceeds from the night will go to the Ashraya Initiative for Children (AIC), a charity that aims to provide homes for street kids
as well as education and health outreach programs in Pune, India. The timing of the event couldn’t be better because the AIC is currently attempting to raise enough money for a permanent building to house orphans. As Sylvia Kim, one of the event organizers, explained, “The name SynesthASIA is derived from synethaesia, a neurological [condition] in which senses become interconnected, and one sees colours from sound. Artists used this [idea] to express their art in a very abstract, fantastical movement.” The intersection of Eastern and Western cultures, and the traditional with the contemporary is how SynesthASIA lives up to its name. At once, SynesthASIA will open your eyes to the contemporary world of fashion and design, and your ears to traditional Asian sounds. The next moment your ears will be drawn to techno music and your eyes fixed to intricately embroidered Indian dresses from Toronto designers Dulhan. The diverse ethnic backgrounds of the show’s male and female models further exemplify the idea of synaesthesia. The event also looks
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to both the traditional and modernday elements of Asian culture. In one scene, aspects of classical Japanese culture are mixed with the futuristic, gothic trends of Tokyo’s Harajuku fashion district. SynesthASIA puts an array of up-and-coming Montreal designers and boutiques on centre stage. One designer that is sure to impress is Travis Taddeo, whose recent line offers a futuristic interpretation of Ancient Greek and Roman fashions. Anomal Couture will display their beautiful evening wear in an assortments of both couture gowns and cocktail dresses, tapered to reveal stunning silhouettes, accentuated with strong necklines and cuts. JUDY and Yasmin Wasfy of Lustre Boutique will also present their designs. This is a show that transcends fashion in many regards, placing emphasis on the theatrical components of the show. The Montreal Wushu Institute is expected to amaze the audience with their martial arts tricks, seeing as one of their members was a stunt double for Jet Li. The dance crews promise to wow the audience with their choreographed
Whitney Mallett / The McGill Daily
SynesthASIA makes you hear new colours and see new sounds
movement. These theatrical components really make SynesthASIA a fashion show. Following the event, the catwalk will turn into a club, with music provided by Tokyo Nightclub regulars DJ DeLeon, DJ Jemz, DJ Yao, and an up-and-coming group, MTLiens. They will be sure to keep you dancing until the early morning. The bar will stay open all night, and more
importantly, the models and dancers will be there. SynesthASIA is scheduled for January 31 at Metropolis, 59 Ste. Catherine E. Tickets can only be purchased this week in Bronfman and on Monday January 26 in McConnell Engineering. Check out the Facebook group and event SynesthASIA for more information.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, January 22, 2009
Lies, half-truths, and handlebars
First-year Arts student Danji BuckMoore wins Moustache Contest! Inauguration good but slight bummer Winston Jeffries The McGill Daily
Sterling Street appears every Thursday. Send Margot your dog tales to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ore than 400 students crammed into Gert’s Airport Campus Bar late Tuesday morning to watch CNN and feel what it’s like for Gert’s to be packed. Coincidentally, Barack Obama also became the President of the country they call “The Canada of South” at noon. Before his epic speech in which he both promised to harness the power of the wind, seas, and soil while also vowing to never give up the American way of life, several dozen middle-aged-to-elderly white folk walked down the red carpet and sat real high up from the masses who assembled in D.C. In the lead-up to the inauguration, it seemed that Gert’s employees members were trying their darndest to plug in the speakers that the bar is equipped with. However, instead of volume emanating through the
sound system, students were subjected to a bunch of loud, jarring ‘pop’ noises. At one point, a SSMU executive member told students sitting near the large TV screen to turn up the volume manually – which was met by confusion from said students. “I was like, ‘What? Me? Do the volume knob thing?’” U3 Political Science student Ronnie Patrick exclaimed. Another highlight of the event was the repeated requests for students to “make a path” and to “get away from the bar.” U2 Humanistic Studies student Ezekiel Clayton said that moment might have rivalled “Woah-Bama’s” speech. “We all looked around, realized there was nowhere to move, and wondered who the hell this person was – and poof she vanished,” Clayton said, adding, “And did you hear about Obama being the fifth youngest President ever? That’s huge!”
IN PRINT AND ON THE WALLS: ART SUP 2009
This year, The Daily will be hosting an art show to accompany its annual Art Supplement. So if you want to see your work in print, or hung up alongside some of the best of McGillâ€™s artists, submit your original works electronically to email@example.com.
Deadline for submissions: February 20, 2009.