Letters to the Editor


    In the article “”Across the campus, across the world,”” (Monday, April 15) Sarah Hassaine addressed the issue of Jewish-Palestinian relations on campus. For the last year, I have been working to improve these relations as co-chair of the Unified Campus Coalition along with Nema Milaninia, a Warren senior and Muslim.

    However, I regret to inform you that our efforts thus far have failed. Now we see the conflict entering a new stage reminiscent of Anti-Zionism Week last year. On April 15, a campaign to disgrace the Jews and spread anti-Jewish sentiment began. The method was a typical one: quoting forgeries of supposedly Jewish sources that indicate, in no uncertain terms, the hateful and malicious nature of the Jews and Judaism.

    After the uproar about a bad joke in The Koala earlier this year, I have to wonder: Will this instance of hate speech receive equal attention? Indeed, a better question is, how do we prevent this from happening again?

    I have been asking myself that ever since last year. One method we as the UCC tried was to bring together the heads of the Union of Jewish Students and the Muslim Students Association, David Weisberg and Ahmed Salem, respectively. We discussed what to do in the event of hateful postings such as last Monday’s, as well as what we can do to improve relations between Jews and Muslims on campus.

    Weisberg proposed, as he was quoted in your article, that the communities come together outside the scope of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He suggested, among other things, a joint community service project to promote the goal of improving the world around us, which is intrinsic in Islam as Zakah as well as in Judaism in Tzedakah.

    These proposals, however, were met with the accusation by Salem that we were all being “”fake.”” Everything, he said, comes down to Palestine. He claimed to have no problem with Jews, but he made it clear that he could only join in an activity with Jews if they would denounce Israel as a Nazi state and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a modern-day Hitler. Even the most liberal Jew would have a big problem with that loaded comparison.

    Indeed, nothing was accomplished. Milaninia, Weisberg and I left feeling hurt, but we nonetheless sought another meeting with Salem. He has not yet replied to the e-mails I sent months ago. Instead, the last time we spoke, he asked, “”Do you think that just because you are the Chosen People, you have the right to kill me?””

    In the course of my attempts to bring these communities together, there have been far too many disheartening instances such as these. I have even dealt with personal attacks from one individual. I was slandered, called anti-Muslim, and unfounded claims were made that I had supposedly insulted this person. Thus, it did not surprise me when I learned that this individual last week was on Library Walk telling people stories about Israel injecting poison into the eggs of Palestinians to prevent them from reproducing.

    My point here is not to attack a couple of extremist students, but to say that I hope that the majority of Jewish and Muslim students — and indeed all rational students at UCSD — will stand with me and denounce these kinds of attitudes. We may disagree on a lot of very important things, but there are also important things that we can agree on.

    I think a lot of us can agree on even more than we think. However, all too often the people that supposedly represent us do not present a view that we really agree with. For example, Jewish supporters of Israel, such as me, often wholeheartedly disagree with actions that the leaders of Israel take that cause suffering for innocent Palestinians. There is a middle path; it just needs to be beaten down by brave souls.

    Despite all the setbacks, I still have hope. We will always find individuals who will try to stand in the way of what is good and what is right. But we must transcend these few and try to reach the many. If you, reading this, are such a person, and you want to join with others like you, please contact me and the Unified Campus Coalition. We need each other now, more than ever before.

    I want to see if we, the underspoken majority, cannot shut the closed-minded minority up and forge for ourselves a path to trust and peace.

    — Brian Brook

    Co-chair, Unified Campus Coalition

    Students should not pick up the tab for state budget


    As many are aware, California is facing a serious budget crisis. This has led many to suggest raising student fees by 10 percent. Such an increase would cost students a little over $400 a year, without any increase in the services provided to students or the quality of their education.

    Essentially, the state would be acting like a landlord, making students pay for 13 months of rent when we only live there for a year. Students are already loaded with debt and barely making it through.

    In 1987, the California State Legislature published “”The Master Plan Renewed,”” which reads, “”An accessible and excellent education system is essential to the cultural, political and economic health of a nation or state.”” This statement is as true today as it was in 1987.

    It is critical to have an educated workforce for the future researchers, artists, economists, CEOs, legislators, lawyers, doctors and teachers that will strengthen California’s economy and lead us back to prosperity over the next decade.

    California’s future was compromised in the early 1990s, when the last budget crisis took place. Fees for the University of California, California State University and community colleges skyrocketed, and many students were forced to delay or cancel their plans to attend a postsecondary institution.

    Enrollment at the state’s colleges and universities declined, and Wall Street began to warn California that state jobs were being lost due to the reduced workforce preparedness that resulted from declining college attendance.

    The state is facing another budget crisis in 2002, and there will be many difficult decisions for the leaders of the state to make. It is imperative that the leaders of California make higher education a priority and keep in mind the future of our state. In the early 1990s, students were forced to unfairly carry the weight of the budget shortfall, and the state is still trying to right that wrong.

    Students across the state should ask that the legislature and the governor learn from the past mistakes by not raising students fees, protecting financial aid, and fully funding the UC, CSU and community college budgets.

    — Kenneth Burch

    Chair, UC Student Association

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