Letters to the editor

“Galloway incites protest” news » nov.17, 2010
Deep concerns Human Rights Activists Association @ York University

To the York Federation of Students, We write this letter to express our deep concerns regarding the George Galloway event. As acknowledged by the Canadian federal government, the United Nations Human Rights Council and Amnesty International at various times, thousands of innocent Iranians, including women, children and the elderly, are subjected to the violation of their most basic political, economic, social and cultural human rights by the Islamic Republic of Iran on a daily basis.
The mass executions and barbaric tortures of political activists; the imposition of extreme poverty and crime against the absolute majority of Iranians; systematic oppression; stoning and sexual apartheid of women; and legalized child labour can be found in the shameful record of the regime’s brutal and bloody history.
We would like to inform you that Galloway is a supporter of this inhuman government. Galloway has openly referred to the Islamic Republic of Iran as a democratic government and has said Iranians have never had democracy until the last 31 years.
It is absolutely shameful for someone who claims to be a human rights activist to deny all the crimes against humanity that have happened in Iran for the last 31 years and to call this brutal government “democratic” when Iranian citizens face imprisonment, torture and execution for criticizing the government.
We ask you to provide York University students with useful events that would provide them with knowledge, and not to organize events that include speakers who support terrorism and deny a nation’s struggle for freedom.
Paul Izdebski

It is disappointing to see one of the last neutral parts of our society – academia – take a stern stance on an issue that has provoked controversy, bloodshed and decades of strife between two peoples.
York University has joined the ranks of other public institutions that support the state of Israel and all the injustices and human rights violations that country stands for.
The university’s decision to interfere in Iranian students attempts to demonstrate their point of view regarding Gil Hoffman is just one more notch in York’s decision to take a one- sided view on an issue that should be open for free and peaceful discussion.
It’s no surprise the Jewish student groups have an overrepresentation within the Excalibur community. Last fall, a half-page ad appeared in the paper [Oct. 27, 2010, page 16] noting Hillel@York was “Proud to be an ‘Agent’…for peace & democracy.” It’s a very clever ad no doubt, but one that should not have been published: it clearly attacks the concerns professor David Noble raised about Hillel actually being an “agent” of the Israeli government.
Moreover, I’d like to point out that a half-page ad in Excal does not come cheap: it costs $500! It goes to show how money – and status – talk. As a former cultural club president, I can tell you a $500 ad in Excalibur was a luxury we couldn’t afford.
It’s ironic how Excalibur covered the Galloway incident – citing nuances of anti-Semitism and victimization – and then ran an article about anti-Semitic graffiti being found in a library book on the next page. We obviously all need to be reminded how victimized Jewish people are while human rights are being stripped from people across The Wall. In that article, “Swastika graffiti found inside Scott Library book,” [Nov. 17, 2010] there’s no mention as to when this graffiti was found; for all we know this was a story pulled from the archives to contribute to the seriousness of the Galloway “issue.”
But York is merely following the rest of Canada. It’s no surprise our elected officials in Ottawa are fully behind Israel and its violence, oppression, human rights violations and international disregard for the law.
Harper’s “bruises” from battling anti-Semitism earned him a spot in the Ottawa edition of the Metro last month, alongside Rabbi Avraham Altein, lighting a candle on a menorah.
Perhaps Metro should have called it a “holiday candle holder” rather than referring to it by its traditional name, “menorah.”
[Editor’s note: Excalibur’s editorial board and business offices are separate and autonomous, and editors do not control advertising policy. The “Swastika graffiti” incident was reported to Excalibur the week prior to publication.]
“York health clinic cuts services” news » nov.25, 2010
No care involved Aimen Najam
As a third-year student living on campus, having a health care facility on campus has been a great convenience. However, since Appletree took over in March, I have dreaded paying the doctor a visit because of the way they try to limit any human interaction.
To make an appointment over the phone, I have to remain on hold for at least 20 minutes, often getting hung up on. While I am on hold, the recording suggests I make the appointment online. For online appointment bookings, my scheduling selection is limited to either “weekend” or “weekday” and, for appointment time, “morning” or “evening.” Are you laughing yet? After filling out this primitive form, I must wait 24 hours for an email with a suggested time and date.
Since I have to be extremely vague about my preferred time, the suggested appointment never fits my schedule, which means I have to go through this ordeal all over again. Oh, and did I forget to mention that sometimes I don’t even get an email?
I have complained at least 10 times on their website and been assured that someone will get back to me about my “concerns” within 24 hours. It’s been months since then, and no one has contacted me. When I expressed my frustration to the manager at Appletree, she simply said she hadn’t receive anything from the website – in other words, “I know you’re standing here in front of me, clearly frustrated, but no one told me about your complaints, so I’m just going to go ahead and ignore you.”
How can Appletree call themselves a “healthcare facility” if there is no care involved?
“Students told not to protest against Iran” news » Dec.1, 2010
Grossly misinformed Yonatan Oliver
While it is unfortunate Hannah Bhamanpour was denied the right to protest the Gil Hoffman event, her claim her group was unfairly targeted while the George Galloway protest was left unimpeded is far from true.
When I attended the rally against George Galloway, York security desperately tried to keep the protest from happening. I myself was threatened with removal twice: once for holding a flag, and the other time for refusing to remove a shirt that had a picture of the Israeli Defence Force logo on it. A York security guard also briefly confiscated my York card and took down my student number.
The only reason the rally happened was that even when security demanded we leave, we didn’t – we knew our rights and refused to move even when security threatened to get police involved and demanded the rally be moved outside into the downpour of freezing rain.
To the credit of York security, when it became apparent we were not willing to give up our rights, they apologized for their behaviour and allowed the peaceful protest to go on, but by no means did they make it easy.
Bhamanpour’s claim of our preferential treatment is grossly misinformed.
“Examining Gil Hoffman’s comments on Iran” opinions » Dec.1, 2010
Misconception of fact Adir Dishy, President, Hasbara at York
Last week’s opinion by Navid Ghahrael on Gil Hoffman coming to speak at York University has provided the York community with a total misconception of fact.
The claims Hoffman is “pro-war” and that he has “contaminated” the York campus with his speech is a total affront to the values of this university.
Hoffman made it clear that a military strike was the last option to stopping a nuclear Iran.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a religious fanatic, a tyrant and a perpetrator of some of the worst human rights abuses in the world. He has stated that he intends to “wipe the Zionist entity of the map” and “anybody who recog- nizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury” – it’s no surprise the recent WikiLeaks documents demonstrate most Arab states are also considering military action.
Defending such a man, or even his nuclear ambitions, is an insult to the Canadian values we hold dear, and circulating a petition to stop discussion on it is an embarrassment to this university.
“Fire forces York-wide evacuation” online » dec.15, 2010
Moments of crisis Ian Crookshank, Residence Life Manager, Complex 1
On Dec. 13, 2010, a fire in the Central Utilities Building forced the closure of the university and the evacuation of both graduate and undergraduate residence buildings. An incredible effort was made by staff from across campus to inform our students of the situation, find temporary homes for our students and secure assistance from the TTC.
Staff members from Housing Services, Security, Transportation Services and Student Community Leadership and Development/ Residence Life remained on campus, supporting evacuation efforts into early Tuesday morning. Their efforts resulted in the evacua- tion of all undergraduate residence buildings and graduate apartments, with 1100 students, families and pets being relocated to hotels.
Not to be forgotten, the student staff in Residence Life, the dons, night porters, Coordinators of Residence Activities and volunteer Emergency Response Wardens, jumped in with both feet to assist the undergraduate residence evacuation. These student staff members and volunteers began canvassing the buildings with information at 3:30 PM and, in many cases, were still assisting with the evacuation, loading buses and helping students settle into their hotels, well after midnight.
Without their efforts, the evacuation would not have run so smoothly, and they should be acknowledged for their incredible service to the institution and, more importantly, to the students.
One final group deserving praise for the way they conducted themselves throughout this challenging situation is the residence students themselves. The patience, cooperation and perspective of our students was exemplary throughout, and helped motivate each person to push on and look for the light in what was a long night.
Moments of crisis can serve as a barometer of the bond a community has, as they can bring us closer together or drive us apart. Thanks to the efforts of those mentioned above and the many others who assisted, we can be assured that those who live with us had the opportunity to come together.

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