Letters to the Editor: International Affairs

I was disappointed but not surprised at the student comments that you published about two weeks ago on the war between Israel and the Palestinians. Disappointed because most of the students interviewed did not seem to have thought much about the issue. Not surprised, on the other hand, because undergraduates in my generation were not all that much more politically aware. We learned quickly, however, when the Vietnam war began to intensify and many of us were called to serve for a cause that, as we soon found out, we did not believe in.

I do not know if the conflicts in the Middle East will intensify: I hope not, but I doubt if they will go quietly. And I doubt if any of these students will serve in the military. But still I would suggest that they pay attention. Wars have a way of marking generations, even the people who don’t serve in them. Vietnam did it to us, just like the second world war did it to our parents and the first one to our grand-parents. The current war on terrorism may seem distant but it has already changed the political climate in this country, and it may be far from over.

As for the war between Israelis and Palestinians, I would say to these students: find out what it’s about. Find out about the Jews and what they went through during the second world war, find out what makes them act the way they do. Read Ha’aretz on the web, one of their best newspapers. Read about the European antisemitism that is crawling back from the sewers of history. Find out the history of the Palestinians, find out why young men and women your age choose to blow themselves up to fight Israel. Read about the new anti-Moslem right wing in France and Holland. Read the Independent on the web, one of the best British newspapers. Try to understand what both sides are going through.

Most of all, stay informed and learn to think for yourself, to be critical, to be open to different opinions. Don’t buy everything you hear on TV or everything the politicians tell you. Many in my generation believed President Johnson and Secretary MacNamara, but we were deceived as we found out later, too late for so many. There are sometimes giants in politics, as were Roosevelt and Churchill in World War II, but there are not many like them. So learn to pick and choose who you will listen to.

What is happening now in the world will affect you: you can bet on that. So don’t just be swept blindly by history: open your eyes and do your bit to try to change it. All the while, don’t forget to thank your lucky stars, or your parents, for being here and not there, and pray that the luck continues.

– Jean Lecuyer

Professor of Physics

Contrary to what FBI Director Robert Mueller says, we don’t have to “live with terrorism.”

That kind of mindset invites passive acceptance. Unless there is a huge public outcry about Mueller’s statement, we’ve sealed our fate and
encouraged terrorists to immolate us on an increasingly vaster scale.

Instead we must ruthlessly crush terrorist states, by whatever means necessary. The public must demand that Bush live up to his stated principles post-9/11. He must move decisively against Iran, the world’s biggest sponsor of terrorism, stop treating the enabling Saudis with kid gloves, and allow Israel to destroy Arafat and the PLO.

– Tym Parsons