What a great issue of the ICQ (2004/4)! The cover feature on the three generations of IC alumni (Three Generations at IC) was most interesting; the story of Burmese freedom fighter Han Lin and his family fascinating; and the "Music Junkie" article as well as the "Pitching In" essay by Henry "Hank" Stark were outstanding pieces of writing.
President Williams's article (The Ithaca Model), on how Ithaca and other "new American colleges" are a model for a higher education movement, was very enlightening and adds to my continuing pride in being an Ithaca graduate. I don't think I can recall a better issue. Keep up the good work!
Jane Young Seaman '44
Los Altos Hills, California
Study Abroad for Life
I am writing in response to the article "Catching the Study-Abroad Bug" in the 2004/3 issue. I also had the opportunity while at IC to take the Society and Culture course offered by Dr. Hector Vélez. It was a wonderful course and an overall great learning experience.
Traveling to a "third world" country is a life-changing event. However, it is easy to forget how other people live and the difficulties they face in their daily life. Most people who travel to the Dominican Republic enjoy the beautiful beaches, amazing resorts, and wonderful restaurants. I think it is wonderful that Shelley Facente '02 remembered her three-week experience and went back to contribute to the community of La Zurza. That community lacks so many resources that we take for granted here in the United States.
I hope to read more articles in the ICQ about people using their learning experience to make a difference in a country that really needs assistance. I really admire Shelley's work. I am glad that she is being recognized and presenting her research at major conferences here in the United States. I hope that others will join in her efforts.
Korrine Canas '99
Jenin "Massacre" Misleading
I think it's terrific that the Handwerker Gallery featured an exhibit of contemporary artworks from Palestine and Iraq as was mentioned in the "South Hill Today" section of the 2004/4 issue (Handwerker Shows Palestinian and Iraqi Art). However, in the article about the exhibit, some of the works were described as exploring issues such as the "massacre at Jenin." What happened at Jenin was heartwrenching and unfortunate to be sure, but, to refer to it as a "massacre" is to spread false propaganda.
When the Jenin incident occurred, immediately there were exaggerated reports that thousands of Palestinians had been killed. The true toll was 52, and more than half were armed combatants. The reason Israel went into Jenin to begin with was to root out terrorists who were hiding among the civilians, killing innocent Israelis. If Israel wanted a massacre, it simply could have bombed the whole camp. Instead, in an effort to minimize casualties among civilians, Israel put its own soldiers at risk, many of whom were killed.
My heart goes out to the Palestinian people and their cause to have a nation of their own. But to get there through terrorism and false propaganda is not the way to go.
Marc Oromaner '93
Forest Hills, New York
As a parent of an Ithaca College student I am horrified at what I read in the most recent edition of the ICQ. Under Campus Life, there is an article on the Handwerker's exhibit of Palestinian and Iraqi art. In the first sentence, "This fall the Handwerker Gallery exhibit Art Across Borders featured more than 50 contemporary works from Palestine and Iraq." Have you checked your facts? Is there a country called Palestine that you know of? I am mortified that a college in the North East, with a strong Jewish population would promote this exhibit in this way, and make this error. Aside from this, your description of the art "presents issues such as the massacre at Jenin." Have you read the reports after the media misreported the clash at Jenin? It is at best a question mark as to there having been a massacre, and more likely after published reports, a media propaganda for Palestinian sympathy. Check your facts. How dare you promote it this way. It clearly shows an anti-semitic bent. Have you thought about a balanced view of Israeli artists that may use issues that show the terror they face, and the damage inflicted to civilian women and children by suicide bombers? To lump together artists in Iraq and Palestian artists and promote them together as works in common is a mistake. Iraqis have found themselves victims of their country's terrorist policies. And, then, a victim of a country wishing to liberate them from those policies. Palestinian's life threatening situations are due to their own reign of terror. When they stop hating and killing, then there will be peace. The other side is the side that offered to give up land to make peace. They turned it down.
It is one thing for a curator to make the mistake and combine the two. It's another for the College to promote and puts its stamp of approval on the exhibit. That's promoting anti-semitism.
Armonk, New York
Handwerker Gallery Director's Note:
The Handwerker Gallery is an educational resource for the Ithaca College community, providing diverse programs designed to stimulate dialogue and the exploration of ideas. The exhibitions are one part of our programming; the Iraq and Palestine exhibit also included a panel discussion that became a forum for lively and unresolved debate. I am pleased the conversation is continuing in the ICQ. Do check our website for upcoming exhibitions, including one sponsored by the National Holocaust Museum.
-- associate professor of art history Cheryl Kramer
The nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch published a report on the on the April 3, 2002, Israeli Defense Forces military operations at Jenin refugee camp, home to some 14,000 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians. More than 140 buildings, most multifamily dwellings, were completely destroyed and more than 200 others were seriously damaged. The organization documented "52 Palestinian deaths in the camp and its environs caused by the fighting. At least 22 of those confirmed dead were civilians, including children, physically disabled, and elderly people. At least 27 of those confirmed dead were suspected to have been armed Palestinians belonging to movements such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades. Some were members of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) National Security Forces or other branches of the PA police and security forces. . . .
"The Israelis' expressed aim was to capture or kill Palestinian militants responsible for suicide bombings and other attacks that ha[d] killed more than 70 Israeli and other civilians since March 2002. The IDF military incursion into the Jenin refugee camp was carried out on an unprecedented scale compared to other military operations mounted . . . since . . . September 2000.
"The presence of armed Palestinian militants inside Jenin refugee camp, and the preparations made by those armed Palestinian militants in anticipation of the IDF incursion, do not detract from the IDF's obligation under international humanitarian law to take all feasible precautions to avoid harm to civilians. Israel also has a legal duty to ensure that its attacks on legitimate military targets did not cause disproportionate harm to civilians. Unfortunately, these obligations were not met. . . . Israeli forces committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, some amounting prima facie to war crimes.
"Every case . . . requires thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation. The results of the investigation should be made public, and where wrongdoing is found, those responsible should be held accountable. Israel has the primary obligation . . . but the international community also has a responsibility to ensure that the investigation takes place."
Read the full Human Rights Watch report at Jenin: IDF Military Operations.
Of Freedom and Democracy
I wanted to comment on the article "Burmese Freedom Fighter." I enjoyed reading the article and learning about Han Lin's remarkable personal courage and struggle to bring the message of freedom to Burma; it is articles like this that make us realize how fortunate we are to be Americans.
However, I also wanted to point out a factual error in the article. The second paragraph begins "Americans are guaranteed democracy and freedom by the U.S. Constitution." Freedom, yes. Democracy, no. In fact, nowhere in the U.S. Constitution will you find any form of the words "democrat," "democratic," or "democracy." That is because the United States of America is in fact a republic, as stated in Article 4, Section 4 of our Constitution.
As far as I'm aware, the only truly democratic society that has ever existed was in ancient Athens, and that system failed after 240 years (which is also about how long the United States has been in existence).
What's the difference? In a republic, every citizen's rights are absolute and guaranteed by a constitution. As such, the constitutional rights of a single citizen cannot frivolously be voted away simply because the rest of society wishes it so. A democracy, on the other hand, is mob rule. It's akin to two wolves and a sheep taking a vote on what to have for lunch -- a nice arrangement if you're one of the wolves, but not so nice if you're the sheep.
No wonder Plato once observed, "Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy." He would know. He was there.
Paul Grim '87
Rochester, New York