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Letters to the Editor 3/4

Support tomato pickers in demand

There is another hunger strike, besides Sami Al-Arian’s, taking place right now.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, made up of tomato pickers predominantly from Mexico, Guatemala and Haiti, are engaged in a hunger strike outside of Taco Bell Headquarters in Irvine, Cali. The CIW has been camping through rain and cold on the sidewalk in front of the corporation’s 11-story mirrored building since Feb. 24 and will stay until Taco Bell agrees to a dialogue with the tomato pickers and the contractors who employ the tomato pickers.

The CIW boycott of Taco Bell kicked off in April 2001. The reason for the boycott is the menial wages paid to the tomato pickers. Taco Bell is the biggest purchaser of tomatoes from Immokalee, Fla. The workers currently earn 40 to 50 cents per 32-pound bushel of tomatoes, the same wages they have been receiving since the 1970s, giving them an annual income of about $7,500 a year. The tomato pickers are asking for a one-cent increase in wages per pound of tomatoes, which would almost double their annual wages.

I recently returned from Irvine. I ended my hunger strike yesterday morning, but there are about 30 workers and allies carrying on. Updates about the strike are posted on the CIW Web site,

There are real tomatoes in Taco Bell food and real people who pick those tomatoes. Please think about those workers before you stop for a chalupa. I know that I would rather starve than eat sweatshop tacos.

Stacy Tessier is a senior majoring in political science.

Al-Arian unjustly fired from position

A tragedy occurred Wednesday. One of the greatest professors at this university was fired for simply voicing a dissenting opinion. Conveniently, for USF President Judy Genshaft, Dr. Sami Al-Arian is also Palestinian. It is expected that when you tell a dog to jump and tempt it with a bone, it jumps. But one may never expect a university president, even if lured with a raise, to fire a tenured professor because she was instructed to by some individuals. Those who know Al-Arian and his family wouldn’t even take a second look at the so-called “evidence.” But, on the other hand, we’ve got those who never met Al-Arian, like our “stupid body president” calling him an “evil man,” and the self-proclaimed “Judge Judy” going as far as firing him because of some unverified allegations. In order to understand the so-called incriminating “evidence,” one must understand the condition, as well as the background, of the accused.

Arabs and Muslim in a post-Sept. 11-world are often victimized and used as scapegoats for the attacks. Subsequently, these victims are all guilty until proven innocent, a process that may take months to years to determine. This mass hysteria among the general public, which the media can be held mostly responsible for, has made us the uncertified judges, freely labeling and convicting others as “terrorists.” This twisted propaganda that we call news is fortunately not owned by the government. However, it is sadly controlled by powerful lobbyists, of which the greatest include Zionists. Not only do these powerful Zionist interest groups control the media that is used to brainwash the masses, but they also pay legislators and several government officials large sums of money to trade favors; hence, the formation of our American foreign policy, a policy that includes sending billions of our tax dollars to Israel, nearly funding its entire military used for murder, in addition to paying $12,000 to each Israeli citizen.

While the Israelis are comfortably living in their homes in Israel and, since they even have the power and occupy Palestinian territory, they force millions of Palestinians, including a great deal of orphans and widows with their children, into refugee camps and in rubble-looking homes.

Since when is speaking out against blatant aggression a crime? Why do we allow our American government to support the real, terrorist Israeli regime, while we label those who support innocent Palestinian civilians as either “terrorists,” “aiding terrorists,” or “funding terrorists?” It is no surprise that when these powerful Zionist lobbyists see their interests being threatened by an outspoken Palestinian, they begin by defaming and labeling him as a “terrorist” and, perhaps, may even work out a deal with the university administration to fire him.

It was not long ago that one of my professors (who does not speak for USF) stated, “Had Jesus lived at this time, he would have been considered a Palestinian rebel, or even a terrorist, along with his 12 disciples that ‘aided terrorism.'”

Consequently, it is no coincidence (some may even call it a conspiracy) that not even after a full week following Al-Arian’s indictment (not conviction), the 18-month pending question “to fire him or not to fire him” has finally been answered with an imprudent solution, which may possibly have a devastating effect on the future of USF. First, there is a great chance of USF getting censured for a second time, breaking an all-time, national censure record, inevitably leaving over 40,000 students school-less. The second effect of this injudicious decision could result in the intimidation among faculty and students to freely exercise their beliefs, without constantly having the fear of being evicted from the university. Ultimately, all students who believe in academic freedom and due process of law should stand united and demand a regime change at USF. (Note: I do not speak for USF.)

Sarah Mitwalli is a freshman majoring in political science and international studies.