Letters to the Editor
Non-Jewish travelers free to go to Israel
Re: “Palestinians should also have birthrights” Jan. 27
I wanted to point out that Bennett Grossman’s article was not a political message. It was merely an account of his visit in Israel and included some details of how it was that he came to participate. This should have been kept in mind when writing a letter to the editor.
I would also like to point out that it is legitimate for Muslims and Christians to have their own birthright program. The Birthright Israel program is largely run on private donations from Jewish philanthropists and Jewish organizations, like Hillel, in conjunction with the State of Israel. Just like private grants, scholarships and other funds, the donations are endowments from particular groups with their own interests, and they may have stipulations on what is done with the money, as is their right.
As such, Birthright Israel is a program created to allow Jewish students who have never been to Israel to gain a greater connection with the land and with the people. Yes, Birthright is only open to Jewish students, but its purpose is not to discriminate against others, but rather to give Jewish students the experience of a lifetime. The moral is that if others wish to have birthright trips to Israel, then they can and should organize it and find funding from their own organizations, or from organizations that would be willing to provide for all, instead of trying to implicate Birthright Israel as discriminatory.
David J. Brunell is a junior majoring in biology.
If you are going to write a letter to the editor, you should know what you are talking about. Just recently there was a letter saying that the Birthright trip was unfair because it was only offered to Jewish students. If you know anything about Birthright, you would know it may be free for the students but it is not a free trip. Birthright is supported by Jewish organizations, Jewish philanthropists, and the State of Israel. The trip is offered through many organizations, one being the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
Hillel’s mission is to allow Jewish students to learn and celebrate their Jewish faith with others Jews by creating Jewish connections, such as trips to Israel, like Birthright. The purpose of Birthright is to allow Jewish students to learn about their religion and history, something that is very important in the Jewish faith.
I would also like to mention that there is nothing stopping a non-Jew from going to Israel. There may not be free trips available, but if your Christian or Muslim organization felt it was important enough, there is nothing stopping them from having their own trips. To say that Jewish organizations should pay for non-Jews to go to Israel is absurd. The reason that the trip is offered to Jewish students is because leaders in the Jewish community feel that is important for Jews to visit Israel.
Also, Layelle Saad talked about Bennett enjoying “traditional Arab food” when he ate falafel. Many Jews have lived for generations in Arab countries such as Iraq and Syria, and as such, falafel is as much a part of Jewish tradition as it is Arab tradition. In fact, I’d like to think that falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food, rather than classifying it as Jewish food or Arab food.
Basically, if you would like to go on a Birthright trip and are not Jewish, then talk to leaders of your religious community to start a trip for you. Don’t blame Jewish students for having this opportunity provided to them. Rather, if going to Israel is so important to you and you are not Jewish, find a way to make it happen.
Jordan Lichstrahl is junior majoring in business.
Parking remains problem for residents
The lack of parking spaces is inconvenient for students trying to get to class on time. When people with residence parking decals go home and come back they have nowhere to park because there are not enough spaces. Residence decals are for students who park close to the dorms but because of the lack of space, we are getting cheated out of the extra money we payed. This is s serious problem that needs to be fixed.
Natasha Smith is a freshman majoring in pre-med.
Just showing up is not enough to vote sensibly
Things like Moby’s persuading teens to vote as part of MTV’s “Choose or Lose” campaign seems like a positive version of peer pressure to get teens more involved in the political process. But is this really the strategy we should take? I do believe that teens should get more involved in the voting process, but just going to the polls is not going to cut it. That could prove more harmful than helpful. What I am suggesting is that we, as a society, take the fort in educating our youth in politics.
By educating young voters on politicians and where they stand on certain issues, we are, in a way, ensuring ourselves a better future. People in office are there to represent us, the people of the public, and how can we choose someone to represent the public when not everyone in the public cares or knows who these people are?
Those in office affect every aspect of our lives. The choices that we make today will be felt for generations to come. So Moby’s shouting out slogans to encourage teens to vote, and MTV’s airing ads stating “cool kids vote” is all well and good, but not good enough. When we go to the polls uneducated we are harming ourselves. It’s not helping anyone when you vote for the person with the nicer smile. If there are no advancements in getting today’s teens educated in politics in a way that will get them interested, then please don’t go to the polls.
Katy Kemp is a freshman majoring in education.