TCSA fumbled the ball by rescinding Israel divestment policy

On January 29, the Trent Central Students Association (TCSA) held its annual general meeting of the membership and voted to rescind its “Boycott and Divestment from Israel Apartheid” policy.

This caught me off guard when I read the headline in Arthur, as I did not expect for our student union to backpedal on its ethical decision making.

In its attempt to change the TCSA policy, the student lobby group Trent4Israel has argued that we as a student body should not recognize the current situation in Israel and Palestine as an apartheid.

This then begs the question of what do we call the current segregation and subjugation of racial/religious groups in Israel at the moment. Surely they do not mean to suggest that there is no form of ghettoization of Palestinian space going on in Israel or that the Israeli government is treating the Palestinians with anything that approaches dignity. That, fellow readers, is the current situation of things and there is no argument to be made otherwise.

However, it seems that Trent4Israel would tell you that this does not qualify Israel as a government practicing apartheid policy and to say that that it is would be to offend those who lived through the apartheid in South Africa not so very long ago. I would conclude otherwise and say that it is even more offensive to those who have suffered to not recognize the tragedies of history when they rear their ugly heads again.

Another argument made by Trent4Israel is that the original TCSA boycott was founded on anti-Semitic principles. This seems absurd. This is not an issue where the basis of the argument hinges on race or religion but on ethics. We, as an active and aware campus, cannot just ignore the fact that the Palestinian people are being put into segregation and are not allowed the freedom to prosper as every human should be guaranteed.

Trent4Israel also makes the completely valid point that human rights issues are occurring in many places around the globe. However, this argument falls short by saying that Israel is being singled out and persecuted while others go unnoticed by the western world.

To that I say: awareness is the first step to solving these issues but not the last. We must stand up to all those that do wrong onto others whether it is Israel, Saudi Arabia, which was mentioned in the article, or Russia. For example, many Canadians were very vocal about Russia’s policy dealing with homosexual peoples during the Sochi Olympic games.

That is why I will say that I am fully in support of the old boycott of Israel that the TCSA has retracted from. Afraid of being falsely labeled as being anti-Semitic the TCSA has stepped down from their moral convictions. I cannot, however, sit and do nothing while our student government fumbles the ball on such an important issue.

Thanks,

Brandon Takeda

Peterborough needs more compassionate infrastructure

Have you ever been so unwell or exhausted that all you wanted to do was fall into bed and sleep?

One life-long resident of this city experiences this feeling every day around 6:00 pm, yet there is no bed accessible to him till 8:30 pm when the Warming Room opens, so he has to force himself to trudge around for two hours in the cold streets.

Recently more and more often he has resorted to lying down on the ground or a park bench.  Were it not for the kindness and diligence of the Peterborough Police, who find him and drive him to the Warming Room, he would probably have died of hypothermia.

He is a polite helpful man who shares the little he has.  Because he uses alcohol to relieve his misery he can’t qualify for our local shelters which are “dry” and somehow he has never been selected for the supportive housing units that become available.

Recently I had the privilege of visiting a Native reserve near James Bay.  When local officials were asked why there were no visible homeless people they replied simply “We look after our own.”  The Municipal government has built attractive rent-geared-to-income log cabins to house local elders.

Our city needs more supportive housing and a “Wet Shelter” where people who drink – often to relieve memories of past trauma and tragedy we can’t even imagine – can spend their later years in modest comfort and dignity.

Is it really too much to ask that they should have a bed and pillow and the freedom to lie down and sleep whenever they are tired, depressed, or unwell? Or should we just stand by and watch till the cold, dampness, and effects of long-term exposure bring permanent release, and another frozen body is found on a city bench?

Sincerely,

Carol Winter