Letters to the Editor: Issue 21

We’ve surrendured, the terrorists have won.

Terrorism is an act, or acts, designed to frighten and stun a civilian community, to make the community quake at the spectre of an omnipresent, unspecific “other”. Yet as is always the case, while such acts committed on our native soil shock us out of our complacent laxity, it is rarely the acts themselves which create terror in the populace.

Instead it is what happens after an attack that proves far more pernicious. Canada’s response, our democratically elected government’s response, to the acts committed on our own soil nearly half a year ago are not the actions of a country declaring war, but of surrendering to our attackers.

On a scale that hasn’t been seen since “The Red Scare” an external enemy has been crafted and their vilification justified allowing for the use of repressive measures within our own nation to root out the fifth columnists lurking amongst us.

Straight out of Orwell’s 1984, Canadians are being told by the Harper government that they can’t trust anyone but them; not their neighbours, parents, friends, or children, let alone other political parties. Only Big Brother can be trusted, only Big Brother can keep us safe here in this part of Oceania!

All those “others” are on the side of the pedophiles/terrorists/Nazis/Germans/Japanese/Reds! Take your pick, for a century those words have been interchangeable here.

Big Brother Harper, after a decade in power, is finally stepping up to make the nation more secure from such threats with Bill C-51.

Although the RCMP, CSIS, and the police seem to be doing a great deal of surveillance and security work without Bill C-51 already, they too have awoken from their slumber along with the rest of us.

Now that we are awake we are force fed rhetoric, told what to think and assured that while we are safe, we need to be safer. More than mere helicopter parenting, we’ve been thrown out of our false sense of security and are being enveloped into a cocoon of perpetual anxiety without any hope of assistance.

Scholars Marcus and Whitaker (according to my Global Canada professor) said that “The security state is actually an insecurity state.” Not that we aren’t physically sound, but our government, in endeavouring to make us “safe”, has made us insecure, has made us afraid of whatever “other” is out there!

So afraid are we, we’re ready in both heart and soul give up our fundamental rights and freedoms, and view our friends and neighbours with suspicion.

When we are attacked this is what the Terrorists want, for us to be made afraid. Only it isn’t their actions, but our government’s response and rhetoric, which is designed to fan the embers of fear into an inferno of anxiety and mistrust. If Bill C-51 passes, the terrorists will have won and our government has let them.

ISIS has not created the atmosphere of fear, our government has. By responding to the terrorists in this manner, it has surrendered to them. They got what they wanted, not through their attack but through the infighting and attacks upon ourselves since then.

How many high school students reading Orwell thought they’d see the first stirring of The Revolution? I know I didn’t.

Brendan Edge

Setting the record straight
(Re: “Emotions of the silenced,” Issue 20, pg 6)

A recent article in Arthur, written by a paid OPIRG staff member, has accused the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) and the student group Trent4Israel of corruption and intimidation. It is sad to know this staff member – paid through student fees (obtained through a student levy) – is grasping at straws throughout this article, in order to continue propagating their (OPIRG Peterborough) unpopular BDS campaign.

Let’s set the record straight:

There was never a backroom deal between the TCSA and Trent4Israel. We did not force the TCSA membership to rescind the student council’s policy that supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Students did this on their own accord, as they understand BDS against Israel for what it is; an unfair policy of intolerance towards a specific segment of our student population.

We did not hatch a diabolic scheme to ensure other student groups were not advised of the meeting. In fact, our group advertised the AGM significantly, as we were encouraging students to attend and vote against BDS. If Mr. Alotaibi feels as if there was not sufficient publicity regarding the AGM, I would encourage him to follow the TCSA on any one of their many social media accounts, or periodically take a glance at one of the many postering boards around campus.

We did not threaten the staff member, nor do we know of anyone who did. We hope they contacted the police after receiving the threats and certainly hope that Arthur did not simply take their word without conducting their own research into the allegations.

If anything, the purpose of their article had two functions: First, it was a weak attempt for OPIRG to save face after the failure of their Divestment Week debacle. Second, it was an example of their continued demonization of Israel.

The sole purpose of BDS is to enhance anti-Israeli sentiment, creating an unsafe environment for Jewish and pro-Israel students. BDS against Israel, in no way, directly benefits Palestine or the Palestinian cause. It is simply another way to further the false notion of Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East – as an apartheid state. That’s why it was rescinded by the TCSA membership.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex, made worse by those who throw around erroneous terms like ‘apartheid’ and ‘pink-washing.’ The best way to understand the conflict is not through protests and motions that threaten those who support the ‘other side’; it is through the discourse of debate and discussion, done in a peaceful and respectful matter. It is quite hypocritical, that OPIRG claims to be an organization based on anti-oppression yet seeks to oppress an entire nation of people.

Furthermore, we challenge the notion that any of our information was false or untrue. We are willing to provide anyone, at any time, sources for any of the facts we presented at the TCSA AGM. Additionally, as the writer pointed out LGBT rights in their article, we ask that interested individuals do their own research into the current condition of LGBT rights in the Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip and West Bank.

We also challenge the assertion by Mr. Alotaibi that all conflict in Israel is caused solely by Israelis, and that Palestinians are simply defending themselves. The past three wars he is referring to, in respects to the Gaza Strip, were all caused by, and continued by, the terrorist government in the Gaza Strip, (Hamas), and their indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel and Israeli civilians. The reason civilian casualties are so high in the Gaza Strip are due to the inhumane use of human shields by Hamas – a tactic which they have used time and time again.

Finally, it appeared the writer was interested in having a discussion when they sent an e-mail to student groups, asking for their thoughts on the BDS rescindment. A Trent4Israel representative was included in that list and happily offered to meet with her.

Unfortunately, the offer was declined.

Clearly, the writer was not open to discussion – and instead wanted to find anyone upset about the BDS rescindment, that they could use as a pawn, to tarnish the decisive and overwhelming student vote against this disgusting BDS policy which their organization supports.

Isn’t it about time OPIRG Peterborough, and their paid staff members, begin to represent the student body (who funds them)?


Cory LeBlanc,

Article was oppressive to Jewish students
(Re: “Emotions of the silenced,” Issue 20, pg 6)

Last week, Arthur published a piece by Reba Harrison that discussed the events of the TCSA AGM on January 29, 2015. While Harrison condemns the TCSA for favoring one side of the issue – which was inaccurate, as there were three students that spoke out against the rescinding the policy – Harrison has failed to contact any of the members of Trent4Israel, nor any Jewish students on campus, to give their perspective in her article. That’s ironic, isn’t it?

So being as I, a Jewish student and an active Trent4Israel member, was not given a voice alongside the students of the TMSA and TSSA, I will now respond to every claim Harrison has made against me and my fellow pro-Israel members:

1. “According to [Alotaibi, former president of the TMAS and TSSA], neither the TMSA nor the TSSA were made aware of the meeting beforehand.” – Trent 4 Israel and the Trent Conservatives had been busy for the weeks leading up to the AGM distributing flyers on campus and sharing them on Facebook.
So, if the TMSA and TSSA were unaware of the meeting, it was not due to lack of publicity but a lack of observation on the part of these associations. Since there were over 200 students at the meeting, it was clearly a well-known and well-attended event.

2. “The minutes from the AGM do not include the Trent4Israel presentation and therefore specific instances of false facts cannot be confirmed.” – While I do not personally possess the prezi that Rebecca Hubble and Corey LeBlanc used in their presentation, Rebecca has provided Arthur with a separate email that contains all the sources that were used to back up their facts.

3. “However, during the presentation Trent4Israel did argue that Israel is a state that supports the rights of LGBTQ individuals which, according to Ryerson University professor Alan Sears is problematic.”- What exactly are these problems?

a. “[T]o take this approach is to invisibilize the Palestinian people by distracting from the other things going on in the apartheid state of Israel.” – I believe LGBTQ rights are a separate issue from Palestinian rights. However, one does not negate the other. The reality is that in Israel, the LGBTQ community does posses rights that are not available to them under Hamas rule in Gaza. It isn’t a wonder why “we do not have access to LGBTQ Palestinians to ask them if these processes feel like freedom to them,” because they do not exist in their region, they have been exterminated by Hamas.

b. “The Association for Civil Rights in Israel states that ‘in Israel, the LGBT community still faces various forms of discrimination by government authorities and in the private sector. LGBT men and women, and particularly transgender persons, also experience discrimination in employment and health services, and are often the target of verbal and physical violence.’” – Wait…I think I’ve heard this one before… Oh yeah, it’s the same issue of intolerance we face in Canada and the US today. Why is this common Western issue of equality – which we are still trying to fully integrate into society – posed as unique to Israel?

4. “At the meeting, Trent4Israel also argued that to boycott against the Israeli state is to boycott against Judaism.” – Yes, yes it is. To single out Israel as the only state that has equality problems and demonize it for its actions, which are significantly less severe than its surrounding states, towards Gaza and the Palestinians, is inherently anti-Semitic.

5. “As a Jewish person, Neumann says that he thinks that it is especially important for him to voice his concern about the Israeli apartheid. He explains that ‘to oppose the state of Israel’s government and policies is not even to be anti-Israeli, let alone anti-Jewish… To oppose a government and its policies is not to oppose the people it governs.’” – We agree with this statement. We believe in the right to critique a government for its faults. What we do not believe in is at the heart of the BDS policy: that Israel, as a Jewish state, does not have a right to exist and placing a “cultural” boycott on all academic and economic interactions with anything associated with the state.

To say that this kind of boycott is “A great way to stand up for social justice” completely ignores the horrifying reality of such a policy on a university campus. When you target a state, a religion, or any specific group – you are performing organized discrimination. As a Jewish student on this campus, I personally felt discriminated against with this kind of policy in place. Which is why Trent 4 Israel is so proud of our student body for voting to rescind this policy. As the first university in Canada to renounce it from our bylaws, we are making a statement to the academic community to stand up for equality, and not to demonize one group in favor of the other.

Atolaibi comments at the end that “It is the right of the Palestinians to defend themselves.” And guess what: it’s Israel’s right to exist that is on the line here as well. We, an institution that believes in democracy, human rights, and morality, have an obligation to defend it.

Laurenne Mandel


Canada is described as a democratic constitutional monarchy with a sovereign as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. The state, embodied in the sovereign and often referred to simply as “the Crown”, claims ownership of all the land within its geopolitical boundaries and claims sovereignty over the population within its territory. The capital and shares of the Bank of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mint are also held on behalf of Elizabeth Windsor, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.

National currency is not a benign medium of exchange or a reliable store of value. It demands economic growth but is systemically scarce, which keeps us in a collective state of perpetual debt, restrains economic activity, and leads to a shortage of paid employment.

Every dollar is “borrowed” or credited into existence as interest-bearing debt, and the interest has to be obtained from money that is also created as interest-bearing debt. Total aggregate debt, including principal and interest, is always more than the total amount of money in circulation.

Money, in the form of credit and “loans”, is created by the financial institutions. Government obtains credit from the financial institutions and then passes its debt to taxpayers, but taxes must also be paid with money that is created as interest-bearing debt. The central bank manipulates the price of credit by influencing interest rates, which influences decisions to “borrow” and spend and affects demand for goods and services. Legal tender notes and coins, which represent only a very small portion of the money circulating in the economy at any one time, are distributed to the financial institutions as tangible tokens of credit.

When new money is brought into circulation it adds more money to the economy without necessarily bringing more goods and services to the market. This can lead to currency inflation and price inflation, which erodes the value of savings.

There does seem to be an increasing level of dissatisfaction with the political and monetary systems, but there isn’t a consensus in defining or solving the problem. This poses a challenge if we expect everyone to follow the same route, but maybe a wide range of choices is part of the solution.

There are already many options available. As consumers we can select from an ever-expanding array of goods and services that are available from a variety of producers and providers, and we can customize some of our purchases. Buyers and sellers can use alternative methods and media of exchange, including mutual credit clearing, community currencies, cryptocurrencies and commodity money, and different arrangements can operate concurrently in any location to facilitate trade. We can also seek membership in different organizations and associations with diverse social, economic and political interests, and various groups can coexist in the same geographical area, often intermingling and overlapping.

Different businesses and groups could compete or collaborate to attract new customers and members, based on the quality and price of any products or services offered, including instruction, health care, protection, and dispute resolution. Autonomous groups could make their own decisions about governance. Organized communities do not need to be defined by contiguous properties, restrictive geopolitical boundaries, or exclusive territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction.

Decisions about group affiliation and the exchange or distribution of goods and services can be made without imposing one’s preferences on anyone else or forcing anyone to relocate, and without any coercive monopolies, mandatory membership, compulsory production, or imposed monetary systems. This would certainly give us more control over our activities and interactions.

Various communities, arrangements and systems can exist simultaneously in any locality for the mutual benefit of all voluntary participants, at their own risk and expense.

James Clayton

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