Palestinian struggle not unique on larger scale of political oppression

Ian Grogan

Letter to the editor

Dear Editor:

The Arab-Israeli conflict is a complex dispute that people want to see in a simplistic way. A perfect example of this was in Thursday’s Letters to the Editor in which Murad Assaad, in an astonishing display of hyperbole, called the Palestinians “the most oppressed and terrorized people on earth.”

This is news to the people of Darfur, where an anti-Zionist government has killed 400,000 people, according to the latest United Nations figures. This is news to the people of North Korea, where disabled babies are killed after birth and non-violent political prisoners are being tortured. This is news to the people of Tibet, whose self-determination and freedom of religion are denied by a government that received more business from U.S. companies (including Starbucks) than Israel.

There are many oppressed people in this world. To exaggerate the situation of the Palestinians and to ignore the others is inexcusable, especially when you misrepresent the situation. First, Assaad fails to read the United Nation’s report, available at, which said Israel had let food and supplies in through the Erez crossing. The same report says people can’t get water because of a strike among Palestinian water workers, not because of Israel (or Starbucks for that matter). Second, curfew is not punishable by death and only applies to Palestinian cities where terrorist attacks come from. Third, the tactic of bulldozing Palestinian houses is used only when the owner of the house encouraged suicide bombing or the house has weapons-smuggling tunnels. Fourth, while much of the United States’ aid to Israel is in loans, the aid the Palestinian Authority got from the U.S. ($20 million in 2004 alone) does not get paid back. Finally, Assaad failed to mention Hamas’ takeover and the continuing rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.

That being said, I have no control over Assaad’s money, and he can spend it wherever he chooses. I would simply like to ask him a question. Assaad: Along with boycotting Starbucks for its owner’s donations to Israeli charities, are you also boycotting any and all companies doing business with the People’s Republic of China? China’s government routinely denies freedom of religion, arrests non-violent dissidents and (according to Amnesty International) provides aid and arms to the genocidal government of Sudan. For you to boycott companies giving money to the Middle East’s only liberal democracy and then spend your hard-earned dollars supporting China would be hypocrisy in the highest. If, however, you have never bought anything that says “Made in China” on it, then you are a better man than I.

Ian Grogan

Junior paralegal studies major