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COMMENTARY: Settler colonialism of Israel must be brought into question

(04/25/18 12:14am)

More and more people are participating in a phenomenal age of a greater understanding of the colonial history of much of the Western world. But, for some reason, this trade-off between ignorance and knowledge falls short when many of those same people are asked to question the settler-colonialism of the state of Israel. This recognition is not, as Scarlet Knights for Israel put it, “denial of the Jewish people’s basic right to their historical homeland” or a “double standard to the world’s only Jewish state.” It is standing up for an indigenous Palestinian population and showing people that the establishment of a Jewish state came at the expense of expelling native populations during the 1948 Nakba. The claim that “Arabs” (an overused term intended to erase Palestinian identity and delegitimize their history) and Israelis live harmoniously together in one nation, while enjoying equal rights and protection under the law, is a gross and blatant lie that erases the levels of Palestinian oppression by Israel. Palestinians in Gaza face brutal physical violence and systemic starvation of basic resources. Palestinians in the West Bank face night raids, checkpoints and segregated roads. Palestinians that hold Israeli citizenships in Israel (some of whom get deported to the West Bank to make room for settler expansion projects) face racial discrimination at every turn, even as they hold positions in the Knesset.

COMMENTARY: U. failed to respond about phasing out animal science

(04/22/18 11:34pm)

In a letter published in The Daily Targum on Feb. 20, I gave myriad reasons for phasing out “animal science,” including climate breakdown, devastation of lands, pollution of water and soil, inflation of prices for grains, which could be redirected to eradicate human hunger, rampant and irresponsible use of pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics and other chemicals, horrific abuse and exploitation of nonhuman animals, lifestyle diseases, including cancers, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and the spread of infectious diseases, including the recent deadly influenza epidemic. 

COMMENTARY: Internet plays role in current societal polarization

(04/19/18 2:31am)

Strongly-opinionated people have always clashed over what they believed was best for society. Yet, there always seemed to be a code of common decency and respect for those with opposing views. In contrast, this day and age has felt especially polarizing and divisive with it being compared to the likes of the Civil War. Some have attributed this divide to the rise of social media, which allows for the formation of echo-chambers consisting of like-minded people. Case in point, the rise of the alt-Right, which was seen as a product of the citizens' festering belief that the government no longer had its best interests in mind. In fact, it was this sense of mistrust in the bureaucratic process that ended up being a large factor in the election of President Donald J. Trump, who was viewed as the “outsider” or “people’s president.” Although, radically-conservative beliefs do not instill themselves overnight, or even over the course of the year-and-a-half 2016 presidential campaign. They are passed down from generation to generation and/or shaped by one’s life experiences as well as by who one surrounds oneself with. 

COMMENTARY: Excuses must stop being made for human rights violations

(04/05/18 11:20pm)

On March 30, thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip participated in a “March of Return” declaring the right, recognized by international law, of refugees to return to their homes following displacement. In the case of Palestinian refugees, there were most notably approximately 700,000 displaced in 1948 with the establishment of the settler-colonial state of Israel in what is known as the Nakba, with an additional 300,000 displaced Palestinians in 1967 during the Six-Day War. These figures fail to consider Palestinians who were made refugees over the course of the past 70 years as a result of bombing campaigns on civilian populations or the Palestinians driven to other countries due to the everyday hardships under Israeli occupation, such as evictions, disproportionate arrests, segregated roads, checkpoints and what the Israeli Security Barrier dubbed the Apartheid Wall.

COMMENTARY: Gender roles are all too prevalent in schools settings

(02/19/18 12:29am)

In college classrooms, gender roles are all too clear. My newfound frustration stems from my recent epiphany that even in my majority-female environmental policy classes, the voices that dominate the classroom are usually male. I have noticed that male students are more likely to call out without raising their hands, or offer examples and anecdotes that are not entirely relevant. To me, class participation is a sort of calculated performance. I rehearse what I am going to say, plan out my sentence and polish each word. If it does not add any value, I do not bother. Before I raise my hand, I think a lot about the words that are about to come out of my mouth. Is this stupid? Is my professor going to judge me? Am I wasting everyone’s time? In other instances, even when the time is right, I convince myself otherwise. My professor once asked toward the end of the lecture, “Does anyone have questions or comments?” A few male students raised their hands. My professor answered each question comprehensively. Suddenly, a question popped into my mind, and I almost raised my hand. But, I decided it was at the very end of class, approximately 7 p.m., and I did not want to waste anyone’s time. I figured I could look it up if I really wanted to know. After talking with some friends, I realized I am not entirely alone. This phenomenon of self-doubt extends into conferences, meetings and work environments. A recent study found that women ask fewer questions than men at conference talks. At an international conservation biology conference, male scientists asked on average 1.8 questions for every one question asked by a female scientist, even when females made up 40 percent to 75 percent of the audience.  

COMMENTARY: Ending drug addict stigmas can save lives

(02/13/18 2:22am)

With the addiction epidemic being a frequent topic in the news, I am constantly reminded of my past. My best friend, Gabe, died from an accidental drug overdose from painkillers a few years ago. We had been friends since I was 2 years old. How can drug abuse be prevented? We need to stop focusing on drugs as an abstraction and start teaching kids real and personal stories about drug use, and what to do when they learn that someone they know or care about is experimenting with drugs.

COMMENTARY: Rutgers administration over reliant on surveys

(02/07/18 12:54am)

Most faculty and students agree that students should have the opportunity to convey their thoughts and opinions about the courses they take and the instruction they receive. But, the recent article in The Daily Targum glosses over substantial concerns with regard to the validity, fairness and harmful consequences of student evaluation surveys. Here at Rutgers, there are few mechanisms for encouraging or requiring student response to on-line surveys. As a result, response rates in some courses can be extremely low, resulting in statistically invalid results. 

COMMENTARY: Diversity may be more divisive than unifying

(01/31/18 12:09am)

It is often said that if one hears a lie long enough, they begin to believe it. This dictum clearly applies to the concept of diversity. In an almost Orwellian fashion, phrases like “diversity is our strength” are constantly repeated by educators, politicians and the media (namely, of course, CNN). Individuals who dare question ethnic and cultural diversity are cast out as racists and bigots (terms that have taken on an almost transcendent and evil connotation, much like the words heretic and blasphemer). The unfortunate reality is that there is no evidence that ethnic or cultural diversity is a force for good. In fact, diversity seems to be a net negative on society. 

COMMENTARY: Sommers might be able to save feminism

(12/06/17 2:17am)

The feminist movement has grown since its birth, for better and worse. From its inception at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, feminism has made tremendous strides towards egalitarian respect for women. Today, feminist ideals bleed into every facet of mainstream culture, from international social media campaigns to the prospect of having a first female president. With all this progress, a question still remains: Has modern, third-wave feminism accomplished its goal of gaining autonomy for women and empowering them? Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at a conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, summarizes modern campus feminism as "'fainting couch feminism’, which views women as fragile and easily traumatized. It calls for special protections for women ... because it views women as an oppressed and silenced class."

COMMENTARY: U. president disrespected campus workers in Town Hall

(11/30/17 2:35am)

Certainly, with the time of giving thanks just passing, we all ought not to overlook Rutgers workers in our expressions of gratitude. It should be obvious to any member of the Rutgers community the extent to which the University relies on its faculty and staff for its quotidian functions. The services on which Rutgers, as an institution, relies are provided by a host of University employees, employees who too often remain invisible to and under-appreciated by the community at large. 

COMMENTARY: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will hurt U. students

(11/29/17 3:26am)

Last week, the House of Representatives quietly voted to send thousands of Rutgers students into poverty. Entitled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the plan will both raise taxes on graduate students — in some cases tripling or quadrupling them — and force many of us to quit our jobs. As an English Ph.D. student, I can appreciate the ironic wordplay, even as I deplore the results. 

COMMENTARY: Food chains’ use of antibiotics in meat has consequences

(11/20/17 2:29am)

Much of modern medicine is built on the foundation of antibiotics. Organ transplants and other major surgeries are much less risky when antibiotics are available to treat any infections that may arise during recovery. Cancer treatments that often reduce the effectiveness of an individual’s immune system would be significantly riskier or non existent without antibiotics. Antibiotics are relied on by much of the medical world, which is why it is hard to believe that antibiotics might one day stop working. 

COMMENTARY: U. must take action against Chikindas, Adi

(11/17/17 2:27am)

Rutgers University is supposed to be a safe and encouraging environment for students to learn about their passions. A large component to this goal is the faculty employed at the University. Over the past several weeks, it has been revealed that several members of the Rutgers faculty have backgrounds and hold beliefs that are antithetical to the ideals that we have as a University. Professor Michael Chikindas posted blatantly anti-Semitic and homophobic posts online and now we know that Professor Mazen Adi worked for the Assad regime in Syria. While working there, he engaged in horrific activity that should not be present at our school. We question the University’s decision to hire Adi in the first place, why both professors are still employed here and the lack of response that the University has given regarding their conducts.

COMMENTARY: Administration should be neutral on DACA

(11/06/17 2:08am)

In September, President Donald J. Trump’s announcement to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that would allow undocumented immigrants “who came to the United States as children and (met) several guidelines (to) request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal,” startled the Rutgers community. Chancellor Debasish Dutta and President Robert L. Barchi, in wake of his decision, sent out several emails to all Rutgers students condemning the president’s actions on Sept. 5. In the emails, both the chancellor and the president actively encouraged Rutgers students to support an amended version of the BRIDGE Act that will allow an extended stay for those protected by DACA, providing links that will generate a letter to be sent to the writer’s respective house representative and senator. As officials of a publicly funded university, their statements were inappropriate and partisan. Before I begin, I do not agree with Trump’s suggestion to overthrow DACA. While the United States should have stronger immigration policies, punishing the sons and daughters of illegal immigrants does little to remedy the problem. Many of them came to the United States without a say and do not deserve to be deported due to the actions of their parents. It is needlessly cruel and seems to be an attempt for Trump to flex his political prowess on his Democratic opponents.

COMMENTARY: Jewish students at Rutgers are banding together for justice

(10/31/17 3:30am)

On Oct. 23, Rutgers microbiology Professor Michael Chikindas’s Facebook page was revealed to be full of discriminatory posts. He shared various anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist images, including posts referring to women, such as Israeli members of Parliament Ayelet Shaked and Miri Regev, First Lady Melania Trump and her stepdaughter Ivanka Trump as “b**ches” or “sl*ts.” As Jewish students of Rutgers—New Brunswick, we are deeply concerned regarding Chikindas’s public attacks against Jews, the LGBT community, women and the Israeli people.