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Editor’s column misleading

(03/13/13 4:00am)

There was a full-page advertisement in The Daily Targum last Tuesday about “Faces of Islamic Apartheid.” It received tons of negative feedback, and rightly so. Just about every op-ed published since has responded to the ad, and I agreed with most of them — until I saw Thursday’s “Religion will not be latest collateral damage” column. There is a difference between stating one’s opinion as just that — an opinion — and stating one’s opinion as fact. For example: “The real IAW is a national campaign to draw awareness to the internationally illegal transgressions of the Israeli government — a political conflict that has nothing to do with religion.”

Editorial raises concerns about bigger issues

(03/13/13 4:00am)

Rape on college campuses is a problem that has terrifying statistics, a problem that has been in existence for far too long. When reading the March 12 editorial “College sexual assault is real,” I found myself sickened by how Princeton University has handled the information they discovered through their survey — yet also unsurprised. Being a rape victim on campus is something that seems like a “don’t ask, don’t tell” topic for many schools. Cases of colleges trying to silence victims have been happening in the past and present, even going so far as condemning victims for violating “honor codes” by reporting their rapes. When this is happening, what’s hiding a survey’s results to a school?

Ad uses politics to target religion

(03/07/13 5:00am)

The Daily Targum published an ad titled “Faces of Islamic Apartheid,” paid for by David Horowitz, is not only racist propaganda but also the epitome of demagogy and Islamophobia. To add insult to injury, it also makes a mockery out the true horror that is apartheid. In the ad, the term is thrown around does not make any sense in context, as cherry-picked photos of victims of violence and abuse from all nations, backgrounds and genders are used to decorate a page of hate. Had the people who placed this ad read the first thing about Islam, they would know that it condemns such acts of violence and that these instances stem from cultural, not religious, beliefs. Furthermore, it truly upsets me that the Targum would publish such an ad without realizing the hate speech it promotes. It essentially generalizes an entire group of nearly 2 billion — and counting — people, as being participants in apartheid.

Campus needs understanding not hate

(03/06/13 5:00am)

We thought we saw the worst of anti-Islam ads when the ones in the New York Subway went up, but even those have been trumped by the one put up in The Daily Targum on March 5th. I’m sure every Muslim on campus shares this very sentiment. However, the distress we feel takes on a new dimension when we come to our institution of learning, one that is supposed to represent open minds, and are faced with this.

Targum should not advocate Islamophobia

(03/06/13 5:00am)

Ever since the tragic events of Sept. 11, Muslims all across America have been attacked. What people need to realize is that the terrorism that occurs across the world has nothing to do with Islam. In fact, Islam forbids any acts of violence, including suicide bombing and terrorism. The truth is that most of the people who speak so openly about the religion of Islam do not even know what it is they oppose. Such a phobia is irrational in its very existence, but what makes yesterday’s ad in The Daily Targum even more revolting was the fact that Islamophobia was advocated in our University, a university I’ve always felt at home at.

Satire requires a bigger message

(03/01/13 5:00am)

I liked where this article was going until I reached the conclusion. You had two different directions you could have gone in, and I have to say dear Targum, you dropped the ball — and you completely missed the point. This is not about not being able to swallow a “joke.” This is not about the proposed superiority that you suggest of the greek community. In fact, this isn’t about the greek community at all. This is about the irresponsibility of the media and its effect on social commentary. The Medium is a satirical newspaper — and yes, as you said, it is meant to “indiscriminately offend,” but this didn’t do that. Satire is supposed to surface society’s shortcomings and follies — it’s supposed to provide a constructive societal critique through literary devices such as irony and sarcasm. The Medium’s article was vacant of this. There is a distinct difference between writing something that is provocative and smart verses something that lacks taste and is just outright nasty and malicious — in case you were wondering, The Medium’s article falls under the latter. In their article, The Medium wasn’t just making fun of sorority girls — they were creating a commentary on women’s bodies and perpetuating this idea that there is some kind of standard or model that women need to adhere to in order to fit in or, in this case, to avoid being the punch line of some poorly written and tactless piece of “journalism.” They were reinforcing the negative. Where is the constructive social criticism in that? Where’s the humor? If nothing else, I think The Medium needs to do some self-reflecting and reframe their conception of “satire,” because they clearly have been heading in the wrong direction for quite some time now.

Creationism criticism shows double standard

(02/22/13 5:00am)

As I picked up The Daily Targum on Wednesday, the top of the front page caught my eye, “Evolution Exists,” a response to Monday’s column “Creationism has Merit.” Instead of finding an educated stance on the subject at hand, I found an article that was scathing and demeaning in nature. The article took a stance of exalting the theory of evolution at the expense of painting creationism as a silly child’s myth that I’m sure not only insulted myself, but several others as well. As this thought crossed my mind, another followed: the criticism of creationism, or anything to do with the three Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, is more often than not considered socially acceptable, whereas any remarks made by followers are quickly struck down and deemed as ignorant and anti-progressive. This double standard that I’ve noticed over the course of time has infuriated and frustrated me. Under no circumstance is it acceptable to be able to criticize a group of people and their beliefs while at the same time, disregard any commentary made by said groups. It has become the social norm to acquire this condescending stance, claiming that religions of old retard human advancement and contribute to the decline of civilization. Not only is practice socially condemnable, but factually misinformed. Many religious organizations have contributed to great feats of human history. The great Library of Alexandria was first and foremost a religious seminary for the Coptic Orthodox Church, and is also regarded as the world’s first university with thousands of people across the known world of the time attended for educational advancement in the studies of mathematics, the sciences, philosophies, and literature. The Islamic religion gave birth to magnificent works of architecture, artwork, and astrology, as seen in the mosques across northern Africa and southern Spain. Members of the Jewish faith have contributed to discoveries in physics and medicine, including the vaccination of polio, insulin, and aspirin battled bodily pains. The author of Wednesday’s letter closed with “Let the darkness of the past give way to the light of the future.” I will echo these words, except as a plea to leave the derogatory comments of others with dissimilar beliefs in the past, and acceptance and fellowship in the future. It is this type of commentary that holds humanity back in darkness, and not holding a specific belief.

Creationism has no merit

(02/20/13 5:00am)

I was shocked at the mental gymnastics in Monday’s column in The Daily Targum titled, “Creationism has merit.” I expected a scathing critique of creationism — the debates between scientific fact and religious imagination and how reality will triumph over faith and illusion. I thought the merit of creationism was simply that it presents us with a sober reminder that regardless of our preconceived notions of the way the world works, empirical evidence coupled with observable and testable data will always paint a more accurate picture of reality. Instead, what I read was this: “God’s existence, after all, is the best explanation for any supernatural phenomenon that might exist.”

Stick to logic in scientific discourse

(02/19/13 5:00am)

The author of yesterday’s column titled “Creationism has merit” shared with Targum readers his personal belief that God, not a natural process of evolution, created human beings and other living things. His argument is plainly stated that God exists — and given that God exists, one can find evidence that life was created by God. It is important for the University students and scholars of all kinds to understand that this argument is a simple example of circular reasoning. The author’s religiously driven argument does not remotely count as critical thinking, let alone a presentation of a testable scientific idea. His is an argument that is rejected on a daily basis by all scientists — those who believe in God and those who do not. Science is a process of developing ideas about natural processes and then finding ways to test those ideas, with data and experiment. To suppose you know the answer ahead of time, for whatever reason, is to simply reject the scientific process. Everyone should know this.

Consider goal of TA Project

(02/11/13 5:00am)

I would like to respond to the “Teaching assistants weigh in on experiences” article published in the Daily Targum on February 6. I appreciate that the author would endeavor to write an article about TAs at Rutgers, but I was hoping for an article with a broader and more balanced perspective when he asked if he could sit in on my workshop. Unfortunately, I think the workshop — and in particular, the case studies and anecdotes — seem to have become the focus of this piece, and the larger perspective was obfuscated, making it hard to see the proverbial forest, for all the trees.

American culture is not dead

(11/28/12 5:00am)

The Lord knows the author of yesterday’s column titled “Patriotism does not equal nationalism” is not complaining when he suggests American culture in these end-of-days is defined by its greed, nationalism, and nothing else. But this suggestion really speaks more to the author’s worldview than it does to the actual state of culture in America. I have no doubt that the citizens of this most culturally diverse country of the United States, and the students of its flagship university, would beg the same difference. I am admittedly curious to know who have become the tyrants and persecutors, because I have seen a number of demonstrations on campus recently. They have been loud at times, and they have been wrong on some points, and you can count on one hand the other countries in which they could have taken place peacefully and unhindered. If the author is looking toward the politicians of this country as the standard bearers of its culture, well then therein lies the problem. And if the author cannot see the forest for the trees in his own backyard, then I would suggest he take a pilgrimage in February to the birthplace of American music — New Orleans. He could see what a Second Line is all about, not to mention Mardi Gras. I am compelled to say that one has not experienced American culture until one has danced along in a New Orleans street parade — but whether it’s sounds from the brass band in that world removed from worlds, or in a more local community festival, the heartbeat of America resonates. The culture is not dead, Tom, and we are too young to be feeling so defeated.

Balance of power, blame falls on Israel

(11/19/12 5:00am)

The Gaza Strip is 4 to 8 miles wide and 25 miles long, and 1.7 million people reside there. What comes into question first is not whether Gaza deserves the assault, but how Israel expects to respond to rocket fire with their artillery, and avoid heavy collateral damage at the same time. Among the newly deceased are a 3-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, which would be tragic enough if Ahmed Jabari, leader of Hamas’ military wing, was indeed involved in planning terrorist attacks at the time of his death. However, this is not the case. In fact, hours before his sudden assassination, he had received a draft for a permanent truce with Israel.

Pro-Palestine column one-sided

(11/16/12 5:00am)

I am writing in response to the article “Israel must act responsibly.” Surprise surprise, facts misrepresented again. I, myself, have traveled to Israel five times. On my last trip I was assigned a project — to speak with random Israeli citizens in Tel Aviv and ask what their futures hold. The majority had the same consensus. They explained how unlike other people, Israelis do not live planning their futures, but instead merely hope they have a chance for a future. They constantly have to deal with the reality of the threat of elimination. They must ensure their survival, safety, future of their country as well as the stability of the region. I can agree with the author on one thing, however — it is not an even playing field. Israel, which is about the size of the state of New Jersey, is the only Jewish homeland in the world. What surrounds it, what taunts the country’s existence daily, are 22 Arab states. So yes, the author is right, the playing field is not even in the slightest.