Letters to the editor: Nov. 30

Ranked voting elections will solve problems abroad

Your Nov. 27 editorial dovetails perfectly with Baruch Nutovic’s op-ed, “The hope for a lasting peace.”

A decade ago this fall, a group of now-graduated students who met in a political science class were outraged by U.S. election failures and organized for Berkeley to demonstrate a better way: instant-runoff voting, or IRV. Their hope was to inspire national and worldwide election modernization for better government. Now Berkeley student activists are ideal messengers to inform the outside world how Berkeley’s election modernization to IRV resulted in better government that does not empower extremists and would not perpetuate wars.

In Israel and Palestine, the reality is that their outdated election system — proportionally elected parliament — is making things worse. Voters vote, but they are not really EMPOWERED. Instead of direct and district representation with IRV that elects policy-minded moderates, the parliament system often results in divided government dominated by one-issue extremists such as Hamas. Wars in modern time including World War I and II involve nations “governed” by parliament-elected government, including the current unrest in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ranked voting general elections will also solve the problems caused by the two-party system, and Cal activists will greatly help improve the world by learning the benefits of ranked voting and informing the world about Berkeley’s better election system. Searching for “Instant Runoff Voting” and the open forum Peace.4Cal.org have more info.

— Sennet Williams,
1992 Haas School of Business graduate

Writer should have been transparent about involvement
We were perturbed upon reading Baruch Nutovic’s op-ed, “The hope for a lasting peace.” The problem does not lie with the author’s political stance itself. Rather, the problem is that this student has received a Hasbara fellowship and that his status was not disclosed.

Hasbara is an Israeli government-sponsored propaganda vehicle that funds students to deliver pro-Israel messages across North American campuses, with a special emphasis on getting Hasbara Fellows into leadership positions in the media and in student government.

Hasbara generously subsidized expensive flights to Israel for more than 1,000 fellows in this last year alone. There, students meet members of the Israeli government and “undergo a ‘practical activism’ curriculum,” developing strategic tools to communicate effectively about Israel” including: “how to … build important relationships with student leaders and administration” and develop “media and marketing skills.” Hasbara Fellows are required to pay a $250 deposit that they only receive back if they successfully complete a contractual obligation to perform “two semesters of dedicated Israel activism on campus as a Hasbara Fellow.”

Under the resources tab on Hasbara’s website, there is listed an Islamophobic film titled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” a film that has been endorsed by Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.This does not appear to be a grassroots organization dedicated to making peace but an organization dedicated to spreading Islamophobic and racist propaganda. Baruch is anything but representative of an entire community of Jewish students — he is one of just a few Hasbara fellows on campus.

Baruch’s participation in such an organization is his right. It is also his right to express whatever he sees fit in our student newspaper. However, readers in the U.S. — who have the expectation that our press is not the mouthpiece of any state — deserve to know when an op-ed writer is state-sponsored.

Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened. The Daily Californian’s Noah Ickowitz wrote an article, “Tyranny of the majority, UCSA style,” criticizing the UCSA resolution on divestment. Since then, however, Ickowitz stated in his blog post, “In the interest of transparency,” that he had previously associated with Hasbara. Since Ickowitz made an effort to disclose his status, it seems dishonest for a Hasbara Fellow writing for the Daily Cal not to state this affiliation.

Baruch is correct to say that peace is long overdue — but it can only come about when Israel and its supporters comply with international law, end the illegal occupation and apartheid and stop the brutalization of the Palestinian people. We believe Baruch’s article is nothing other than an attempt at engineering a mobilization of students under the false pretense that this is a Jewish identity issue. Supporters of divestment include Jewish Voice for Peace and M.E.Ch.A., among many others. We remind all students that this is a human rights issue, not an identity issue.

Standards of ethical journalism behoove the Daily Cal to issue a public apology in the paper for not disclosing this invaluable information to its readers and ensure that this lack of transparency does not continue.

— Taliah Mirmalek,
UC Berkeley student;
Sharee Rivera,
Berkeley City College student

Contact the opinion desk at [email protected]

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Calipenguin

    Taliah Mirmalek above complains about transparency but does not reveal that she is a devout Muslim woman, probably Persian, who wears a hijab. She claims that divestment is a human rights issue and not identity issue, but she dwells on the identity of Jewish writers and conveniently leaves out her own affiliation with Muslim advocacy groups at Berkeley and Contra Costa County. What does Taliah wearing a hijab have to do with the debate? Nothing… and everything! What one wears should be irrelevant for an opinion article. But Muslim women who willingly submit to the patriarchal Muslim sharia laws may not necessarily be representative of the general Cal student body when it comes to debates regarding Israel. In fact, in my personal opinion, a woman wearing a hijab is more likely to be anti-Israeli than a Hasbara Fellow is to be Islamaphobic. She can claim Israel is directing Baruch Nutovic’s words, but then he might claim that her imam is directing her words. Now, is she right about transparency? Should the DC reveal all the political and religious affiliations of all its writers? I don’t think so. We should listen to ideas, weigh them on their merits, and reach our own conclusions. If someone is a representative of their organization then by all means we can criticize the organization as well. However, I saw nothing in Baruch Nutovic’s op-ed that seemed like Israeli government propaganda so Taliah is just trying to assign guilt by association.

    • Guest

      Wow, it seems as if Taliah has an online stalker.

      “In fact, in my personal opinion, a woman wearing a hijab is more
      likely to be anti-Israeli than a Hasbara Fellow is to be Islamaphobic.”

      Spoken like a true Islamaphobe.

      • Calipenguin

        How does it feel to be a Judeophobe? Notice that I did not accuse Taliah of being anti-Semitic, just anti-Israeli. For all I know she has many Jewish friends in SJP and JVP. It doesn’t matter. If she can use Baruch’s association to undermine his opinions, then I can use her association to undermine her opinions. I don’t want to do so though because then there’s no real debate, just accusations of membership in associations.

        • Guest

          How did you get all that information on her? Google her? Facebook stalk her? I’d be very creeped out if I were her.

          • Calipenguin

            I find it amusing that so many commenters are concerned about Taliah’s privacy yet never questioned how she managed to Google so much information about Baruch Nutovic. Isn’t that somewhat creepy as well? She digs into his past, accuses him of being an Islamaphobe because a tab on a web page of an Israeli program he attended contains a link to a video he may or may not have seen that criticizes Muslims, and then wants us to believe she is just an average Cal student with no axe to grind? Well, if he is guilty of partisanship because of that tenuous link (pun intended) then she is equally guilty because of her hijab. Sounds ridiculous? Of course it is. I intended it to be ridiculous to point out Taliah’s own ridiculous accusations.

          • listen

            Calipenguin, your “clever” argument has a flaw. First, the ridiculous paralells you make to break down Talia’s argument are Islamophobic, disrespectful of a religion (an Abrahamic one like Judaism), assumptive and incorrect.

            “I would argue that her hijab proves one of two things. It could mean that she is a victim of an oppressive misogynist religion that forces its women to hide behind veils. Or it could mean she is a fiercely independent woman who is proud of her Muslim heritage and would wear a hijab even if Berkeley emulates France and bans hijabs. Either way she would have a motive to write propaganda against Israel.”
            “In fact, in my personal opinion, a woman wearing a hijab is more likely to be anti-Israeli than a Hasbara Fellow is to be Islamaphobic.”

            You say such things to point out that what you’re saying is..ridiculous, in order to prove that what Talia is writing is ridiculous? However, Talia does not attack Jewish people, or even Israeli people. She is criticizing the Israeli government and supporters of the apartheid and human rights violations that are going on in the region. Notice, though that she does not write about Nutovic’s Jewish identity. Yet, you use Talia’s Muslim identity to assume an array of incorrect assumptions about her. Just because you see a physical expression of her faith, the hijab, does not mean you are also able to see the internal workings of her mind or heart. By seeing a women wearing the hijab, you do not know where she stands in any matter besides her piety to God.

            There are plenty of Jewish individuals who do not support how the Israeli government is operating so do not make this a Jewish-Muslim issue. That’s not what this is about but it has been the propaganda surrounding this issue for too long of a time. Also, when you are speaking of Hamas sending rockets, you have to acknowledge the place of power Israel is at technologically with their warfare. Israel has much more advanced weaponry as well as the famous Iron Dome. So the rockets from Hamas did not nearly affect Israel or Israelis as much as the rockets from Israel hurt the Palestinian civilians including women and children.

            All of that being said, my opinions are not cemented in absolutes like yours [“Historically Arabs are 100% to blame in Gaza”] because that takes away the ability for peace talks. You are closing the bridge for communication when you speak in such absolutes. Also, your jabs at the Islamic faith for the “sake of your argument” are unnecessary and ignorant on your part.

            The point of this article is not to offend someone’s faith or individual way of life. It is to criticize and motivate thought about a regime that is acting inhumanely and unjustly. I ask for readers, to set their passions aside when reading something that is requires logic, rationality, and a sound mind that has the ability to hear both and all sides of the argument.

          • Guest

            “The point of this article is not to offend someone’s faith or individual
            way of life. It is to criticize and motivate thought about a regime
            that is acting inhumanely and unjustly.”

            You sound like you’re one of the authors of this good opinion piece. You’re probably the community college student Sharee Rivera, who writes pretty damn well.

            You’ve just owned Calipenguin by showing his putdowns of community college students as not writing well are completely wrong.

          • listen

            No, I’m not Sharee Rivera but I am a transfer student. Thank you.

          • Dan Spitzer

            Guest, you must be an Ethnic Studies or Middle East Studies major. “Students” in those departments either don’t know how or are too stupid or lazy to do research as is regularly evidenced by the ignorant twaddle in which they speak and write.

            To learn someone’s biases, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding such bigotry via a Google or Facebook search. And of course, from the writings of Mirmalek and Rivera, we know they are both ignorant and anti-Semitic, so it’s not inappropriate to search out the origin of these feces.

        • Guest

          SJP has Jewish Israeli students in it who believe this article was well written. Mirmalek’s affiliations don’t provide her with financial incentives, and she does not work with foreign government sponsored propaganda machines. She is a human rights activist. Also, the focus on Mirmalek is obviously racially charged. Why not on Rivera? — oh, because she has a European last name not associated with Islam. These comments are racist and Islamophobic. Stop targeting Muslim students.

          • Calipenguin

            @Guest If you speak for SJP then please disclose whether those Jewish Israeli students in SJP condone Hamas rockets killing Israeli civilians or not. But first let’s see what motivates Taliah. I would argue that her hijab proves one of two things. It could mean that she is a victim of an oppressive misogynist religion that forces its women to hide behind veils. Or it could mean she is a fiercely independent woman who is proud of her Muslim heritage and would wear a hijab even if Berkeley emulates France and bans hijabs. Either way she would have a motive to write propaganda against Israel. But that’s too much to assume from her Muslim associations, which is why I argue that she assumes too much just from Baruch’s Jewish associations.

            You also ask why not Rivera. That’s because she is not a Cal student so I don’t really care what she thinks.

          • Guest

            “Besides, the original letter was written so well that I doubt it came from a community college student.”

            Wow, your buddies Tony M and Stan De San Diego started out in community college before coming to Cal? Why are you being so mean to community college students? I’m sure Tony M and Stan De San Diego were gifted in writing while they were still in community college.

      • Anon

        Thats not okay. In fact it is really creepy. Making an argument without trying to google search the writer. Wearing a hijab does not form certain muslims beliefs. I would include my name in this comment but im afraid you will facebook stalk me and make fake accusations because of what you believe is my opinions based on my name and what I wear.

  • Dan Spitzer

    Ah, the old canard of “Jewish Conspiracy” is raised once again by Mirmalek and Rivera. We see the pro-Palestinian minion dust that off regularly these days.

    Just because Barouh and Ickowitz toured Israel under the auspices of Hasbara, as hundreds have, doesn’t mean that they don’t think for themselves and their individuality is reflected in their intelligent respective analyses.

    If you want lockstep thinking, just look at the scribbling and pronouncements of SJP and MSU members and you will find them very much in robotic lockstep.

    It’s sad that non-combatant Palestinians in densely populated Gaza (where they apparently don’t practice much birth control) live in and around sites from which Hamas and Islamic Jihad fire rockets toward Israeli towns and cities. These missiles are meant to kill Israeli civilians, while Israeli defensive fire is aimed at Hamas and Islamic Jihad thugs who are showing rockets not at the Israeli military but rather, at children and other innocents.

    If anyone owes Daily Cal readers an apology, it is the likes of Mirmalek and Rivera for regenerating the old “Jewish Conspiracy” anti-Semitic nonsense. Of course, this smacks of the best seller still so widely praised and read by Palestinians and throughout the Arab world, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” That rubbish is doubtless a favorite of Mirmalek, Rivera and their SJP pals.

    • Guest

      Dan, do you hate Palestinians?

      • Dan Spitzer

        I loath people who elect those pledged to genocide, such as Hamas openly does.

        Apparently, the pro-Palestinian minion doesn’t share my antipathy for those pledged to the liquidation of Jews. By extension, they too advocate such despicable intent and are thus hardly worthy of respect–quite the contrary.

        • Guest

          Don’t you think the Israelis should share some of the blame?

          Do you think the Israelis are 100% correct and the Palestinians 100% incorrect?

          • Calipenguin

            Historically Arabs are 100% to blame in Gaza. This piece of land had always been part of Israel or Mandate of Palestine. Egypt illegally occupied this land in 1948 without any international authority. The Egyptian Muslims Brotherhood drove out the Gaza Jews and proceeded to launch terrorist attacks against Israel since 1948. During the Oslo peace accords Israel gave the Palestinian Authority jurisdiction over Gaza, but then Hamas kicked out the Palestinian Authority in a civil war and now it runs Gaza.

            The current Gaza missile war was also 100% the fault of the Palestinians. A Palestinian terrorist group known as the PRC freely admits it fired at Israeli tanks and bulldozers. During the return fire a 12-year old Palestinian boy was killed. Using the death of the child as a pretext, the Palestinians, not necessarily linked to Hamas, began increasing barrages of missiles into Israel, so Israel had to destroy the missile launch sites that were hidden next to civilian buildings as well as assassinate Hamas leaders who allowed the missile launches to continue.

            http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/11/who-started-the-israel-gaza-conflict/265374/