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Hong Kong protests represent futile effort at separation from mainland

(10/07/14 4:11am)

Last week, student protestors in Hong Kong quickly escalated their demonstrations against last month’s announcement by China’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress (NPC) that Hong Kong’s political future would be decided by Beijing alone. This is understood by the protestors to violate a vaguely-worded promise for the city’s 2017 election to be decided by “universal suffrage.” According to the NPC decision, universal suffrage would be allowed, but only two or three preapproved candidates who “love China and love Hong Kong” would be permitted to run. It would be easy to view the demonstrations as the embodiment of a decades-long struggle for democracy throughout China, and to an extent this is true, but the protests are guided primarily by local concerns and tensions that have been building since Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. 



Views on the News: Islamic State

(09/30/14 2:37pm)

President Barack Obama has asked congressional leaders to give him the power to launch airstrikes in Syria against the radical extremist group known as the Islamic State. He is also seeking approval to provide weapons and training to Syrian rebels on the ground willing to combat IS. IS is among the key rebel groups fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Obama has long demanded to leave power.  Turning other rebel groups against the Islamic State may turn the Syrian conflict in Assad’s favor. Assad himself has warned against U.S. airstrikes in Syria. Do you agree with Obama’s plan to combat IS in Syria? 



EDITORIAL: Evaluate goals of sexual assault protest

(09/30/14 2:32pm)

On Wednesday, about 50 student protesters stood silently with signs carrying messages about sexual violence at the opening of “Light of Reason,” the new permanent installation outside the Rose Art Museum. This board recognizes the substantial problem of sexual assault on college campuses nationwide—about one in five female students are sexually assaulted during their college years, and the rate of reported assaults on men and transgender individuals continues to rise, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Sexual violence is a significant problem at Brandeis. We feel compassion for our peers who are survivors, and believe that this is not an issue to be swept aside with empty promises.


Define and re-examine "social justice" in Brandeis community

(09/30/14 2:30pm)

When I applied to Brandeis, I applied because it met a set of criteria that I was pursuing: a respected liberal arts school, with a small student-to-professor ratio, academically strong in my areas of interest that regularly accepts students with my high school grade point average and course rigor. It was not very different from many of the other schools on my list, and it didn’t have to be. When I got my acceptance letter, I went on an overnight program on campus, as I did for most of the other colleges that accepted me. I liked my overnight at Brandeis the best, and on that criteria, chose to enroll.


Expanding immigration promotes economic growth

(09/30/14 2:29pm)

The immigration debate, one of America’s oldest and most divisive issues, has recently taken on a sensitive new cast. Swarms of children, fleeing violence and poverty in Latin America, have made their way to the U.S.-Mexico border this year. Prior to 2014, the U.S. received about 6,560 unaccompanied minors through the U.S.-Mexican border, but because of recent gang violence and widespread rumors in Latin America of amnesty laws for minors in America, we’ve seen about 60,000 unaccompanied minors crossing the border in the past year. Sharply divided as always, the left and right hold diametrically opposing views on how to handle this crisis. 


Consider diplomatic consequences of ordinary people's actions

(09/30/14 2:19pm)

Over the summer, I read Hillary Clinton’s new memoir, Hard Choices, which chronicled her tenure as secretary of state. Her book gives a glimpse of professional diplomacy in practice, but also highlights that, in today’s world, international relations are more than just meetings among professional diplomats. Thanks to globalization and the Internet, ordinary citizens nowadays conduct international relations without even realizing it, and their messages and actions can even be more forceful than formal diplomacy. If not conducted prudently and carefully, however, the actions of ordinary citizens can harm both America and the rest of the world. 


Volunteer tourism fails to truly aid foreign countries

(09/30/14 2:15pm)

In the age of British imperialism, Rudyard Kipling wrote his famous poem “The White Man’s Burden,” which starts with the lines, “Take up the White Man’s burden—/Send forth the best ye breed—/Go bind your sons to exile/To serve your captives’ need.” Whether you perceive this poem to be satirical or serious, the words echo true today, in a new guise. “White Savior” is a new term coined to describe the tendency for (primarily white) citizens of Western nations to believe they need to save the (primarily not white) citizens of third world countries. 


Views on the News: the Conflict in Israel and Gaza

(09/30/14 2:04pm)

This past summer, Israel launched a military campaign within the Gaza Strip, responding to Hamas rocket fire and the kidnappings and deaths of three Israeli teenagers. Beginning on July 8 with an aerial bombing campaign and advancing to a ground invasion 10 days later, the conflict has killed an estimated 2,016 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, and 67 Israelis, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Multiple efforts at peace talks have failed, after Hamas and other militant groups launched rockets on Israeli cities. The war has made tens of thousands of Palestinians homeless, sends Israeli families to bomb shelters routinely and has received massive international media coverage. How and when do you see this conflict, both in the short and long term, ending? 


Make unpopular foreign policy decisions to defend human rights

(09/30/14 1:56pm)

I first joined Amnesty International as a first-year, newly soaked in the importance of social justice. Now as the president, I still believe that Amnesty International is distinctly Brandeisian, as we try to educate and remedy human rights violations regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender. Nevertheless, the number of my Brandeis peers who oppose the organization consistently surprises me. I have been told by liberals and conservatives alike that the organization is “too political” for them to be involved with. It is not that people do not care about human rights—I do not think I have ever met a Brandeisian who will tell me they do not think that human rights are socially just. It is the organization, the actual process of fighting for the very rights they claim to be so important, that they object to as too political. 


Avoid reducing complex arguments to binary language

(09/30/14 1:45pm)

Let me tell you about my older brother. He has been married for a little over a year now, and currently lives happily in a cozy apartment in Israel with his wife. They really love the neighborhood—it has been growing rapidly for almost 30 years, which is quite old in a country whose modern state sovereignty was only established 66 short years ago. They were both a bit nervous about moving to a new country, coming from the United States, so they were thrilled to find out that their landlord—who has lived in the community for approximately 25 years—is actually a distant cousin with whom our family has since reconnected. The community also boasts nine synagogues, five kindergartens, a community bomb shelter, basketball courts, a nationally regarded youth baseball team and a vast library. In 2007, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz wrote a feature story on this community titled, “The Best Place to Raise Kids.” One little caveat though: the community is technically labeled an illegal settlement as it is geographically located over the 1967 green line. 


Views on the News: Ferguson

(09/30/14 1:10am)

On Aug. 9, white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Wilson allegedly acted in self-defense, though witness reports contain conflicting accounts of who was the aggressor. Since then, Ferguson residents have gathered in both peaceful and violent protest against the teenager’s killing and what residents call a long pattern of police harassment of the city’s African-American community. Police have responded by instituting curfews, arresting protestors and firing at crowds with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. Media analysts have drawn parallels to the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012. Do you see a trend of racial bias in law enforcement violence between these and other cases? If so, what can be done to end this trend?


Views on the News: Ebola

(09/30/14 1:05am)

On August 11, a World Health Organization panel found that, in order to combat the current Ebola crisis in West Africa, it may be ethical for doctors to use “unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects.” This decision comes in the midst of the most deadly Ebola outbreak since the disease’s discovery; at least 1900 people have died in the past six months, according to Doctors Without Borders. The controversy surrounding the administration of the experimental drug ZMapp to seven patients, two of whom have since died of Ebola, spurred the WHO to provide ethical guidance. Do you agree with the WHO’s decision that it is ethical under certain circumstances to use experimental drugs on Ebola patients?



EDITORIAL: Mailroom issues must be resolved

(09/30/14 12:56am)

In an email on April 24, Director of Strategic Procurement John Storti informed the student body that the University had partnered with Xerox Corporation to begin renovating and improving Mail Services, the Copy Center and printing services on campus. Storti promised that the turnover to Xerox would “result in earlier and more accurate and on-time mail delivery service.” Now, over three months after the new provider began business, it appears this promise may have been premature.


Promote civility and compromise in Palestine-Israel discourse

(09/30/14 12:53am)

Last week, I was asked by the Justice to write a piece on the Palestine-Israel conflict. I said no. I was asked because the Brandeis Israel Public Affairs Committee was already due to submit a piece on the conflict, specifically focused on the war in Gaza this past summer, and the Justice wanted to showcase a “point/counter-point” section. Seems like a great idea, showcasing an important and complicated conflict, and allowing the reader to decide for themselves with whom they most agree. But still, I said no.



Defense of "Concerned" Listserv contradicts arguments against Hirsi Ali

(09/30/14 12:50am)

My grandfather was a member of the first four-year graduating class of Brandeis University. For as long as I can remember, he told me stories about his fond memories of his time in Waltham. Beyond the welcoming Brandeis family and friends, he highlights the quality and integrity of the professors on campus as a focal point of his experience.