Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.6

November 20, 2003


Letters to the editor

Perseverance not enough

The current advertisement for the senior academic position at Concordia should be withdrawn.

The qualities that are proposed to distinguish potential candidates include “... the achievement, or perseverance to achieve, suitable fluency in both English and French to effectively represent Concordia University in a bilingual Quebec environment.”

Perseverance is an admirable quality when one takes up jogging, but in this circumstance perhaps we could go out on a limb and insist on real competence. Since perseverance is a quality that can be properly ascribed only on attainment of the goal, the force of this particular requirement is to rule out the hapless candidate who thinks that Concordia is a university in Wisconsin.

More to the point: notwithstanding the awkwardness of its language, the ad does manage to signal that fluency in French could be relevant but not to worry, just between our unilingual selves in a “bilingual environment,” huffing and puffing will do; je suis ok, Jacques. Also, it could be found ironic that for many staff positions inside the university where contact with the public is minimal, formal linguistic requirements are more demanding.

Bryan Campbell, Department of Economics

Let’s aim for fifth place in Maclean’s

I am sure every Concordian will be glad and proud to know that Concordia has considerably improved its ranking this year in the Maclean’s magazine (Nov. 17, 2003) annual ranking exercise of Canadian universities.

Concordia is ranked seventh among the comprehensive universities as compared to the 10th place it occupied in the last year’s ranking exercise. This is one of the few-and-far-between occasions on which we all can rejoice and indulge in a bit of self-congratulation.

Annual ranking exercises such as Maclean’s do not detract from universities’ mission. They are very important from the point of view of how others see us [and] influence the decision a prospective student makes as regards to the university he/she is likely to attend.

I think with a little bit of fine-tuning of our priorities and activities we can displace Regina and Memorial, which are ahead of us this year. I think our Rector should organize all of us to work for Concordia to be ranked fifth in next year’s Maclean’s.

S.K. Goyal, Decision Sciences & MIS

Book Fair committee pleased

The dust has settled and the final count has been tallied. We are pleased to announce that the 7th Annual Concordia Used Book Fair has raised $6,776. Part of the proceeds will go to fund our newly created Concordia Used Book Fair Scholarship and the remainder will be distributed through Multi-Faith Chaplaincy’s student emergency food fund.

A two-day event of this size takes the efforts of many to make it a success. We owe a big debt of gratitude to Distribution and the Bookstore for all their assistance. Special thanks to team members Helen Eng, Susanne Dragffy, Judy Appleby, Kathryn Barkman, Sharon Morrison, Boi May Ang and Roger Juniper.

And last but certainly not least, thanks to the Concordia community for either donating books or turning out in droves to buy them. We could not have done it without you! We always need volunteers. Should anyone be interested in helping out, please contact me.

Susan Hawke

'As rigged as the Bush election,' audience member says

Today [Nov. 13] I had the dubious pleasure of sitting in on a conference sponsored by the Karl Polanyi Institute at Concordia University.

It was billed as Striving for Co-Existence In Israel-Palestine and was chaired by Professor [Yakov] Rabkin of the University of Montreal. The panelists were Joseph Agassi (Tel Aviv University), Sami Aldeeb (Swiss Institute for Comparative Law), Meron Benvenisti (Haaretz daily, Israel), [Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom (Jerusalem)], and Issam Nassar (Al-Quds University). It was a pathetic and demeaning show.

To the obvious delight of the gathered intellectuals ( among them the much-honored Ursula Franklin), we witnessed a relentless and sometimes scurrilous attack on Israel.

This had been billed as a discussion of the one-state solution, with guidelines for the exchange that explicitly ruled out inflamatory rhetoric and finger pointing. Yet the chairman was completely ineffectual in maintaining the tone that had been agreed upon.

The term “apartheid state” was used interchangeably with Israel, and no one seemed to notice. The term “ethnic cleansing” was also used to characterize present-day Israeli policy and it is to the credit of Professor Agassiz that he objected to this epithet.

Two of the four Jewish participants displayed the hangdog attitudes of people who plead guilty of heinous crimes (by virtue of being Jewish). Rabkin and Liebovitz took as their starting-point the fact that the Jewish State is a monster of depravity, perhaps beyond redemption.

Rabkin cited the recent and highly questionable poll that adjudges Israel as the most evil state in the world as further evidence for the correctness of his position. In an over-the-top display, Mr. Al Deeb showed pictures of an Arab town that had been demolished during the six-day war and is now Canada Park.

The chair should have ruled these grandstanding tactics as totally out of order, but he did not. Or, he might have called on the Israeli members of the panel to show the work of suicide bombers.

There were a few exceptions to this parade of self-flagellation and opportunistic propagandizing. The professor from Al Quds delivered a polished academic paper along the lines of an “homage” to the late Edward Said.

And even though he used a standard selection of literary and cultural Marxist jargon in order to attack Israel, he observed the decorum of an academic debate and favored the creation of two states, holding off the possibilities for a one-state solution until later.

Meron Benveniste also disdained rhetoric, eschewed religion and finger-pointing and grappled with what he sees as the present existence of a bi-national state in what is presently the West Bank and Gaza. It’s here, he says, and what do we do next?

Professor Agassiz likewise made an attempt to bracket out the atrocities perpretrated on both sides and tried to focus on ways and means of moving forward to a two-state solution.

But the icing on the cake came at the end of the scheduled presentations, when a delegation of Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews from New Jersey came forward and started bleating about the great honor that it would be for them to become citizens of a future Palestinian state.

To judge by the smiles and nods of the audience this display of religious toadying and fawning met with great favor among the assembled secular intellectuals, who must have been touched to see traditional Jews clamoring to return to the ghetto.

This discussion was as rigged as the Bush election.

Professor David Pariser