Letters to the editor

Wall evokes familiar memories

I was startled to see a familiar wall on the USC campus this week. In 2008, I graduated from UC Irvine, the original location of this particular wall. UC Irvine has experienced a lot of controversy regarding this wall and the issues surrounding it, so much so that the Muslim Student Union, the organization that builds this wall on the UCI campus every semester, is rumored to be investigated by the FBI.

I am very familiar with this wall, the protests, the controversial speakers and the bad press that has surrounded it and the UCI campus. And though I am very supportive of the Palestinian cause and feel it is important for USC students to be aware of it, I am extremely disappointed to see this wall as the way of sparking this conversation. I feel that this wall is not productive; it is a hostile, in-your-face accusation that offends many people.

Maybe this is the goal, but I offer this idea: In 2007, a group of UCI students ­— Muslim, Jewish, Christian and others — decided on a more productive way to educate UCI students about the conflict and what is really going on. We formed the Olive Tree Initiative and traveled to Israel and Palestine for two weeks talking to people from both territories. I learned so much from the people there, but what was most important was that Palestinians — and Jews — do not want or need us to be fighting their conflict on our campus. They want to get jobs, go to school, travel the world and raise families — in peace, without violence.

Last week I traveled to Lebanon and visited a Palestinian refugee camp. Those refugees didn’t hate Israel, and they didn’t hate the Jews. I asked them what they wanted and what I could do for them. All they wanted was dignity, to be treated equally, to get an education, to be able to get jobs and to see the world.

That is the cause we should be helping them with, not vilifying Israel. There is enough of that. I agree that Israel, the United States and the world has wronged the Palestinian people, but fueling hate toward Israel doesn’t right these wrongs. I hope those who look at the wall and those who brought it to USC will ask how it helps the Palestinian people achieve these goals.

There are real things people can do for the cause. And I hope those who care about Palestinians, Israelis and ending the conflict in the region will look into the Olive Tree Initiative on their campus.

Katharine Keith

Graduate Student, Public Diplomacy

Co-Founder of the Olive Tree Initiative

Trojan Family values compromised?

I am writing in response to the article titled “The Bunnies of the Pac-10,” by Genevieve Geoghan. Now, I love USC and I believe that it is a university that is founded upon solid principles. Such principles are highlighted in USC’s mission statement:

“We strive constantly for excellence in teaching knowledge and skills to our students, while at the same time helping them to acquire wisdom and insight, love of truth and beauty, moral discernment, understanding of self, and respect and appreciation for others.”

What a wonderful set of foundational principles for a top-tier university. And it is precisely because of my love for these values that I was concerned when I read Geoghan’s article. Specifically, I am confused as to how a university that extols these sorts of values could be involved in the Playboy casting call that took place at the Radisson Hotel on Saturday night.

It is common knowledge that USC owns the Radisson Hotel. Indeed, it is the “home away from home” for many freshmen students enrolled at the university. In addition, I doubt that anyone would disagree that USC must take responsibility for the types of events that it holds on its property. I mean, it isn’t as though Playboy just randomly walks into a building and begins taking poses at a casting call. Permission must have been granted, and because USC owns the hotel, it must be responsible for granting such permission.

Thus, one must ask questions such as: “If USC permitted such an event to take place on its property, then is this the type of ‘beauty’ and ‘appreciation of others’ that USC specifies in its mission statement?”; “Is this the sort of thing that we want to promote in the USC Trojan Family Magazine?”; “Is this the sort of thing that is going to get Mrs. Jones to send her daughter to USC?”

Seriously, we must ask questions such as these, and we must be honest. If USC answers “yes” to the above questions, then I think we ought to question the character of our university. If it answers “no,” then we had better receive an answer as to why the university’s actions do not align with its words. Either way, it is something to think about, and I would love for the university to respond to this article.

Matt Wheeler

Senior, Accounting

4 replies
  1. Joe
    Joe says:

    Katharine’s letter is just another piece of anti-Israel propaganda. She writes, “I agree that Israel, the United States and the world has wronged the Palestinian people”… in other words, she agrees with every anti-semitic SJP garbage on the basic facts, and wants us to take it as fact on the basis of her “I’m above the fray” self-congratulatory rhetoric. Screw that.

    • Steff
      Steff says:

      Joe, you are right in that it she is misguided to think that Israel or the United States are to blame for the Palestinian people’s condition, but at least Katharine gets one crucial thing right that most proponents on the Palestinian side will never even come close to realizing or admitting.. she says “That is the cause we should be helping them with, not vilifying Israel.” So while she still might be far from the truth, at least she has caught on to the fact that there are ulterior motives for those who attack Israel that have nothing to do with helping refugees, and she is trying to work against that.

  2. Jason
    Jason says:

    Katharine Keith’s “Wall evokes memory” piece is an absolute gem. I applaud her enthusiastically for conveying what we too often do not hear- a sense of humility and compassion for both sides.
    She nails it on the head. We should not be villifying Israel with petty and ridiculous displays of fear and hate like this wall, we should be having a mature discussion about what both sides should do differently. The hateful attacks against Israel on campuses must stop.

    Great job Katharine

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