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McGill Reporter
May 13, 2004 - Volume 36 Number 16
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Off campus


Booster Juice, now open near campus

Now you won't have to go far to squeeze more out of your life. Booster Juice has opened one of its squishy, frothy franchises a hop, skip and a twist from our front door. You can feel healthy by chugging a Green Hornet made with spinach and celery, get a caffeinated buzz drinking a Mean Mocha smoothie with a touch of vanilla, or be the first on the block to try a Zola Acai juice, made with the Brazilian "power berry" from the Amazon. And if you need some pep in your step, add one of their boosters to a smoothie, such as the Echinacea-filled Warrior, or calcium-rich Go Girl. Paninis and wheatgrass are also available.

Booster Juice, 914 Sherbrooke St W.,


It's graduation season, and though many are leaving schools for the first time this spring, others may hold graduation as a distant memory. Centennial Regional High School, class of '84, will hold its 20th Anniversary Reunion from July 30 - Aug. 1. For info, see or email

Also, John Rennie High School will hold its 50th Year Anniversary Reunion, May 20 - 23, 2005, to celebrate the graduation of over 10,000 students from 1955 to 2005. Visit for info and to register under your graduating year or within the faculty and staff section.


A tale of the gritty urban living

One cold November day, broken-hearted and down-and-out Concordia University grad Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall packs up a new tent, some clothes, his notebooks and a pen and goes to live in Tent City, the largest hobo town on the continent, on the edge of downtown Toronto. The rules he set for himself are simple: no access to money, family or friends, except what he can find from that day on. He'll do whatever people in Tent City do to get by, be whatever bum, wino, beggar, hustler, criminal, junkie or con man he chooses to be on any given day.

The time he spent there until the bulldozers tore it down has been recorded in Down to This: Squalor and Splendour in a Big-City Shantytown, a tale of gritty urban living on the margins of society.

Bishop-Stall will be at Paragraphe and the McGill Bookstore, Weds. May 26, 10 - 11 am to sign copies of his book.

Israel's army from the inside

McGill Sauvé Scholar Yael Hartmann worked for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as spokesperson representative to the foreign press, for which she acted as liaison between journalists and the IDF, and organized field trips for media. Her time at IDF changed her view about the sometimes-brutal tactics of the organization.

Inside Israel's army

I am not trying to convince you that the Israel Defense Forces' image in the media is inaccurate. There are many actions the IDF takes that seem unnecessarily brutal. But what I am here to argue is that the IDF carries out its operations in the interest of self-defense.

Before I entered into the IDF, I was a left-wing sympathizer. I had worked with think-tanks and read the human rights groups - I knew by heart the list of human rights violations of which the Israeli army had been accused: incursions, curfews, roadblocks, the abuse of humanitarian vehicles. I was vehemently against these offenses, and couldn't understand why the Israeli government would carry them out, knowing full well what they did to the Palestinian population. I would learn later in the army through the eyes of journalists that these actions were taken to stop Israelis from dying. More importantly, they were done with great effort not to harm innocent civilians.

My job in the IDF spokesperson's office was to accompany journalists from BBC, CNN, CBS, CTV, CBC and other news networks into the territories or around Israel while they were doing stories that involved the army. They would follow special troops during an operation in a Palestinian town, or interview army commanders about the actions of their troops. I was to make sure the journalists were safe, and to act as a translator and public relations specialist to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible.

There's a familiar media image associated with the IDF: roadblocks. The media shows old men, hot and exhausted, waiting in line for hours to return home from work; horrific stories of pregnant women who waited too long to get to the hospital and gave birth to a stillborn at the checkpoint; sick children in ambulances waiting for access to medical care as an angry soldier looks on.

International law dictates that even in times of conflict, all humanitarian cases should be allowed to go through checkpoints. At first, the seemingly inhumane tales of IDF negligence at the roadblocks shocked me. But then the events there helped to change my perspective.

A Japanese journalist had requested to film and do an article about "a humiliating roadblock," as he told me on the phone. I had no choice but to accompany him to the most congested checkpoint in the country at Kalandiya, the gateway between Ramallah and Jerusalem. When we arrived, there were crying children, tired women and a long line of people waiting to have their papers checked. As soon as the camera came out, throngs of Palestinians rushed towards the lens, taking the opportunity to yell, "Look what the Israelis do to us," and "Are we animals?" The reporter soon tired of this scene, and noticed a young, scrawny-looking soldier talking in Arabic to an elderly Arab man as he sat in his truck. Both of them looked weary. I had the conversation translated.

"This man is from Matak, a relatively new unit that teaches its soldiers to speak Arabic and stations them at flashpoints to ease the tension between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians," I explained. The 18-year-old soldier was telling the Arab man that he had to remove the goods from the back of his truck, and the octogenarian was saying that he had gone through thousands of times and he was tired. "I just told the old man that I will remove the goods for him and he can rest a while and smoke a cigarette," Yossi, the soldier, told us. We watched as the boy took out thousands of toilet paper rolls and then replaced them. The old man gave him a grateful, toothless smile and drove on.

A few weeks later, my boyfriend was the commander of the same checkpoint, and something happened to him that changed his view of his reserve duty forever. Two ambulances pulled up at the end of the line on a very busy, very hot morning. He motioned for his soldiers to bring the vehicles up to the front so that they could be checked and moved through quickly. The Red Crescent ambulance driver yelled that he was in a hurry, the patient was very sick and needed immediate medical attention in Jerusalem. My boyfriend barked for his soldiers to hurry as they threw open the back doors. A pale child lay on the gurney. One soldier stepped inside gingerly and looked underneath the stretcher. There lay a suicide belt.

But of all these experiences, it was the story of Wafa Idris that made it easiest for me to explain to reporters why ambulances had to be searched at checkpoints. In January of 2002, a beautiful nurse from Ramallah got into a Red Crescent ambulance with her driver and got through five IDF checkpoints using her ambulance papers, was dropped off in the heart of Jerusalem, walked to the busiest intersection and blew herself up. One Israeli was killed and hundreds were maimed. The scene of carnage, which was a block from our IDF office, will never leave my mind. This woman had used her Red Crescent identification to move unchecked through the roadblocks.

Recently a 14-year-old boy was stopped from detonating an explosive belt at a checkpoint. His terrified young face was captured on film and broadcast around the world. His parents were outraged that he had been coerced into this. Younger and younger recruits are being stopped at checkpoints. The quick thinking of the soldiers not only saves Israeli lives, but Palestinian children's lives as well.

Roadblocks are a necessary evil. This is not to say there aren't ways to make the experience for Palestinians less humiliating. Yossi's Matak unit is one way the Israeli army is attempting to ease the conditions. And now there are medics stationed at major checkpoints, trained in everything from heart attacks to childbirth.

In this war, innocent civilians and combatants are inextricably tangled among the Palestinian people, giving urban warfare a whole new meaning, and making the IDF's job to protect Israelis that much more complex. I learned while in the army and witnessing the conflict from both the IDF's perspective and the media's point of view that pure force is never the way to make peace, no matter how corrupt or unwilling to cooperate either side is.

But while the impasse between governments wears on, Israelis and Palestinians are dying. And for Israelis, the IDF does what it can to protect its civilians, with as little cost to innocent civilians as possible.

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