Transcript of Episode 5, February 2003
The following interviews may contain more information
than the recorded RealPlayer versions,
which were condensed for
to the latest edition of Bear in Mind. This month, we've added a new dimension to the show that I'm certainly looking forward to. This is the first time that we've had a live studio audience. So to the 15 or so Cal students joining me in the beautiful studio in Dwinelle Hall, a special welcome and thanks for coming. And as always, to those of you listening on the Web, thanks for tuning in.
On this program, we'll get a student's view of the inside workings
of the UC Board of Regents from Matthew Murray. Matt is a third-year
student in architecture here at Berkeley, and is the Student Regent
Designate. I'm also delighted to have as a guest today, a recent
Cal grad and aspiring stand-up comedienne, Sumana Harihareswara.
We'll get her take on life after Berkeley and catch a bit of her
in response to your suggestions about what you want to hear, we'll
examine two very different student views on one of the most
complex political issues of our time: the Israel-Palestinian
conflict. David Singer, cochair of the Israel Action Committee,
and Sid Patel,
a member of Berkeley Stop the War Coalition and an active
participant in Students for Justice in Palestine, will join me
for what should
be a very enlightening conversation.
end of the program, and for the first time on Bear in Mind, I'll
be taking questions
from our studio audience, all of whom are
Cal students. So stay tuned for the fifth edition of Bear
in Mind. I'm your host, Chancellor Berdahl.
Matthew Murray interview
Berdahl: Our first guest this morning is Matthew Murray, the next student
representative on the UC Board of Regents, the governing
body of the UC system. Matt has been participating on the board
a nonvoting member since September. In July he takes over in a
voting role from the current student regent, Dexter Ligot-Gordon,
Berkeley. Matt, welcome to Bear in Mind.
Murray: Thanks for having me.
Well we're delighted to have you here and very pleased to have
you on the Board of Regents as
well. You're a junior
studying architecture, you cofounded the UC Berkeley chapter
of the ACLU,
you serve on a committee on the Berkeley Academic Senate. Architecture
has a demanding curriculum. Why do you have an interest in
being on the Board of Regents — and how do you find the time
for all of that?
Murray: Both good questions. The first thing is why do I have an interest
in it. One of the main reasons I came
I'm interested in social activism and politics and making
the world a better place. I'm an idealistic student and that's
a good thing
to be at this time in my life. And Berkeley has a great reputation
for that and it's still currently there. When I came here
I wanted to find something to make a difference in and admissions
were the first thing on the radar screen. There were big
debates about them and the Board of Regents was very prominent
in that. So
that' s how I found out about them, and once I found out
about them, it got me excited about applying for the position,
an amazing range of things and they have a huge effect on
the university. And I love this place. I love Berkeley, I love
the University of
California, I think it' s an amazing institution, the best
in the world in my opinion, and I wanted to make it better,
could to improve it.
Tell me about your discoveries on the Board of Regents.
Murray: I think the biggest thing you learn is that the Board of Regents
is a group of people. They are human beings,
their own lives, they have opinions, they’re not
one amorphous mass that you send your tuition checks
to. So I'm still trying
out how that works and how decisions get made, and I'm
glad I have this year before I have to vote and make
are places where good things get done in this university, students
and faculty and staff and
up with good ideas
and they happen. There are other places where there's
lots of contention, but those are usually the ones
issues. I'm excited to be there. I hope that I'm able
to make some sort of difference. We'll see in the next
I've been around several Boards of Regents at the various universities
I've worked at, the Universities
of Texas in particular. Those were smaller boards,
the University of Texas wouldn't allow students anywhere
near the board. The University of Illinois actually
had student members who
didn't have the right to vote but who could give
an advisory vote, as it were. So, do you believe that
the UC student
and having a right to vote makes a difference?
Murray: I think it does. I think it's vitally important to have those
students there. Dexter, the current
a proposal to have the university do a study on
energy efficiency and green building standards. And they're
going to do it!
And they're going to come back in May, and the
University of California — I
hope, I certainly will push for it — will
have one of the best green energy, clean energy
standards in the nation. And
I think that's amazing— and that's Dexter
doing it. That was students coming to him and rallying
around it and because he
there, he was able to make that motion and bring
it to the table. It's going to get done. And that's
of the interesting things to me is that the
Board of Regents are a group of people who aren’t
supposed to have a constituency, they're supposed
to be outsiders, taking the best interests of
the entire university into their decision making.
the Student Regent — or
as they like to call it, the regent who also
happens to be a student — is
supposed to be that way too. And that's the best
way to do it. You do want to do what's best for
the entire university, but it's
to make that balance between representing students
and doing what's best for the entire university.
In my opinion, it makes it easier
because usually those things are the same for
me, but not always. That's a tough one I'll have
You're going to have an issue coming up, in fact you've already
it, to do with
will be an
effort by the Board of Regents to raise student
fees in the face of
the budget crisis that the state faces and
the serious reductions that
the university is enduring. I doubt that many
of the students are going to be enthusiastic
from my unscientific
sample of students, and yet, the interest of
the university as a whole may be otherwise.
you going to deal
Murray: That's the toughest one. I'm glad I don't have to vote until July,
I won't have
to deal with it. The university is facing
an enormous budget deficit — it's
insane, looking at the numbers. As of next
year, the governor has proposed a billion
dollars less than what we should have, out of
a $3 billion state budget. That's ridiculous.
Everything is getting cut at this university,
across all ten campuses and the national
labs, and the idea that students wouldn't
have a fee increase at all is a really tough sell.
the real question is how big will
that fee increase be, when will it happen,
to it — I
don't have the answers right now. I think
the one that happened in December
was really unfortunate in the way it happened,
not necessarily that it happened, but because
it was after students at all the
were gone for the break and here at Berkeley
we were in finals. That was probably not
the best way to raise fees for students,
to not tell us all about it until now, a month later, when I just got an e-mail from the campus.
Berdahl: The Regents are appointed by the governor for 12-year terms, That's a fairly long term as far as Regental appointments go around the country. The reason for that, I'm told, is that with a 12-year term, every Regent will serve longer than the governor who appoints him or her, and thus remove Regental decisions from the political arena. Do you think that's true?
Murray: It's true that most of the regents serve longer than their governor. I don't know about removing decisions from the political arena though. Especially with the budget. In theory the university is constitutionally separate from the state and we can do whatever we want. But the legislature gives us a large chunk, the most important chunk of our budget, and so they tell us what to do. Actually they don't tell us what to do, it's negotiation, I've heard some people call it this "dance" between the Regents and the legislature. With the budget there's real give and take there, and they really are in the political arena. I think that's unavoidable.
Berdahl: As an architecture student you serve as a student guide giving tours to visitors. You must have some opinions about the architecture of this campus. I think everybody in this room has their favorite building as the most beautiful and the one that gets the prize for being the ugliest. What are your choices for those two awards?
Murray: Well those are actually kind of easy questions. [audience laughs] The most beautiful to me is the campanile. It's the symbol of this place, it's a great landmark, it tells you where you are way off campus, you can see it from San Francisco in some places, and I love that. And you can go up to the top of the campanile and have a beautiful view of the Bay Area. So that one's easy for me; I love the campanile.
As an architecture student, I'll be incredibly heretical and sacrilegious, but I think it's appropriate to say that I think the ugliest building is Wurster Hall, which is the architecture building. They’ll hate me saying that. It's a useful education tool, you can see all the systems involved in it as an architecture student, you can learn how architecture works. But I think it's ugly, that's a personal preference.
Berdahl: I think there are probably a lot of people who would agree with you, although it may get you in trouble. In one of your other activities, you helped found the ACLU on campus. Now, what do you seen happening here in the Bay Area and the work that you've done with the ACLU?
Murray: People are very concerned with the national issues, like homeland security, John Ashcroft, and privacy rights mainly are their big concerns, plus the US Patriot Act and the Total Information Awareness Network, which the Senate just voted not to give funding to — which is good in my opinion. For me, being here as a college student, my concern is the right of students to free speech and open debate and dissent. We're going to have a debate later today about Israel-Palestine, and I think that's vital, that's what this place is all about. Part of being in the ACLU is trying to ensure that people speak out and don't get punished for what they say.
Berdahl: Well Matt, you're a remarkable young man and a very, very active student, and I have to say that I'm very glad that you're the incoming student representative on the Board of Regents. Thank you very much for joining us today. That was Matt Murray, Student Regent Designate and Berkeley junior. We'll be right back with more Bear in Mind. I'm Chancellor Berdahl.
The Sumana Harihareswara interview
Berdahl: Sumana Harihareswara [butchers pronunciation]…How did I mess that up?
Sumana Harihareswara: It's Sumana Harihareswara.
Berdahl: Hari-hare-swara. Anyway, "Soo-minnie" is our next guest…
Harihareswara: [snorts with laughter]
Berdahl: I'm going to stick with Soo-minnie. She's a recent political science graduate of Berkeley, she was one of 10 performers selected out of a field of 120 to compete on January 31st in the Apollo Amateur Night on Tour, a show hosted by our very Cal Performances. Sumana, thank you for coming on Bear in Mind.
Harihareswara: You know, it's great to be here with D.J. Bobby B for my morning drive.
Berdahl: All right…well, I'm not actually a dee-jay. We don't spin many discs here. Not very many students call me Bobby B, either.
Harihareswara: Would you like them to?
Berdahl: It would be fine with me. It'd be a lot better than some of the names they call me.
[Audience cracks up]
Berdahl: So, you auditioned and won a spot on the Apollo Amateur Night competition. Tell us a little bit about that program. Is it true that if the crowd doesn’t like you they sweep you off the stage with a giant broom?
Harihareswara: I have heard this and I am wondering if it is actually safe to do this. Does Ralph Nader know about this? Because it seems to me that the giant broom is unsafe at any speed.
Berdahl: And unkind.
Harihareswara: That's also true. I've heard that the crowd is notoriously raucous. And no one will tell me what that means. More euphemisms than L.A. Are they going to throw vegetables at me? Will they hoot and holler? Will they act like Raiders fans? I don't know. I do know there is a giant broom involved, pushed by a man they call the Executioner. And I worry about this, but I also know that I am the only comedian. Everyone else is singing or dancing, or possibly singing and dancing. And you know, I hope to do a good job and hopefully sweep them away.
Berdahl: Obviously this isn't your first venture into the world of comedy. What else have you done? How did you get to this point?
Harihareswara: My therapist asks me the same thing.
Berdahl: OK…more importantly, what do your parents say about this?
Harihareswara: My father is a Hindu priest. He and I are both hams. That's the way it is in show business, whether you're a priest, a PR person, or a stand-up comedian, you've gotta be a ham, whether it's "Ommmm," or "WHASSUP with that?" It's the same thing.
You know, I taught here, in the wonderful DeCal program, democratic —meaning egalitarian — education at Cal, where a student can come up with a curriculum and have it approved by a faculty member and teach some classes. And it's the same thing, writing a monologue and writing a lesson plan. You make sure there's flow, that you're getting segues in there that actually work, that you're hitting the right points and making your students or your audience want to listen.
Berdahl: What was the class on?
Harihareswara:"Politics of the Midlife Crisis" was one…
Berdahl: Was this a humorous class?
Harihareswara: I sure hope so.
Berdahl: Politics of the Midlife Crisis for students who are 18 to 22 years old?
Harihareswara: Well you have to prepare for the future. In that class and my other one, "Politics in Modern Sci-Fi", I investigated topics — namely, in the first, power relations and power structures in people's lives in text and film. I noticed this pattern that when a person goes through midlife crisis in a story or a film, it's a bout the power structures that are controlling them and how they try to throw them off. So I wanted to investigate that and how better to do so than in a class.
You asked what my parents think of it. They want me to go to grad school and get a respectable job, instead of working at Cody's Books, where I work now — where many of our books are 20 and 30% off, if they’re best sellers — and marry a good Indian boy, who's a doctor or an engineer, they're not picky, and sit in Sunnyvale and have 2.5 kids and go to Hindu temple and entertain only Brahmins. No no, they’re not caste people.
Berdahl: Well, obviously they must take something of a dim view of this aspiration to being a comedienne.
Harihareswara: They're supportive of my hobbies, but they'd prefer for it to be a hobby that I do when I'm not taking my kids to temple.
Berdahl: Did you get interested in humor because of your major in political science, not that political science is a particularly funny major…but politics is the source of an awful lot of our humor. If we didn't have humor about politics, we'd be in desperate straits.
had a very wonderful TA, who recently got his Ph.D. from Berkeley, named
Simon Stow. He was a very good GSI in the polisci department. In the very
first polisci class I took, I had him as a TA and he was terrific, and he
was very funny. And I later found out that he had done stand-up! And he's
the person who inspired me both to go into teaching and to do stand-up.
So I started doing open mikes at UC Berkeley with the Heuristic Squelch
comedy nights, and then I moved on to some community open mikes, and then
I saw the ad for the Apollo and I tried out for that, and ever since it's
been a constant fanfare of fame and fortune, Bobby B.
Berdahl: Maybe fame, but I don't think the fortune has hit yet.
Harihareswara: But look, free bagels!
Berdahl: Do you get nervous before you go on, does that affect your timing and your sense of — I mean, I don't do a lot of comedy acts…
Harihareswara: Oh, come on!
Berdahl: But I do give a lot of speeches that involve humor now and then. There's some audiences where you'll say something you think is funny and you get no response whatsoever—
Harihareswara: Like, "Why did the Regent cross the road?"
Berdahl: That's right. You sort of feel like you're just hanging out there. Other times, the audience responds and you get into a groove ad get this dialogue going. What happens when they don't respond? We may get an experience of that today with this audience.
Harihareswara: They seem fine here, actually. I'm very happy with this room. When they don't respond, well, you're biting it and you just go on to something else. Sometimes it's you, sometimes it's the room. Sometimes you kill, sometimes the audience kills you. And that's just the way it is. You just go on to the next joke, you go on to the next room, the next set, whatever.
Berdahl: OK, why don't you give us a little of your routine. You’re a stand-up comic. Are you going to stand up for this?
Harihareswara: I plan on standing. [Moves to stand-up mic.] Good morning!
Audience: Good morning.
Harihareswara: My name is Sumana and I'm Indian. However, I have never had a class at Soda or Etcheverry, and I have only a passing familiarity with Valley Life Sciences and GPB. I was a political science major here at Cal, which made me the only Indian in many of my classes. So I would lie to people about India because I knew they would believe me. "Actually, the Taj Mahal was built by Mahatma Gandhi, who was gay…"
OK, by hooting and hollering, tell me how many of you here are skipping class right now?
Harihareswara: What, you just had nothing better to do? "Well it's this or EverQuest…" The way you can tell how dedicated students are is what happens when they get sick. [Coughs.] "I think I'll cut a week." And then there are the ones who drag their IV's to class. And they're the ones who always talk anyway: "Cough cough, socially constructed…" which is the answer to any question in Dwinelle, Wheeler, or Barrows. Since we're in Dwinelle right now, what's the integral of E to the x?
Audience: Socially constructed.
Harihareswara: Yes! What's Russian for water?
Audience: Socially constructed.
Harihareswara: Yes! What happens when you add a phosphate to ADP?
Audience: Socially constructed.
Harihareswara: There you go! That's some South Side love! You know, I've always thought that the divide between the south and the north sides of campus should just be solved by a shoot-out at the campanile. You know, us with our Norton Anthologies fending off the engineers with their lasers — that's worth $4,000 a year!
Thank you very much!
Berdahl: Sumana, that was a very Berkeley-specific routine!
Harihareswara: It was. I knew I had to use up all my Berkeley material here because no one else would ever understand it.
Berdahl: Well it was very, very clever.
Harihareswara: I'm glad you liked it, Bob.
Berdahl: I really liked it. You can call me Bobby B anytime. I've murdered your name; there's no reason why you shouldn't call me Bobby B. Thank you very much for being on Bear in Mind. That was Sumana Somebody…and this is Chancellor Bobby B. You're listening to Bear in Mind.
The Israeli-Palestinian debate
Berdahl: And now we examine one of the most complex and difficult political issues facing the world — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As our audience today and most of our listeners know, the Middle East has been a focal point of student-led activism and a discussion on our campus for more than a year. Our next guests are two students actively involved in these issues, and they present two very different points of view. David Singer is the co-chair of the UC Berkeley Israel
Action Committee. David, welcome to Bear in Mind.
David Singer: Thank you for having me.
Berdahl: And Sid Patel is a member of the Berkeley Stop
the War Coalition and has been active with the Students
for Justice in Palestine. Welcome, Sid.
Sid Patel: Thanks, I'm glad to be here.
Berdahl: Let me start by asking both of you the same question. Neither of you are from the Middle East, you're both American citizens, yet you are both very passionate about these issues. How did you get involved? David, let's start with you.
Singer: Well, over my life I've visited Israel many times, most recently this last summer. I've always felt a connection to the area. It's been very important to me, and when I started at Cal, it was right when the latest violence began back in 2000. It was hard — hard to see what was going on in the news, so many people dying, such hatred and violence — when we had been at the cusp of peace. We had been so close, and we just had gone so far away from peace so quickly. So I got involved in the Israel Action Committee and it was very important to me to teach students at Cal what was going on in the Middle East about Israel, beyond just a conflict. I wanted to teach students about Israel, that it's a democracy, it's a place where people have rights that you can't find anywhere else in the Middle East. It's an interesting story.
Berdahl: So your interest really came from having been in Israel, and your desire to tell the Israeli side of the issues that confront us in the Middle East. Sid, tell us about your experience and what brought you to the issue?
Patel: Well my experience kind of started right after September 11, when the U.S. decided to go to war on Afghanistan. And, it was under that issue initially that I became a little bit radicalized and moved to the left of it and became an activist. It stopped making sense to me that we were dropping bombs on the poorest country on the planet. Anyway, I had some further debates with people and dynamic discussions with our movement to figure out what people's ideas were, and I eventually came to join the International Socialist Organization. Socialists are the most consistent and some of the best fighters against oppression anywhere, and this is one clear case of U.S. oppression in the Middle East,. It's a political thing.
Berdahl: So you really came to the issue, and to the socialist position, only after September 11?
Patel: Before that, I was vaguely in the community service crowd, but after that, it was like from 0 to 60, right after September 11, I was within the initial surge of patriotism and the solidarity with the tragedy in New York. When it became clear that the government was capitalizing on that to push another agenda, that's what really pushed me the other way.
Berdahl: You said the Students for Justice in Palestine have been calling on the university to divest in companies doing business in Israel. Is this an issue for you? If it is, why?
Patel: Yes, I think it is an issue for us. As students, we have more time on our hands —
Berdahl: Maybe you should be given longer assignments
Patel: No, thank you. The other thing is we have certain political tools and a political history. One of these tools is divestment. This university does maintain several billion dollars in investments in companies within Israel that go to support the state and the economy there. Part of the great history on this campus is the movement to divest from South Africa, which really was one of the paramount achievements by students here.
Berdahl: And the divestment is from Israel in particular, or from any country that practices oppression?
Patel: Well, I think a movement could be made to divest from any country that practices oppression.
Berdahl: So from the Arab countries as well?
Patel: The thing about Israel, and one of the points that is brought up a lot by critics, is why are we singling out Israel? There are two points to this. The conflict in Israel and Palestine has some of the most intense media coverage, so student consciousness is high around this issue. For me, trying to organize students on campus, we have to be talking about what's making students talk
and this is an issue. The other thing is that Israel is singled out in a number of other ways — they get to use U.S. foreign aid to improve and expand upon their domestic military, which no other country is allowed to do!
Berdahl: Egypt has done that for some time. A lot of our aid to Egypt has done that.
Patel: Not in the same way. Not in the Export Arms Control Act, in terms of the number and the ways the money gets turned directly into weaponry for domestic uses. Israel is one of the foremost in doing that.
Berdahl: David, what's your response to that, and to the issue of divestiture?
Singer: Well, the whole comparison between Israel and South Africa is first of all false, and just offensive. It's especially offensive and should be offensive to blacks who suffered under the apartheid regime. There is no comparison between the Arab-Israeli conflict and what went on in South Africa. If there were, divestment may be an issue. But it's not. And what divestment attempts to do is skirt political negotiations. A few years ago, as I mentioned earlier, we were so close to peace. Israelis and Palestinians were sitting at the negotiating table at Camp David, and Israel made a generous offer for peace, which the Palestinian leadership rejected. Since then, we've seen this violence and terrorism directed against Israelis. Fortunately, what the consensus has been that divestment is a non-issue, be it from Governor Davis and the Regents, or most importantly, from students on our campus and other campuses.
You look at where students' support lies — the fact is, students understand what Israel is going through. Of any issue that students at UC Berkeley have taken a stance on currently, most students have said that they support Israel's attempts for peace, they unequivocally condemn the terrorism that has afflicted Israel, and they stand with Israel now and forever.
Berdahl: Let's go back to that Camp David attempt in the last months of the Clinton administration. That was probably the most politically risky offer that the Israeli prime minister could make, and yet they went a long ways to meet all of the demands that had historically been associated with the Palestinian position. Sid, why did the Palestinians turn that down, and was that a mistake?
Patel: I don't think it was a mistake, and I think the fact that the uprising against what turned out of Camp David, well, I mean it's a response to the suppression of Palestinian people saying that "this is not what we wanted."
Berdahl: What do the Palestinian people want?
Patel: I think we can talk about some really concrete things that are entitled to any people with self-determination. Like right of return: there are hundreds of thousands of refugees in camps all throughout the West Bank. You have to have a right of return. You have to have control of your borders. You have to have control of water resources. Also, you need to have some security within your borders — the recent incursions have destroyed Palestinian civil life and destroyed any real material basis for a civil society there. That can't be allowed, so right of return, control of borders, right to water.
Berdahl: Do you think suicide bombing is justified as a proper political act?
Patel: I think the suicide bombings are understood in the context of occupation. This is a people facing desperation, facing humiliation, people facing the deaths of their loved ones.
Berdahl: So you think they're justified?
Patel: What I'm saying is, I think politically they actually provide Israel with a pretext to come in and do even worse things
Berdahl: So why give Israel that pretext?
Patel: I would say there are better strategies to resistance than suicide bombings. But, I think these attempts to subtract the suicide bombings from the situation — say, "Oh, these people are just inhuman maniacs who are bent on causing as much destruction as possible" — are one way to further dehumanize the fact that this condition exists. They can only be understood in the context of occupation.
Berdahl: David, what's your position on the Camp David effort and what it might take to realize pace?
Singer: The problem, as we just saw with what Sid said, is that there has just been a negation on the Palestinian side, specifically directed by the Palestinian leadership against its people, to misinform the Palestinians and deny what actually went on Camp David. U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross, who was the special envoy to the Middle East during the Camp David Peace Accord, was on campus and laid out exactly what the peace proposal included.
Berdahl: But he didn't include the right of return.
Singer: It included unlimited Palestinian immigration to their new state. The problem is, do Palestinians want their own state, or to destroy Israel demographically? If the idea here is that we're creating two states for two peoples, it makes perfect sense that Palestinians should be given unlimited rights to their state.
Berdahl: So therefore you would pull the Israeli settlements all out of the West Bank?
Singer: That's definitely a possibility. What Barak offered was that 80 percent of settlements would be dismantled and taken back.
Berdahl: Why not 100 percent?
Singer: That was his offer. If that's what Israelis are willing to give, then that's what should be done. What needs to happen though, is this needs to be discussed in the midst of a political negotiation. Right now there is no peace process. We need to return to one, and the only way we can do that is when both sides say they are ready to put down arms, and specifically when the Palestinians are ready to condemn terrorism, and say that suicide bombing is unacceptable, it's not justified, there is no excuse for terrorism.
Berdahl: Do you think any of the Israeli actions could be classified as terrorism?
Singer: I don't think you can classify the Israeli government's actions as terrorism.
Berdahl: What about destroying the homes of the families of suicide bombers? I mean, there you are punishing people who are plausibly innocent who didn't even know their sons or daughters were going to be suicide bombers. Is that not a terrorist act?
Singer: I don't think that's a terrorist act. I think that the idea here is that this terrorism here has gone unimpeded and just continues out of control.
Berdahl: Let me put it this way. Let's say we have somebody who commits an act of terrorism in this country. You don't think it'd be a terrorist act if we attacked the homestead of that person's family, tore down their house and bulldozed it? That wouldn't be terrorism? That would be a just punishment?
Singer: I think that's what it is. But the issue is a larger issue here. The issue is an issue of peace negotiations. The goal needs to be to return to peace negotiations.
Berdahl: Well, I understand that — I don't think anybody, nor all of us here, would argue that peace negotiations aren't important. The question is, What conditions will produce that? Will constant— in many people's minds, excessive — retaliation produce that?
Singer: I don't think that this is excessive retaliation. If you look what Israel does, it actually uses excessive care to make sure that civilians are not harmed in their operations. If you compare what Israel does to try and root out terrorism amongst Palestinian society, and compare that with the global efforts against terrorism say, in Afghanistan or other parts of the world — where the accepted world norm for fighting terror is carpet bombing, missiles, and bombs — what Israel does is go door to door to make sure that less people are killed. If Israel decided that Israel would take the same tactics as the U.S. or other countries to fight terrorism, you'd see numbers inflated a thousandfold. It's a terrible situation, and what needs to happen, is that we need to return to the negotiating table.
Berdahl: Sid, what in your mind would be the dimensions of a peace settlement? Would the Palestinians accept a separate state, or is there an objective to destroy Israel and its existence?
Patel: I don't think that second statement has a basis in terms of widespread public opinion.
Berdahl: So they're willing to grant the legitimacy of an Israeli state?
Patel: That has been said a number of times.
Berdahl: If you grant that, then where do you go?
Patel: What it's really about is self-determination for the Palestinian people.
Berdahl: So a separate state would be a satisfactory solution?
Patel: If that's what they want. But I think people here should argue for the fact that Palestinian people can decide what they want, but the fundamental thing is that they get the right to choose. My hope is that actually it be one secular democratic state, where people are equal before the law and can live together as Muslims, Jews and Christians have elsewhere. Unfortunately, part of the project of building a Jewish democratic state is that there has to be some level of exclusion, there has to be some level of the law of return. There are different laws for Jewish people and non-Jewish people within the state of Israel, and one secular democratic state would be my final hope. The first most important thing is self-determination for the Palestinian people — what they choose.
Berdahl: If you accept what I think to be a legitimate assumption, or at least a reasonable assumption — that a secular state comprising both Israelis and Palestinians is not likely to happen — wouldn't a separate state for the Palestinians, moving Israelis out of the areas that have been occupied since the 1967 war, be a reasonable solution? Wouldn't that bring us closer to peace than we are today?
Patel: I guess I'll answer that in two ways. Definitely, this is a project of the Palestinian people, a step forward in terms of building, rebuilding Palestinian culture and life. What I would say is
Berdahl: Have the Palestinian people been prepared by their leadership for that kind of solution?
Patel: The leadership has found itself tied to conservative, neighboring Arab regimes. The leadership has conceded things that has caused widespread anger within the population itself.
Berdahl: So there is no real leadership?
Patel: The leadership is trying to do what it can in the situation, but there definitely needs to be grassroots mobilization. There is no leadership without real grassroots mobilization.
Berdahl: But is it mobilization for peace, or mobilization for terror?
Patel: I think it's mobilization for self-determination. I think it's mobilization for defense and the refugee camps. It's mobilization for "we need to get our towns back." Historically, if you look at it, there have been grassroots mobilizations and large-scale leftist organizations. Islamic fundamentalism has always been marginal to movements, and to say that the struggle for self-determination for Palestinians on a grassroots level is automatically equated with widespread terror, is totally ingenuous.
Berdahl: OK. Let's move to another issue we may be facing, that is, the possibility of an American war in Iraq. This, on a daily basis, looks almost more imminent. We send more troops to the Middle East, to the areas surrounding Iraq, each week, and the statements of the administration seem to be moving us more toward war. What's appropriate for the U.S., and what is the appropriate position in your view that those of us who are American citizens ought to be taking in this conflict. David?
Singer: I'm not in a position to answer that. The way I fall into this, is how does this affect Israel and the whole Middle East for that matter, and whether or not the administration thinks that war is a necessary option. The way this is going to play out and has been playing out is that we've seen Iraq funneling more and more money to the families of terrorists in the Palestinian areas. We've seen Iran and Syria funneling more and more money to the Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations trying to step up terrorism against Israel, to get Israel involved in any sort of conflict with Iraq and create a whole Arab-Israeli war.
Berdahl: Well, what do you think would happen then? Would Israel become involved in that kind of conflict?
Singer: Israel has suggested that it doesn't want to become involved. Certainly the last thing anyone wants is a more large-scale war. I know what will happen is that if Iraq, God forbid, decides that it's going to send biological or chemical weapons against Israel, and it does attack a population center and there are casualties, Israel will defend itself.
Berdahl: Wouldn't that probably precipitate a wider Middle Eastern war then?
Singer: It probably would, but there has to be a red line at which Israelis can say, we won't make matters worse, we won't try and enter this war, we'll do everything not to enter, but if our civilians and our citizens are being attacked by weapons of mass destruction, there's nothing Israel can do but defend itself — it has to defend its citizens. That's the primary necessity of a government.
Berdahl: Sid, you said it was the American response to Afghanistan that essentially radicalized your point of view. How do you feel about Iraq?
Patel: Not too different. I think that the U.S. has no business meddling with Iraq; if you want to find a lot of weapons of mass destruction and the people most likely to use them, check out the weapons we've got here. Who dumped hundreds of tons of depleted uranium on Iraq? That was the U.S. And is this about U.N. resolutions? Which state is in violation of the most U.N. resolutions? It isn't Iraq, it's Israel.
And so, I think we've got to look at the intentions. There was a Wall Street Journal article, I think, or maybe it was a Washington Post article, outlining how all these oil firms and these oil extraction services are getting ready to go. One thing that was said was, one of the executives said, "Well no, look, this war is not about oil. But as soon as it's over
" It's all about oil. It's also about the Bush Doctrine that was released last fall, which is a project of increasing U.S. dominance throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East. I'm totally against it.
There was a teach-in last night, I don't know if people saw the flyers, but about a hundred Berkeley students and community members crowded into 123 Wheeler Hall — not enough seats, people sitting on the floor —we had two great speakers and it looks like there is beginnings of what could be a vibrant anti-war movement on this campus.
Berdahl: Well, we live in a very dangerous era. Certainly the country's position, and the acts of terrorism that manifested themselves on September 11 and the responses to it in this country and around the world, have made this a very dangerous place. It's a different place than any of us expected in 1989 when people breathed a sigh of relief and felt that the major threats to peace around the world had receded with the end of the Cold War. Now, if anything, the world seems more dangerous. Does it feel to you that way, David?
Singer: Sure, there's conflict around the world. It's a sad place. The only thing we can hope for is a resolution of conflict and peace, as it pertains to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Berdahl: That takes a lot of will. And it takes a lot of will whatever side we're on. I say it's hard to see manifestations of that will for peace.
Singer: You have to be optimistic. There's no other hope to it. If you're pessimistic about it, it's an ugly world to live in. You have to be hopeful that there will be a will for peace, that people will keep trying, just as we've seen in attempts in the past.
Berdahl: So you would therefore probably join a peace movement in this country, expressing a will for peace?
Singer: In terms of war with Iraq, or it really depends on the conditions if war happens, how it happens, why it happens, I haven't really formulated my complete response to it yet.
Berdahl: Sid, any last words?
Patel: Yeah, sure, I think the thing about "we've got to return to peace, we've got to return to peace" is that if you look at what's happened since the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords, the settlements have more than doubled, the closures kept going, and military actions against the occupied territories have kept up. I just think this "return to the peace process" is one that Israel wants, because it's a project of colonial occupation and has expanded quite nicely.
Berdahl: I don't think we'll resolve this question here today, and if we had the ability to resolve it, we certainly would. I want to thank to each of you for being on "Bear in Mind," and bringing your points of view. You've argued them very, very forcefully, and it really is a dialogue that ought to be going in this kind of a format on this campus. I'm very grateful, Sid and David, to each of you for being on "Bear in Mind."
That was Sid Patel, member of the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition and David Singer, with the UC Berkeley Israel Action Committee.
Berdahl: Remember, Bear in Mind depends upon your feedback. Let us know your thoughts. What could we as students and citizens in the world do to ease the situation in the Middle East? Send your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question and answer session
Berdahl: Let's open the floor and
take a few questions from our student audience. You don't need
to limit your remarks to our topics this morning; you can ask any question,
perhaps even give a comic routine if you'd like. To ask a question,
please speak into the microphone, and I'll try to answer it,
or I'll duck it. Who's first?
name is Jennifer Dohn, and I'm a fourth-year dance
major. So besides being chancellor of this fine institution, what's
your dream job?
Berdahl: My dream job is being chancellor of this fine institution.
Dohn: Oh, c'mon!
Berdahl: I've had a number of very interesting
and wonderful jobs. I'm a historian and I've taught
history for 20 years or more, and continue to teach it off
and on, and I love being
member. But being the chancellor of Berkeley is really a
great privilege, because it really is the greatest university
face of the Earth.
Interacting with the kind of bright students we have and
the great faculty we have makes it a dream job. It really is.
Dohn: Thank you.
Berdahl: OK. Who's next?
Student: Hi, my name is Fang He, and I'm a
second year majoring in economics and industrial engineering.
a huge basketball fan, and I just came back from the game last
night, and right now this
year is awesome. We're on a tear, and on top
of the Pac-10, and only behind the No. 1 team in the
I was just wondering
maybe you could share your excitement and compare it
to the years past.
Berdahl: Well, I think it's
extraordinarily exciting, and it really is something
that gives the entire campus a boost. There's
nothing like the kind of spirit and enthusiasm that
you have in Haas Pavilion and when we're winning,
and we usually win at Haas Pavilion as you know.
I think we've got a wonderful team, and it's
a young and reasonably new team, in the sense that
several players who are making major contributions
who are new to the team. It's wonderful to
see Brian Wethers, Joe Shipp, and a couple of seniors
really rise to meet the challenge of being leaders
on this team, too. It's a very exciting thing
and I hope this winning streak we're on continues.
This team has the capacity when it's really
on top of its game to beat anyone in this country.
Student: Hi, my name is Molly Cundiff and I'm
a fourth-year integrative biology student. I've
been living and working for the past three years
in the Residence Halls, and now I'm a Resident
Assistant at Unit 2, where as you know, there is
a lot of construction going
on. And so my question is, how much do you know
about what the quality of life for students has
construction started? What are
you doing to inform yourself of what's going
on for students in these units?
Berdahl: This is a huge dilemma for us because the students have
been asking, as you know, for
five or six
and for us to construct more housing on the campus.
And there are certain areas on the south side,
namely People's Park, where the students
have said, "You can't build housing
here." So as we
look at areas on the south side where we have
space, and that will not eliminate more parking,
through the construction of the new
dining hall facility and then the demolition
of the other, old dining hall facilities that
seismically unsafe, and the infield construction
close to the units that are there. That's
the only real space that's available for
any kind of major construction.
we've built one unit at College and Durant
and are building another smaller housing unit
on the south side. But for the
kind of demand for housing that the students
have pushed forward, there really is no other
location than where we're building. I
know it's really tough though, and it
may get tougher before the year is out. We
just build in he summer time obviously, and
we can't empty out the residence halls
while we're doing
Cundiff: I don't think we shouldn't
have construction there, I was just curious
to know how it's really affecting the
students and what sort of compensation or ways
we can listen to what the concerns
Berdahl: Well, I know that the Office of
Capital Projects is very happy to try to
any of the requests
and to mediate any of the problems that
going to be inconvenient, and there will
be noise associated with it, so I thought
maybe we should build them during the night,
students are up and about anyway. Anyway,
we will have a conversation with Capitol
Projects and Housing about what we can do.
Cundiff: Thank you.
Student: Hi, my name is Marisa Hill and I'm a fourth-year anthropology
pre-med student. UC Berkeley has so many
amazing wonderful traditions — I'm
wondering what your favorite tradition
is at Cal, and why?
Berdahl: Well, we have so many that it's
so hard to select a particular tradition. I'll name several
that I think are great. The role of the band and the music,
I would say, the tradition of the
Men's Octet and the Women's
Octet and the Golden Overtones are
really wonderful. They appear at so
and the history
of those groups are fantastic, because
I know some of the people who sang
in the original Octet and Overtones.
spirit of Cal to so many things that
are happening. So I think the traditions
around the band and around the music
are just great. The
purpose of traditions overall is to
link us to the past, and to link this
of students with previous generations
That essentially is the whole function
of the traditions. So those traditions
that link those generations together
are the ones that
I cherish the most.
Hill: Me too, thank you.
Student: Hi, my name is Rocky Gade and I am a third-year political economy
I think all students
feel here is the sheer enormousness
entire school. I mean we talk
about that with a lot of the suicides
that occurred at Evans Hall. Specifically,
know that many
to ask you
what steps on your level have you
taken, or will you take, especially
the upcoming budget cuts, to decrease
things like class size or to help
Berdahl: Well I have to say I've been an administrator, a faculty
member, at a large university
my whole career. The University of Oregon, where I really began,
a somewhat smaller university, but the University
of Illinois was larger, and the
University of Texas much larger — it
has more than 50,000 students.
So when I came to Berkeley from Texas, it felt a lot smaller
to me, but I also know that we are like any large
public university, an institution
that has a degree of impersonality about it, that there is a
bureaucracy, and a lot of the classes that
students have — particularly
in their first couple years — tend
to be large lecture classes.
of the things we've tried very hard to do is to break that
freshman seminars so that virtually
every freshman who wants to
can gain access
to one. I think
about 80 percent
freshmen take them
today. And the purpose of that
is to make certain that in
access to a
faculty member in
discussion session section,
in the hope that that will break
down some of the large-scale,
impersonal nature of the university.
on that now. The vice provost
for undergraduate education
on a sophomore
will do more
in terms of
and we're also investing a
good deal in introducing research
We have lots of undergraduates
working in laboratories
around the campus. So that
in the educational experience, that
advantage of being at a
research university through
those research experiences and some
of the opportunities that small
also afford them.
the Tang Center is a very fine
support center. I
health center around.
a heavy stream
of traffic and a lot of work
to do. But they're there
to help students
of the things
that have happened on this
campus and others, at smaller
have to do
with very difficult
that a lot of
face that predate them coming
to a university, but that
may be exacerbated
by some of
the challenges that they
away from home.
We want very much to have
this university serve all
of the needs, not just the
academic needs but the psychological
they face as well, and I
think the Tang
Center does a
good job of that. But there
and on, terrible tragedies
in any collection
of 33,000 people. We hope
to be able to prevent them whenever
just one of
happens that breaks
that's about it for this edition of Bear
like to thank
all of our
for the quality of the
questions that you asked. Until the
next edition of
is Chancellor Bob Berdahl