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Offensive Ad Is Uncalled For

As one of the steering committee members of the Israel@60 week at MIT, I was perplexed and bothered by the placement of a blatantly anti-Israel ad in the Tuesday, May 13 edition of The Tech. The events we coordinated were designed to celebrate Israeli culture and the contributions of Israeli society with a general good will toward sections of the student demographic that may share divergent attitudes toward Israel. The week was explicitly non-political, non-propagandistic, and strictly NOT anti-Palestinian/Arab.

Despite creating a program designed to be inclusive and to open dialogue within the MIT community, we are instead rebuffed by an ad indiscriminately designed to demonize Israel and Jewish people.

It would require some pages of The Tech to rectify the factual misrepresentation and de-contextualizations of the claims in the ad, which my letter will not seek to accomplish. I shall suffice to note that Israeli security, history, and the status of the Occupied Territories are complex issues, on which the interested reader should seek to inform himself/herself by reading books and articles from all points of view.

With regret, I call on students responsible for the ad to approach such political and historical issues with greater open-mindedness and sensitivity in the future.

Stephen D. Fried ’09

Traffic Signals and Making a Police Officer Swear

I am writing on behalf of the Mass. Ave. crossing student body. For about two months now we have been taking our life in our hands crossing at Amherst St. I’m careful and yet have narrowly avoided being hit numerous times. In fact, late at night I have even seen an SUV full of large guys yelling at a pedestrian for being in the crosswalk.

Installing a little pair of “flappy” (rhymes with crappy) signs in the middle of the road was not sufficient, especially given the high speed of cars leaving the bridge and the volume of students crossing. (I drive too and the signs are very hard to see until too late.) Nor do I accept “construction” and “delays” as an excuse. Construction-wise Cambridge is a perpetual disaster zone — four years of yellow barrels, missing crossing lights, etc., along Mass. Ave. Temporary solutions, such as large flashing lights or even a police crossing guard, do exist and should have been implemented. And not just at Albany street but at all the randomly failed or disconnected crossing lights along Mass. Ave. This should be someone’s particular job.

On the morning of May 23, after another near miss, I approached the duty officer — who can best be described as “hanging out” with the construction crew — and asked him to step into the street and help students cross. His response was that the crosswalk was “closed” since the lights were out and no lines were painted. I pointed out that it had been this way for two months and asked him to radio for assistance. His mature response was to swear at me and then accuse me of yelling at him. Apparently, the big burly construction workers need more protection than puny pedestrians. What a perfect way to sum up Cambridge’s approach to public safety! (As an aside, when I mentioned this to a foreign national colleague, his response was, it would not be in my best interest to speak to a cop that way. Telling.)

I’m willing to bet that this particular problem will be “fixed” rapidly, however Cambridge needs to significantly and immediately improve their treatment of the bipedal population, integrating them into every construction plan, not just as an afterthought when someone complains.

Nevan Clancy Hanumara G