War protestor, author informs students on foreign policy

A man standing in front of the Cultural Awareness Center sign.Richard Becker, noted writer and commentator on Middle East affairs and Western Regional Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Speaks on Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries' foreign policies at the City College Cultural Awareness Center on October 4, 2012. Trevon Johnson | trejohn@gmail.com

City College’s Cultural Awareness Center and International Studies Program hosted Richard Becker, a noted war protester, author, commentator and central organizer of several West Coast anti-war protests over the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, who spoke on foreign policy issues, Syria and Iraq.

Becker spoke on Oct. 4 about the 6 million Palestinian refugees, rebellions in Syria and brutalities of the civil war in the Middle East.

“Be mindful of the issues of racism used to justify war and then demonize people,” said Becker.

According to Becker, in 2005, the United States and France launched a campaign for a regime change in Syria, which lead to Palestinian refugees’ displacement.

Becker used a laser pen to highlight countries on a projector screen behind him. Around Syria, he explained, refugees have fled. Currently, the U.S. has a plan to manage the outcome of rebellions in Syria because whoever has control over Syria gains global power, said Becker.

Becker answered questions from some students from the Middle East.

Paul Hadweh, 19-year-old first-semester City College freshman from Palestine, said: “I think he was very accurate” about the current situation in the Middle East. “I liked that he backed everything up with statistics and was factual, not emotional. This is such a serious subject because it reflects us and how we’re [going to] live our lives.”

Hadweh commented on the harsh environment toward women in the Middle East.

“The U.S. is in Saudi Arabia where women have no rights and fighting in Syria at the same time; this is real,” said Hadweh.

Hadweh added that he attended the event as an assignment for a class.

“I found a flier on the library door and decided to come here for a class. I had to attend a workshop for a [Human Career Development] course,” Hadweh said.

City College history professor Sherri Patton filled in for the Cultural Awareness Center’s coordinator during Becker’s speech. She said she helps bring in speakers to campus. While working with the International Studies program, she said she has her “feelers out about war and Syria, so people can talk about it.”

Becker encouraged that Americans do not accept explanations from the government when asked to fight a war, that instead Americans should ask questions. He said racism is a practice of a method which has a long history tracing to issues of slavery and related to Native Americans.

“Where humanity is in question, it is also taken away,” said Becker.

The CAC accommodated 38 individuals for the event, who sat quietly around tables, listening as some took notes.

More information on Richard Becker is available at http://www2.pslweb.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PalestineBook_author