People who wish to criticize Israel should not be told that they hate Israelis or Jews. Particularly, Jewish Canadians who wish to criticize the Israeli government should not be deemed as self-hating Jews.
When I write about speaking out for Israel, I refer to speaking out for an Israel where the government and citizens respect the equality and human rights of all people who live within Israel and treat Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza with respect that includes the hope of seeking a positive solution to the situation involving the Israelis and Palestinians.
When I write about speaking out against censorship, I write in favour of seeking dialogues among people who are interested in what is happening in the Middle East. I do not need to be told that I cannot use Israel and Apartheid in the same sentence. I do not need to be told that if I say something negative about Israel, I must also say something negative about the Palestinians or other Arabs. Indeed, I will criticize the Palestinians and other Arabs when I feel the need to do so. I do hope that Arabs seek some form of democracy in their countries and accept religious pluralism that includes Shia and Sunni Muslims, Christians, Jews, and other religious groups. I do hope that the Arab countries improve the human rights and seek equality for women. As for Israel, I don't need people telling me how to frame my "non"-criticism of Israel. I don't need people telling me that I must include how Jews were poorly treated in the Arab countries in 1947-48 and that Israeli-Arabs (or Arab-Israelis) are better treated that Jews are treated in the Arab countries. That might be true. However, I expect that Arab-Israelis will be treated equally to Jews in Israel.
If I wish to call Israel an Apartheid state, that is my choice. If I wish to call for a boycott of goods coming from Israel, that is also my choice. If people wish to call me anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish, that is their problem--not mine.
Back in 1992, I voted against the Charlottetown Accord in a federal referendum. Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney labelled those who opposed the accord as Enemies of Canada. When I casted my ballot, I was proud to be an enemy of Mulroney's Canada, but not my Canada.
People like myself who wish to criticize Israel do so because we are pro-Israeli and support our Jewish friends. We want to make Israel into a better place for all its citizens and for people living next to Israel. We don't need to be told to shut-up. We need to speak out to make Israel (and Palestine) a better place.
I hope that you will read the op-ed letter that the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star refused to publish. Let your friends know about this letter.
Posted in Rabble-Babble:
This statement was rejected by both the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail (as an op-ed). Please help this important statement get into broad circulation - pass it on to your networks (faculty, community, MPs, university presidents, unions etc.). You may also wish to write to the Star and Globe editorials and express your dismay that they have chosen not to publish it.
Jewish Canadians Concerned About Suppression of Criticism of Israel
James Deutsch, M.D., Ph.D.
Judith Deutsch, M.S.W., R.S.W.
Miriam Garfinkle, M.D.
Over 150 Jewish Canadians signed a statement expressing their concerns aboutthe campaign to suppress criticism of Israel that is being carried on withinCanada. The signatories include many prominent Canadians, including UrsulaFranklin O.C., Anton Kuerti O.C., Naomi Klein, Dr. Gabor Mate, andprofessors Meyer Brownstone (recipient of Pearson Peace Medal), NatalieZemon Davis, Michael Neumann, and Judy Rebick. *
The signatories are particularly concerned that unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism deflect attention from Israel's accountability for what manyhave called war crimes in Gaza. They state that B'nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress have led campaigns to silence criticism of Israel on university campuses, in labor unions and in other groups. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff unquestioningly echo the views of these particular Jewish organizations.
They strongly state that they are against all expressions of racism. While firmly committed to resisting any form of prejudice against Jewish people,their statement explicitly states that these spurious allegations of anti-Semitism bring the anti-Communist terror of the 1950s vividly to mind. The statement underlines the immeasurable suffering and injustice to the Palestinian people due to the severe poverty, daily humiliations, and military invasions inflicted by the State of Israel.
Statement: Jewish Canadians Concerned about Suppression of Criticism of Israel
We are Jewish Canadians concerned about all expressions of racism, anti-Semitism, and social injustice. We believe that the Holocaust legacy "Never again" means never again for all peoples. It is a tragic turn of history that the State of Israel, with its ideals of democracy and its dream of being a safe haven for Jewish people, causes immeasurable suffering and injustice to the Palestinian people.
We are appalled by recent attempts of prominent Jewish organizations and leading Canadian politicians to silence protest against the State of Israel. We are alarmed by the escalation of fear tactics. Charges that those organizing Israel Apartheid Week or supporting an academic boycott of Israel are anti-Semites promoting hatred bring the anti-Communist terror of the1950s vividly to mind. We believe this serves to deflect attention from Israel's flagrant violations of international humanitarian law.
B'nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress have pressured university presidents and administrations to silence debate and discussion specifically regarding Palestine/Israel. In a full-page ad in a national newspaper, B'nai Brith urged donors to withhold funds from universities because "anti-Semitic hate fests" were being allowed on campuses. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff have echoed these arguments. While university administrators have resisted demands to shut down Israel Apartheid week, some Ontario university presidents have bowed to this disinformation campaign by suspending and fining students, confiscating posters, and infringing on free speech.
We do not believe that Israel acts in self-defense. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid, receiving $3 million/day. It has the fourth strongest army in the world. Before the invasion of Gaza on 27 December 2008, Israel's siege had already created a humanitarian catastrophe there,with severe impoverishment, malnutrition, and destroyed infrastructure. It is crucial that forums for discussion of Israel's accountability to the international community for what many have called war crimes be allowed to proceed unrestricted by specious claims of anti-Semitism.
We recognize that anti-Semitism is a reality in Canada as elsewhere, and we are fully committed to resisting any act of hatred against Jews. At the same time, we condemn false charges of anti-Semitism against student organizations, unions, and other groups and people exercising their democratic right to freedom of speech and association regarding legitimate criticism of the State of Israel.
Charles P. Cohen
Natalie Zemon Davis
Kevin A. Gould
Lisa Frances Greenspoon
Howard S. Kaplan
Bonnie Sher Klein
Richard Borshay Lee
Andre W. Payant
Edward H. Shaffer
Jon McPhedran Waitzer
Naomi Binder Wall
h/t: Babble, Challenging the Commonplace, and Dawg's Blawg