Response to Jason Kenny
Thank you for your coverage of the Harper government’s treatment of refugees, including the passage of Bill C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, and the recent modifications to refugees’ health-care benefits (“Rabbis urge PM not to cut refugees’ health care,” CJN, July 5).
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney makes it plain that the changes are meant to deter Roma refugees from Hungary from applying.
He is quoted as saying that when refugees arrive in Canada from certain “countries not known to produce refugees,” there can be a “presumption that few of those claims are likely to be valid.” A fair refugee system evaluates each claimant’s case according to its own merits, rather than making “presumptions.” My father was interned as a “friendly enemy alien” in England in 1940, and then in Canada, because German Jewish refugees were presumed, based on their nationality, to represent a security threat.
You write that Kenney “questioned… why Hungarian citizens seeking refuge [do not] take advantage of their full mobility rights within the European Union.” Let me answer. In Greece, the skinheads of the neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” march under swastika banners. In France, Marine LePen’s National Front experienced a surge in support in recent elections. In Italy, municipal authorities evict Roma families from refugee camps, according to Amnesty International.
Mr. Kenney, why are you surprised that Hungarian Roma – terrified by the growing influence of the neo-fascist Jobbik party (now the third-largest group in the Hungarian Parliament) – seek refuge in Canada, rather than in the European Union?
Rabbi Michal Shekel says the new immigration legislation should be rewritten “in a more nuanced manner.” Sadly, it appears that Mr. Kenney doesn’t do nuance very well.
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In support of all Jews
Last week, I marched in Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade with Kulanu, the city’s Jewish LGBT social, educational and cultural organization, to support all Jews, no matter who they are. The carnival spirit was infectious. One of our marchers sprayed water at onlookers and we were often doused. We held our banners high – the blue Magen David, the rainbow flags and the placards showing Israel as one of the most tolerant and diverse countries on this planet. I carried a cheeky placard that was a real hit.
But most satisfying was the response from the thousands of people along the parade route. Except for a very few boos, the response was heartfelt and positive. We were met with cheers, applause and thumbs up.
As well as having the most fun I’ve had in a long time, I felt proud to support my community and Israel. I hope that next year we can triple our numbers. It’s the best way to fight back.
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Haredim and the Internet
The article “Haredi community unites against Internet use” (JTA, May 31) gives the impression that haredim are opposed to the Internet mainly because of pornography. As haredim proscribe talking about sex, non-Orthodox Jews don’t understand the extent of their abhorrence of the Internet. Chapters 23 and 25 of the Enen HaEzer section of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Laws), written about 450 years ago and based on the Talmud, is their guide as to how stringent one must be on sexual matters, even in marital relations.
It is certainly not the liberal Jewish view of conjugal sex in books by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. It is a prohibition against both any form of sexual arousal outside of marriage and reading “heretical” literature. Therefore, haredim dread the Internet because of pop-up ads showing attractive women and because one may encounter non-Orthodox Torah. Indeed, some haredi rabbis warn that one can lose one’s share of the world to come because of improper sexual thoughts.