The United Church’s view of Israel
The conversation between Rabbi Dow Marmur and Rev. Bruce Gregersen at Holy Blossom Temple was revealing more for what was not said than for what was (“United Church not against Israel, says official,” Dec. 13). Absent from Rev. Gregersen’s comments was any explanation as to why the 26-page report of the United Church of Canada on Israel/Palestine failed to make any mention of Hamas or Hezbollah. Nor did it, in singling out the issue of settlements, mention Israel’s removal of every last settler from the Sinai and Gaza. As someone who attended the UCC General Council meeting and spoke to many delegates, I can personally confirm that these crucial facts of history were unknown to many UCC delegates who, when they were brought to their attention, responded with blank stares.
Absent also was any recognition on the part of Rev. Gregersen that expressing regret for asking the Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state serves only to encourage the rejectionist ideology that has long plagued the Palestinian leadership.
A poll conducted by Bearing Faithful Witness (led by UCC minister Rev. Andrew Love) and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs showed that an overwhelming majority of UCC members opposed the policy positions contained in the UCC report. To that extent, I agree with the headline of the CJN article, if not with Rev. Gregersen himself. While we do not believe that the United Church at the grassroots level is disturbingly anti-Israel, we cannot say the same of the General Council itself.
Director of Community Relations and Outreach
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
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Settlements don’t impede peace
Has Israel Lyon of JSpaceCanada been living on a different planet from the one to which the rest of us have been assigned (“West Bank construction,” letter, Dec. 13)? The announcement of 3,000 additional homes to be built in the West Bank came after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly refused to negotiate peace, after Palestinians resorted to endless violence leading to the recent war in Gaza and after Abbas went running to the United Nations to get the Palestinian Authority non-member observer status.
Perhaps Lyon meant to say that those things will now be even worse than before. Well, when someone has been screaming for decades that they want us dead and would prefer to die trying to kill us than live in peace with us, I would say that it cannot get any worse. And when people indiscriminately lob thousands of missiles at our children, they are not “militants,” they are terrorists.
According to Lyon, simply announcing the intention to build homes in five years emboldens our enemies, but I would argue that terrorists are emboldened when Jews take up the Palestinian cause and regurgitate the lie that settlements are the biggest impediment to peace. Actually, antisemitism is the sole impediment to peace, and Jews of all political stripes need to understand that they are not responsible for the hatred directed at them and, therefore, cannot alter it by appeasing the antisemites. Jews are, however, responsible for recognizing antisemitism and for crushing it at its source.
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Dysfunctional dispute management
Israel’s recent decisions to expand settlement building, including housing, in the E1 zone east of Jerusalem and withhold about $100 million in Palestinian tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority are not steps toward peace. These are steps toward the extension and escalation of the ongoing conflict. The key is that the cycle of tit for tat must be broken. You give me a bloody nose, I break your legs. You break my legs, I give you a black eye. This dysfunctional process of dispute management only means more of the same, as it has since 1948. When do we say enough is enough?
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Antisemitic caller to talk show
On Nov. 21, An Arab caller to a Montreal French-language talk show, Fabi la Nuit, said the Holocaust was “the most beautiful thing that could happen in history.” She went on to call Israelis “dogs,” and told Montreal’s Jewish community to “go to hell.” The show’s host, Jacques Fabi, did not cut off the caller, but went so far as to agree with her, warning her that Jews must be treated with “white gloves” before finally thanking her for having called.
Fabi’s resulting one-month suspension without pay and written letter of apology are inadequate, given the magnitude of the offence. The controversial call on his radio talk show and Fabi’s response definitely crossed the fine line between freedom of speech and committing a hate crime.
Section 319 of Canada’s Criminal Code states that “every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group… is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment.” The repugnant and offensive antisemitic rant made by Fabi’s caller also falls within the definition of defamation, or public libel.
By permitting said call to go through in its entirety over public airwaves and agreeing with its author, Fabi became complicit in the offence and liable to possible criminal and/or civil prosecution. Perhaps it’s necessary to take such legal action to demonstrate that such behaviour will no longer be tolerated in Quebec and/or the rest of the country.