Chanukah greetings from Prime Minister Stephen Harper
“More than two thousand years ago, a small group of Jewish believers overcame the odds and courageously defeated and repelled their oppressors, liberating Jerusalem and reclaiming the Holy Temple as their own. As they rededicated the Temple, a second miracle occurred: a small amount of oil that should have lasted one night instead burned for eight. Since that time, Jewish people around the world celebrate the holy tradition of Chanukah, the yearly eight-day Festival of Light, in commemoration of those miracles.
“Born out of the triumph of light over darkness, of freedom over oppression and of tolerance over persecution, this celebration reminds us that miracles can occur even in the darkest of moments, and that justice must always overcome tyranny. Chanukah also reminds us that, here in Canada, we are truly blessed to live in a free, just and tolerant society, one which has been enriched by the innumerable contributions and achievements of the Jewish-Canadian community.
“On this first night of Chanukah, Laureen and I extend our most heartfelt greetings and wishes of hope and peace to families and friends in communities across Canada and around the world who tonight light their Chanukah menorahs.”
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
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Chanukah greetings from Liberal leader Bob Rae
"On the first day of Chanukah, Jewish families in Canada and around the world will gather to light the menorah and celebrate with their loved ones.
The Chanukah story is one of perseverance and great resilience, a story of hope and triumph against oppression. The Chanukah candles help us all remember the universal desire for the right to celebrate and express our own beliefs.
Canada is home to a strong and vibrant Jewish community that will tonight be celebrating with the lighting of the first candle. On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our parliamentary caucus: Happy Chanukah.
Hon. Bob Rae
Liberal Party of Canada
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I read the article “Winnipeg Jewish teen assaulted, burned” (cjnews.com, Dec. 8), about a male high school student who tried to light a Jewish girl’s hair on fire in what was referred to as an act of antisemitic bullying and which prompted an out-cry among Canadian Jewish leaders (also see “Two teens face hate crimes charges in Winnipeg incident” on page 24). Then I read “Jewish, Christian groups pan an-ti-bullying bill” (Dec. 15), about a Canadian Jewish leader who has “serious con-cerns” about the sex-education component in the proposed Ontario anti-bullying bill, which he “cannot, in good conscience, support [because it] is a law that calls on those of faith to abandon beliefs considered sacred all in the name of political correctness.” I hope to read about other Canadian Jews who feel that it is wrong to condemn a despicable act of antisemitic persecution against a Jewish teenager one week and the next week slam legislation to prevent despicable acts of perse-cution against a gay teenager. If this is the faith that I am meant to be practising and passing on to my children, I want no part of it.
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‘Criticism’ is a badge of honour
Mark Steyn, speaking at Holy Blossom Temple, targeted “a lot of Canadian Jews” and me specifically for our support of Canada’s anti-hate laws and, most directly, human rights commissions in this country (“Author takes aim at ‘western self-loathing,’” Dec. 8). Well, quite frankly, if that’s the worst I have done, then I will take such “criticism” and wear it as a badge of honour. Why? Simple. I am proud to stand on the shoulders of human rights advocates that arose from the Ontario Jewish community – people such as Louis Lenkinski, Kalmen Kaplansky, Sidney Midanik, Ben Kayfetz and many others who worked hand in hand with anti-racist activists such as Bromley Armstrong and Daniel Hill to ensure that there was a proper fence of protection to shield vulnerable minorities from hate and discrimination. These Jewish community social justice advocates led the way in the development of Canada’s first provincial human rights commission in On-tario.
Today, there is, for the most part, a much-needed and level-headed discussion pertaining to the efficacy of human rights legislation that targets hate speech. However, those like Steyn, who use this debate to advocate the full dismantling of our human rights apparatus instead of finding ways to make it better, do a terrible disservice to those who understand, as has the Supreme Court of Canada, that laws targeting hate speech are reasonable in a free and democratic society. Jews, of all people, understand full well how hatred, allowed to flourish, can become evil and destructive.
Bernie M. Farber
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Disagrees with author
We don’t agree with Hirsh Goodman, the author of The Anatomy of Israel’s Sur-vival, that Israel should give up the West Bank unilaterally if it can’t come to an agreement with the Palestinians (Writer brings important Mideast issues to the table,” Dec. 1). Look what happened in Gaza. You do not give the Arabs anything for nothing!
Toby & Moe Nadler
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Takes exception to CJN ‘even-handedness’
I am amazed that you chose to publish the letter “Disagrees with Goldstone” (Dec. 8), attacking Israel with the good old leftist cliché of “apartheid Israel,” when you only have room for four letters. I would expect a Jewish paper to leave the “even-handedness” to the likes of the Toronto Star or the New York Times.
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The Torah’s place
It was a pleasure to read the article “Return Torah to its place of glory” (Chanu-kah supplement, Dec. 15), setting out the Torah as the source of spiritual wealth and meaning. Social activism or gastronomical Judaism cannot replace the Torah as a source of Jewish understanding and the reason for Jewish existence.
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Palestinians are avoiding peace
The article “Settlements an impediment to peace” (Dec. 8), by Harry Schachter, claims settlements are an impediment to peace. I was of a similar opinion regarding the Middle East until former Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat’s response to the offer of statehood at Camp David in 2000 – not a counteroffer, but the second intifadah. It was clear he did not want peace. Nor do his successors.
Settlements are not the obstacle. They are an excuse for Palestinian governments to avoid peace. The Palestinians want either one or two Arab-dominated states in what was Mandatory Palestine (it doesn’t matter which). They want Tel Aviv, not just Jerusalem. If this were not true, they would abandon the position that Israel must let their so-called refugees back. The Palestinians haven’t made any concession over the years, while Israel has made many, including sharing administration of territory with an organization sworn to its destruction. And the PA has not yet changed the official Arabic version of its constitution to recognize Israel.
In the same issue, the letter “Disagrees with Goldstone” states: “While not an apartheid state itself, Israel has instituted significant apartheid measures in the West Bank and justly deserves the charge.” The letter writer either does not understand apartheid, or Israel, or both. There is nothing in common. The second intifadah was stopped by Israel Defence Forces action and the security wall. If that be apartheid (and it isn’t), bring it on!
Again and again, it has been demonstrated that any time Israel makes unilateral concessions to the Arabs, it is taken as a sign of weakness and more anti-Israeli violence results.
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Set a date for peace talks
U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta continues to call for Israel to return to the table and pursue peace talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (“U.S. officials’ remarks about Israel spark furor,” Dec. 15). This notwithstanding that Abbas adamantly refuses to meet with Israel and has instead decided to pursue a unilateral approach by seeking admission to the UN and to its various agencies. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said over and over again that he will meet anytime and anywhere, without any preconditions to pursue peace with the PA. I would suggest that Panetta simply set a date and place, perhaps in Geneva, and then urge both parties to attend. If Abbas fails to do so, it will then become evident where the obstacle lies.
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I would have liked your reporter to have asked Guy Bouthillier why he did not use his prestige as head of the nationalist Saint-Jean Baptiste Society to help Israel by speaking out against some anti-Israel, antisemitic francophone organizations, some unions and ultra-separatist groups, and why he doesn’t do so now. (“Guy Bouthillier explains why he loves Judaism,” Dec. 8).
Cote St.Luc, Que.