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Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Obama and Israel

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Sheldon Kirshner had to be very selective to conclude that accusations of U.S. President Barack Obama not being pro-Israel are “unadulterated nonsense” (“Conservatives impugn Obama’s pro-Israel record,” Jan. 5). For example, Kirshner doesn’t tell us that Obama has yet to visit Israel as president. He doesn’t say that in his much-anticipated Cairo speech, Obama openly stated that Israel was created as a result of the Holocaust, completely ignoring thousands of years of Jewish history in the Holy Land.

Kirshner neglects to mention that Obama was the first U.S. president to insist that settlement construction must stop, a demand even the Palestinians had not yet made. On the question of settlement building, Kirshner disingenuously refers only to the West Bank and the Golan, ignoring the huge fuss the Obama administration makes every time further building is approved in Jewish neighbourhoods in Israel. Everyone knows these will remain in Israel under any peace plan, yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton loses no opportunity to criticize Israel harshly and to claim they’re the only impediments to peace. Arab intransigence, terrorism and incitement are completely ignored.

Then there’s the pre-1967 lines, which Kirshner erroneously refers to as “borders.” These are armistice lines where fighting stopped in 1948. Every peace plan has envisaged new borders to be mutually agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinians. Obama was the first president to state categorically that the pre-’67 lines are the starting point for any deal, which dramatically erodes Israel’s negotiating power. As for Obama’s strong pro-Israel stance in recent months, Kirshner fails to note that this came only after a Republican won a New York seat that had been safely Democrat.

In short, if Kirshner had included all the facts, his column would have ended very differently.

Stephen Tannenbaum

Thornhill, Ont.

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Obama and Israel (2)

Sheldon Kirshner is way off base in his one-sided support for U.S. President Barack Obama (“Conservatives impugn Obama’s pro-Israel record,” Jan. 5). True, Obama never misses an opportunity to say he stands side by side with Israel, but his actions clearly show otherwise.

Let’s just focus on two, of many, examples. First, Obama tied peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to a freeze on building beyond the Green Line – something the Palestinians had never insisted on. Now it’s become a Palestinian pre-condition to restarting talks. Second, Obama undermined Israel by saying the starting position should be the pre-1967 borders, with land swaps. Undeniably, the 1949 armistice lines are militarily indefensible, and a retreat to those “borders” will seriously jeopardize Israel’s security. This, too, has become a Palestinian pre-condition.

Another four years of Obama in the White House would be nightmarish.  I wish the Republicans success in the upcoming election.

Ken Greenberg

Millbrook, Ont.

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Fourth Geneva Convention applies to West Bank

Yehudit Shier Weisberg’s letter, “Says writer got the facts wrong” (Jan. 5), warrants a lengthy reply, but let me just respond to a couple of representative points. The argument that Gilo is to the south of Jerusalem and thus in some way not part of east Jerusalem is an almost laughable quibble. Most of the world defines east Jerusalem as that part of the city that existed outside the pre-1967 armistice line, and that is exactly where Gilo is located. More significantly, Weisberg states that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to Judea and Samaria. It is true that Israel argues that the convention does not apply in the occupied territories. But the rest of the world sees it differently. Canada’s foreign affairs department explicitly states, “Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power.”

Harry Schachter

Toronto

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Seeking experts on Canadian Jewry

I am an independent filmmaker seeking experts in the field of Canadian Jewish history. I am working on a documentary that will explore Canadian Jewry from the 1890s up until the present day.

Damon Mondesky

Toronto

jewishspring@gmail.com

 

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