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Thursday, July 31, 2014

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Will Obama keep his promises?

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It remains to be seen if the pre-election promises U.S. President Barack Obama made with regard to Israel will be kept. The most important of these was backing Israel in its ongoing dispute with Iran over Iran’s nuclear program, which Israel and the rest of the world fears will end with Iran possessing nuclear bombs. While sanctions imposed on Iran by the UN have had a severe effect on the Iranian economy, Iran still cheats by trading with Russia and China. It remains to be seen whether Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s successor (Iran will soon have national elections) is less hostile to Israel and may show compromise on the issue of nuclear development.

The next major decision with regard to Israel that Obama must face is Egypt with its Muslim Brotherhood government, which hints from time to time that it will abrogate the peace treaty with Israel. Will Obama end military and economic aid to Egypt if the treaty is not honoured?

Another important issue facing Obama is the decision by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to apply to the UN for membership. American financial aid to the PA can be a deterrent in preventing such a move, which would shatter hopes of a peaceful agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Last, but not least, Obama will have to face the deteriorating situation in Syria. Hostilities have spilled over into Lebanon and Turkey, and even into the Golan Heights, which could bring Israel’s military into a confrontation with Syrian forces.

Obama will also have to repair the American economy during his second four-year term. We have no choice but to wish him well on foreign and domestic fronts.  

Bert Raphael

Thornhill, Ont.

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Calls to ban anti-Israel groups ineffective

 

Lawrence Hart’s recent column, “Where is our advocacy?” (Nov. 1), is sadly misguided. As polling research demonstrates, the majority of Canadians are uninterested in the Mideast conflict. This is why anti-Israel seminars and displays rarely draw more than a few dozen regular, hard-core activists. An effective advocacy response does not consist of trying to ban such groups altogether, but rather mitigating their capacity to reach mainstream Canadians. Ironically, public calls to ban such groups are not only ineffective – they end up creating a “buzz” around the event in the media, which in turn generates a larger audience.

This is why the Jewish Federation of Hamilton, with the national support of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), decided to urge the Hamilton Public Library to move the exhibit, A Child’s View from Gaza, to a less prominent space, while at the same time pushing for equal opportunity for a pro-Israel display. Indeed, the fact that the exhibit has toured other Ontario cities – drawing neither media coverage nor significant audiences – testifies to effectiveness of our approach. In this case, Israel’s opponents have failed to earn the attention of the general public. The last thing we should do is give them the oxygen they crave.

Hart’s article praises those in Hamilton who have chosen not to remain silent. But Hart’s view appears to be a minority opinion within the Hamilton Jewish community. Indeed, Hamilton Federation received tremendous support from a wide spectrum within the local community for the way it handled this issue.

On Nov. 5, federation’s public relations committee met with the library officials to continue further discussions on how to prevent similar occurrences in future. A summary of that meeting will be sent to the community shortly.

Larry Szpirglas, President, Hamilton Jewish Federation

David Somer, Hamilton Representative of CIJA

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Betrayal of trust for Zionists

 

In light of Israel’s repeated violations of their agreements to respect the ban on the building of settlements, it’s hardly a “Betrayal of Trust” (Oct. 25) by the 15 Protestant leaders to ask the U.S. Congress to investigate possible violations of Israeli’s adherence to bilateral agreements. Having first visited Israel in 1947, I have been a committed Zionist all my life. But the Israel of today is not the same Israel of those years. The true betrayal of trust for Zionists is how far Israel has strayed from the country that we Zionists saw as a light unto the world.

James Slater

Toronto

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Female clergy (1)

 

In the article “Female Jewish clergy discuss professional challenges” (Oct. 25), Janice Arnold writes that Abby Brown Scheier will soon become part of the modern Orthodox clergy with the rabbinic title “Rabbah.” Rabbi Avi Weiss, dean of the school Yeshivat Maharat, the seminary where Abby Brown Scheier is a student, was condemned both by the modern Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the haredi Agudath Israel of America for ordaining Sara Hurwitz, whom he gave the title “Rabbah” (his feminine version of rabbi).

The Agudath Israel in a statement released on Feb. 25, 2010, said that “these developments represent a radical and dangerous departure from Jewish tradition and must be condemned in the strongest terms.” On April 27, 2010, the RCA published a convention resolution that “we cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title.” After discussions with Rabbi Weiss, the RCA distributed a letter on March 5, 2010, in which he promised the RCA not to ordain any more women with the title “Rabbah.” How then, can Abby Brown Scheier become a “Rabbah” and part of the modern Orthodox clergy?

Rabbi Mordechai Bulua

Montreal

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Female clergy (2)

 

Your piece on the dilemmas faced by female clergy, “Female Jewish clergy discuss professional challenges” (Oct. 25), reminded me of the time when female doctors were called “nurse” and their competence questioned. Today, they’re a majority in medical schools. My message for the rabbahs and female cantors: hang in there, ladies, your time is coming. Yasher koach! 

Phyllis Amber

Montreal

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Arab-to-Arab devastation

 

In Abdulateef Al-Mulhim’s amazing guest voice, “It’s time to stop the hatred” (Oct. 18), he stresses that Arab leaders are the real enemy of the Arab-Muslim world. He noted that Arabs are “under constant attacks from their own forces.” Perhaps the best way to grasp the enormity of this Arab-to-Arab devastation is to look at the number of Muslims killed by other Muslims. A study by Daniel Pipes, president of Middle East Forum, and Prof. Gunnar Heinsohn of the University of Bremen, Germany, reveals the grisly statistics: more than 10 million Muslims have been violently killed by other Muslims since 1948. One intriguing question is why this 10 million figure is not used in the press or by students fighting campus extremists.

Esmond Choueke

Montreal

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