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Monday, October 5, 2015

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Letters: Week of October 24

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Fogel’s methods don’t work

Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, assumes that good advocacy consists of talking to the political elite, keeping your head down, and not offending the public with Jewish and Israeli rights and needs (“We can’t have it both ways,” The CJN, Oct. 3). His method does not work. Most importantly Fogel does not acknowledge that evil propaganda has always been used to soften up the public before the oppression or expulsion of Jews.

Fogel assumes that protesting simply feeds the egotistical needs of neurotics. Courageously standing up and protesting for Judeo-Christian, democratic values and showing the public that he cares does give the protester a good feeling of having done something of value – something for Judaism, Israel and Canada.  It is the public, not the “echelons of power” that needs to know about the values of Israel and Judaism.

Fogel’s suggestion, that only speaking to political leaders is effective, is shortsighted, wrong, and unfortunately mainly intended to vilify those who disagree with his approach. Fogel is trying to split the Jewish community into competing factions. I expect much more from his unofficial Jewish leadership.

Jonathan Usher


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Why publish Joe Oliver?

It is baffling that The CJN still publishes regular columns by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver (“Canada-Israel energy ties hold great promise,” The CJN, Oct. 10). Oliver adds little to the paper with his repetitive adulation of the Conservative government.

Worse is Oliver’s support of the government’s cuts to refugee health care. Oliver has publicly proclaimed that refugee claimants were previously receiving care “superior” to Canadian citizens and residents – not true. Refugee claimants in various categories who are lawfully within our borders, following the rules, are being virtually denied all care including prenatal care, treatment for heart attacks and chemotherapy for cancer.

Oliver represents a government whose refugee policies stand in contradiction to Canadian values and especially to Jewish values. Jews know well enough the consequences of a government that is hostile to refugees and Oliver’s support for the current policies places him outside the natural empathy for refugees arising from Jewish historical experience. Enough of Joe Oliver.

Philip Berger


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Public apologies increase interest

A recent letter (“Exhibit caused too much damage,” The CJN, Oct. 17) on the display of children’s art from Gaza display at the Hamilton Public Library is misguided.

Some may prefer to react to this issue by vocally denouncing the library and demanding public apologies. While this may be emotionally satisfying, it has been shown to generate a buzz of controversy that only increases media attention for the anti-Israel exhibit.

In contrast, UJA Federation of Hamilton and its public relations committee undertook a strategic response to the exhibit by pointing out its dubious content (which led to its relocation to the exhibit display area on the 4th floor), ensuring the venue adopted a policy that prevents future exhibits from misusing its premises, and taking the opportunity to share Israel’s positive achievements in a way that resonates with average Canadians (who care very little about the Middle East conflict).

I was proud to attend the federation’s “Israel:  Helping to Heal the World” photo exhibit at the library, and was encouraged to see the presence of 150 local residents (including elected officials), as well as the overwhelming expressions of support from the Hamilton Jewish community. It reminded me that our advocacy should always be guided by strategy and logic – not emotion.

Judy Zelikovitz


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Federation does unify

We recently read the letter (“Community divided by JCC closure,” The CJN, Sept. 18) accusing UJA Federation of Greater Toronto of dividing Toronto’s Jewish community by allowing the demolition of the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre.

We were members of the old “Y,” and while we were sad to see it replaced, its time had passed. When the Prosserman JCC opened, we enrolled our children in preschool and joined the fitness centre, and we could not be happier with the overall experience. When we look at our community, we see nothing but growth.

UJA Federation has shown great vision by opening the Prosserman JCC, as well as the Schwartz/Reisman Centre in Vaughan and transforming the old Bloor Y into the new Miles Nadal JCC. All told, those three institutions alone engage more than 12,000 individuals. If that’s not the definition of unifying the community, we don’t know what is!

Jeffrey and Lolly Herman


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Churches have become shuls in past

We Jews, of all denominations, are pleased when one of our numbers grows, as is the case of Chabad of NDG taking over a former church (“NDG Chabad moves into former church,” The CJN, Oct. 10). It should be noted that this it is not the first such event in recent memory here in Montreal. 

Chevra Kadishsa’s second location was a Methodist Church located at the northeast corner of Fairmount and Hutchison streets. The Beth David Synagogue on St. Joseph Boulevard West is the former St.Giles Prebyterian Church. 

In more recent times, the Shaare Zedek Congregation of western NDG enjoyed the hospitality of the Knox Crescent and Kensington Presbyterian Church’s community hall for some five years before the synagogue was able to start building its own complex on the corner Fielding and Rosedale.

I have worshipped in all of them over the years.

Three publications by Sara Feldman Tauben on the old synagogues of Montreal make for interesting reading on this subject.

Reuben Brasloff


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Conference wouldn’t happen at York

If this conference (“Conference uncovers new angles on the Holocaust,” cjnews.com, Oct. 9) was held at York University, it would have been a Holocaust denial conference.

Marty Cutler



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