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Friday, October 31, 2014

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Former MPs recall Herb Gray

As former parliamentarians and current board members of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), we were saddened to hear of the passing of former deputy prime minister Herb Gray –­ someone who exemplified the Jewish tradition of civic engagement.

We had the privilege of serving in Parliament during Herb’s tenure, and can attest to the universal respect he garnered on the Hill as a committed public servant. We fondly remember his good nature, his humour, and his dedication to his community and country alike, both of which he represented with honour and dignity.

Sheila Copps

Stockwell Day

Lorne Nystrom

 

Remembering Herb Gray

Herb Gray and I lived in the Rho Pi Phi Fraternity House in Toronto during our school years, and he was my roommate. I remember Herb very well, and we became close friends over the years. As a student Herb made a deep impression upon all of us at the frat house. He was very serious, yet with a sense of good humour. He was down to earth and totally dedicated to his legal studies.

We knew that he would go far in politics,  but we could not imagine his meteoric rise in Parliament. He was re-elected 13 times, without interruption, a great record by itself. Despite his success, his warm personality and easy approach never changed. He set an example of statesman-like behaviour for all politicians to follow.

It is much to the credit of Canada, that a young and brilliant Jewish lawyer from Windsor reached the pinnacle of service to his country by becoming the deputy prime minister of Canada, admired and respected by all.

Leslie Dan

Toronto

Liberal record disputed

MP Marc Garneau’s letter (“What Trudeau said,” The CJN, April 24), belies the actual record of the Liberal party regarding the State of Israel. That record is clear: for decades under the Liberals, Canada either abstained or voted in favour of numerous one-sided resolutions attacking Israel in both the UN General Assembly and Security Council. Based on the platitudes offered by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, I see no reason to believe that this would change should the Liberals ever come to power again.

If the Conservatives were indeed focusing on electoral expedience in determining foreign policy, it would make sense for them to focus on Canada’s large Muslim community rather that the tiny Jewish community. The fact that they do the opposite is testimony to the Conservative government’s principled stand in this matter.

Furthermore, Trudeau’s contention that the Iranian people have democratic aspirations appears based on some typically naive and dreamy world-view garnered from the back of a motorcycle.

Were the vast majority of the Iranian people not supporting the mullahs in Tehran as they have for decades, they would no longer be in power. And if Iranians in Canada, in fact, oppose the Iranian regime and its murderous plans for Israel, where is their voice?

Sam Margel

Thornhill, Ont.

Israel guilty of ‘pinkwashing’

As a director of the Centre for Gender Advocacy, as well as a member of Independent Jewish Voices, I applaud both groups for the principled positions they have taken (“Protest tries to shut down pro-Israel gay activist,” The CJN, April 10).

These groups, and I as an individual, condemn Israeli state policies that violate human rights and that do not reflect serious commitments to justice and inclusiveness. Selecting isolated examples in attempts to show Israeli superiority, as in claiming how much better queers are treated there than elsewhere in the Middle East, is indeed to “pinkwash” their illegal (as ruled by the International Court of Justice) policies and practices.

This obscures the way many women are treated in Israel, how necessary health services are precluded for those held up at checkpoints, and how not all living within Israel have equal civil rights, to say nothing of the continuing occupation of Palestinian territory. n

 

Abby Lippman

Montreal

 

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