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Thursday, December 18, 2014

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‘Sticks’ needed to preserve Francophone heritage

Tags: Letters
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Columnist Gil Troy’s comparison of the Péquiste approach in preserving Quebec’s national identity with Israel’s approach is unbalanced (“What the PQ’s Bill 14 teaches us about Israel,” March 21). Many laudable parallels exist between Quebec and Israeli societies, but there are differences, which in Quebec have necessitated safeguards to the French language and Quebec culture, promulgated by Bill 101 and, arguably, Bill 14.

Israeli culture and the Hebrew language are not under assault in the Middle East, but Israel’s existential survival as a Jewish state is. That context precipitates discussions on the legitimacy of the occupation and other perceived “excesses” of Israeli policies toward Palestinians, and indeed Israel’s very right to exist.

Francophone Québécois have never faced the threat of physical extinction. But Quebec is surrounded by an English-speaking sea, so it’s not difficult to understand the cultural fate threatening the province. If we continue to regard our Francophone Québécois heritage as worth preserving, we have to deploy sticks as well as carrots.

Jewish distrust of xenophobic nationalist movements is understandable, considering how often Jews were not only excluded but also victimized by them. In 1976, guided by communal traumas of the past, many Jews left Quebec. Today, our challenge as Jews ought to be not only to embrace the language, the vitality and the richness of an inclusive Quebec, but also to demonstrate that these distinctive qualities of Quebec culture bond us by common values and aspirations to those of the State of Israel.

Joe Ronn

Outremont, Que.

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Péquistes and Palestinians

Columnist Gill Troy, in looking at Bill 14, should be comparing Quebec with the Palestinians, rather than with Israel (“What the PQ’s Bill 14 teaches us about Israel,” March 21). The Palestinians look to destroy anything Jewish. Witness what they did when Israel evacuated Gaza and left certain structures intact. They were destroyed because they were built by Jews. So the Péquistes have and will continue to destroy anything that has Anglo origins.

Joe Kislowicz

Toronto

 

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Maimonides doesn’t reject all supernaturalism

 

Rabbi David Hartman’s essay has some interesting points, but I don’t know why he jumped on what increasingly has become the bandwagon, and, at least by implication, attributing opinions to Maimonides that he was clearly opposed to (“Passover: a fine-tuning of the human soul,” March 21).

Maimonides does not reject all supernaturalism. He is quite clear that God performed miracles, including those in the Passover story. He subscribes to the idea that both nature and supernatural miracles are God’s actions. He, furthermore, doesn’t reject messianism or the resurrection of the dead. Both, in fact, are included in his basic 13 articles of faith. Possibly most telling, Maimonides spells out quite clearly what should be related to fulfil the commandment of telling the Passover tale. It is that we were slaves in Egypt, oppressed by Pharaoh, that God had mercy, performed miracles, and took us out – precisely the view that Rabbi Hartman was disappointed with. The Passover story is filled with all kinds of meanings, including important messages of human freedom and responsibility, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater and claim that that’s all there is. And, with all due respect, let’s not be intellectually dishonest to make a point, and try to promote the idea that simply because Maimonides was a radical he would promote any radical opinion.

Shalom Weinberg,

Toronto

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Iranian warships dock in Sri Lanka

 

I hope you are aware of the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka in 1983, and again in 2009, when more than 150,000 Tamils were massacred. Banned weapons like cluster bombs and chemical weapons were used to wipe out thousands of lives, including infants, children, women, elderly, wounded, etc. These internationally banned weapons were delivered to Sri Lanka from India, China and Pakistan. Sri Lanka is a friendly nation of Iran, Libya and Syria. We Tamils request your help to protect the Tamils in Sri Lanka. It was reported on March 22 that two Iranian warships, on which Iranian troops were on board, arrived at the Port of Colombo in Sri Lanka.

Kumarathasan Rasingam

The Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights

Toronto

 

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Wolf Pack still howling

 

The active Wolf Pack runners take issue with the tone and opinions expressed in the article “Attrition taking its toll on Wolf Pack,” (March 14). We are on the streets running three times a week, all year round, in all weather conditions. Our founder and leader Wolf Bronet, 90, still walks the routes year-round.

The Wolf Pack is a diverse group of men and women who range in age from their 30s to their late 70s. Some of us have been running with the Wolf Pack for more than 35 years. We have developed lifelong friendships, and there have been some marriages within the Pack. Wolf Packers support many charities and causes for Israel and the Montreal Jewish community and are proud, longstanding members of the YM-YWHA. Our lives have all changed for the better because of running with the Pack.

The article depicts gloom and doom, which is not the case at all. The Wolf Pack is undergoing transitions and, yes, we do lose some of our members for many reasons, as do many organizations. At the same time, we gain new, equally enthusiastic members.  We always welcome new runners. We are still going strong, whether we have six or 26 members. Do not write us off. Keep on running.

Frank Elekes and Andrew Toeman

On behalf of all the YM-YWHA Wolf Pack

Montreal

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