The downtown Hamilton Public Library recently featured drawings, at the library’s main entrance, that were purported to be children’s drawings illustrating how Palestinian children suffered during Israeli military operations in 2009 (“Hamilton library display sparks discord,” Oct. 11). The Hamilton Jewish Federation’s public affairs committee protested the display on the grounds that it incited hatred against Israel and Jews. The library agreed to move the display to the fourth floor, but many people saw the exhibit before it was moved. The public affairs committee should have pressed for an investigation to find out who approved the exhibit’s installation in the library and if the library investigated to determine if the display was fraudulent, written to the Hamilton Spectator to state the Jewish case against this exhibit, and lobbied elected officials who oversee the library to represent the Jewish community’s point of view, as well as demanding an apology from the library for using a tax-supported building to promote anti-Jewish propaganda. In short, federation and its committee were remiss in not doing more to combat this odious display whose main objective was to incite hatred.
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Community’s support of PM
Kudos to columnist Jean M. Gerber for raising an issue in your newspaper that I have not seen discussed, namely much of the Jewish community’s blind allegiance to the Conservative party simply because Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pro-Israel (“Put not your trust in princes,” Oct. 11). I agree that it is wonderful to finally have a prime minister who forthrightly supports Israel and denounces Israel’s enemies. However, there are many other policies promulgated by the Tories, for example, in the areas of finance, environment, science, women’s rights, foreign aid, crime prevention, electioneering and openness to public scrutiny, where their practices are debatable, to say the least. I would like to see the Jewish electorate think seriously about all the issues when deciding which party to support, instead of acting in a knee-jerk reflexive manner based on one area only, even though it is very important.
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Left-wingers cynical about PM
Jean M. Gerber in “Put not your trust in princes” (Oct. 11) raises issues that are of importance to Israel and in the fight against antisemitism. She criticizes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who are both on the political right. Netanyahu is criticized for meddling in the U.S. political campaign by asking for help in curbing Iran’s march to nuclear capability. Certainly, with Israel facing an existential threat, any Israeli prime minister should leave no stone unturned to ensure that another holocaust is prevented. Harper’s views on Israel, antisemitism and actions on Iran are viewed with suspect by the political left. They don’t believe that a great leader who says and does things because it is just and moral to do so may emerge from the right. Harper’s critics cynically believe his speaking out in defence of Israel and against antisemitism is political pandering to Jews. Issues such as health care, poverty, research and immigration should not preclude offering support to a leader who is at the forefront of Israel’s battle for survival.
Cote St. Luc, Que.
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Here is a link to a petition created by Cantor Michael Zoosman to the federal government to reinstate funding for minority chaplains, including Jewish chaplains, in Canadian penitentiaries (“Ottawa defends cuts to part-time chaplains,” Oct. 18). If you agree with it, please sign the petition at www.change.org. The Conservative federal government of Canada, normally friendly to minorities, including Jews, and to Israel, has decided to save a few farthings by eliminating the funding of part-time chaplains in the Canadian prison system. This would include Jewish chaplains. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, has said that volunteers or Christian chaplains would serve the purpose. Zoosman is a young American cantor who served recently at the Conservative Congregation Beth Israel in Vancouver and as a chaplain in the prison system. He has returned to the United States to study more about being a chaplain. He is an involved, concerned and compassionate man, and a friend of mine.