Seventy years ago, I witnessed the incarceration of homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps because of hatred (“T.O. to debate anti-discrimination policy before Pride,” June 6). I also witnessed the especially cruel and brutal treatment accorded them by guards and some inmates through misunderstanding, ignorance and hatred. It is therefore hurtful and disgusting to see that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) is spreading hatred and misinformation about a state and people who have shown support and understanding toward the gay community unequal to any state or people in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Authority.
I call on the Pride Parade to stop a small group like QuAIA from raining hatred on your parade. You have achieved such great victories against hatred, misunderstanding and ignorance, and it is your responsibility not to allow this small group to set back and tarnish your good work. There are many areas in the world that you must confront and fight for your rights. Israel is not one of those.
If the leadership of the Pride Parade does not live up to its responsibility and prevent QuAIA from marching in the parade, then I must implore Toronto City Council to make sure that QuAIA does not march in this year’s Pride Parade by withholding funding for this event. It would be immoral to spend public funds to promote hatred at any place and at any time, but especially at this event.
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An uplifting tonic for the community
The incredible success of the UJA Federation of Toronto’s Walk With Israel is a great uplifting tonic for the entire Jewish community and our non-Jewish friends (“Walk with Israel,” May 30). This unforgettable event, which brought together 16,000 supporters, including MPs, MPPs, city councillors and community leaders, meaningfully put into practice my favourite psalm, Psalm 133: “How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity.” With heartfelt thanks and heartiest congratulations and mazel tov to all the wonderful organizers, sponsors, volunteers and participants – blessings, cheers, shalom, from a very proud Canadian Jew.
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Peace with the Palestinians
The recent proposal by the Arab League to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks has been described by many who are familiar with the conflict as a possible big step forward. It is, therefore, essential for the Israeli leadership to begin to prepare the public for a permanent status agreement that will necessarily call for painful concessions and trade-offs. This, in turn, will require legitimizing options such as sharing sovereignty in Jerusalem, ending the expansion of new settlements and eliminating resorting to preconditions such as first recognizing Israel as the State of the Jewish people.
NGOs, opposition parties in the Knesset and the Jewish Diaspora have an important role in this respect. This role becomes even more crucial when Israeli leaders do not seem willing or able to opt for costly and painful conflict resolution steps. That is the case with the current Israeli government.
Six living former heads of the Shin Bet support an active effort to forge a permanent peace with the Palestinians. They believe that such a move would contribute substantially to Israel’s security, or as Plato said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
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Quebec’s fixed election date
I sincerely hope that there will be a strong response, locally and nationally, to the Quebec government’s recent marginalization of the Jewish community. I refer to the assignment of a fixed voting date in Quebec, with no flexibility, as in other provinces, so that in the next election, in 2016, the Jewish community will be forced to vote in early polls because the date of the election falls on Rosh Hashanah (See related story on page 24). To tell us there could be 100 days that might be special to different religious groups only emphasizes that there are 265 days of the year that would not intrude on anyone’s religious obligations. All Quebecers and Canadians should stand together when the rights of one group are so blatantly trampled.
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Legal advocate for the Jewish People
Tragically, on June 3, the Jewish People lost one of its greatest heroes, legal advocates and spokespersons, namely, attorney Howard Grief. Grief, originally from Montreal, was a Jerusalem-based attorney, who made aliyah to Israel in 1989 with his wife and two children. His magnum opus, published in 2008, titled The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel Under International Law, should be made standard issue for all Jewry, as it methodically elucidates the Jewish People’s iron-clad legal case for ownership and sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael, by discussing all pertinent international legal documents, treaties and resolutions alike. Mr. Grief’s work has helped me on numerous occasions to counter – and overwhelm – anti-Israel protesters and professors who attempt to delegitimize Israel and label its presence as one of occupation.