As Israelis prepare for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, March 20 to March 22, obviously with the intent of reactivating peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it is worth noting the benefits currently enjoyed by the Palestinians through the benevolence of the Israeli government. Israel collects and turns over to the Palestinian Authority taxes it collects from Palestinians working in Israel. Israel has equipped and trained the 50,000-member Palestinian police force and co-operates with it to eliminate potential terrorist attacks. There is co-operation between the entities with respect to the use of water and the sale of manufactured goods. With regard to Gaza, Israel provides electricity and fuel and permits the delivery of essential foods, drugs and building supplies. All there remains to be resolved – and of course, these are big issues – are the final borders, the Palestinian refugee situation and, last but not least, the recognition of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.
* * *
Kwinter and Jewish education
I’d like to congratulate Monte Kwinter on the longevity of his political career and for making “no secret” of the fact that he is Jewish (“Kwinter becomes Ontario’s oldest-ever MPP at 82,” Feb. 14). The York Centre Liberal MPP proudly tells of visiting Kiev with a group of Ukrainian Ontarians and successfully suggesting a memorial for the victims of the Nazi massacre at Babi Yar. In my opinion, the victims of the Holocaust would have chosen to be remembered with fewer memorials and more support for future generations of Jews. I, therefore, find it unfortunate that Kwinter does not feel strongly enough to break from his party over their disregard for the Jewish community by removing the tax credit for Jewish education while continuing to fully fund Catholic education far beyond constitutional obligations. One has only to glance at The CJN editorial “Summit on education” (Feb. 14) to appreciate that this is an issue that should be a deal breaker for a Jewish politician.
* * *
Remembering Rabbi David Hartman
Permit me to add to the excellent piece “Educator, activist dies at 81” (Feb. 14) about the late Rabbi David Hartman. During the struggle of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel, Rabbi Hartman was at the centre of all demonstrations for Soviet Jewry. I believe that we should remind CJN readers about Rabbi Hartman’s contribution to the Soviet Jewry episode. I was with him in that struggle, along with my late daughter.
* * *
Jews live in poverty in FSU
I commend Dov Harris for his essay on Jews who are living in poverty in the former Soviet Union (“In the shadow of Operation Exodus,” Feb. 14). It’s for most of us a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” The issue of their abject poverty, in many instances, is what strikes a chord. The Brandeis University report, which Harris quotes from, clearly indicates that those in dire straits are clearly pinpointed and accessible, and not just lost in the maze. If UJA Federation of Greater Toronto increased the percentage it annually contributes to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the lead organization battling poverty in the former Soviet Union (FSU), it wouldn’t affect the other essential campaigns. There is lots of food for thought, and hopefully swift action.
* * *
Rabbi Erwin Schild’s guest voice, “Penny ante,” (Feb. 14), is a factual, profound, romantic, informative and humorous piece of literature on his objections to the abolishment of the one-cent coin. I can still recall as a child, with great nostalgia, my mother’s important search – yes, the dire need – for pennies to deposit into many of her tin tzedakah boxes before she would light the Shabbat candles and say her many Shabbat prayers. I heartily agree with Rabbi Schild’s views, all of which make good common cents. We still have two jars filled for his support.
* * *
Rabbi Erwin Schild is rightfully distressed that the Canadian goverment has left him penniless (“Penny ante,” Feb. 14). I can also imagine how this will affect all the people wearing penny loafers. This new policy of the Harper government really makes no cents! Anyway, this is my two cents’ worth.