Home Opinions Ideas Mira Sucharov: Why I’m resigning my CJN column

Mira Sucharov: Why I’m resigning my CJN column

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This is the final installation of my column at The CJN. No column is forever; though in this case, it has reached the point where I feel that the conversation is no longer productive – for me, anyway. And that means it’s time to move on.

A regular column is both a gift and a burden. It’s a gift in that, because the editor doesn’t require a pitch for each piece, we can write about whatever seems important to the writer at the time. My tribute to my late father-in-law was an example of this. It’s also a gift because the columnist is granted a clear and calm voice in what can be a crowded space where everyone seems to be shouting. My piece about Linda Sarsour’s political views was an example of this.

‘the cacophony that resulted from my piece rested on the use of a word which by now should be uncontroversial: occupation’

And it’s a burden because as a regular deadline looms, one needs to engineer inspiration rather than waiting for it to strike. There is nothing uncommon about forced inspiration; it’s part of many jobs. But I soon realized that in trying to think up topics as my deadline approached, I was beginning to self-censor. Topics that seemed most in need of commentary and analysis I was shoving aside out of fear that my readers would cry foul on basic facts. To draw on a metaphor, I had begun to feel like I was a geologist who had been hired to write a regular column for the community paper of the Flat Earth Society.

Readers are free – and even encouraged – to disagree, of course. We don’t write for echo chambers. (Though we are all human, and we can’t deny we enjoy receiving “likes” on Facebook.) But the reaction to my last column in particular drove home to me that in order to feel like I was gaining analytical traction, I needed to leave this audience behind.

Bringing up a comparison between Canada and Israel, as I did in my last column, could have raised all sorts of pressing and compelling debates, ideas and questions by readers: is Israel a
settler-colonial state? When it comes to the Middle East, who is defined as indigenous? How should the occupation end? How can security and rights and identity all be fulfilled?

Instead, the cacophony that resulted from my piece (and which editor Yoni Goldstein later outlined in his short essay defending his decision to run the piece) rested on the use of a word which by now should be uncontroversial: occupation. I later took to the pages of Ha’aretz to remind readers how what Israel runs in the West Bank is indeed an occupation. That piece was filled with basic facts and figures that are by now common knowledge. But like flat earth proponents, even common knowledge has its deniers.

READ: THESE BASIC FACTS INVALIDATE THEORY OF ‘OCCUPIED’ WEST BANK

Thanks goes to Yoni for inviting me to The CJN, and to Joe Serge, Carolan Halpern (now retired) and Daniel Wolgelerenter (who has since left) who were consistently supportive and skilled in their editing, invoicing and headline writing. And that Yoni sought out and retained my column is a sign that the pages of The CJN, if my pieces were any indication, were indeed open to at least some significant degree of dissent.

Had I not been penning a resignation column today, I likely would have written a piece analyzing the cultural and political resonance of Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev’s head-turning dress worn at Cannes – a dress which was made out of a stunning fabric screen shot of Jerusalem. It reminded me of a brown polyester T-shirt I wore in Winnipeg when I was six, in the late 1970s, made out of a fabric screenshot of Israeli pop sensation Yizhar Cohen. But that cultural and political parsing, including analyzing identity and attachment and political commitments, will have to wait for another outlet.

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  • Tyler Levitan

    It was always refreshing to read your column, Mira. I hope that the Canadian Jewish News seeks out additional voices of dissent from the community to provide a balance of opinions and perspectives. Sadly, the paper continues to ban Independent Jewish Voices Canada from having any editorial space. I hope the CJN will soon see the value in recognizing non-Zionist Jewish identities, and that barring voices of dissent from being heard is absolutely not the way to build a welcoming, safe, critically-thinking and ethical community. The current trajectory is leading the mainstream Jewish community on the path of continued tribalism and parochialism. The fact that you’re giving up your column, Mira, speaks to this greater than anything I could write. Shabbat Shalom.

    • Helen200k

      This comment by Tyler Levitan, an employee of Independent Jewish Voices, is nothing if not amusing.

      Although, I couldn’t bring myself to the point of actually buying a membership in Independent Jewish Voices, I was attracted to its mission statement when it was founded and subscribed to their email list for several years and found Independent Jewish Voices to be a profoundly anti-Israel organization. Although they paid lip service to peace and justice, it was obvious to me that Independent Jewish Voices did not support a two state solution. Rather, they support one state dominated by Palestinians.

      During the time I was subscribed, I was bombarded with thousands of anti-Israel emails. There was never anything favorable. There were emails in support of Iran’s Ahmandinejad, of Syria’s Assad, of Hamas and Hezbollah, but never anything nice to say about Israel or the Canadian Jewish community.

      At one point, I tried to challenge an Independent Jewish Voices claim that there was no difference between the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Jewish Defense League and was not allowed to. Independent thinking was not allowed on Independent Jewish Voices email group. Only those who supported the party line are allowed to have their say. An d yet they think they should have editorial space in the Canadian Jewish News.

      BTW, as a non-profit organization that solicits donations, I’d like to know the sources of Independent Jewish Voices’s funding. They are not listed on the Independent Jewish Voices website. And they are also not listed on the Canada Revenue Agency listing of charities. It’s hard to believe that membership dues and donations from Independent Jewish Voices’s tiny membership list is enough to pay Tyler’s salary.

      • Michael Sherman

        Tyler Levitan and his Independent Jewish Voices ilk single out only the Jewish state for contempt, opprobrium, and international sanction and boycott, thereby eliminating himself from any sensible discussion on Israel as BDS’ founders have confirmed themselves that BDS is more than just an attack on Israel’s actions in the occupied territories, but an attack on Israel’s existence itself.

      • Tyler Levitan

        Helen has had an axe to grind with IJV for years and has made numerous defamatory claims about the organization over this period. She is not a credible source for describing the organization. She even went so far as to attack me personally, digging up history about a close family member and posting it on the IJV Facebook page– demanding that I account for it.

        IJV is not a charitable organization, so there’s no reason why it should be listed on the CRA listing of charities.

        IJV does not take a position in favour of one state or two– so long as equal rights are granted to everyone living in Israel/Palestine, we would support whatever outcome the people of the region agreed to.

        • TerrorIsEvil

          So, let me get this straight, you don’t “have an axe to grind,” right?

      • Dani Schwartz

        I, too, would like to know how IJV is financed. They spend their time attacking JNF and CIJA and we know where those organizations get their money. So its only fair that IJV should be transparent about theirs.

  • Michael Sherman

    Typical left-wing ideologue. Likes to dish it out but can’t take it. Advances an anti-Israel anti-Zionist
    demonization but runs away at the first sign of opposition. And then has the temerity to promote an inveterate anti-Semite and bigot Linda Sarsour and then complains that the response has been beyond the pale. A more accurate metaphor for Sucharov to draw on is her being a journalist who had been hired to write a regular column for the United Church Observer.

  • J_Practical

    I guess good things come to those who wait.

  • J_Practical

    I suppose that good things come to those who wait. This was something worth waiting for.

  • Allan Barcelino

    Now that this person left (with leftist position), I can signup for CJN !

  • EvenSteven11

    It is because ‘edgy’ Yoni sought out anti-Zionist Sucharov for a regular columnist that I didn’t renew my subscription, and I won’t subscribe again until he leaves the CJN. Edgy Yoni will merely replace one anti-Zionist with another. I’m sure many others left the CJN because of Sucharov and Yoni.

    • TerrorIsEvil

      Yes, forcing “edginess” on the Jewish people with the sharp edge of the blade at our necks and no adult courageous enough to take it away. I am sure that they will find a leftist replacement with more tact, subtlety and more careful with his/her words but having just the same Israel-hating views. When Jews with so-called pro-Israel views approach them for columns, they just tell them that the CJN and their readers would not be interested!

      • EvenSteven11

        Edgy Yoni likes to make believe that he is practicing inclusiveness. Yet he deliberately excludes a sizable portion of the community, the ultra-orthodox, and has his columnists like Marmur regularly attack them. And yet he finds the space for anti-Zionists like Sucharov and far leftists like Marmur etc., and constantly promotes intermarriage. There is very little ‘Jewish’ anymore in the Canadian ‘Jewish’ News.

  • TerrorIsEvil

    Where is my good-bye harangue to Mira? You can publish it – nobody reads them anyway and you give the stage to Tyler and other Israel-bashers so I why are you unable to tolerate discourse from the opposite side of your political agenda? She can take it – as Mr. Sherman said, she can “dish it out” so surely she should be able to take it. I am sure that rabble.ca or some other dirty rag will snap her up because hating Jews is all the rage these days.

  • Helen200k

    The word “installation” in Mira Sucharov’s opening sentence, “This is the final installation of my column at The CJN”, does not make sense. I assume she meant to say “instalment”.

    I know that I’m being picky but words matter and I would assume that Professor Sucharov would not accept such sloppiness in the writing of her undergraduate students.

  • Tabitha

    No Mira, it wasn’t about “the word occupation”. It was bigger than that. It was about your tedious, wholesale disdain for a secure, Jewish homeland – and the CJNs ludicrous choice to give you a routine platform to drone on about it. Oh and Al Jazeera called. They’d like their opinions back.