The IOC’s duplicity
The column “IOC still rejects Munich remembrance” (June 7), by Lawrence Hart, dealing with the refusal of the International Olmypic Committee (IOC) to hold a memorial service in honour of the Israeli athletes who were murdered at Munich in 1972, is a further illustration of the inherent duplicity of the IOC in pretending to adhere to the spirit of the Olympics, but at the same time bowing to political pressures from those countries that have disagreements with Israel.
The Globe and Mail recently reported that an Algerian athlete refused to compete against an Israeli at the World Cup canoeing regatta in Germany and that likely all Algerian athletes will refuse to participate in the London 2012 Olympics if they are forced to compete against Israelis. This, as the article points out, would be in complete contravention of the Olympic charter and should result in Algeria being thrown out of the Games.
At a previous Olympics, an Iranian athlete refused to compete against an Israeli, and notwithstanding a courageous condemnation by sportscaster Brian Williams, no steps were taken to punish the Iranians. In fact, on his return to Tehran, the Iranian who refused to compete was given a substantial monetary reward for his actions. I call on the head of the Canadian Olympic team to issue a statement of condemnation and for the IOC to state categorically that such acts of antisemitism will not be tolerated at the London Olympics.
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Small archives lose gov’t support
I read the article “Archivists denounce federal budget” (June 14), about the scrapping of a federal program that supports small community archives and museums, with great anticipation. As the former director of the Ontario Jewish Archives, I was involved in the creation of the Association of Canadian Jewish Archives and Museums and was very pleased that the institutional members rallied together to support the National Archival Development Program.
There is one error that I wanted to address. The minister of culture’s press secretary describes Library and Archives Canada (LAC) as a Crown corporation. He obviously is not very familiar with the ministry, since LAC is not a Crown corporation. I also wanted to note that beyond the loss of grant funds to Jewish heritage institutions, which is indeed significant, these cuts have been a near-fatal blow to the Canadian archival infrastructure – this includes the Canadian Council of Archives and the provincial councils – which support archives across Canada. In turn, the loss of dozens of archival and library jobs within LAC and the termination of most private acquisitions will also have devastating implications. In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, historian Jack Granatstein condemned LAC’s decision to abdicate its responsibilities in this area, which is a violation of its mandate, as showing “nothing so much as contempt for the past and, regrettably, for the future as well.”
With the largest institutions turning away private collections – even those from provincial or nationally acclaimed leaders and celebrities – who will care for these treasures as the budgets of smaller institutions have drastically been reduced over the last several years and there are no archival grants available anymore? This is something for the community to ponder.
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Yad Vashem graffiti
After reading “Yad Vashem vandalized” (June 14), I felt so disgusted that I would like to suggest that the perpetrators be ejected from the State of Israel. They are not only guilty of damaging Yad Vashem’s physical property, but they are also being totally disrespectful of the people whose memory is enshrined there, and these people cannot defend themselves.
Notre Dame de L’Ile Perrot, Que.
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The United Church report
In the guest voice “The United Church should not boycott Israel” (June 21), Shimon Fogel, the CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), takes the United Church to task for urging a boycott of settlement products and characterizes their recent report as “marked by historical distortions” and one-sided. I have, as a historian, perused the report and find it to be fairly balanced, giving due weight to the legitimate security concerns of Israelis, as well as to the national claims of both peoples. I would congratulate our Christian friends for having produced a balanced and thoughtful document. Fogel, however, takes exception to their call for a boycott of settlement products. Again, we might congratulate the church for eschewing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which they rightly regard as an assault on the legitimacy of Israel and the democratic forces within the country. They have taken a moderate and responsible position.
Fogel acknowledges the Jewish community has a healthy diversity of opinion, presumably extending to the settlements, but then proceeds to argue that CIJA must react when the church aims to target Israelis for boycott. Fogel has thereby extended CIJA’s legitimate defence of Israel to the defence of settlements, which is still a hotly debated issue. In The Crisis of Zionism, Peter Beinart urges us to distinguish between the democratic Israel, behind the green line, and the undemocratic Israel of the occupation and settlements, the correct target for a boycott. Likewise, Peace Now joined the settlement boycott, after the Knesset made it illegal to advocate such actions and subject to civil damages. Fogel and CIJA are out of line in extending their protection to the settlement enterprise.
Co-Chair, Canadian Friends of Peace Now