The motion of support that reaffirms and re-articulates the unique bond between Canada and Israel, put forward by MP Irwin Cotler in the House of Commons on May 7, did not, as you suggested, receive unanimous support and was, therefore, not passed by the House (“Gratifying and grateful,” CJN, May 15).
I wonder what happened? Who were the MP’s who voted against the motion? What parties do they represent? This is not idle curiosity. In advancing our causes, we are entitled to know who are our supporters and who are our detractors. These detractors are certainly entitled to their negative votes, but why must they remain anonymous?
Joseph J. Wilder
Israeli and Palestinian narratives
As columnist Jesse Mintz asserts, it is true that there are chasms in the Israeli and Palestinian narratives and the new historians try to ostensibly address them (“Sixty years later,” CJN, May 1). However, the real motive of some of the new historians, such as Illan Pappe, is to further their far-left ideology. Prof. Pappe has even been on record as saying the “facts matter less than the ideology.”
Regardless, these post-Zionist historians have been busy uncovering perceived and real Israeli misdeeds as a way to bridge narratives. However, the problem is that as Israelis become more sensitized to Palestinian suffering (much of it self-inflicted), there has been little acknowledgment by the other side of Jewish suffering. Deir Yassin reaches mythical proportions, not unlike the deplorable attempts made to do the same for Jenin in 2002. The massacres of Jews in Hebron in 1929, the Arab riots and killing of Jews in 1936, the massacre at Gush Etzion and of Hadassah medical workers in 1948 are obliterated from the Palestinian narrative. Or more importantly, there is no acknowledgment of the invasion of Arab armies in 1948 in the Arabs’ quest to destroy the nascent Jewish state. War just “broke out.”
While one side tries to address some of the unpleasant facts of history, the other side deviates more from the irrefutable truth and revises it to meet its ideological objective – the elimination of the Jewish state. In fact, in many ways, the Palestinian narrative has become more extreme, attaching false labels to the Jewish state, such as “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing,” that do not hold up under honest scrutiny.
Reconciliation will come when both sides, not just one, address historical truths.
Norman L. Epstein
Talking to the enemy
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Kudos to Rafi Aaron for having the courage to condemn the expulsion of Lou Ronson, a man of integrity, from B’nai Brith Canada (“B’nai Brith expulsion,” CJN letters, May 8). However, there are a few more very important members of Upper Canada Lodge who were also expelled: Sid Isenberg (incoming president of the lodge for 2008), who, incidentally never received a notice of expulsion from B’nai Brith; Mark Mittleman (past president), and Lloyd Lindsay (incoming third vice-president for 2008). Is it possible that B’nai Brith Canada is afraid of new blood and new ideas, and the possibility that the organization may return to democracy and transparency?
Disagrees with letter writer
My answer to Bernard Katz’s inane, thoughtless and ignorant tirade about Israel, in which he writes that “Israel must stop double dealing, stop pretending to seek peace while travelling the same old paths of dishonour, immortality and death,” is, “Nuts” (“Re-branding Israel,” CJN letters, May 22). This is the same answer that Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, the defending general during the Battle of the Bulge, gave the Germans when they demanded that the Americans surrender.
Message of tolerance hits the spot
I have lectured about tolerance and respect for others in co-operation with the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, as one of its volunteer speakers, for at least 20 years. I have many memories of these encounters. My favourite question is, “Did you meet Hitler?”
Recently, I spoke at a school in Mississauga, Ont., at which 60 per cent of the students are Muslims. Their applause after my speech was as loud as any other I’ve heard after speaking. Then, two Muslim girls, dressed in traditional garb, smilingly approached me and asked me shyly, “Please, can we hug you?” So we did hug.
I guess my message of tolerance sometimes hits the spot.