Israel Lyon, chair of JSpace Canada’s co-ordinating committee, claims that Israeli settlements in the West Bank “do impede peace” (“West Bank construction,” letters, Jan. 17). That is garbage. Peace talks didn’t happen when there were no settlements, but they did when Israel was building them. Fatah’s refusal to negotiate because of settlement construction is just a way for the Palestinians to put the blame on Israel for lack of progress toward a peace agreement. When these talks were happening, the Palestinians made no concessions and turned down several offers of a state. The real reason there is neither talk nor agreement is that there are two Palestinian groups, fighting with each other and undemocratic, and neither will settle for anything but control of all of Mandate Palestine.
Fatah refuses to drop the demand that their so-called refugees, all semi-prisoners of Arab governments and kept on welfare by the United Nation s for the last 65 years, be returned to Israel. Hamas, in its written constitution calls for the complete destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews. Yet, Israel is supposed to make peace.
Until the world – the United States, the European Union and Russia – stops thinking that pressuring Israel for concessions, which have never worked, is the key to peace and puts that pressure where it belongs, on the two Palestinian groups, there is no hope of a negotiated peace agreement. What is happening is farcical and would be hilarious if it weren’t so stupid and potentially tragic.
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Israel agreed to return captured lands
Sam Mitnick is correct that United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 calls for “every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized borders free from threats and acts of violence” (“Rockets threaten peace talks,” letters, Jan. 17). However, according to resolutions subsequent to the 1967 Six Day War, while Israel successfully captured the West Bank territories, Israel then agreed to return areas of the captured lands (Abba Eban, 1968) that, from an international perspective, are designated occupied lands. In return, Israel gets defensible borders and recognition as a sovereign state. Israel, unlike any other nation in the region, requires security guarantees. The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 substantiates this recognition of Israel. But what has Israel done since 1967? It has built settlements with 300,000 settlers, permitted vandalization of Palestinian properties, uprooted olive trees, etc., and endured a horrendous Palestinian terrorist campaign in return for their grievances with us. The Israeli government must stop what’s construed by many, including the majority of Israelis, as destructive activities mitigating the possibility of a two-state resolution to the Mideast conflict.
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Martyred WWII cantors
Ishei Yisrael Ut’fillatam is a list of European cantors who were martyred during the Shoah. The phrase “Ishei Yisrael Ut’fillatam,” borrowed from the Amidah, means “the fiery offerings and prayers of Israel.” This liturgical wording originally described the intensity of religious fervour required for true prayer, as if to say: may our words have the same meaning and effect as fiery sacrifices once did for our ancestors. Initiators of the project borrowed it to indicate that in the death camps and elsewhere, those who bore the responsibility of leading their congregations in pleading before the Almighty themselves became the sacrificial offerings of their era.
The list, currently totalling 1,447 names, dates and places (where available), was started by Cantor Joseph Levine and Cantor Solomon Mendelson, They found the majority of names in the databanks of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Others came from searches of Yiddish and Hebrew volumes such as the many Yizkor books of decimated communities whose survivors had published them in Israel beginning in the late 1950s. The compilers are now turning to individuals who might remember a relative who served as a cantor in Europe before World War II. Anyone with such information is requested to email the Cantors Assembly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe and Doris Levine
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Eradicating antisemitism first step to peace
Israel Lyon’s belief that a Jew-free Palestine will lead to peace is as naive as the belief that an Arab-free Israel will do the same (“West Bank construction,” letters, Jan. 17). Peace did not exist from 1948 to 1967 when there were no settlements, the Arabs controlled Judea and Samaria, hated the Jews and wanted to destroy Israel. The Arabs now want no settlements, the control of Judea and Samaria and the right to continue hating Jews and wanting to destroy Israel. So why would going back to these same pre-1967 conditions suddenly ensure peace today? The truth is, it won’t.
What Lyon fails to consider as he champions the elimination of settlements for the sake of peace is that this has been done before, and not only was this not a win-win for the region, it resulted in even more violence and many more dead people, including Israelis. The key first step has to be the elimination of the genocidal Jew-hatred that drives all of this madness. It’s time for the other side to demonstrate some goodwill, and they can start by eradicating any mention of antisemitism from their holy texts, from their schools and mosques, from their newspapers and TV broadcasts and from their political statements.