It seems that Harry Schachter, who wrote the article “Settlements an impediment to peace” (Dec. 8), is in need of an atlas, a history book and recent newspapers. Ever since Arabs were caught cutting down and damaging their olive trees in order to defame “settlers,” accusations that settlers have done these evil acts have lessened. Perhaps that’s why he is in need of relying on his data from the “impartial” United Nations. Gilo, which according to Schachter is in east Jerusalem, is actually in southern Jerusalem. He omits to say that the “Palestinian” application for admission as a state to the United Nations is a repudiation of every agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority. He omits to state that the Arab demand that Israel freeze settlement construction is a new demand, first raised by U.S. President Barack Obama, and that no such demand appears in any of the signed agreements between Israel and the PA. Moreover, he omits to write that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu did freeze building for 10 months, but the Palestinians still did not return to the negotiating table.
He seems unaware that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to Judea and Samaria and that, according to international law, valid to this day, Jews are allowed to settle in this area. More disturbing is his description of the historic part of Jewish Jerusalem as “Arab.” What is totally obscene, however, is when, by implication, he equates the killing of Arab terrorists with the murder of the Fogel family – three children and their parents – five of the eight settlers he feels compelled to mention that have been killed by Palestinians.
Yehudit Shier Weisberg
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In the Dec. 8 issue, The CJN published an article with the headline “Last shul in downtown Ottawa sells building,” referring to Congregation Beth Shalom. However, the headline is misleading. It is not the last shul. There is one more synagogue in downtown Ottawa – the Orthodox Ohev Yisroel, located at 516 Rideau St., only two blocks away from Congregation Beth Shalom. We wish to assure your readers that, just as our shul has hosted travellers, tourists and businesspeople from all over the world in the past, so, too, shall we continue to do so for many years to come. Shabbat hospitality is always offered to guests.
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Surgeon was a trailblazer
I was very happy to see my father, Herb Fitterman, mentioned in Sheldon Kirshner’s column “The passing parade,” (Dec. 22). My father was a man of accomplishment, a surgeon who performed the first implant operation in Canada despite huge opposition, a wonderful husband and father, a generous member of the community, an athlete who chafed at his body breaking down, a reader, a traveller and a bon vivant. His last name, however, was, like mine, Fitterman, not Fetterman.
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Attack masquerades as academic discourse
The “academic” aspect of the paper “A Comparison of the Olive Oil Industries in Tuscany and Palestine,” presented at the recent olive-oil conference at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, was rather tenuous (“Propaganda in an academic guise,” Dec. 8). There were no comparisons of the Palestinian example with relevant examples such as Israeli olive-oil production, Palestinians working inside Israel, etc. The speaker even admitted that “Tuscany” was basically an excuse to concentrate on Palestinians.
This is not the first attack against Israel I have witnessed in academic conferences, though usually the papers have had more academic merit. My own university union local has an entrenched anti-Israel policy that I am constantly trying to mitigate – not because I think there is nothing to criticize about Israel (or any other country), but because this attitude flies against academic principles and indeed the local’s own equality statement. There is no reason to tacitly or implicitly condone attacks on Israel – or any country or culture – just because these attacks claim immunity by masquerading as academic discourse.
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Bouthillier is our friend
In his letter of Dec. 22, Jack Hoffman wants to ask Guy Bouthillier some very pointed questions. I think it would be most unfair to do this, as, in a sense, he wants Bouthillier to answer many wrongs in many areas. The anti-Israel and antisemitic attitudes of unions and non-separatists are not limited to francophone Quebecers. One has only to look around to see these same attitudes in so many places. As for Bouthillier, when he was president of the Saint-Jean Baptiste Society, he attended Holocaust memorial services at a Montreal synagogue.
I attend services at Chabad of Westmount, where Bouthillier attends classes. He takes these studies very seriously and is remarkably knowledgeable about Judaism. He has written pro-Jewish and pro-Israel articles in the French press. He has also been helpful, whenever he was asked, either for his support or attendance. Rather than looking for areas to criticize our friends, of which Bouthillier is certainly one, we should be searching for intelligent open-minded non-Jews to help in our struggle for justice and fair treatment.