I learned that JNF Canada cancelled its support of an Israel Independence Day event because Achinoam Nini (Noa) was invited to perform at the event. (“Embassy to support Noa concert after JNF pulls support”). I have no doubt that Nini is one of Israel’s best singers, and I very much enjoy her concerts and her singing.
This event is different. Nini herself boycotted an event at which right-wing singer Ariel Zilber received an award for his lifetime work and also requested that her membership in the Israeli Union of Performing Artists be cancelled.
Personally, I am against boycotts in general and prefer to relate to every topic on its own merits. However, I must respond to Nini’s boycott of Zilber.
It is important to note that I do not agree with many of Zilber’s statements, some of which are reprehensible. At the same time, Nini’s extremist statements are no less outrageous, and some are even more so! Even so, I am ready to fight in favour of their right to express them – yes, both of them.
In my opinion, by her behaviour, Nini delegitimizes herself as a performer at events whose goal is to connect the People of Israel to the State of Israel.
I believe that every person and every opinion should be respected, and that political opinions should not be mixed with art, something Nini has yet to learn.
We must all oppose boycotts and threats, from both right and left, and we must continue to further KKL-JNF’s original goals, which are to act on behalf of the unity of the Jewish
People and the awareness that the Zionist ideal is our banner, and that all of us should aspire to peace, brotherhood and unity.
Hernan Felman, KKL-JNF deputy chairman
The readiness of the Israeli Embassy to step forward and sponsor Vancouver’s Yom Ha’atzmaut concert after the abrupt withdrawal of JNF over the participation of singer Achinoam Nini illustrates an enduring distinction in Israel-Diaspora relations.
The tolerance of diverse opinions about complex issues affecting the Jewish state tends to be greater in Israel than among many major Diaspora communities. Nini’s views certainly rest on the far left end of Israel’s political spectrum. But whereas the JNF and its local machers in Vancouver denounce such views as supportive of efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state, Noa’s supporters in Israel recognize them as reflective of the acceptable current debate among Israelis about their country’s future.
David H. Goldberg
Liberal party’s new path
As Canadian Jewry wonders how different Canada’s approach to Israel will be now that the Liberal party has replaced Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, a good indicator of that is the anti-BDS motion brought by the Tories. (“Anti-BDS motion supported by Liberal, Tory MPs”).
Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion reluctantly supported the motion, and it is worth noting that the leader of the NDP and his caucus voted against the motion. It is clear that the Liberals have a long way to go in achieving the degree of support for Israel that was demonstrated by the Conservatives.
Religious practice, the most overt marker of our identity, helps keep religious Jews together. But nothing can be done for other Jews, according to letter writer Jerry Paskowitz, who believes that those who “abandon” the “primary tenets of our religion” cannot remain Jewish.
The word “abandon” suggests that being secular instead of religious is a choice. It is not. I am secular because I am unable to believe, not because I choose not to.
I am sure that with or without secular Jews, the Jewish People will survive. But without secular Jews, it will live on as the relic of some quaint ancient religion, like Yazidis, Zoroastrians or Taoists. Fortunately, it won’t happen, because secular Jews identify as Jews, and need no one’s blessing to call themselves that. I am a Jew. To the core. It may be hard to explain, but there it is.