Home Perspectives Opinions Canada 150 and 50 years of Israel’s occupation need sober reflection

Canada 150 and 50 years of Israel’s occupation need sober reflection

A woman at a Toronto demonstration against the occupation of the Palestinian territories on the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War. sara marlowe FLICKR

Jews in Canada have two major anniversaries to consider this year. One – Canada’s sesquicentennial – is a cause for celebration, though with one important caveat. The other – the jubilee of Israel’s occupation (the 50th anniversary of Israel’s Six Day War) – is not.

Still, some will certainly celebrate the “unifying” of Jerusalem. (Israel annexed east Jerusalem after the 1967 war, but given that most of the city’s Palestinian residents in east Jerusalem are not citizens, it hardly feels like a unified city.)

In speaking of the terrible injustice that is 50 years of occupation, I hesitate to use the word “jubilee,” coming from the Old French word for “rejoice” and an earlier Hebrew formulation for “ram’s horn.” But 150 years of Canada and 50 years of Israeli occupation is what we have, and so 2017 deserves sober reflection.

In Canada, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine and University of Calgary law professor Kathleen Mahoney (Fontaine’s spouse) have identified a glaring hole in the narrative of Canada’s anniversary celebrations. In response, they’re trying to get the government of Canada to recognize Indigenous peoples as one of three founding peoples of Canada in time for the sesquicentennial. Their initiative, Recognition2Action, has a simple demand: “Put forward legislation clearly establishing Indigenous peoples’ status as founding nations of Canada by July 1, 2017.”


As Dammy Ogunseitan writes on the site’s blog, “Language trees like Algonquian, Athapaskan, and Inuktitut drove their roots into this land millennia before a word of English or French was spoken here.” Mahoney further explains, “In addition to being a human rights triumph, formal recognition that Indigenous peoples were partners in Confederation would provide irrefutable justification for inherent Indigenous rights, including self-determination, the protection and strengthening of Indigenous languages, cultures, legal traditions and institutions.”

There have been some informal steps made toward achieving this sort of recognition. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has enabled significant moves toward reconciliation and broad awareness. There has been vast curricular change since I was in elementary school, especially around Canadian pupils’ awareness of the shameful legacy of residential schools.

As well, the country’s only official study guide for the citizenship test, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, declares that Canada had three founding peoples: Aboriginals, the French and the British. But Recognition2Action is demanding legislative expressions as well.

Several weeks ago, when I attended a salon-style evening in Ottawa to hear Mahoney and Fontaine present their proposal, I posed a question: Would this kind of formal recognition foreclose future efforts at restitution? They said it would not. I have since signed on to the initiative.


In Israel, psychologist and peace activist Daniel Bar-Tal is marking the 50th anniversary of the occupation by launching Save Israel, Stop the Occupation (SISO).

Last month, SISO distributed The Jubilee Haggadah, edited by Tomer Persico. The text states: “In this 50th year, we must break free and set free, redeem ourselves and our neighbours from the house of bondage.” At the beginning of Maggid, the telling of the Passover story, Michael Lerner writes, “We have to get out of that narrow consciousness (Mitzrayim). Being ‘realistic,’ accepting ‘what is’ as the criterion of ‘what can be,’ is the essence of idolatry.”

As Jews, we may consider ourselves outside of the settler-colonial dynamics that defined early European settlement in Canada. For many of us, Canada was our safe haven. And as Canadian Jews, we might see Israel as exempt from political critique by those not living there. But we have a particular moral role to exercise in both places. In Canada, we can help forge justice for those on whose backs we landed. In Israel, we can help extend dignity to those who are oppressed by those who claim to speak in our name.

  • Marcuus

    I believe that your comparison between the Europeans who founded Canada (through the genocide and marginalization of its indigenous people) and Israel (where the Jews are the indigenous people, coming back to their homeland) is very flawed. Let’s also remember that the 6 day war was a defensive war for survival and not an imperialistic venture. It’s bad enough we have the rest of the media against Israel – how sad that our own paper falls in line with blind anti-Zionism!

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      90-95% of world J3wry is European that DNA has confirmed to be at 99.9%
      European and 0% Middle Eastern. You need to look in the mirror and
      notice the European reflected on that mirror and perhaps can cure your
      delusion. I am Middle Eastern and I am hoping that this blog will not
      ban me from commenting because just the mention of DNA is perceived to
      be a great threat to them. It would be more interesting for your readers
      to learn what we -the people of the region – have to say instead of
      just hearing from your own people.

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Amazing statement!

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Funny! You’re really scared of someone writing truth!

  • Oriyah

    “but given that most of the city’s Palestinian residents in east Jerusalem are not citizens, it hardly feels like a unified city” – After the 6 day war (in which Israel was ATTACKED BY SIX ARMIES) the residents of Jerusalem were offered citizenship. Regardless, many have permanent resident status and have the right to vote in municipal elections. It would be nice to see you write an article on Palestinian responsibility. Today things are done through legislation. But instead of voting for what they want, continuing to acquire citizenship and moving towards their goal peacefully, palestinians incite hatred and run around stabbing people. The Arabs rejected the UN partition plan. The Arabs started multiple wars trying to destroy Israel. The Arabs have murdered thousands of Israelis (Jewish and not, including BEFORE modern day Israel). The Arabs created the Palestinian narrative and have mistreated them ever since. The Palestinian leadership is beyond corrupt (see: Abbas is in the 12th year of his 4 year term) and does not take care of the people for whom THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR. Where is your piece about their responsibility???
    Israel gives the utmost respect to it’s citizens regardless of religion or background. There are people of all religions and backgrounds in positions of high power in Israel. There is opportunity for those who SEEK IT.

    Tried looking for your article about the treatment of Jews in the Arab countries… couldnt find it…



  • Helen200k

    Mira Sucharov, of course, wasn’t yet born in 1967 so she has no memory of the divided Jerusalem. Although I was only 12 in 1967, I well remember childhood visits to Israel when Jews were denied access to such places as the Western Wall, our holiest site, and Mt. Scopus, the site of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. . I am glad that Jerusalem is a unified city (which does not preclude it being a shared capital with a future Palestinian state). As for the the occupation of the West Bank and the settlements, I wish they had never happened.

    • 1harry2

      You seem like a compassionate Jewish person Ms Helen 200K, at least to acknowledge the suffering an injustice of both sides, as do I, also Jewish.

  • Harry Abrams

    Another Israel-hating article by Mira Sucharov. What’s next for the CJN? Holocaust denial?

  • George Naftali Muenz

    Whats next for CJN, an article from the leaders of Hamas telling us Jews are evil? What is wrong with you CJN?

  • George Naftali Muenz

    “In Israel, psychologist and peace activist Daniel Bar-Tal is marking the 50th anniversary of the occupation by launching Save Israel, Stop the Occupation (SISO).”

    Hmm, I guess the rest of us who support Israel are “war activists” This self aggrandizement and arrogance is clear indication of an inflated sense of moral superiority,

  • David

    More Left-wing trash from the Canadian (Anti-)Jewish Nonsense.
    Mira, you forgot to mention that the 6 Day War was defensive and that the Israelis begged King Hussein of Jordan to stay out of it. He gambled and lost. Why is that “occupation”? (Had the Arabs won, G-d forbid, there would be no Israel.)
    Had he remained neutral, Jordan would still be desecrating the Old City (e.g. using tombstones for latrines).

    Furthermore, if you are Jewish (and not only by birth), you should be aware that G-d promised Abraham the entire Land, including the “West Bank”, approximately 4000 years ago. How is it possible to “occupy” your own land? It IS ours, by virtue of the covenant at B’rit Bein Hab’Tarim.
    (It is not ours because of the Balfour Declaration and San Remo Conference.)

  • Documenting Anti-Semitism

    Time to unsubscribe from cjnews…
    Truly nauseating article.

  • Grigori Khaskin

    Are you sure comrades, you are not from Hamas/PLO?

    • 1harry2

      Sad, Mr. Khaskin, how intolerant you are. A bitter territorial war waged between two groups with devastating consequences…. The Irgun and Stern Gang were as bad as the PLO, a bitter war waged on both sides that reverberates to this day. The Pope feels somewhat differently about the plight of the Palestinians than you do! Harry Katz

  • ysusan

    What an idiot, how about the Arabs occupying the Middle East and North Africa for 1400 years. Why was tjis article published in the CJN is the question.

    • Helen4Yemen

      Note: “fellahin” is referring to the Palestinian farmers.

      David Ben-Gurion – 1918: “The fellahin are not descendants of the Arab conquerors, who captured Eretz Israel and Syria in the seventh century CE. The Arab victors did not destroy the agricultural population they found in the country. They expelled only the alien Byzantine rulers, and did not touch the local population. Nor did the Arabs go in for settlement.”

      David Ben-Gurion- 1918: “Even in their former habitations the Arabs did not engage in farming…their whole interest in the new countries was political, religious and material: to rule, to propagate Islam, and to collect taxes…the Jewish farmer, like any other farmer, was not easily torn from his soil…Despite the repression and suffering the rural population remained unchanged.”

      Itzhak Ben-Zvi – 1929: “The great majority of the fellahin do not descend from the Arab conquerors but before that, from the Jewish fellahin, who were the foundation of this country before its conquest by Islam.”

      Benny Morris: “The vast majority of Arabs who live in Palestine originated in Palestine, ‘originated’ meaning they have been living in Palestine for hundreds of years.”

      Translation: The Arabs did not expel the natives of the land and take their place, they did not settle on the land, they were there only to convert the people into Islam, therefore, the current Palestinian population are the descendants of those who were already there before the arrival of the Arabs. The Palestinian Jews (who later converted to Christianity and then to Islam) never left their land nor were they replaced by the Arabs. The Arabs did not come to settle on the land but rather “to rule, to propagate Islam, and to collect taxes”. The Jewish farmers were attached to their land. “was not easily torn from his soil” and the current Palestinians are in fact the descendants of the people who were already there on that land before the arrival of the Arabs.

  • Michael Sherman

    Sucharov is a well-documented self-hating Jew i.e. a Jew who perversely seeks to bolster his/her Jewish credentials by defaming Israel.

    What Sucharov fails to smell is the stench of anti-Semitism that is cloaked in anti-Zionism and the BDS objective of eliminating the Jewish state. As its founder, Omar Bargouti, has stated, ending the Israeli occupation in the West Bank will not end the BDSmovement actions against Israel. “I do not buy into the two-state solution. It is just not pragmatically impossible but it was never a moral solution. The first issue would be the right of return but if therefugees were to return you will have a Palestinian state next to a Palestinian state rather than a Palestinian state next to Israel”. And then you have Norman Finkelstein, the virulent anti-Zionist and notorious Israel-basher, who has described the BDS movement as a hypocritical and dishonest cult that tries to cleverly pose as human rights activists while in reality their goal is the destruction of Israel.

    Sucharov is no more than a shill for anti-Zionists and anti-Semites who clearly seek the elimination and eradication of Israel. Zionism is, at its core, the belief that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination in the Land of Israel. In calling for the demise of the Jewish state, anti-Zionists are engaged in a racist endeavour. Jews should feel no hesitation whatsoever in calling out those who challenge Israel’s to exist as a Jewish state as anti-Semites, whether Jewish or not. Being born to a Jewish mother does not exempt her. Sucharov clearly fits this category.

  • Michael Sherman

    It’s evident that the Canadian Jewish News has been hijacked by anti-Zionists and Israel bashers. What a shame that the Canadian Jewish News has piled on to and joined in with the ongoing demonization and delegitimization of Israel.

  • Arthur Milner

    A great may contributors point out that the Six Day War was “a defensive war for survival.” From the point of view of international law, it doesn’t matter. Countries are not allowed to keep land acquired in war.

    • Helen200k

      So I guess we better give Quebec back to France and Trump will have to give Texas and California back to Mexico. Maybe Arthur Milner can write his next play about that.

      • Arthur Milner

        Sadly for Israel, there’s a difference (legally and ethically) between something that happened ±200 years ago and something that happened when Helen200k was 12 years old. And Canada (not just Quebec) was formally ceded by France to Britain in the treaty of Paris in 1763. Similarly, Mexico formally ceded California and more to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848. (In any case, I think the recipient would be North American indigenes.) There was no equivalent treaty between the Jews and the Arabs of Palestine; or Israel and the PLO.

    • TheRealHJK

      Wrong. Only wars of aggression prevent acquisition of terrotory. Self defence is a right anterior to the UN Charter and in terms of rightfulo claim to the lands at issue israel’s is superior and affirmed under San Remo, inter alia. Tout your bias elsewhere, or get a few law degrees before spewing propaganda

  • Victor Redlick

    CJN – the black hole of Canadian Jewnalism

  • mark covant

    The Jews are the indigionous people of Israel. Look what happened to the indigionous people of Canada when they failed in protecting their land.

    • Helen4Yemen

      Amazing statement! The indigenous people of N. America are like the Palestinians in that white Europeans salivated after their land and had plans to totally remove them from the land by any means necessary. 90-95% of world J3wry is European that DNA has confirmed to be at 99.9% European and 0% Middle Eastern. You need to look in the mirror and notice the European reflected on that mirror and perhaps can cure your delusion. I am Middle Eastern and I am hoping that this blog will not ban me from commenting because just the mention of DNA is perceived to be a great threat to them. It would be more interesting for your readers to learn what we -the people of the region – have to say instead of just hearing from your own people.

    • 1harry2

      No, Mark, we are not the indigenous people of Palestine. The Ashkenazim- of whom I am one- have almost no Middle eastern DNA. If our ancestors lived in Palestine 2,000 it is all washed out now. I know many Italians , and an Arab or two who have considerable Middle Eastern DNA because it is there, but I do not know of one fellow Ashkenazim who has so much as one percent ME, sorry. DNA doesn’t lie. We are a European people with a religion rooted in the Middle East, but not physiology. There is a profound blindness among people like you who somehow confuse Biblical folklore, religion and actual facts. Is it a given fact that Jesus is the Son of God? No, it’s a matter of faith and Biblical historicity. You accept your so-called indigenous Middle Eastern DNA as a matter of faith, not fact. Does this mean I do not believe we do not have a place in Israel? Of course not. Israel is a spiritual homeland of the Jewish people, not the physical homeland. The physical homeland is the property of those who have been living for millennia, continuously up to the present. If there ever was a Middle Eastern origin to our people, it has been washed out. Clean.

      • mark covant

        I am happy that you aknowledge that Israel is the spiritual homeland of Jews. Now let’s see if we can agree that spirituality and physicality are different levels of one continuim

        • 1harry2

          Well, Mr. Covant, how can I possibly deny the spiritual connection that most Jews have to the physical land of Israel? Personally, I don’t although I once did. I know this must offend you but I think that neither the Torah- or the Bible as a whole- should be used against any groups of people, as was the case throughout history when Christians justified their hostility to Jews by invoking New Testament doctrine and story line, and as our Jewish brethren are doing now with regard to Palestinian lands that allegedly fell under Jewish authority in Biblical days. I am only for the Bible when it is used for the “greater good” of mankind.

          • mark covant

            I am also only for the Torah when it is used for the greater good of mankind. The way to believe this is by learning how the Torah is used for the greater good of mankind. Are you prepared to learn why this is so and to compare it to your current beliefs?

    • 1harry2

      Dear Mr. Covant,
      I do not think that we Ashkenazim are the indigenous people of Israel, sorry. This is, at best, a very debatable matter. I have no Middle eastern DNA, nor do most Ashkenazim. Recent studies have shown us to be descended from European peoples, particularly on the matrilineal side. We may be the spiritual heirs to Israel, not necessarily the physical descendants. Until my DNA came in, I had always thought I was half Middle Eastern/ half European. But no, no Middle Eastern. Harry Katz

      • mark covant

        As is written in the Torah , G-d intrusted Israel to the Jewish people, regardless of which culture the Jew came from. This is undisputed by all that believe that the Torah is a Divine document. Our association with Israel goes back to Abraham.

        • 1harry2

          OK, Mr. Covant: You are a devout G-D fearing Jew so I , a fellow Jew,understand your perspective. I only accept Biblical injunctions as rough guidelines. Most of my family is composed of atheists anyway. At least I believe in G-D. That being said, I don’t have the Middle Eastern DNA. These analyses don’t lie; they have no axe to grind. Wouldn’t you think that an in-bred group such as the Ashkenazim would have retained some evidence of our ancient Israelite heritage?
          What a surprise that was. DNA analyses don’t lie. But we Ashkenazim, I suppose

          • mark covant

            Since Jews are from a totally different tribe our genetic makeup would differ. Genetics only verifies that .Secondly, Your statement that Torah injunctions are only rough guidelines is totally opposite the understanding of Torah Scholars. It’s all about the complete understanding of life inclusding the smallest details of creation. I highly recommend that you investigate into the depth and expanse of Torah wisdom . I’d be happy to introduce you to Rabbi.

  • Fred Parker

    this is who Ms. Sucharov would like to turn over Jerusalem to:

  • TheRealHJK

    I looked for the CJN and got Al Jazeera. Perhaps you should have an educated an intelligent person write your editorials from now on. L’azazel.

  • TheRealHJK

    My comment, which meets all real criteria for publication was censored, which, together with this vile editorial, shows you exactly what the CJN’s conception of free speech and truth is.

  • TheRealHJK

    The CJN will not publish my responding comments although they comply with all relevant criteria which sneaky censorship and cowardice, together with the vile editorial itself, demonstrate what their conception of open debate and truth is. Quislings and Pablo Christianis, they are the seenut chinum that leads to great tragedy. What the author and editors know of law and history, Jewish and Canadian, and of justice, wouldn’t fill a thimble. A toilet, maybe.

  • 1harry2

    Well, I do agree with this point. And, no, although I am Ashkenazim Jewish I do not accept that we are the indigenous people of a land that, at best, we had not been living in for close to 2000 years if ever. I, and most of my brethren have no Middle eastern( well, I do have a trace). All the current DNA tests show a totally insignificant Middle eastern DNA component among our people. In no way can we be compared to the Native Americans of this hemisphere. Biblical accounts cannot replace the facts on the ground. That does not mean I don’t believe we have no claim to the Holy Land, to Israel, to Palestine. It just means , no, we are not factually the indigenous people of Palestine; the true heirs to
    Palestine are now living under Occupation and deserve compassion. There is brutal, twisted irony here. May God see to justice and bless all of us with mercy and truth.

  • 1harry2

    To compensate for you, I will subscribe. CJN could use a Cohane!

  • Revital

    Thank you CJN for publishing this. You know why? Because that is the essence and foundation of freedom of speech. It is imperative that people like this be published so we can see what we are up against. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.

    Now to exercise my same right of free speech, I have this to say to you Mira:

    I feel very sorry for you because you will be one of the first Jews to go if Israel ever goes. You will be the apologist that screams to them but I was on your side! And you know what the rest of the jew-hating world is going to say to you? You are simply a useful idiot! A means to an end! It’s people like you throughout history that have caused Jews the most harm. The rest of the world can hate all they want, but it’s self-hating moral supremacists like yourself that come on soap boxes that do the most damage. You will realize this one day when you understand that you come from an indigenous nation – one of the last ancient nations to survive/exist and you piss all over it with your radical bullshit.

    Israel is not perfect and as a nation/society we have a lot of work to do, but how dare you liken us to colonizers? Do you even know your own history? Based on your rhetoric, I highly doubt it.

    We are the indigenous people of that land. That is a historical fact, so to liken us to colonizers is just flat out fallacious. Your talking points only strengthen my resolve that we need Israel more than ever because one day, it’s going to be people like you who force us to run back there. It’s people like you who would gladly allow Israel’s destruction just so you don’t have to deal with your cognitive dissonance! It’s people like you who will be the FIRST to run to her when you realize that to the rest of the world, you are a JEW. No matter how deeply you assimilate, no matter how vehement your apologist rhetoric, no matter how much you think you are “helping” Jews… you are not. You are contributing to thousands of years of oppression, demonization and slandering. You are taking the easy road by writing articles like these.

    How very sad… I am not afraid of our enemies; I am more afraid of the “jews” who keep apologizing to the world for their existence! What low self-esteem and self-worth you have, despite your indignant writing.

    Forgive them father for they know not what they do….