Home Perspectives Opinions From Yoni’s desk: A response to a controversial column

From Yoni’s desk: A response to a controversial column

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Caroline FLICKR

In the days since The CJN published Mira Sucharov’s most recent column, “Canada 150 and 50 years of Israel’s Occupation need Sober Reflection,” we’ve been receiving a significant amount of criticism. Online, many wonder how an opinion article arguing that “50 years of Israeli occupation… deserves sober reflection” found its way into this newspaper. Allow me to explain.

At The CJN, our two most cherished goals – to provide readers with the latest news and commentary regarding the Canadian Jewish community, Israel and the Jewish Diaspora, and to foster Jewish community-building – are very much intertwined. We take this dual mission very seriously. We strongly believe that by engaging in open, inclusive conversation about the issues that affect Canadian Jews, we are providing a gathering space for Canadian Jewry.

This aspiration puts us in a particularly unique position. As the media environment – and social media in particular – increasingly steers consumers into thought bubbles of like-mindedness, where everyone agrees with each other and no one is compelled to consider another opinion, we are attempting to do the exact opposite. We thoughtfully intend to gather together people with divergent opinions instead of driving them apart.

It’s not an easy task. Sometimes, the opinions we publish can produce visceral reactions, and clearly that was the case this week. To some of our readers, invoking the term “occupation” was deeply offensive, triggering very real concerns about Israel’s security, highlighting the moral and intellectual bias the Jewish state faces, and questioning the ultimate viability of a Jewish homeland.

READ: TAKE PRIDE IN ISRAEL’S HARD-FOUGHT VICTORIES

For other readers, occupation is a struggle that Israel, and by extension the Jewish Diaspora, must wrestle with. It is not an exercise in anti-Zionism, let alone anti-Semitism, but a matter of articulating that the State of Israel is not perfect and should strive to be better, however difficult the task.

Our role, as we see it, is to strike a balance and invite Canadian Jews to debate and discuss our most pressing dilemmas and concerns. Certainly, you won’t agree with everything we publish –  quite the opposite. But I urge you to join us in the job of community-building. From our point of view, nothing could be more valuable.

Achdut, the Jewish ideal of togetherness, drives our work at the Canadian Jewish News. And there is no better time than the present to emphasize the value of community. After all, we are in the midst of the Omer, the section of the Jewish calendar that falls between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot when we mourn the deaths of 24,000 students of the great sage Rabbi Akiva. He famously taught us to “love thy neighbour as thyself,” but his students didn’t listen to him and perished because they did not treat each other with respect.

Jewish history is replete with examples of people who disagreed, but did so in the spirit of togetherness. Let’s keep that going. We encourage you, our dear readers, to debate and discuss what we publish. All we ask is that you do so with civility and a mind to foster achdut. You can be sure that we’ll be there to cheer you on all the way.

  • you are doing a good job in sharing diverse opinions.

    • Michael Sherman

      So then diverse opinions that condemn or present an unfavorable view of homosexuality would be acceptable, right?

    • TerrorIsEvil

      I am afraid that the more you examine the direction of “diversity” today that you will find it very exclusionary of Jews and Israel, whites, males, democracy, religion (except for Islam), free speech (except for leftist views), etc. It tends to be enthralled and enamored with violent forms of jihad and goes out of its way to ignore Islamic antisemitism, violence, genocide and sharia that isn’t good for anyone, especially women.

  • Mechel Ittleman

    You ask us to discuss and debate with a mind to foster achdut. It seems to me that Mira Sucharov did not have “a mind to foster achdut” when she wrote her article and referred to the “occupation,” a term which you acknowledge some will find offensive. Ms Sucharov’s article is divisive and will have the impact of promoting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment. Those who seek to marginalize Israel will grasp onto any “ammunition” they can to support their cause. When that ammunition comes from what is supposed to be a respectable publication in the Canadian Jewish community, it will only serve to embolden them.

    • Jeff

      you only want to read what you agree with. I don’t agree with the columnist but enjoy reading diversity of views in the paper

      • TerrorIsEvil

        The problem is, Jeff, that the lies and misinformation are readily absorbed and regurgitated by people if they are not corrected.

        We do not see rebuttals or corrections in the CJN. The CJN
        does, however, sometimes have articles which defend Israel and presents the truth; however, the leftists gravitate to the lies which support their hatred of Jews and Israel and the CJN should not be party to those lies with dumb articles by morons steeped in propaganda.

        And even when they are corrected, the lies, if repeated often enough, are taken as fact.

        We have to be smart these days, Jeff, not useful idiots for Islamists and leftists.

  • TerrorIsEvil

    You do not seem to understand why people are upset.

    It is not because the CJN is inclusive. If that were the case, then there would be no reason to complain. It is because the CJN is becoming increasingly exclusive. Exclusive in the direction of leftist thinking which gives the platform to the Mira Sucharov’s of the world but keeps it away from those whose views come from the right. This plays into the hands of the enemies of Jews and Israel on the left who take pride in the fact that the CJN, IJV, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the PA are on the same page and on the same side, using whatever scrap of propaganda they can from columns that are filled with crazy nonsense and lies from Jews.

    You keep moving the goal posts further and further to the left and that leaves little room for debate among the various points-of-view. You normalize and warmly invite abnormal, hate-filled diatribe from the likes of Mira. Nobody would complain if the articles were more carefully screened – it is up to the editors what they choose and it shows what they believe. The CJN must believe in the veracity of Mira’s views because there are never any rebuttals

    When I first started many years ago speaking out in defense of Israel’s rights and right to defend itself, I did not know how vile and destructive Jewish left-wing views were with respect to Israel. Those vile views at that time came from a small group of hard left-wingers.

    Now, with help of media such as CJN, and to the delight of mainstream political parties looking to implement “Islamophobia” legislation, for instance, and BDS (as if it were their political Canadian business to do so), we have an entire generation of young Jews and non-Jews who without knowledge and never presented any strong counter-arguments, want to give away Israel to Islamist terrorists – as if that were normal. The CJN and many others have made ignoramuses out of the people they are meant to serve with information and knowledge.

    This leftism from media is akin to having a professional hockey coach telling his team’s players to lose because the other side has just as much right to the Stanley Cup as they have. It is idiotic and self-destructive.

    • Jeff

      The only word that you got right here is idiotic and that applies only to your comments. The CJN is not now or has never been a left wing publication. If anything it has focused more centre-right. It’s just that folks like you prefer censorship and only want to hear their viewpoints espoused. These are the facts: you know NOTHING about journalism and what it means to be a journalist or in the media. All main political parties are against BDS. Also, before another attack, I disagree with the columnist’s comments, but think its great The CJN allows for a diversity of views, even those of the far left and right

      • TerrorIsEvil

        No to censorship. Yes to proper editorial screening which keeps the propaganda and hate out. Thanks for reading my comments, Jeffy.

  • Namo

    I agree it’s good to have crazy opinions sometimes. But they should be in a spcial section of the paper. There are people – even some Jews! – who believe that killing a 13 year girl in her bed by stabbing her with a kitchen knife is completely justified and that the attacker is a victim too. These are actual opinions of some prominent people and world leaders The CJN should definitely keep us aware of that, but also make sure that it’s clear that the CJN views them as “fringe” to put it nicely

  • relayer76

    The Canadian Jewish news has come a long way in the past 10 years. Thank you Yoni Goldstein for your thoughtful comment and especially for publishing Mira Suckarov’s excellent article.

    • TerrorIsEvil

      If you think the “progress” of the past 10 years was good – just wait for the next 10 years when you will be under sharia law, not able to get a job because you are not colorful enough or Islamic enough or there are special quotas for someone who is higher on the victim status list than you happen to be. Won’t that be fun when Jews can’t get jobs (just like the old days in Europe) because they are Jews or because they support Israel or support any nations like Canada with borders and an identity that goes beyond UN-Globalist definitions and approval. Be careful what you wish for because it might bite you and your family very hard.

      • Jeff

        Living under sharia law? Where do you get this stuff?

        • TerrorIsEvil

          The Ontario government under Premier Dalton McGuinty wanted to have sharia law passed in 2005. Memory still failing, Jeff?

          http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ontario-premier-rejects-use-of-shariah-law-1.523122

          • Jeff

            no I remember, I was a working journalist at the time but it didn’t happen…REMEMBER

          • Michael Sherman

            Working journalist where? Palestine House? Canadian Arab Federation?

          • Jeff

            No actually The Canadian Jewish News, so I am aware of what went on in the country and province in regard to the Jewish community during that time.

          • Michael Sherman

            Perfect. Confirmation that CJN has been hijacked by Israel bashers like yourself and Mira Sucharov who promotes hateful anti-Semites and anti-Zionists and Sharia Law advocates like Linda Sarsour.

  • Krista Kay

    Don’t Jews have enough enemies to publish ‘alternate views’ without CJN needing to publish them as well?

    • Petero

      What a ridiculous notion. If one can discount a viewpoint by dismissing at as being a product of one’s enemies one has failed to hear the viewpoint at all. If the debate can be had within Israel it can certainly be had within the Diaspora.

      • nopeacenow

        If you wanted to read views similar to Mira Sucharov and others with leftist views you can always read the Toronto Star or Globe & Mail. The CJN is beginning to look more like The Forward and that is not a pro-Israel position.

  • Chuck Elnekave

    Eloquently written.

    I do, however, take exception to the implication that those who were offended by the message of Ms Sucharov’s article are effectively social media zombies who are “.. (in) thought bubbles of like-mindedness, where everyone agrees with each other and no one is compelled to consider another opinion …”.

    As I mentioned to you, Yoni, in our face-to-face yesterday, I believe that certain elements of Ms Sucharov’s arguments go beyond the pale of what is morally sound. The same way that the CJN would probably not publish Noam Chomsky or (and forgive the hyperbolic example, but just to make the message clear,) an apologist for Neo-Nazis, I think that someone who is implying a moral equivalency between the actions of the State of Israel, who provide welfare to 2.5 million Arabs living in Judea/Samaria/Jerusalem, and the actions of most “occupying” or “colonizing” powers, who work to eviscerate their conquested lands of any reminder of the indigenous population, often by genocidal methods.

    Quite the contrary, Israel’s reluctance to behave in a more “traditional” way of a conquering power and taking the moral high ground has directly led to the murder or injury (I hate that word, “injury” in this context – often the injuries are worse than death) of over 10,000 Israeli civilians, let along the death of over 23,500 of her finest young men and women serving their military.

    If Ms Sucharov wants to imply that the behaviour of the State of Israel vis-a-vis the lands conquered in 1967 are reprehensible, she is right – we should be ashamed that Israel’s willingness to sacrifice its own for the benefit of her enemies has come at so high a cost. We should be ashamed for the treatment of the expelled residents of Sinai and Gaza, who built communities – homes, synagogues, cemeteries where they buried their loved ones – only to have them turned over to be demolished, desecrated, and turned into monuments of the victory of terror over peace.

    And to have this article be published mere hours after we stood in silence to remember those victims of terror and those who sacrificed their lives for the safety and security of their fellow Jews (and in the case of Sinai and Gaza, in vain)?

    “Achdut” would be Ms Sucharov standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the parents, grandparents, spouses, siblings, and children grieving their losses.

    That is why I don’t feel that it’s fair to suggest that opposition to the very publication of this article is indicative of the “like-mindedness” you describe, or even a stepping stone toward community building.

    What disappoints the most is that I *know* beyond any shadow of a doubt, that your intention truly *is* to build an environment of Jewish unity and togetherness, where we can have such discussion and debate. I just think in this case your aim has missed its mark.

    Shabbat Shalom.

  • Michael Sherman

    Little more than a self-serving apologia for a once revered Jewish newspaper. Shameful.

    • Documenting Anti-Semitism

      Exactly!

  • Michael Sherman

    Here’s an example of the hateful people that Sucharov defends and promotes.

    “Shariah law is reasonable and once u read into the details it makes a
    lot of sense. People just know the basics,” tweeted Linda Sarsour.
    As for women with whom she does not agree, Sarsour tweeted, “Brigitte
    Gabriel=Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She’s asking 4 an a$$ whippin’. I wish I could
    take their vaginas away – they don’t deserve to be women.”

  • Tabitha

    “Debate and dialogue” is the new euphemism for hate speech. This isn’t dialogue – this is brutally biased propaganda. Publishing her once – maybe. Giving people like her a routine voice in a mainstream publication is endorsement. I’d like to think that when an author is a hero among antisemites and neo-Nazis – that this would be a red flag. CJN – I fought hard for your survival when you almost bit the dust. Now I’m out – both as a reader and an advertiser.

    • Documenting Anti-Semitism

      way to go!

  • Documenting Anti-Semitism

    Justifying anti-Semitism… Yep! We do wonder not only why you allowed such an article (and a lie) to be published on the first place, but coming back and justify it?

    Who is sponsoring this site? It might eventually explain a lot…

    Canadian Jewish News is dead!
    Unsubscribe from this bigots!

  • Jeff

    you realize this would not be an issue in Israel

    • TerrorIsEvil

      That is a fair point, Jeff, this kind of self-immolation by left-wing Jews in Israel might not be a big deal because it is so common.

      That is because Israel has just begun to understand the corrosive and deleterious effects these threats have on a nation and on its security. Propaganda can kill and it can certainly undermine a country if it is not at least countered by factual data and persuasive arguments to the contrary.

      Israel has failed to engage and mobilize the people who have for years been fighting to defend Israel and, as a result, it is having problems with the propaganda fired its way.

      For years of activism I have never had one Israeli official, diplomat or any member of the government engage, plan or work with activists in the Diaspora. They tend to speak to people with money on the left and to mainstream groups who discourage activism and discourage speaking out. That is unfortunate.

      So now we have a situation where all that sha-shtil has brought about a belief by the proponents of leftism that the terrorists were right after all: The people who have been calling for Israel’s destruction on the left have gathered steam on campuses and they are used heavily by Islamists in Canada who do not have to do anything other than make friends with leftists and make sure that they are well supported and financed.

      Mira is just an indication of how far left the Jewish community has moved over the years and, believe me, Jeff, that is not a good thing for Jews, Christians, progressive Muslims or anyone else who not only want a strong Israel living in peace, but also want to make Islamic states more moderate and less cruel to their own and less cruel to their neighbors.

      Some of the CJN articles are a reflection of this move to the left.

      It seems that everyone is strengthening the voices of Islamic extremism in the name of nice words like “peace,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” and other inanities that are meaningless and of little import when you see that these words are smokescreen propaganda nonsense that makes terrorism possible and serves to boost the perpetrators.

      You must think that there is something meritorious about condemning Israel and that we just sit back and let fate take its course and propaganda have its way. I think that it must be dealt with properly and smartly. Not by preventing free speech but by knocking out hate speech and speaking up loudly the truth about Israeli ownership and the history which has made that ownership unquestionable.

  • Tabitha

    What Sucharov and apparently the CJN are missing, is that empathy for Israel’s existential struggle amidst unique geographic, ideologic and racist threat, IS the diverse opinion – by a worldwide margin. That Jews are leading the vocal and damning critique of the only Jewish safe haven on earth, so soon after the holocaust – is – well – staggering.

  • Helen200k

    I believe this at least the second article you’ve written recently in response to backlash from a Mira Sucharov article. As I recall, you didn’t mention her by name in the recent column about Hasbarah. I’m sure you will continue to write many more of these columns as long as you continue to give Sucharov a place in the CJN to voice her/Independent Jewish Voices opinions on how evil Israel and Israelis are.

    I’ve been reading Sucharov’s columns for years and part of the reason she’s so alienating is that she NEVER, like her friends at Independent Jewish Voices, has ANYTHING positive to say about Israel. Only, it seems, that Israel is the root of all evil in the Middle East.

    On her Facebook page, Sucharov regularly lashes out against the Jewish community and blames the community for, among other things, costing her a leadership position due to her views. The thing is, though, leaders need to bring people together not alienate them.

    Years ago Sucharov would describe herself as a “liberal Zionist.” Now I see on Facebook that she describes liberal Zionism as something with which she used to identify. Whereas she used to push for a 2-state solution, she now supports boycotts and the right of return to Israel of all Palestinian refgugees, their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. That of course means the end of Israel.

    Sucharov has by now placed herself outside the pale of the Canadian Jewish community. Her column is the reason my family will no longer subscribe to the CJN now that the subscription is no longer a perk of our contribution to Federation CJA.

    • killerbeets

      Funny — Mira Sucharov is one of the reasons I finally decided to subscribe, despite coming from a Jewish Day School background and a family of readers. Her views are not beyond the pale — they are part of the mainstream even within the Jewish community. But the establishment has moved so far to the right, it doesn’t seem that way.

  • killerbeets

    Only when the establishment community — which is not necessarily reflective of the Jewish mainstream in general — has moved so far to the right could someone like Mira Sucharov be considered controversial. Thank you, CJN, for moving in the right direction and publishing a plurality (sort of) of voices. This is the reason I only started to subscribe this year, despite coming from a family of lifelong readers.

  • Scaramouche

    Ms. Sucharov’s preoccupation with “the occupation” is a function of her political ideology and not of the reality on the ground. Which is this: when Palestinians refer to the big “O” they’re referring to the Occupation. Of Israel. All of it. By uppity Jews who insist on their right to sovereignty over land claimed for Allah.

    How do we know this?

    All you have to do is listen to the eliminationists’ war chant: “From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free.”

  • Helen200k

    Mira Sucharov posted the following on Facebook today:

    “Yo FB universe: I’ve resigned my regular column spot at the Canadian Jewish News (The CJN).
    I basically lost respect for my CJN readership, which meant it was time
    to move on. (To put it another way, I felt like a geologist who had
    been hired to write a column for the community paper of the Flat Earth
    Society.) Yoni Goldstein will run my final column in the coming week or
    two. In it, I outline my reasons for leaving.”

    I guess we will renew our subscription “in the coming week or two”.

  • Beer Baron

    Only this left-leaning publication would publish an article by an author who is apparently upset that Israel, against all odds, won the 1967 war. It figures.