TORONTO — A new Canadian Jewish community position has been added to the ever-growing cacophony of voices arguing the merits and faults of Israeli policy.
JSpaceCanada.ca is a new website devoted to gathering and disseminating pro-Israel voices from the soft-left, or “progressive” end of the political spectrum, while countering the global assault on Israel’s legitimacy. It was launched earlier this year.
Issie Lyon, a retired Ontario civil servant, and Nora Gold, co-founder of the New Israel Fund of Canada (NIFC), are among the project’s creators.
“For too long the pro-Israel pro-peace community has been marginalized by extremists from both sides, and as lovers of Israel, we have a duty to create a new space on the spectrum where rational voices can be heard,” Gold wrote in an e-mail.
She added: “I started this organization out of the conviction that only the pro-Israel left can influence the anti-Israel left. No one else – for instance right-wing Jews, or even mainstream Jews – can do this, because they don’t have any common language with the people who need to be influenced.”
Speaking to The CJN last week, Lyon said JSpaceCanada has also jumped headlong into the social networking realm, with a page on Facebook to “reach out to the greater community.”
“We’re a small group right now [and] we’re a virtual community… but we’re getting good feedback,” he said.
While focusing primarily on “progressive” positions on Israel, Lyon said, his group is interested in speaking with all stakeholders interested in the long-term stability and existence of Israel.
He said JSpaceCanda is just beginning the discussion with those in the greater Jewish community whose political views fall “somewhere between the hard-right and the hard-left.”
For instance, he said one of his organization’s projects will be to approach Jewish union members across Canada who may be tempted to dabble in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement simply because they may not have any other community channel to voice their displeasure at Israeli policies they don’t like.
“We want to go to those Jews and tell them this is counter-productive,” Lyon said. “We’ll be sponsoring events to stimulate this discussion” in the future.
Lyon estimated that at this time there are only “a couple of dozen people” who would be considered members of JSpaceCanada, but that the word has spread.
He added that the JSpaceCanada project will likely be driven as an “Internet community” where most of the dialogue will occur online.
The JSpaceCanada site describes itself as offering a “balanced perspective” on Israel.
“We ardently oppose Israel’s Jewish settlements on the West Bank, which we believe undermine the chances of peace in the region. Equally ardently, we oppose all initiatives that attempt to challenge the legitimacy of Israel, impose boycotts, divestments or sanctions (BDS) on Israel, or negate Israel’s intrinsic right to exist,” the site states.