Sadly, the Canadian judicial system has missed an opportunity to assert any meaningful influence in the fight against terrorism (“Firebomber gets four years in jail,” Toronto edition; “‘Terrorist’ firebombings net four-year jail term,” Montreal edition, CJN, Nov. 27).
To think that Azim Ibragimov could perpetrate acts of terror against the Montreal Jewish community by firebombing our institutions and receive a sentence of only four years is pathetic and laughable. Had this act taken place in the United States, this individual would probably not see the light of day for decades. As a result of this abhorrently lenient sentence, Canada has now hung out the proverbial shingle to terrorists around the world: “Welcome to Canada. We are open for business.”
Cote St. Luc, Que.
Skeptical about Muslim/Jewish ‘twinning’
I’d be a lot more enthusiastic about the “enthusiasm and goodwill” engendered during the weekend of “twinning” of mosques and synagogues were it not for the giant elephant in the interfaith parlour (“Muslims, Jews bond over Abraham,” CJN, Dec. 4). I’m referring, of course, to Israel, the Jewish state that gives rise to so much friction between the two groups, the “elephant” that had to be ignored at all costs so that the warm feelings could blossom. Call me a skeptic, but while many Canadian Muslims and Jews saw this weekend as a unique opportunity to build bonds and bridges between their communities, I’m afraid I couldn’t help but see it as something else: an attempt by a clever Saudi king to drive a wedge between North American Jews and the Jewish state.
I say that because this “twinning” project is part of King Abdullah’s larger “interfaith” scheme. At the international level, it consists of hosting conferences and lobbying the United Nations to prohibit “defamation” of religion (so no one will be able to say anything critical about his religion); in North America, it consists of this twinning effort, a way for Muslims and Jews to “get past” the primary impediment to their building a relationship – that pesky Jewish state. And ultimately, that’s precisely what the Saudi king aims to do – get past Israel, i.e. consign it to the past. The reason he’s so keen for it to be gone is that for someone with his worldview, Jewish sovereignty in Israel is an insult to Islam and its doctrines.
Of course, not too many Jews would be willing to partake of his hospitality were he to make his intentions so obvious. For that reason, he has had the good sense to make them more palatable by dressing them up in the sheep’s clothing of “peace” and “interfaith dialogue” and “our common Patriarch, Abraham.”
In its 60 years of existence, Israel has withstood every military offensive its enemies have thrown at it. With well-intended but dangerously naive North American Jews backing it, however, the Wahhabis’ “charm” offensive may yet succeed where tanks, intifadahs, aerial bombardment and suicide bombers have failed.
Idea of Jerusalem undivided will backfire
Recently, I read Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s comments recommending giving back disputed sections of the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. He argues that doing so is the only way to preserve Israel in the future. Then I read that the new Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat, elected without the participation of the Palestinians, plans to build more settlements for young Jewish couples in Jerusalem.
People, we are messing this up. The idea of a Jerusalem undivided – an idea I also cherished until recently – is going to backfire on us, quite literally. We must give back disputed territories or we risk losing the whole country, because we are creating a situation that cannot be sustained.
Tension created by Israeli government announcements of continued settlement in disputed territories makes it harder for Jews in the Diaspora, because the resentment and pain it causes spreads, as any university student will tell you. The more we cling to hawkishness, the more we worsen the situation for Jewish people all over the world, as we endanger the lives of Jewish people within Israel.
We must admit that the measures we take to ensure our security are ultimately illusory and do not provide security at all. Rather, they ensure instability and a continued state of war. It’s time for every Jew to say, “enough.” Let’s every single one of us take a good look at the map of Israel, and the ridiculous little bits of land we insist on hanging on to out of spite. If we love the land as much as we say we do, we have to share it or we risk losing it all.
Pogrom in a Jewish cemetery
One hundred and thirty-three gravestones and monuments in the Bucharest Jewish cemetery were destroyed on Oct. 22, 2008. No action has been taken by the Romanian authorities to find and punish the criminals responsible for the desecration of these 133 monuments. This is a pogrom in a Jewish cemetery in 2008.
For years, the walls of the Jewish federation building in Bucharest and Bucharest’s universities were smeared with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans, but the authorities turned a blind eye.
My parents are buried in this cemetery, along with many other family members, friends and others killed in the infamous Bucharest Kristallnacht of Jan. 21-23, 1941.
Beth Rivkah Academy rating
The two institutes responsible for Beth Rivkah Academy’s low ranking base their ratings on non-cultural academic criteria (“Second study finds Beth Rivkah lowest-ranked,” CJN, Nov. 13). If one takes into account the following, Beth Rivkah would rank at the top.
1) the number of students in Beth Rivkah whose parents also attended the school – the majority;
2) the number of students who continue their studies after high school – nearly 100 per cent;
3) the number of students who marry Jewish (100 per cent);
4) the number of students who, as adults, continue to contribute to the Jewish community financially, professionally or as volunteers.
If Beth Rivkah were to select its students according to academic criteria, as the majority of Jewish high schools do, many students would be forced to enrol in public schools. Schools like Beth Rivkah, which is open to everyone, guarantee the future of Montreal’s Jewish community.