Gil Troy wonders why young people do not keep Zionism “at the centre of our story” as modern Jews, in the way as described so eloquently by Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama (“Obama gets Zionism – why don’t our youth?,” CJN, July 3).
I am in my 30s and have always loved Israel, and I’ve never doubted its importance as an ideological and spiritual anchor for us as Jews. I grew up in a post-1967 world, and in my eyes, Israel was always an established and, in may ways, blessedly normal country. Given that, I do not see why it is acceptable in the current Canadian Jewish community to criticize the prime minister of Canada and his polices, but not the prime minister of Israel and his polices, while still affirming my support for either country. I find it hard to voice my deep support for Israel in an atmosphere where criticism and nuanced views are shunned. If you want youth to engage with Zionism, you need to create a space where they can speak freely.
How Israel defends itself
Stephen Tannenbaum’s rhetoric denies facts, while his calling me names (“apologists for Palestinian terror”) is mere baiting (“Palestinian propaganda in The CJN,” CJN letters, June 5.) I haven’t and don’t condone acts of terror from either side. I never “denie[d] Israel the right to defend itself and its citizens” – the issue is how it is done. Israel frequently commits acts of terror against non-combatant civilians: firing assassination missiles at cars driving down busy streets or repeatedly breaking the sound barrier over Gazan children’s heads.
Do I propose “a moral equivalency between the Israel Defence Forces and murderous [terrorist] groups”? I do, when they drop a one-ton bomb on an apartment complex to kill one terrorist, and there are 14 civilian deaths, including nine children as young as two months old. This happened on July 23, 2002, when an Israeli F-16 dropped a laser-guided 1,000-ton bomb on an apartment complex in Gaza City in order to kill Sala Shahada, a senior Hamas terrorist, while he was visiting his family in their apartment. Israel shares responsibility for innocent deaths in civilian areas when it uses lethal force far beyond international humanitarian law’s principle of proportionality.
Is it “Palestinian propaganda and revisionism” to cite the International Court of Justice? Canadian Foreign Affairs’ website says Israel should build “the [security] barrier on its own territory for security purposes… Israel’s construction of the barrier… [is] contrary to international law under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Sadly, these aren’t anomalies, but typical of Israel’s actions. I condemn Fatah’s corruption and Hamas’ intransigence. However, Israel shares in the “true root causes of the [Palestinian’s] misery.” I speak as a Canadian Jew who loves Israel and values justice. These truths require more, not less, attention from our Jewish press.
Pluralism of Thornhill community
I’ll admit I was surprised that the Toronto Jewish community did not make the list of top 10 Jewish neighbourhoods in Jewish Living magazine (“Let’s open up the ’hoods,” CJN, June 26). Since we arrived in Canada two years ago, we have found the Greater Toronto Area to be one of the most vibrant, committed, involved and visible Jewish communities we’ve ever encountered. I was surprised when I read columnist Yoni Goldstein’s reaction to our being left off the list, specifically that “the Achilles hell of Jewish Toronto” is the “inability, and in some cases unwillingness, to mix various Judaisms together.”
In Thornhill, we have two Reform synagogues, two Conservative synagogues, chassidic synagogues, mitnagdic synagogues, Sephardi, Ashkenazi – you name it, Thornhill has it! One of the reasons we love living in Thornhill is the dynamic pluralism of the Jewish community here. So maybe Jewish Living magazine will take notice of us next year, because few neighbourhoods in the Jewish world allow for the range of Jewish expression we have found in the GTA, and, specifically, in Thornhill.
Rabbi Cory Weiss
Mazel tov to the entire staff of The CJN on winning for 13th time in 14 years a prestigious Rockower Award at the annual conference of the American Jewish Press Association (“CJN wins award,” CJN, July 3). Long may you continue to maintain your extraordinary accomplishments.
Monty and Blema Mazin