Your March 6 issue contained two articles about events at York University. Both, unfortunately, lacked any context that might have helped readers understand the issues at York and in the community at large.
“Anti-Semitic graffiti discovered at York U” reported the discovery of anti-Semitic graffiti in Scott Library. Unfortunate as such graffiti are, they are not unique to York, and they are not unique to Jews. Anti-black and anti-Italian graffiti have also been found recently at the university, and anti-Indian and anti-Pakistani graffiti are present there and elsewhere. University students should be immune to the ideas and expressions of the kinds of prejudice the graffiti manifest. Sadly, they are not, but it is important to situate the CJN’s reporting in the larger context, to ensure an adequate understanding of the world in which we live and of the ways in which we can combat hatred and prejudice, whether they are directed at Jews or at others.
York takes very seriously its obligation to promote understanding. That might have been clear to readers if the second article, “Educators discuss challenges of Holocaust education,” which reported on a panel discussion at York about teaching the Holocaust in settings that might not be expected to be receptive to it, had received proper contextualization.
The article did not note that the panel was presented by the Mark and Gail Appel Program in Holocaust and Anti-Racism Education at York University. That program, co-ordinated by the writers of this letter, is a unique initiative by York to fight prejudice at home and abroad by equipping future educators from Canada, Germany and Poland with the knowledge and skills to teach about the Holocaust and against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and prejudice. It has been supported by the Appels and other individuals, as well as by governments, universities and charitable foundations in Canada, Poland and Germany since 2001. Almost all of its participants are non-Jews. The program is evidence of the strong, ongoing commitment of York to fighting all manifestations of prejudice, which is worthy of note.
Professors Michael Brown and Mark Webber
Media neglects Holocaust memorials
Holocaust memorials seem to receive less and less attention as time passes and as the ranks of survivors shrink. Jewish media would perform a service to those who lost their lives by continuing coverage for the new generations, lest they forget.
“Neighbours Who Disappeared,” an exhibit from the Jewish Museum in Prague, Czech Republic, supported by the Forgotten Ones Civic Association, is on display at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre until the end of March. It was considered important enough that the prime minister of the Czech Republic came to Toronto to officiate at its opening.
Seeks information about Niewiadomski
Jan Niewiadomski (also known as John Hansen) was a Polish Jew born in 1926 in Poland and the son of Jadwiga and Kazimierz Kowalewski. He used to live at 182 Jameson Ave. in Toronto and worked for a car insurance company. He died about six years ago. If you have any information about his burial place, please let me know.
Chair, Toronto Chapter
Polish-Jewish Heritage Foundation of Canada
416 882 1572
Govt’s statement about Gaza disappoints
The Board of Rabbis of Greater Montreal finds it necessary to voice its great disappointment with the statement made by Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier on the current situation in Gaza (“Canada ‘concerned’ over Israeli measures,” CJN, March 6).
Ever since 2007, more than 2,000 rockets have been launched against Israel for the sole purpose of indiscriminately slaughtering Israeli citizens. More than 200,000 Israelis are within range of these rockets.
No country on earth would tolerate such murderous tactics against its civilians. To suggest that Israel’s response was excessive is indeed deplorable. Israel has a right and a duty to protect its citizens. It is the terrorists’ use of civilians as human shields that is the reason for the loss of life.
We have in the past found most commendable the support given by the current federal government for Israel’s stand against those who seek to destroy her. It is the terrorists who are solely responsible for the current violence. Let them cease and desist, and the violence in Gaza will come to an end.
Rabbi Michael Whitman
Montreal Board of Rabbis
Response to editorial
The editorial “Israel’s options in Gaza,” (CJN, March 6), offers a sensible way for the Israeli government and Hamas to end this continuing cycle of rocket attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon and the periodic Israel Defence Forces attacks on militants and civilians in the Gaza Strip.
According to a recent Tel Aviv University poll, cited by the Israeli daily Ha’aretz on Feb. 27, “64 per cent of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza towards a ceasefire and the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit.” It is worth remembering that Hezbollah and Israel laid down their arms at the end of the Second Lebanon War in August 2006 and the ceasefire is still holding.
Abbas not interested in peace
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, often described as a “moderate” and “peacemaker,” condemned Israel’s strike on Palestinian terrorist positions in Gaza following a new wave of Qassam rocket attacks upon Israel as “international terrorism,” saying, “It’s very regrettable that what is happening is more than a holocaust.”
In recent weeks, Abbas has condemned legitimate Israeli military actions against terrorists who are glorified in his own media. He expressed pride in an interview with the Jordanian al-Dustour newspaper in having resisted pressure to accept Israel as a Jewish state and in training Hezbollah terrorists against Israel. In that same interview, he also stated that he does not rule out one day returning to full-scale terrorism.
These actions and words show that Abbas is not interested in peace, but only in getting as much as he can out of Israel through negotiations that will never lead to peace.
Morton A. Klein
Zionist Organization of America
Israel must take decisive action
The Palestinian terrorists operate from within residential areas. They hide like rodents in subterranean enclaves within areas populated by innocent civilians, who are used as human shields against possible retaliation by the Israelis. Israeli cities are continuously being bombarded by Hamas and its peons in Gaza, with deadly Qassam rockets and, recently, the even more deadly and accurate Katyushas from Iran.
The terrorists are a misanthropic malignancy on their own people in Gaza and in the West Bank. They could be living in peace on the most beautiful piece of land on the planet if they would not allow themselves to be so easily indoctrinated.
The fundamental responsibility of any national government is to protect its citizens. Israel must act in self defence in the face of these missile attacks on its cities and towns. Israel has been suffering for years under the worsening missile attacks from the Gaza and has no choice but to finally take decisive action against those who are targeting her people.