Welcoming Syrian refugees
How should Canada’s Jewish community welcome Syrian refugees (Question of the week, Dec. 10)? With compassion, understanding and respect. Once again, it is our responsibility to demonstrate to the world our foundational belief of tikkun olam.
Rabbi Hillel conveys this message far better than I ever could, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”
As the child of immigrants from Poland and Russia I am grateful to the various Canadian governments in welcoming and integrating refugees and other newcomers to Canada.
I have one serious reservation with respect to the newly arrived and soon to arrive Syrian refugees. Since 1948, Syria and Israel have been in a state of war. The Jewish population has either fled from Syria or was driven out without compensation for their property. For all the years since the creation of the State of Israel, Syrians have been taught to hate Israel and Jews. I wonder to what extent the Syrians now arriving in Canada have been vetted with respect to any anti-Semitic feelings.
Obviously, as a matter of self-preservation, they would not admit to that, but it is a concern that they bring such attitudes to Canada. Am I naive to believe that if they harbour such feelings towards Jews that by simply settling in Canada their feeling towards Jews will change?
Bert Raphael, president, the Jewish Civil Rights Association
The cost of progressives
Mira Sucharov wants rabbis to denounce far-right Zionism. She gives as an example the policy to retain all of Judea and Samaria on the part of the Jewish Home party.
I, too, disagree with this policy as outlined by leader Naftali Bennett, but this is politics, and I don’t think that rabbis should go there, unless there are serious moral issues, for example, recommending expulsion of Arabs from their land.
She refers to left wingers as “progressives.” This is not uncommon, but, in my view, it’s a rather odious term implying all those who disagree are “regressives.” In fact, the label progressive was often adopted by Communists during the McCarthy era, since their old name had such bad connotations.
Now that we understand that left wingers are just those with another point of view, if indeed rabbis were to denounce far-right Zionism, then I would have them denounce far-left Zionism too. By that I mean those “Zionists” who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement to convince Israel to leave Arab territories or who denounce Israel every time, in reacting to the unprovoked rocket attacks from Gaza, it kills some of the civilians that Hamas routinely uses as shields.
How that could be “progressive” Zionism escapes me completely.
The real enemy Israel faces
In the letter to the editor “We refuse to be enemies,” the letter writers do this noble and important idea a disservice through obfuscation, equivocation and inaccuracy.
Just one example is their regrettable assertion that radical Islamist terror stems from regional conflicts, including in “Palestine,” a country that does not and never has existed.
This is not only a swipe at Israel, but a fundamental mis-characterization of Islamist ideology and motivation.
Islamists, which are really who Israel is fighting with the Palestinian Authority, PLO and Hamas, are not like the Irish Republican Army, a terror group that, though ruthless and murderous, had a limited geographic goal.
Anyone with any common sense and understanding of Islamism and jihad knows that if Israel and all its Jews were to be gone tomorrow, there would still be an ISIS, an Al Qaeda, an Iran, or another Islamist group working even harder than they are now to violently establish a caliphate over the rest of the globe.
Brotherhood (and sisterhood) between peoples is something we all need to work for, but it is only sustainable to the degree that truth is mutually embraced.