Kudos to Canadian Jewish Congress co-presidents Sylvain Abitbol and Rabbi Reuven Bulka for injecting a dose of rational thinking into the debate about the investigations into frivolous human rights complaints playing out in Canada (“Some human rights complaints are frivolous,” CJN, Jan. 24). They hit the nail on the head – human rights commissions must be reminded that not all complaints are equal, and investigations must be reserved for the most serious of cases that may have actually subjected people to real hate and contempt.
Maclean’s magazine was taken to task for its publication of an excerpt of a book by Mark Steyn, and Ezra Levant is the subject of a complaint for his decision two years ago to publish examples in the Western Standard of the so-called “Danish cartoons,” which featured what some believe are derogatory images of Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad.
The Steyn and Levant cases represent an abuse of the system, and, as Abitbol and Rabbi Bulka suggest, it’s up to the commissions to set a higher standard.
Israel and the Liberal Party
Israel’s right to exist within defined and secure borders has been a foundation of both Canadian foreign policy and that of the Liberal Party of Canada for nearly 60 years.
This commitment began with the support of Canada’s then Liberal government of Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1948. Canada’s subsequent careful scrutiny of UN General Assembly resolutions and our traditional refusal to support resolutions that are primarily intended to single out Israel for discriminatory treatment must continue. The integrity of Canada’s reputation at the United Nations will only be maintained by supporting resolutions rooted in international law. Those resolutions must constructively contribute to the goal of a negotiated two-state solution and reflect the values and principles that Canadians want to promote on the world stage.
Canadian diplomats should continue to build on Canada’s long-standing efforts to recommend an alternative peace process, which will end divisiveness and strengthen the relevance and integrity of the United Nations. It was stated in Canada’s statement to the 2005 UN General Assembly plenary, that “this alternative process should be based upon, an inclusive and thorough resolution on the peace process – free of divisive rhetoric, accurate, detailed in approach an balanced in outcome.”
The Liberal party is also committed to building a growing economic relationship between Canada and Israel. On Jan. 1, 1997, the Liberal government of the day was proud to bring the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement into effect, removing tariffs from most manufactured products. While Canada and Israel have historically had strong commercial relations, this agreement has generated significant business opportunities for Canadians to compete in this growing and dynamic market.
The relationship between Canada and Israel is epitomized by the deep bonds of friendship and family ties that have strengthened the labour and human rights communities in both our countries and changed the lives and hopes of thousands of young people around the world.
Of course, Canadian Jews have been at the heart of this relationship, but Canada’s support for the idea of Israel and its affirmation of human values has found deep resonance across religious and cultural communities.
That is why the Liberal policy on Israel and the Middle East is based on the following core principles. To that end we will continue to:
• proudly support, as a cornerstone of our foreign policy, the right of Israel to exist in peace and security;
• call for a two-state solution, of an independent and democratic Palestine alongside an independent and democratic Israel;
• support the right of Israel, like any other state, to be free from threats or acts of force;
• condemn terrorism – from whatever source, for whatever purpose, in whatever form;
• support the push for democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law throughout the Middle East;
• push for fairness in the UN General Assembly, where one-sided resolutions serve neither peace nor the United Nations; and
• combat racism, anti-Semitism, hatred and intolerance.
When Israel’s right to exist is threatened, it is an attack on the values of every democracy. It is in this context that Israel’s fight for existence is our fight. Her struggle for peace and security is our struggle.
Foreign Affairs Critic
Liberal Party of Canada
Out of the Cold project
We want to offer a correction to your article about the efforts of the Jewish community to respond to the ongoing plight of the homeless and hungry (“Shuls bring guests in from the cold,” CJN, Jan. 17). Beth Sholom Synagogue and Beth Tzedec Congregation have co-operated in our Out of the Cold project for almost a decade. Our partnership uses the location of Beth Sholom and the volunteer efforts of both synagogues.
Rabbi Aaron Flanzraich
Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl