Monday, April 20, 2009

Jewish Canadians for Decency and Righteousness

I get behind here because there’s so much to write about and many issues that deserve comment require a moral and spiritual stamina, and also a forbearance of the trivial, that I can’t always summon. So, for example, Prime Minister Harper, through his Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, erodes pay equity for women (in this case, women in the federal public service in Canada) by saying it’s a matter to be referred to the unions. Who would have thought in this day and age any government could get away with that? As for the trivial – for I cannot forbear – the media twist themselves into pretzels about Michelle Obama touching the Queen and concoct a fashion ‘war’ between herself and Carla Bruni. Good grief! Give the terrified jobless a break!

Something happened in March that, never mind it’s late, needs to be noticed. Over 160 Jewish Canadians, including persons such as Ursula Franklin O.C., Anton Kuerti O.C., and Naomi Klein, made public a signed statement voicing their concern about the campaign to suppress criticism of Israel currently being carried on in Canada. They are, they say, “concerned about all expressions of racism, anti-Semitism, and social injustice.” But they see the “Never again” for the Holocaust, as applying to all peoples. Thus, “It is a tragic turn of history that the State of Israel, with its ideals of democracy and its dream of being a safe haven for Jewish people, causes immeasurable suffering and injustice to the Palestinian people.”

It’s an extraordinary document, the full text of which is available at several internet sites, including:

The statement concludes:

'It is crucial that forums for discussion of Israel's accountability to the international community for what many have called war crimes be allowed to proceed unrestricted by specious claims of anti-Semitism.'

'We recognize that anti-Semitism is a reality in Canada as elsewhere, and we are fully committed to resisting any act of hatred against Jews. At the same time, we condemn false charges of anti-Semitism against student organizations, unions, and other groups and people exercising their democratic right to freedom of speech and association regarding legitimate criticism of the State of Israel.'

The courage of these persons must be applauded. There are, no doubt, many other Jewish Canadians, and Israelis, who feel this way, and who will be reassured to know that these persons saw fit to make public their distress over behaviour on the part of the state of Israel towards its Palestinian neighbours.

Seems the mainstream media in Canada weren’t helpful in making the statement public.

As Massa God would have it, for as we keep saying here, him don’t sleep, at much the same time, news media were reporting that Israeli troops admitted that they had killed innocent Palestinian civilians in the Gaza war. The reports are hair-raising. Here is one soldier’s account: ‘When we entered a house, we were supposed to bust down the door and start shooting inside and just go up storey by storey – I call that murder. If we identify a person, we shoot them. How is this reasonable?’

He also told of an old woman who was crossing a road when she was shot by soldiers.

‘I don’t know whether she was suspicious or not. I do know that my officer sent people to the roof to take her out. It was cold-blooded murder.’

The accounts come from Israeli soldiers at a recruits’ training course at the Rabin Academy. Danny Mazir, head of the Academy, said: ‘We expected to hold a discussion about the war. We did not expect the testimonies we heard. We were in total shock.’

Palestinians say over half of the more than 1,300 Gazans who were killed were civilians. Israel disputes the figure.

Among other things, it is evil to require men and women to slaughter their fellow human beings in a way that they themselves can recognize as evil. No civilized state abuses its citizens in this way. As for the slaughtered Palestinians, the crying out of the blood of innocents is a continuing theme in the Holy Books. Those who murder unarmed women and children flaunt not only the conventions of men, but, far more seriously, the laws of God.

The converse applies equally to the Palestinians, but it would seem, in the immediate circumstances, that they are more sinned against than sinning.

Idolatry is a convoluted sin, and all manner of worldly things may become idols, including putting the worship of the state before the worship of God. Whatever else there may be dispute about, the first commandment on the tablets Moses brought down from Sinai, as recorded in Exodus and Deuteronomy (in Hebrew, the Devarim), is indisputable: “You shall have no other gods before me.” It would be imprudent of those who lead the state of Israel to set themselves against the God who called the Jewish people His. Indeed, that is to put it very mildly.


FSJL said...

Decency is always in short supply.

Rethabile said...

I've tried to keep up with Ms Klein and her fight against injustice everywhere, but especially in Africa.

I hold the same opinion as those Canadian Jews (and other folks) who are speaking out against this new form of repression, I hold the same opinion as the message in the present post.

clarabella said...

FSJL: We better find some if we are to survive, though – don't you think?

clarabella said...

Rethabile: Conscience is an amazing thing, a keen sword that slices through every kind of prejudice and self-seeking. I admire those who follow their consciences, even when it's hard. No one who hears the story of, say, Dr. Ezz edin Abu Al Aish, can be patient with this one-sided determination of events, unless they have made up their minds to NOT see the truth.

FSJL said...

Pam: That's for bloody sure.

Rethabile said...

FSJL: Yes, it is.

clarabella said...

FSJL, Rethabile: So here we are - one of us from Lesotho, now in Paris, another from England, now in Atlanta, a third from Jamaica, now in Toronto. Two of us know each other, one atheist and one Roman Catholic. The third we've still to meet. Yet we are ad idem on this. Which makes it seem obvious...

FSJL said...

Martin Luther King, while locked up in the jailhouse in Birmingham, Alabama, made the point that injustce anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. That's a position that I certainly endorse.

Rethabile said...

The third one raised in the Protestant tradition, but wondering why not Buddhism, Judaism, Taoism, Atheism, Islam, and this list can become quite long.