Labour Day 2014

September 1, 2014

 

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There was a rare sighting of a Catholic priest in the Labour Day parade this year. Yes he was there collar and all, Fr.O’Reilly, Basilian walking in solidarity with the various faces of labour. Good on ya, Father, a rara avis indeed. In all the years I’ve been walking, never saw a Catholic bishop once, so divorced have these putative leaders been from the social struggle. The John Paul ll boys were a timorous lot except for ranting about what they knew least—issues dealing with sex and women’s rights.

I once wrote an article tongue in cheek where I said you will know when the Parousia (end times) are about to arrive is when you are in a jazz club and you look across the room and you see a Catholic bishop. Paul André Durocher now the head of the Canadian Catholic Bishops told me he liked that jibe.”Early to bed, early to rise, never see the regular guys” was the less than subtle intent. Now I’ve updated that witticism and changed it to’, Look the Labour Day Parade is about to started…who’s that guy with the funny hat and walking stick, leading the parade, no it can’t be, but it is Bishop —– insert name here.Ah,’tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!

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As the great Andrews Sister’s 1949 cut said, “I Can Dream Can’t I”?

All in a lovely affair and a big difference this year with many young children walking with their parents on this warm and muggy day. ”Forging solidarity for a better city” read the logo on my Catholic Teachers’ tee shirt. Was this a reference to Rob Ford or basic Catholic theology? Anyway I was proud to wear it and happy to see my former union out there with the OECTA flag.

But wait, I spy a couple of teachers handing out a pamphlet Teachers’ Pension and Apartheid:Time to Divest Again. It turns out that the teachers’ pension plan has a combined investment of $582 million in the Occupied Territories. In the 90s the pension plan even though it does not consider investment on ethical or moral principles did pull the pug on apartheid South Africa. These teachers want fellow teachers to bring resolutions to their districts to support such a divestment campaign.

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Sign on Queen Street on Labour Day 2014

Someof those organizations supporting BDS.are CUPE, Independent Jewish Voices, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Anglican Church of England and canada (general synods,the Israeli Committee against House demolitions and several others.) For info : http://www.caiaweb.org//tfp

I posed a similar challenge to the Catholic Teachers Union in my book Never Neutral: A Teaching Life

Human rights as a Catholic value, solidarity as a Catholic value, and compassion as a Catholic value, no longer need defensive posturing and apologetic timidity.

What it does need is some courage.

Unions should be prodding Catholic boards to step up the witness and curriculum work around the overweening moral issue of today, climate change. This should be obvious. The second issue is the long-standing oppression of the Palestinian people. As a long-time friend of the Jewish people, as the pioneer in this country of Holocaust education, and as one honoured by the same community for my work, my credentials as an honest broker here should allow me to speak with the utmost honesty and genuine concern.

The state of Israel has become an international pariah for its illegal occupation of Palestinian land, its historic ethnic cleansing of an indigenous people and its ongoing and unrelenting oppression of another Semitic people. Israel, sadly, has lived up to the shocking boast of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan shortly after its conquests of 1967. His brutal candour stands as a monument to insensitivity and cruelty. To his colleagues he stated at that time: “We must tell the Palestinians in the territories we have no solution. You shall continue to live like dogs and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads.” Well, we now have the answer.

In all global surveys, Israel ranks near the bottom of countries having a negative influence in the world. This is a monumental tragedy and a deep source of embarrassment to Jews of conscience and internationalists in general. Not only has its behaviour stimulated nascent antisemitsim, but it has deformed Judaism. Calling Israel back to sanity and to justice is imperative today as the solution of this neuralgic issue is the key to dampening Muslim tensions with the Western world. In this way we shall exhibit our double solidarity: To the state of Israel, its right to exist as a valued member of the international community as well as to the beleaguered, long-suffering Palestinian people.

Catholic unions must get on the right side of history here and, out of love for the Jewish state, help bring it back to sanity and justice. South Africa’s recent transformation may serve as a hopeful example to an honoured seat in the international family of nations.

Reflexive supporters of Israel today are sadly presiding over acountry which has lost its way. Teaching bodies who do not speak to this heartbreaking situation are complicit in its continuance. It would be sad indeed, a dereliction of duty and a betrayal of our call to be in solidarity with the oppressed, if a Catholic union of teachers remained passive and silent on these two issues.

Gaza and simple pleasures

August 30, 2014

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Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own or so the master says in Matthew’s gospel. Particularly in his’ time when life was short and often brutal—there was more enough daily trouble to go around. Life has always tossed us curve balls—mental and physical ailments, disappointments of all kinds, thwarted dreams. All too true but as Teilhard told us, “By virtue of Creation, and still more the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” A rich faith life helps to direct our gaze and point us in the right direction.

Daily we live under a waterfall of grace. the seemingly small pleasures nourish us. The happiest people are those who are engaged in our common struggle for humanization. While it is true that wherever we are it is Egypt and pharaoh is still on his throne and life is less than it should be, people come together in communities, organizations and movements to make life more tolerable if not better.

Many through sheer luck, birthright or yes, talent, have all their physical needs looked after and sadly end up as Nietzsche said of the last men, live a life of pitiable comfort. The pleasure principle is their sole ambition. They have their reward as superficial as it may be.

For those who are truly alive La lucha continua as the California Grape workers used to say…the struggle continues. The world needs our engagement. One can never retire from this summons.

The great pacifist A.J.Muste used to go to New York Mets games to unwind. I like to go to the Toronto Boardwalk and watch my grandkids play soccer. What an exhilarating experience, watching these pre-teens race up and down the pitch, cheered on parents and friends. I watch the boats on the lake, the caring coaches and refs and the spirited determination on these innocent children This goes on all over this city on summer nights, all run by volunteers. A simple pleasure. A kairos even as the missies crash into Gaza

I am aware that as of August 24, nearly half a million Palestinian children in Gaza who were scheduled to start a new school year were unable to do so because of Israel’s savage massacre which took the wholly innocent lives of about 500 precious ikons of the divine The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights puts the number at 518, while the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reckons 519.

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Cousins of the 4 Palestinian kids killed while playing soccer on a Gaza beach

In an interview last week Pernille Ironside the chief of UNICEF Gaza’s field office said that,” the future of Palestinian children in Gaza is extraordinarily bleak. The entire population has experienced a deep form of trauma, and there isn’t a single family in Gaza who hasn’t experienced personally death, injury, the loss of their home, extensive damage, displacement. The psychological toll that has on a people, it just cannot be overestimated, and especially on children. I’ve met children who have experienced extraordinary wounds, who have watched as family members were dismembered before their eyes, obliterated….I mean, the impact and the type of weaponry that’s being used is literally shredding and obliterating people, and particularly children, who are so small and vulnerable.
Ms Ironside, the very best of the wonderful people who work for the United Nations stated in her usual professional manner that “there appears to be a rollback in terms of the compliance with the norms of international humanitarian law that dictate civilians and civilian objects, including shelters that are run for relief purposes, are protected spaces at all times.”

I observe in stunned disbelief that local rabbis are not shaking their fists in rage over the deaths of these children. I wonder why the Catholic bishops are so mute on such an egregious betrayal of civilized norms.

At the same time i am grateful for Israeli writers like Gideon Levy and Amira Hess who never stop challenging Israel for its betrayal of ethical Zionism.

I watch my grandkids cavort on the boardwalk’s soccer pitch I rejoice in such a simple pleasure and as I take Dougie for an ice cream after his game i am deeply aware of 519 Palestinian children and one Israeli who will never grow up to kick a soccer ball.

DOUGIE

Racism: No tears for Palestinian children

August 29, 2014

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“Life is the only real counselor; wisdom unfiltered through personal experience does not become a part of the moral tissue.

Edith Wharton

Something here has to rise up and scream: Enough. All the excuses and all the explanations will not help – there is no such thing as a child that is allowed to be killed and a child that is not. There are only children killed for nothing, hundreds of children whose fate touches no one in Israel, and one child, just one, around whose death the people unite in mourning.

Gideon Levy in Haaretz Aug. 24, 2014

Many of the Zionist critics of Israel often mention the deep racism in Israel today Poll after poll indicates this sad fact. Peter Beinart in his book The Crisis of Zionism states that the poll results of Israeli attitudes towards Arabs are shocking. He then lays the results out with this statement: “As painful as it is for Jews to admit that race hatred can take roots among a people that has suffered so profoundly from it the ground truth is that occupying another people requires racism, and breeds it”.

Walls of course facilitate racism. Think about what that concrete monstrosity means that snakes across Israel today. Not only has it stolen 10% of Palestinian land, but it screams “I don’t even want to even see you.”. These poor Israeli kids who are forced to humiliate Arabs on a daily basis ultimately will see them as less than human.

There were no walls at Harbord Collegiate playground in the summers when I was a kid playing on three city championship ball teams with all Jewish kids in the early 50s. Athletics and demography can do that for you if you are lucky enough and wise enough to take the universal lessons dropped in your lap

One of the most shocking examples of this ingrained racism is contained in Israeli journalist Yoram Binur’s 1990 expose My Enemy, My Self, a book which rocked Israel. Like John Howard Griffin’s opus Black Like Me in the southern USA in the late 50s. Binur successfully passed into the culture as “the other”, in his case a lowly Palestinian doing menial jobs.

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Fluent in Arabic, the author experienced the daily abuse as a Palestinian living under military rule in the Occupied Territories. Treated with utter disdain by his Jewish employers, he begins to hate his fellow Israelis who had no idea he was a former lieutenant in the IDF.

How prophetic Binur was. While he was underground the first Intifada broke out. His eerie conclusion:

If you respect them and their rights to freedom and independence, you dont have a problem, but if you just ignore it, you fall into a greater risk and this is the reason I wrote the book, because I feel the biggest risk is just around the corner and no one paid attention. Israel will not be a democracy anymore. You cannot apply a dictatorship to Palestinian camps five minutes from Jerusalem, as we do now, and keep a democracy,“

Binur’s sobering account of Jewish racism was at tghe same time also confirmed by Israel’s premier novelist David Grossman .In 1987 Grossman was commissioned to write about life in the Occupied Territories. Palestinians in their daily suffering leap off the page as fellow humans who often remind him of his grandmother.The author is appalled with the settlers “who will not allow themselves a split second of empathy. He is sickened by the exploitation of Palestinian workers.The Yellow Wind caused a sensation in Israel.

Twenty-four years later the chastened liberal Zionists are flagging racism as the grave threat to Israeli democracy. No less prophetic than Binur and Grossman is another brave Israeli, journalist Gideon Levy.

In an Haaretz article (Aug 24) the author wrote about “the difference between children”. It is a stunning piece in which Levy contrasts the coverage of the death of the four year old Israeli child Daniel Tragerman and the almost 500 children killed in Gaza. The death of the young Jewish child  was major news in Israel and as Levy says Whose heart would not be broken at the sight of the grieving family,who would not weep at how he was criminally killed…It is human understanadable and moving.”

Yet Levy probes depper.

“What is incomprehensible is the Israeli response to the killing of thir children”

In a world where there is some good, children would be left out of the cruel game called war. In a world where there is some good, it would be impossible to understand the total, almost monstrous unfeelingness in the face of the killing of hundreds of children – not ours, but by us. Imagine them standing in a row: 478 children, in a graduating class of death.

These are the Palestinian children killed in Gaza

An iron wall of denial and inhumanness protects the Israelis from the shameful work of their hands in Gaza. And indeed, these numbers are hard to digest

The radio yesterday already talked about “murder.” The prime minister already called the killing “terror,” while hundreds of Gaza’s children in their new graves are not victims of murder or terror. Israel had to kill them. And after all, who are Fadi and Ali and Islaam and Razek, Mahmoud, Ahmed and Hamoudi – in the face of our one and only Daniel.

We must admit the truth: Palestinian children in Israel are considered like insects.”

Crisis in Zion

August 28, 2014

 

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As soon as I began watching the video, I wished I had never turned it on. For most of my life, my reactions to accounts of Palestinian suffering has been rationalization, a search for reasons why the accounts are exaggerated or the suffering self-inflicted. In that respect, i suspect, I’m like many American Jews.
Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism

Antony Lerman, was the  former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. In a truly groundbreaking article (Aug.20, 2014) in the New York Times  he laid out the growing crisis in diaspora Jewry. Mr Lerman opined that both the left and liberal Zionism accepted the  established historical record, still not accepted by Israeli leaders but beyond argument that ” Jews forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians  from their homes to make way for the establishment of a Jewish state ” Well, this was at least a breakthrough but liberal Zionists also accepted  that it was an acceptable price to pay for the founding of the state.

Liberal Jews promoted the the idea of the right to self-determination  a blanket taboo for the maximalists in Israel today who seemingly want an Israel which is free of Arabs. The Jewish state has done everything in its power to make life intolerable for the indigenous population. Its cruelty, hidden from American Jews who have no idea of what transpires in the West Bank or Gaza reflexively out of tribal loyalty salute the Israeli flag. In an internet age, the daily accumulation facts of oppression and the massive denial of human rights are becoming intolerable to democrats everywhere.

Lerman makes a startling statement ” Israel is not Judaism. Jewish history did not culminate in the creation of the state of Israel.” Many religious Jews have been lamenting the injury done to Judaism by the brutality of “the Jewish state.” It mocks the history of Judaism as a religion founded on the exodus of a colonized people, of a God who liberates and does not oppress “the widow, orphan, the poor and the stranger “– i.e the Palestinians in this instance. These are to be raised up in all their dignity. as fellow humans who have the spermatikos, the spark of the divine inside them. Sadly like the Jews of eastern Europe Arabs have become untermenschen, subhuman, not like us, the Other.
Tribal Judaism seems in the ascendance in the diaspora. As Beinart says in his book,”Israel advocacy generally fails. For one thing it is difficult to teach Jewish students to defend the Jewish state when they have not been taught to care about Judaism itself.” The universal values of Judaism which were incarnated in so many progressive causes, which saw Jews on the side of the oppressed seems to have ebbed, much to the consternation of religious Jews like Avraham Burg: “Too many of my Jewish American brothers and sisters have become the beating heart of neoconservatism, part of the white, right wing,nationalist. and powerful establishment, part of an administration and culture that withdraw from the global responsibility that defined America’s spirit in World War ll…The Jews have abandoned the inner cities for affluent suburbs…together they stand against Arabs and Muslims everywhere.”

Judaism is no different from any world religion. It is susceptible to corruption particularly among the plethora of idols rampant in advanced capitalism: power, affluence instrumental reasoning etc. Catholics saw a similar movement in the USA when an immigrant community moved to the suburbs. Charity replaced justice as the cardinal virtue. “Living easy is indeed dangerous as Nietzsche reminded us.

Zionism called into question

August 27, 2014

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Others have not been so specific in their dissent, but they share the sense that it will no longer do simply to trot out the familiar lines. Partly it’s because some of the consequences of the Israeli bombardment have been so hard to stomach: hospitals, schools, and homes battered by shells, with instantly lethal consequences. It requires a special steel, perhaps lacking in some liberal Zionists, to speak up for Israel when the country’s air force has just hit a home for the disabled.

Jonathan Freedland in the New York Review of Books July 26,2014

50 days of unrelenting pulverizing, hardly a war have come to an end with the usual results, massive Palestinian suffering including the deaths of 500 children, the needless deaths of 64 Israelis,(5 by friendly fire) mostly soldiers. The interesting thing is the lashing of Israeli PM Netanyahu whose poll numbers have plummeted. The damage done to Zionism is incalculable as many Jewish commentators have been writing. It is truly decision time for many Jews in the diaspora.

Beleaguered liberal Zionists  as we are seeing are having a massive crise de conscience—how to balance their dreams of Israel  as an oasis of universal human values, liberalism and human rights with the reality of Revisionist Zionism, a shocking betrayal of humanist values, best exemplified by the savage assaults on Gaza—3 in the last six years.

Before that there was another disproportionate attack on Lebanon in 2006. You recall that don’t you? In the last 72 hours of fighting, at a time when the United Nations Security Council had adopted Resolution 1701 calling for an immediate halt to hostilities, Israel dropped more than four million of these flesh ripping pieces of shrapnel over south Lebanon, a goodbye kiss if you will, another lovely reminder of “the most moral army in the world.” all paid for of course by the USA.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch slammed Israel for the use of these cluster bombs in civilian areas. In an article in Haaretz (Sept 12, 2006) an anonymous member of the IDF rocket’s unit spoke as a human being:“What we did was insane and monstrous; we covered entire towns in cluster bombs.”  Handicap International an NGO which monitors this type of warfare reported that since the cessation of hostilities five years later, 408 Lebanese civilians have been killed or injured by these, 115 of them under 18 years old. Unless properly disposed of, the weapons keep killing and maiming for decades. In 2007 alone, Lebanon lost an estimated $126.8 million in agricultural revenue because of cluster munitions.

This is the stuff of which never gets into our news cycles, never penetrates our minds and lives. Yet they are hell on earth for those who suffer. And the worst suffering is that the west cares very little about Arab suffering.

Well now the cumulative savagery is readily obvious to diaspora Jews who desperately wanted to believe in the cultural and religious Zionism they grew up with. These are people who  pay attention to what is really transpiring within Israel. Decent men like Lerman and several other Jewish American Zionist pundits along with a growing chorus of other dissenters are having the masks pulled from their eyes. And it must be said to the willfully blind in disaporic Jewry this has always been going on if you had been really paying attention.

As the author mentioned in his NYT Sunday article “ the self-appointed arbiters  of what’s Jewish in the Jewish state — the extreme religious Zionists and the strictly Orthodox, aided and abetted by Jewish racists  in the Knesset like Ayelet Shaked, a Jewish Home Party member who recently called for the mothers of Palestinian “snakes” to be killed — are trashing democracy more and more each day”. 

This public excoriation has scarcely been heard before in national American papers but a rubicon of blood has been crossed this time in Gaza and only deluded true believers can deny it. The public faces of liberal Zionism are no longer falling for the lying (”the familiar lines” as Jonathan Freedland said above) massive propaganda peddled by Israel and ignored by the craven Congress and Senate, Herein lies the great scandal of American democracy held hostage by the money and influence of the Israeli lobby. Not one president has dared buck this lobby since Harry Truman caved in 1947. Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton are both co-opted by this lobby.

Lerman concludes his article in this fashion:

Pushed to the political margins in Israel and increasingly irrelevant in the Diaspora,  liberal Zionism not only lacks agency; worse, it provides cover for the supremacist Zionism  dominant in Israel today. Liberal Zionists have become an obstacle to the emergence of a  Diaspora Jewish movement that could actually be an agent of change.

Conclusion tomorrow,

Endgame for liberal Zionism?

August 25, 2014

In Germany slow processes altered the perception of reality to the degree that insanity became the norm, and then we were exterminated. It happened in the land of the poets and philosophers. There it was possible, and here to in the land of the prophets. The establishment of a state run by rabbis and generals is not an impossible nightmare…open your ears and hearts.
Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Knesset

From the Six Day War to Lebanon, from Lebanon to the settlements, from the settlements to Gaza, Israel’s credibility has steadily fallen – even as the world’s distance from Auschwitz (the favorite excuse) has lengthened. So Israel is far more vulnerable today than it would have been twenty five years ago.
Tony Judt, late Jewish American historian

It took over 50 years for the veil to be pulled back in Israel but then a lie can’t live forever. The new Israeli historians with access to more material proved beyond a doubt that Palestinians were forcefully expelled from their homeland in the year of the Nakba, 1948. Morris, Shlaim, Pappe, Kimmerling et al revealed a brutal reign of terror as 750,000 innocent victims who had nothing to do with Hitler’s deadly assault on European Jewry paid the price of homelessness.

From the beginning, even from Herzl’s time despite assurances that Jews wished to live side by side with Palestinians, the indigenous people of the land, expansion and statehood was the hidden agenda. When Herzl began his Zionist movement only 3% of Palestine was Jewish and those in the Yishuv (the Jewish community) lived quietly among the natives.

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Through a reign of terror which the Israeli government screams now, three terrorists—Begin, Shamir and Sharon became Prime Ministers. With the election of the Likud in 1977 a new revisionist Zionism took hold and remains so today. Gobbling up the remaining Palestinian land at a furious pace and becoming crueler and crueler in the process, it stands as revealed as an ugly expansionist settler project. The biblical Isaianic dream of being lor goyim (a light unto the nations) has become a pathetic joke as Israel rapidly has become a pariah nation

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. The dream of the cultural Zionists was one of enlightened liberal values, human rights and the universal vision of Judaism.

Sadly the fundamentalists had their way and a bitter and hated enemy of the Palestinian people became the Prime Minister, a man obsessed with military power,Binyamin Netanyahu—the ‘destroyer of dreams” as historian Avi Shlaim calls him.

And now many Jews are heartsick that their zionism has been turned on its head. Anthony Lerman’s confession in yesterday’s New York Times says it all:”Everything liberal zionists stand for is now in doubt.”

More and more Jews have been sickened as Lerman says by “shock and awe militarism. The latest assault on Gaza, a disproportionate orgy of wanton murder, the third assault on defenceless Gazans in eight years has broken many. ”It cannot be reconciled with their humanism.”

Forget Hamas and their utterly futile “defence” of their people. Theirs is the cry of the proud madman who does not care anymore. He has been crazed by decades of humiliation, hopelesness and unremitting oppression. Now like The Mexican rebel Zapapta he would rather die on his feet than continue living on his knees.

Lerman will surely be on the receiving end of abuse from the true Israeli believers when he describes ’Modern israel. The attacks on freedom of speech and human rights organizations in Israel, the land-grabbing settler movement, a growing strain of anti-Arab racism, extremist politics and a powerful intolerant religious right, this mixture has pushed zionism to the brink.”

Lerman does not stop with the ugly politics in israel. He goes after the american apologists,AIPAC,the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League “as well as a raft of largely self-appointed community leaders who have swung to the right making unquestioning solidarity with israel the touchstone of their jewish identity—even though majority Jewish opinion is by no means hawkish.
By 2007 the author still thought Liberal Zionism had a role to play. This cri de coeur brings much pain to a non-Jewish readership. Here is an idealist, an Israeli citizen since 1970 who served the Jewish community in “research and philanthropic capacities” who still believed that liberal zionism could play a part by expressing reservations about Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.

 

Lerman’s heart is breaking as his dream has been trampled on by thugs like Sharon and Netanyahu but wait until 200t he dared to dream “of Israel as a moral and just cause.” It has turned to dust.
“The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary, a Jewish ethno-nationalism inspired by religious messianism. It is carrying out an open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe”.

This mind-set blocks any chance Israel might have to become a full-fledged liberal-democratic state, and offers the Palestinians no path to national self-determination, no justice for their expulsion in 1948, nor for the occupation and the denial of their rights. I came to see the notion that liberal Zionism might reverse, or even just restrain, this nationalist juggernaut as fanciful.

Well, brother Lerman was vilified then and I fear the true believers will once again descend on him like a ton of bricks. More tomorrow.

Endgame for Liberal Zionism?

August 24, 2014

 

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it seems that the endgame is coming into view around Zionism and Israel. In today’s the New York Times Sunday Review Anthony Lerman a lifelong liberal Zionist wrote about the growing disgust much of the world feels toward the state of Israel. Borderline psychopaths like Binyamin Netanyahu with his murderous assault on Gaza has managed to do what a gang load of antisemites could never accomplish, turn israel into a pariah state, create even more antisemites and saddest of all, degrade an honourable world religion.

Now Lerman does not write from a religious perspective but as a liberal Zionist. For those unfamiliar with this genre, a few words.

There was always a stream of Zionism which though not overly Judaic in observance really believed in the civilizing aspects of Zionism. Putting aside the dispossession of another people , there were many such believers. The names Ahad Ha’am (“One of the people”) and Hannah Arendt spring to mind. In the area of religion Martin Buber and Judah Magnes are prime examples.

These were people of a large spirit, ecumenical in the best sense of the word, very respectful of the indigenous Palestinian community whose land sadly they eventually stole , Ha’am (Asher Ginsburg) died in 1927, Magnes in 1948. They believed Jews and Arabs could coexist in amity. Here’s Ha’am in 1891!

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We tend to believe abroad that Palestine is nowadays almost completely deserted, a non-cultivated wilderness, and anyone can come there and buy as much land as his heart desires. But in reality this is not the case. It is difficult to find anywhere in the country Arab land which lies fallow; the only areas which are not cultivated are sand dunes or stony mountains, which can be only planted with trees, and even this only after much labor and capital would be invested in clearance and preparation..

We tend to believe abroad that all Arabs are desert barbarians, an asinine people who does not see or understand what is going on around them. This is a cardinal mistake. The Arab, like all Semites, has a sharp mind and is full of cunning…But when the day will come in which the life of our people in the Land of Israel will develop to such a degree that they will push aside the local population by little or by much, then it will not easily give up its place..

One thing we certainly should have learned from our past and present history, and that is not to create anger among the local population against us…We have to treat the local population with love and respect, justly and rightly. And what do our brethren in the Land of Israel do? Exactly the opposite!…and they behave toward the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, infringe upon their boundaries, hit them shamefully without reason, and even brag about it.

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Magnes was an American Reform rabbi who emigrated to Israel in 1923. He clearly saw in the 30s the options for Jews in Palestine—a nationalistic state of militaristic imperialism ‘which the Arabs or deprives them of their rights or a pacific state, a Jewish spiritual centre, a country of two nations and there religions, equal rights and no special privileges…in short the Holy Land.”In 1929 he pondered: Was it possible to enter any country—no less the Holy Land—and build it up pacifistically: ”if we cannot(and I do not say we can rise to these heights, I for my part have lost half my interest in the enterprise. If we cannot even attempt this I should much rather see the eternal people without such a National Home.”

Tomorrow the growing alienation of the liberal Zionists.

Letter from Israel: Wake up Obama

August 23, 2014

 

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Talking with Fr.Jerry this morning about hope, I told him I was not an optimist but I was hopeful. Hope is a theological virtue. It is deep, unfazed by trends or popularity. The  line from Hebrews 11.1 expresses this well:”Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. What we cannot see but believe fervently is that truth is always moving,hidden from sight perhaps, but moving inexorably among us. The spirit (ruah Hebrew) is often faint like the breeze but it is there waiting a fuller incarnation. It is Mandela waiting in jail convinced that what he was  about was just; it was like Gandhi tossed off that train in South Africa. He kept going convinced that what he was about would ultimately bear fruit. It is people like Dorothy Naor (below) who make me believe that  Israelis  will someday cut through their faulty master narrative and biased education and grasp the universal aspects of Judaism instead of their narrow  tribalism.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dear President Obama,

I am an 82 year old Jewish citizen of the United States (where I was born) and Israel (where I reside).  I have a question.

Yesterday I heard you once again iterate as you have often before that Israel has the right to defend itself.  I would not question that.

However, do not the Palestinians also have that right?  How many Palestinians must Israel kill– 3000, 4000, 5000 (now it stands at over 2000 that Israel has killed in this escapade)– before we hear you say that Palestinians have the right to defend themselves?  Why is their right less in your eyes than Israel’s right?

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am not suggesting that their freedom fighters continue to send rockets against the Israeli population.  I oppose violence.  But to hear you state that Israel has the right to defend itself, without a word about the Palestinian right is appalling.

Is it because you—the United States—supply Israel with the tools for killing Palestinians?  Is it because you have been bought by the industrial-military complex, so that you not only furnish the killing tools, but also allow Israel to test them upon a captive people, the Palestinians in Gaza?

As a Jew who has lived in Israel 56 years and has been here for 8 of Israel’s 14 wars/military campaigns since 1948 I want to say that this is enough!

We had so much hope in you when you ran for office.  So much.  You could have made history.

Instead, you have let yourself be bought by those whose interest is wars, because the industrial-military complex makes money off of them.

It saddens me that you will go down in history as a non-entity instead of the great man that you could have been.  It saddens me that you lack the humanity to say that Israel must stop testing its (and US) weapons on a people that has no place even to escape to, that Israel must stop venting its supposed desire to protect its people on the Palestinian people.  Had Israel really wanted security for Israelis it would have made peace, not war, and that long ago.  It has had partners.  It is the Palestinians that have no Israeli partner!

Sincerely,
Dorothy Naor
Herzliah, Israel
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Jewish survivors condemn Israel

August 22, 2014

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313 Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

Letter to Guardian August 15

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to promote blatant falsehoods used to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!

Signed,
Survivors:
Hajo Meyer, survivor of Auschwitz, The Netherlands.
Henri Wajnblum, survivor and son of a victim of Auschwitz from Lodz, Poland. Lives in Belgium.
Renate Bridenthal, child refugee from Hitler, granddaughter of Auschwitz victim, United States.
Marianka Ehrlich Ross, survivor of Nazi ethnic cleansing in Vienna, Austria. Now lives in United States.
Irena Klepfisz, child survivor from the Warsaw Ghetto, Poland. Now lives in United States.
Hedy Epstein, her parents & other family members were deported to Camp de Gurs & subsequently all perished in Auschwitz. Now lives in United States.
Lillian Rosengarten, survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, United States.
Suzanne Weiss, survived in hiding in France, and daughter of a mother who was murdered in Auschwitz. Now lives in Canada.
H. Richard Leuchtag, survivor, United States.
Ervin Somogyi, survivor and son of survivors, United States.
Ilse Hadda, survivor on Kindertransport to England. Now lives in United States.
Jacques Glaser, survivor, France.
Norbert Hirschhorn, refugee of Nazi genocide and grandson of three grandparents who died in the Shoah, London.

and 300 more

Lac Megantic: More Tory Common Sense

August 21, 2014

 

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In the final report on the rail explosion that killed 47 people and obliterated a Quebec community’s downtown core, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada pointed directly to what it called a “weak safety culture” at Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway. The TSB also cited the “limited number and scope of safety management system audits” conducted by Transport Canada.

And the Tories send out Transport minister Lisa Raitt to deflect any criticism of the government responsibility for serious oversight.

Transport Canada official report

For several years, Transport Canada’s regional office in Quebec had identified MMA as a company with an elevated level of risk that required more frequent inspections. Although MMA normally took corrective action once problems were identified, it was not uncommon for the same problems to reappear during subsequent inspections. These problems included issues with train securement, training, and track conditions. Transport Canada’s regional office in Quebec, however, did not always follow up to ensure that these recurring problems were effectively analyzed and that the underlying conditions were fixed.

In addition, although MMA had developed a safety management system in 2002, Transport Canada’s regional office in Quebec did not audit it until 2010—even though this is Transport Canada’s responsibility, and despite clear indications (via inspections) that the company’s safety management system was not effective. Transport Canada Headquarters in Ottawa, meanwhile, did not effectively monitor the Region’s activities. As a result, it was not aware of any weaknesses in oversight of regional railways in Quebec, and it did not intervene.
The federal department did not follow up to ensure that “recurring safety deficiencies” at the company were corrected.

This is an age old problem with the Canadian Tories and American Republicans. Cut all “red tape” and let business do what it wants. They are our friends and major donors. There is too much regulation. Unleash that magic cure all, free market capitalism.

In Ontario we saw it with the Harris government—the late Jim Flaherty, Baird and Clement taking their assault on the common good and government responsibility to ensure our collective well being.

These people do not understand original sin.

Most businesses will continue to maximize profit and minimize public responsibility.

Ontario had a real joker as Minister of Transport, a car dealer al Palladini who became the Minister of Flying Wheels.

As usual the harris government opted out of transport oversight and allowed huge trucks to roam our highways with little supervision, very few checks. Business will police itself. Sure it will. Wheels began flying off trailers and killing Canadians. When the public screamed they finally acted and discovered 90% of these wagons posed significant danger to the public. tell that to those who lost loved ones.

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Then there was Walkerton.in May 2000 we saw The outbreak of E.coli, seven residents dead 2,300 people sick,and for 6 months the town’s 5,000 residents had to rely on bottled water and treating tap water with bleach.

Lax oversight. A Tory hack given a plum job of looking after our drinking water, simply didn’t do it. An ideological government cutting back health and safety regulations put the citizenry in jeopardy. Cutting “red tape” to them was simply “Common sense.”

Lac Megantic is just another variant of this.

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