February 26: Canada takes the lead

Now it's up to all other countries professing opposition to anti-Semitism to follow Canada's. lead and boycott Durban II

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Canada takes the lead Sir, - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's announcement at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism that Israel will boycott Durban II was a long-overdue statement that Israel will not allow itself to be the brunt of UN-sanctioned anti-Semitism. As a Canadian delegate to the forum, it was especially gratifying to hear her declaration and her tribute to Canada, since Canada, under the leadership of Prime Minister Harper, was the first country to announce that it would not participate in Durban II. The Canadian government correctly assessed that this UN forum was destined to be another hate-fest against Jews and Israel. Now it's up to all other countries professing opposition to anti-Semitism to follow Canada's lead and boycott Durban II ("Anti-Semitism conference in Jerusalem sees launch of international activist coalition, scholarly association," February 25). FRANK DIMANT Executive Vice President B'nai Brith Canada Toronto Jews' gift to the world Sir, - I agree with Sonat Birnecker Hart that we Jews have a lot more to offer the world than the history of our persecution ("For Europeans, demystify the Jewish narrative," February 24). Recently I received a huge list of contributions Israel is making to the world's culture, industrial development, scientific innovation, engineering, technology and medicine. The list is even longer for past Jewish contributions to civilization. Why we don't advertise these lists as a lesson to the world on the value of Jewish survival? RICHARD DAMASHEK Chicago More than symbolic Sir, - The real story behind the Nizar Hassan episode is not that an Arab lecturer showed open contempt for Jewish (Star of David) and Zionist (Israeli flag and IDF uniform) symbols. That is not surprising. The real eye-opener was that not one of the students in the class defended these symbols or the rights of a fellow classmate. Hassan may have felt at liberty to treat his Jewish students who openly displayed their Jewish/Israeli identity with disdain because of the lack of pride our academic elites show in their own Jewish and Zionist identity. It should therefore not be surprising that the students who are the product of these elites will, for the most part, produce films that portray Israel in a negative way ("Student: Lecturer told me to conceal my Star of David," February 22). STEVE SCHWARTZ Karnei Shomron Repeating a mistake Sir, - Alon Liel is working to convince Israel to negotiate with Syria ("Former Israeli official hopes the road to Damascus runs through Washington," February 24). He is using methods similar to the disastrous Oslo Accords. An informed public should question the identity of his financial backers and the countries they represent. The Knesset should have a comprehensive discussion about the legality of Israeli citizens engaging in foreign diplomacy. What are the advantages of negotiations with Syria? Our peace-mongers never tire of stating that it is more important to negotiate with enemies than with friends. The sterling example is Chamberlain. Would anyone in this country trust Syria to abide by an agreement? The disadvantages of negotiating with Syria would be rewarding a country that harbors terrorists, that is actively engaged in destabilizing Lebanon, that is providing arms to those who are killing Americans and Israelis. Leaving the Golan would be relinquishing a major source of water and a geographical area important to our defense. Is the Yom Kippur War ancient history? Do we want Syria in military control of the Kinneret, and haven't we learned anything from the situation in Sderot? I am pleased that Liel is a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry, but my suspicious mind wonders: Is he a stalking horse for the Labor Party and the present government? A. SULLUM Jerusalem Innate holiness... Sir, - Once again Stewart Weiss comes through loud and clear, reminding us where our focus must be ("A twist on the 'Who is a Jew' question," February 25). I wish all Jews were observant of the traditions, as taught to us by our sages. On the other hand, we must not disregard the innate holiness of every Jew, no matter how he or she chooses to dress and act and whatever his or her level of observance, or nonobservance. The late Lubavitcher Rebbe once emphasized that the term "secular" (hiloni) should not be used when referring to a Jewish person as we are, all of us, a holy people. I do not believe that fake lotteries and false death claims, etc. fit into our Creator's intentions for the Jewish people, no matter what the profits of such actions might be used for. Still, the offender mentioned in the article should be granted a kosher place to pray. You never know, he might actually regret his actions and truly wish to connect. God called us "A nation of priests." We should only recognize the gift in this statement, and the strengths that go with it. Should we structure our actions and our intentions accordingly, we will become what God also called us: "a light unto the nations," and not their whipping boy. MOSHE KWART Ra'anana ...and salvation Sir, - If interfaith dialogue is not arguing over theology, what is it? ("Other people's prayers," Jonathan Tobin, February 17). I think the point is salvation. Everybody is free to believe whatever he wants as long as it is not to decide other people's fate. If the Catholic Church still wants to believe that Jews have to convert, and pray for it, then this position on salvation leads to the view that Judaism is either incomplete or wrong. And, naturally, it automatically leads to feelings of contempt toward Jews. Respect is a two-way street. Even if Catholics "don't like" some Jewish prayers, the Jews never did any harm to them. The converse is not true. DEBORAH WOLKOWICZ Nîmes, France/Bnei-Brak Moment of glory Sir, - Ecstasy follows agony, and in football terms we Tottenham fans have endured quite a bit of the latter - so please, please give us this moment of glory to bask in. This football team was my first love, and along with my family it will be be my last; as Liverpool legend Bill Shankly said, "Football is not a matter of life and death, it's much more important than that." With the will of the Almighty, Spurs will return to the Holy Land next season to play an Israeli team in the UEFA cup. Better luck next time, Avram. This game, your team was outclassed ("Spurs defeat Chelsea to lift League Cup," February 25). MARTIN LEWIS Ramat Gan