Email Hamilton IJV: firstname.lastname@example.org
Radio interview: Robert Allison on Pillar of Cloud
Robert is the Hamilton Steering Committee member. This interview was conducted Nov. 21, 2012
On this week’s episode, I speak with Robert Allison of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, who explains why Israeli actions against the Palestinians are contrary to principles of Judaism and what needs to be done to create peace in the region.
video: Hundreds gathered in Hamilton over the weekend to protest the Israeli bombing of Gaza
Nov. 19, 2012
The Arab-Israeli dispute can be settled
It’s time to shift gears, obey rule of international law, and move on
By David Cohen
January 19 2012
Roughly translated from the Yiddish: “Enough already!”
Depending on one’s point of view, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been going on since 1967, or 1948, or the 1930s. Or, some might argue, back to the late 19th Century.
There is a way to end the conflict. Let’s do it. Time to move on.
Norman Finkelstein, a scholar and author, spoke Jan. 11 at the University of Toronto to an overflow audience of about 300 people. His theme: moving the conflict “from current events to the history books.”
We have to “shift mental gears,” Finkelstein believes. Recent developments make this more than possible:
- The Arab Spring: Israel’s neighbours, notably Egypt, can be expected to take a more critical stance on Israel and its relations with the Palestinians.
- Israel’s stock in world opinion has dropped “precipitately” over the past 10 years.
- Turkey, once Israel’s solid ally, has turned sharply critical of the Jewish state in the wake of the 2010 Mavi Marmara ship incident and other conflicts between the two counties.
- U.S. Jews remain overwhelmingly liberal and thus support the rule of law. Young American Jews, especially, have been increasingly critical of Israel.
The two-state solution remains viable because it is the law — international law. It has the solid support of the UN, the International Court of Justice, the Quartet, the United States and virtually all democracies worldwide (including Canada). It’s also supported by the Palestinian authority, Hamas and even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Contrary to what we often hear, there is nothing controversial about how to settle the main items in the dispute: borders, Jerusalem, settlers, refugees.
But how can it be done? Surely it is not possible to move some 500,000 settlers from the West Bank?
Answer: It can be done. A large majority of the settlers migrated to the West Bank for cheap housing. They will return to Israel proper if equal-quality housing is offered, Finkelstein says.
As for the settlements, they pose no real problem. They represent only about 1 per cent of the territory in the West Bank. A problem will arise, however, if Israel insists on keeping “settlement blocs.” They represent about 9 per cent of the territory. Crucial to a viable Palestinian state is the “triangle” of East Jerusalem, Ramalla and Bethlehem, which represents about 30 per cent of the Palestinian economy.
Which leaves the vexed question of refugees. Again, international law informs: “Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 and succeeding generations have the right of return under international law as well as succeeding generations have the right to land,” says Finkelstein.
In sum, he says, there is no dispute about borders, Jerusalem, settlements and refugees under international law… “no controversy whatsoever.”
And it’s international law that should provide the starting point in the settling of the Arab-Israeli dispute. “People understand the language of the law,” Finkelstein says. “You can’t reach them if you cast the law aside.”
Which brings us to the “Mahatma.” Mahatma Gandhi.
Finkelstein is fascinated by the Indian leader who led his country to independence by standing up to the vaunted British Empire in the 1940s. A few years ago he made his way through the 100 volumes of the late Indian leader’s collected works.
Gandi was a curious combination: unbending correctness in his personal habits (no reading on the toilet!) and relations, but at the same time capable of compromise when it came to making difficult political decisions.
To achieve his political goal of ejecting the British from India he accepted the creation of Pakistan — in spite of the fact that he had long fought against partition of India.
“Gandhi understood the difference between a cult and a political movement,” says Finkelstein. “You can’t set the moral bar so high that it causes you to lose the larger public.”
There are some who say: Why focus on ’67 borders and the two-state solution? Why not go back to 1947 when the UN created a Palestinian state that would have had a greater amount of territory?
Answer: “That’s what the world agrees on…. That’s where politics is at now,” says Finkelstein. “You’ve go to start where people are at.”
“People understand the language of law. You can’t reach them if you cast the law aside.”
David Cohen is a Hamilton freelance writer and a member of the Hamilton Chapter of Independent Jewish Voices (Canada).
Hamilton Jewish group praises YWCA stand on free speech
April 1, 2011
For immediate release
Hamilton — The Hamilton chapter of Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) has praised the YWCA for not bowing to pressure to charge extra “security” fees for the use of space in its downtown building.
The Never Again Group (NAG), which purports to fight “demonization” of Israel, objected to the use of the YWCA’s premises for a presentation by William Parry, author of a book Against the Wall: the Art of Resistance in Palestine. The event is being arranged by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).
At first the YWCA reacted by asking CJPME for an extra $600 in fees for security personnel. It later rescinded that decision and said the event could proceed at its original fee.
The event is scheduled to take place to take place at :
7:30 p.m. on Saturday April 2. The YWCA is located at 75 MacNab Street South in downtown Hamilton.
“We congratulate the YWCA,” said IJV-Hamilton spokesperson David Cohen. “Someone had to stand up to this emotional blackmail and they did it.”
Cohen also congratulated the Hamilton Jewish Federation,,which told the Hamilton Spectator that the federation stood firmly with the YWCA’s decision.
“The Federation’s support for free speech in this case is heartening,” Cohen said. ”Human rights and free speech are fundamental Jewish values. We’re more than pleased to see the federation come out in support of them.”
NAG was instrumental last month in the decision by Mohawk College to charge an extra $1,500 to beef up security at a lecture by Norman Finkelstein that was to have taken place at the college. CJPME, which also arranged that lecture, refused to pay the extra amount. The lecture, as a result, had to be moved to a downtown church.
“That should never have happened,” Cohen said. ”We can only hope that the YWCA’s decision will strengthen the resolve of others who are confronted by similar ‘demands.’”
Walkom: Bev Oda, free speech and Harper’s fixation on Israel
Feb. 19, 2011
National Affairs Columnist
Toronto Star Published On Sat Feb 19 2011
The Bev Oda affair is about two things. It is about allegations that the International Cooperation Minister lied to Parliament. That’s what the opposition parties focus on.
But it is also about the Conservative government’s insistence on being more Israeli than Israelis themselves. That’s what put this matter in motion.
Recall that this entire business began when Immigration Minister Jason Kenney bragged in Jerusalem that his government had cut off funding to the aid group Kairos for supporting a boycott of Israel.
In fact, Kenney’s allegation wasn’t true. But it was true that Kairos has supported Palestinian relief organizations deemed to be critical of Israel. It has also questioned Ottawa’s decision to cut off aid to Hamas-led Gaza.
To the paranoid minds in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s regime, all of this was sufficient reason to overrule the government’s official aid arm, the Canadian International Development Agency, and abruptly terminate Kairos funding.
Oda’s problems came later when, after realizing that the original justification wasn’t plausible, she tried to invent a new one. That’s when the fibbing occurred.
But the Conservative fixation on enemies of Israel continues, finding echoes in the oddest of places.
The latest, as reported in the Star this week, is Hamilton where Mohawk College — in a remarkably clumsy move — tried to prevent a notable Jewish critic of the Israeli government from speaking on campus.
The college did so by insisting, at the last minute, that organizers for a planned speech by political scientist Norman Finkelstein pay an extra $1,500 for security.
That, in turn, sent organizers scurrying for alternatives (on Friday, they booked a downtown Hamilton church for the Saturday event.)
A college spokesperson told the Star that Mohawk acted after getting calls from members of the Jewish community and others demanding that it cancel the event.
It’s worth noting that the Canadian Jewish Congress, which is second to none in attacking anti-Semitism, did not complain to Mohawk. Bernie Farber, the Congress’ chief executive, confirmed that to me this week.
Certainly, Finkelstein is controversial. The son of concentration camp survivors, he’s part of a revisionist school of Jewish academics, both inside and outside of Israel, which has begun to question the accepted version of the state’s 1948 founding.
In his first book, Finkelstein took to task what had been a standard argument — that Palestine was virtually empty of people before Zionist immigration began.
A few years later, in The Holocaust Industry, he charged that mainstream Jewish groups in the U.S. were using the Nazi atrocities of World War II to justify Israel’s excesses
His most recent book, Beyond Chutzpah, was an attack on those who insist that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.
This book, unfortunately for Finkelstein, was also a polemic against prominent U.S. lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a civil libertarian and passionate supporter of Israel now perhaps best known for his proposals to legalize torture.
That well-publicized feud with Dershowitz eventually resulted in Finkelstein being forced to leave his teaching job at Chicago’s DePaul University. His website now describes him as an “independent scholar.”
Finkelstein speaks in many places without causing riots — most recently at York and Queen’s universities. He is often piquant (he once lauded Hezbollah’s courage in opposing Israel’s 2006 attack against Lebanon). But he breaks no laws.
The attempt by Mohawk College to silence him is unspeakable. Given the attitude among those politicians who set the tone in this country, it is not unexpected.
Thomas Walkom’s column appears Wednesday and Saturday.
JEFF HALPER, ISRAELI PEACE ACTIVIST TOURED CANADA IN JANUARY: WILL THE NEW YEAR USHER IN PEACE OR APARTHEID?
Ottawa – Israeli Jew. Humanitarian. Journalist. Author. Academic. Human Rights Activist. Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jeff Halper has been on the front lines of organizing for peace in Israel for almost 30 years. He was the only Israeli aboard the Free Gaza flotilla that broke the Gaza siege, Aug. 23, 2008. His first hand account of whether Israel is moving to peace or apartheid was the subject of a seven city cross-Canada tour that kicks off in Halifax on January 12, 2009.
Halper is known internationally for his work as a co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions and for his passionate commitment to non-violent, political strategies to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Halper will visit Halifax (January 12-13), Montreal (January 14-17), Ottawa (January 18-19), Toronto and Hamilton (January 20-23), Winnipeg (January 24-26) and Vancouver (January 27-29) during his tour, and will speak with student groups, churches, trade unions, grassroots community organizers and Aboriginal activists.
“I can no more passively witness my government’s destruction of another people than I can watch the Occupation destroy the moral fabric of my own country,” Halper wrote in an August 5, 2008 article, as he prepared to sail as part of a delegation aimed at ending the siege of Gaza. “To do so would violate my commitment to human rights, the very essence of prophetic Jewish religion, culture and morals, without which Israel is no longer Jewish but an empty, if powerful, Sparta.”
His tour was sponsored by Independent Jewish Voices (Canada), a network of 18 Jewish groups as well as individuals Jews from across Canada who are opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
For more information, please contact:
Itinerary of public events and local contacts for Jeff Halper Tour
Halifax: Further info: Larry Haiven, email@example.com
- Mon, Jan 12
2:00-4:00 Kings College Seminar Room meeting with students
- Tue, Jan 13
7:30 Public speech: “The Gaza Attack: An Israeli Jewish peace activist speaks out”, Potter Auditorium, Dalhousie University
Montreal: Contact Independent Jewish Voices Mtl/Voix indépendantes juives Mtl at 514 289-9989, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wednesday, Jan. 14, 6:30 pm
“Gaza and a Judaism of Human Rights: Rene Cassin
McGill University, Leacock Rm 219
Introduction by Julius Grey, outspoken civil and human rights lawyer.
Rene Cassin was the Jewish author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He maintained that Jews benefit from the global application of human rights.
Tuesday, Jan. 14, 6:30 pm. McGill University, Leacock Rm 219
co-sponsored by Amnesty International-Quebec
- Thursday, January 15, 7:00 pm
“Peace in Israel? Peace with Gaza? Yes We Can!”
New location: Unitarian Church of Montreal, 3035 Boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest (Metro: Vendome)
A talk specifically for a Jewish audience on the actual situation in Israel, and what Israelis and the Jewish diaspora can do.
- Saturday, January 17, 2:oo pm
“Opposing the Canada-Israel Military and Security Agreements”
UQAM, Pavillion J.A. DeSève, Room DS-R 510
Introduction by Prof. Rachad Antonius (UQAM)
Simultaneous English/French translation provided
Ottawa: Contact Diana Ralph email@example.com
- Sun, Jan 18, 7 – 11 pm “Israel/Palestine: Towards Peace or Apartheid?” Marion Hall Auditorium, University of Ottawa, Main Campus,
- Mon., Jan. 19, 2:00 pm, “Reframing the Israel/Palestine Conflict” Room 256 S. of the Senate in Centre Block of Parliament. $10 fee,
- Mon., Jan. 19, 8 pm “Palestine: From Apartheid to Warehousing” Kailash Mital Theatre (formerly Alumni Theatre), Southam Hall, Carleton University.
- Wed, Jan. 21, 7:30 pm McMaster University Health Sciences Centre, room 1A1
Toronto – Contact Sandra Ruch, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Thur., Jan 22, noon, Ryerson
- Thur, Jan 22, 7:30 Winchevsky Centre
- Fri., Jan. 23, 7:30 pm Public talk: Bloor St. United Church (300 Bloor St. W at Huron)
Winnipeg: Contact: Mark Etkin, email@example.com
- Sat, Jan. 24, 7:30 “Israel/Palestine: Towards Peace or Apartheid” –Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre, 2nd Fl., 91 Albert St.,
- Sun, Jan. 25, 4:00 pm Canadian Mennonite U. Auditorium, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd.
- Mon, Jan 26, 12:30 pm University of Winnipeg, Rm. 1L12,
- Mon, Jan 26, 3:00 pm University of Manitoba, Rm. 137 Isbister Bldg.
Vancouver : Contact: Sid Shniad, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wed, Jan. 28, 7:00 pm, The Unitarian Church of Vancouver, corner of Oak Street and 49th Ave W., Vancouver
- Fri, Jan 30, 5:00 pm University of British Columbia, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (Main Library) Room 182
- Fri, Jan 30, 8:00 pm, Al-Salaam Mosque, 5060 Canada Way, Burnaby.
Victoria: Contact: George McFetridge, mailito:email@example.com
- Thur, Jan 29, hosted by Committee Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) – Victoria
Letter to the Hamilton Spectator
Harry Shannon of IJV Hamilton has had the following letter published
in the Hamilton Spectator:
(Jan 5, 2009)
Re: ‘Israel rejects 48-hour truce’ (Dec. 31)
It is extremely disturbing that the Israeli government will not agree to a ceasefire in its battle against Hamas in Gaza. It means many
civilians there will continue to lack food and basic supplies, and it makes a mockery of Israel’s claim it opposes Hamas and not the
Palestinians in Gaza.
Gaza has been under a siege for many months, and Israel has prevented adequate humanitarian supplies from entering the territory, imposing
collective punishment on all Gazans, including innocent civilians. It was hard to imagine that conditions could get worse. Yet this appears
to be happening.
I condemn the rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel; they are stupid and criminal. I also condemn Israel’s disproportionate response, which has
all too predictably killed many civilians. Many columnists in Israel agree and urge a truce.
We should also not forget that Israel supported the formation of Hamas 20 years ago to create division among Palestinians.
Alas, this divide-and-rule approach has tragically backfired.
The Canadian government should end its unbalanced approach and provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in Gaza.
It should also help broker a ceasefire to protect civilians on both sides.