This is a letter IJV member David Cohen wrote several weeks ago to Canadian Jewish News in response to a column by Lawrence Hart which attacked us. CJN published an edited version of it on July 31, 2008.
To the editor:
Dr. Lawrence Hart needs to be brought up to date. The meeting he writes about that was supposed to have taken place at Hamilton’s Temple Anshe Sholem on June 25 did in fact take place at the nearby Westdale Library.
As planned, the meeting consisted of two group discussions. Participants (about 20) viewed a part of a TVO program on Israel which provided the starting point for the discussions.
Rabbi Jordan Cohen of Anshe Sholem and several of his congregants attended the meeting. Contrary to Hart, there were no “speakers”. Two members of the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians made brief presentations, outlining the organization’s aims and principles.
Open discussion about Israel-Palestine among Jewish Hamiltonians without fear of recrimination � that was what the meeting was about. ACJC Hamilton feels this is an important value to establish in the Jewish community.
Hart does not share such values. He recently opposed the principle of free speech for students at McMaster University in Hamilton over the issue of a banner saying “Israeli Apartheid.”
Now he demonstrates a distaste for free speech among members of Hamilton’s Jewish community. In the past he has opposed Jewish dialogue with the Arab/Muslim communities in Hamilton.
Always, Hart claims to speak for the “grassroots”. True to form, he says the ACJC meeting was cancelled due to protests from “across” the Jewish community.
How large is this group? We don’t know.
But it can’t be denied that Hart and his cohorts, how big or how small, are influential in Hamilton.
This should be cause for disquiet among those who value free speech and assembly generally and in the Jewish Community in particular.