Friday, January 24, 2014
Dear Anna Maria Tremonti;
I am a member of a Network of Canadians connected with the United church (United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel) that is trying to educate and advocate for justice and peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. We found Mr. Harper's statements very disturbing because they implied that we could be labelled as anti-Semitic for criticising Israel's policies of occupation and illegal settlements in contravention of UN resolutions.
I want to commend you for hosting the debate about anti-Semitism. The conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism is compounded by Israel's claim to be a "Jewish" state. Israel existence as a Jewish state is exclusionary and founded on discrimination. The perception by Israeli Jews that criticism of the state is equated with criticism of their person-hood as Jews arises because of the state's insistence on its existence as a Jewish State. Criticism of the state would not be confused with anti-Semitism if Israel did not base its statehood on its policy of exclusivity for Jews. The policy of discrimination against Palestinians is the subject of criticism, not their status as Jews. Joseph Ben-Ami's reference to the depiction of Jews in the mid-east should not be equated to criticism of Israel by Canadians as anti-Semitic.
Rima Berns-McGowan made a clear and strong distinction between criticism of policy and anti-Semitic accusations. We have many Canadian-Jews like Rima who support our efforts. As Christians, we object to being labelled as anti-Semitic because of our response to the Palestinian Christian call in 2009 to stand with them in their struggle for non-violent actions for justice and peace.
Peace, Curtis Marwood
UNJPPI Communication Coordinator
Posted: January 29, 2014