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From an Israeli to Jack Layton

June 17, 2008

From an Israeli to Jack Layton

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Dear Jack Layton,

I would like to commend you on your decision to participate in the Durban Review Conference in April 2009. Canada's boycott of this Geneva conference goes to demonstrate the government's recent change in foreign relations to Israel. It goes hand in hand with the recently signed Canada-Israel Free Trade agreement, and the Security Agreement between our two countries.

I am a Canadian Israeli and have previously lived in the West Bank in an illegal settlement (on Palestinian land). In spite of the fact that the entire world has again and again agreed the occupation of the West Bank, the building of Settlements, and the construction of the Wall are contradictory to international law, Israel has proceeded to ignore them. In spite of the International Court of Justice decision, and the annual voting by the United Nations on the Palestinian Refugee's right of return, Israel has been implementing racist, apartheid laws and enforcing them year after year.

As a former refugee from the Soviet Union, I remember not belonging anywhere, I remember the complete dire poverty, and the deafening fear of persecution. We have been faced with centuries of anti-Semitism in the former USSR and have lived through immense discriminatory violence within our lifetimes. That is why when we escaped to Israel we were at first blind to the political significance of our presence there and what our new nation was doing to its indigenous population. It took living in the West Bank as economic settlers to see the system of apartheid for what it really is.

Unfortunately, we have had to leave Israel for many reasons, including the conflict. Unfortunate also, is what we've come to know in Canada; namely, the ignorance of certain Canadian Jewish groups to the realities in Israel. We have found ourselves silenced in this country by those who are incapable of seeing Israel in anything but an ideal light. The pain they carry after the Holocaust is understandably translated into defensiveness. We carry this pain too as almost 200 members of my family were obliterated in the Babbiyar Camp. The Holocaust though does not excuse a genocide to be bestowed upon the Palestinians. It also does not justify any one who does not always align themselves with the State of Israel or is critical of some of Israel's policies to be termed anti-Semitic.

I recognize therefore the courage it must have taken for you to have made this move. I am grateful that there are still some within Canada's government that stand on the side of justice and continue to fight racism.

Sincerely,

Lia Tarachansky
Ottawa, ON

--
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity... And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.- Howard Zinn, Historian


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Jews are indigenous people to the land of Israel

Jews have lived in the land for over 3,000 continuous years. (See, for example, Mark Twain's comments when he toured the area in the 1800's.) "Palestine" is the name the Romans gave the area after they destroyed the nation of Israel 2,000 years ago. From before the common era until 1948, the word "Palestinian" referred to Jews living in that area. There had NEVER been an Arab Palestine. The UN divided the land the way it did so that the indigenous Jews would remain a majority population where they were living. This was done because of the relentless massacres of Jews (see, for example, the 1929 Hebron Massacre) and discrimination they experienced under Arab rule. The majority of Arabs living in that area had previously been nomadic and settled in the area only after Jews created jobs there. Despite the Jews' strong legal argument for control of all of Trans-Jordan, the Jews accepted the UN partition, which was less than 1/5th what they had been promised by the San Remo Conference and Balfour Declaration. The Arabs refused the partition and declared war against Israel in '48, '67, and '73 and instituted a non-declared war of terrorism that continues today. When the Arabs rejected the UN partition, the land of Gaza and the West Bank became disputed territory. Occupation occurs ONLY when one country occupies the land of another country. There has never been an Arab "Palestine," therefore, there is NO occupation. What is true, however, is that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Your view is not truthful, nor just.

Your stand against Israel is a shame. You obviously don't agree with G-Ds word, He gave Israel to the Jews, and their land to be occupied was from the Nile river to the Euphrates River. That would include Lebanon, and Jordan, and all of the areas that are presently occupied. You better get to know the truth of what belongs to Israel, and NOT the Arabs. G-d has given the land back to the Jews, as promised, your issue is with G-d not man! Long live Israel! The promised land given by the one and only true G-d of all the earth!

I agree

I am a New Democrat myself and a huge supporter of the Palestinian cause and was very glad that in the end the NDP took this stance. It goes to show that bottom to top democracy is alive and well.

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