With one exception, Christians throughout the countries of the Middle East are at risk or on the run, their churches burned, their property expropriated, their personal safety in peril from thugs intent on beatings, rapes, and murders. The one exception -- where Christians flee to rather than from, where they increase rather than decrease in numbers -- is Israel.
From afar, we witnessed the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. To date, Canada's Jewish community has commendably raised close to $200,000 for relief in the Philippines. We will never forget the role the Philippines played in helping to push for the Jewish people's salvation and in ensuring that our futures are secure thanks to the creation of the Jewish state.
A closer look at the Canada-Israel relationship reveals that Canada has exercised moral clarity by standing up to double standards, dictators, and outright hypocrisy. Canada, under Stephen Harper's administration has confronted terror, upheld international law, and promoted peace between Israelis, Palestinians and the region as a whole.
Incorrect is the claim that Stephen Harper defends the freedom and dignity of all people. Israel's occupation of the West Bank is an institutionalized system of oppression that every day denies the freedom and dignity of millions of Palestinians. When Canada votes against Palestinian aspirations at the UN, we come across as vindictive.
Israel has sailed through the international economic downturn and continues to rack up impressive economic growth rates and excel in all areas of scientific innovation. Large reserves of oil and natural gas have been discovered just off-shore. And the Arab Spring has created immense disarray in the ranks of Israel's traditional enemies.
I can't understand why Muslims from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Somalia, Turkey, Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia etc., have to be against Israel and Jews over Israel's conflicts with Hamas, AlFatah and Hezbullah. Muslims from those countries have no reason to hate or dislike Israel. But unfortunately they do on the basis of rhetoric that Israel is an illegitimate state.
I don't know about you, but this weather change is really getting me down. I'm stiff. I'm achy. All this misery is only leading to memories of spa experiences past. From the massage at Miraval and the "mudslide" at Solage, to a traditional Thai treatment in Phuket and therapeutic thermal waters in Italy... I've got a few I would jump on a plane for.
As conflict rages in Syria, Israel has taken in hundreds of Syrian refugees in need of urgent medical care. Even though Israel is officially at war with Syria, the preservation of life trumps security concerns. Likewise, when Palestinian terrorists try to indoctrinate children to wear suicide bomb vests, Israel remarkably takes painful efforts to save that child's life.
If a Canadian incites hatred against an identifiable group in public and advocates murder or genocide, does that constitute a hate crime? If the incitement is against, for example, the gay, black or aboriginal community should criminal charges be laid? What if the incitement is against the Jewish community, is there a difference?
This week marked an important turning point in Ontario's awareness of determined and well-funded efforts to undermine the values and conceptual underpinnings of Canadian society by groups hoping to import a toxic and foreign ideology to our nation. Nowhere was this effort more evident than the staging of the "Al Quds Day" rally, held for the past two years on the grounds of Queen's Park. Supporters of a genocidal theocracy which aims to fundamentally reshape western democracies by exporting the values of Shariah law should not and do not have to receive the blessing of the state to exercise this right. The fundamental values cherished by all Canadians must not be discarded so cavalierly, with the acquiescence of our government and the permission of our laws.
I'm not fasting because the oldest symbol of "unity"--the Western Wall--is a battleground for religious pluralism, and I imagine that if the Cohanim were still around they would be on the side of the Haredim, not on the side of those women who, like me, want to be full participating Jews with tallit and a Torah.
The situation Canadian Natives face is not befitting of Canadians' genuine compassion and sense of fairness. But Canadian Jews have, like American Jews during the civil rights struggle, a special duty born of shared experience to actively support First Nations' efforts "to be a free people in their own land" (from the Israeli anthem).