Tag: Quebec Charter of Values

WITH A LIKELY PQ MAJORITY LOOMING, AND THE CONSTANT THREAT OF THE DRACONIAN “CHARTER,” WILL JEWS CONTINUE EXODUS FROM QUEBEC?

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org



                                           

Who Will Speak Up For Minority Rights in Quebec?: Andrew Coyne, National Post, Jan. 24, 2014— Discussion of the Parti Québécois’ “Charter of Quebec Values” has until now been conducted rather on the same lines as discussion of a third referendum: as a theoretical possibility, but not an immediate likelihood.

Values Charter Could ‘Devastate’ Community: David Lazarus, Canadian Jewish News, Jan. 26, 2014 — Young Jews will seriously consider leaving Quebec if the Parti Québecois (PQ) forms a majority in the next provincial election and the proposed charter of values becomes law, predicts one of the country’s best-known demographers.

Quebec Charter Can’t Turn Back Demographic Clock 100 Years: Jason Moscovitz, Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, Feb. 14, 2014— I have this sick feeling. Not because the Parti Québécois (PQ) will soon call a Quebec provincial election in which it can win a majority; I feel sick about how the PQ is going to go about it. The Charter of Quebec Values is blossoming as a positive election issue for the PQ.

The PQ’s War Against Faith: Barbara Kay, National Post, Jan. 22, 2014 — It’s not often that we Canadians get to see a show trial in progress. But we’re watching one now — namely, the public hearings on the Quebec government’s proposed Bill 60, popularly known as the Charter of Quebec Values, which would ban religious symbols in the public service to ensure visible neutrality with regard to religious convictions and visible conformity to (Quebec-style) gender equality.

 

On Topic Links

 

Video Shows 'Positive' Criticism of Quebec Charter: Aaron Derfel, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 21, 2014

The PQ Charter and the Jewish Community: Don Macpherson, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 16, 2014

Quebec’s Values Charter Debate Fuels Stereotyping, Tension: Poll: National Post, Jan. 13, 2014

Quebec Business Leaders Sound Warning on PQ Values Charter: Allan Woods, Toronto Star, Feb. 2, 2014

 

 

 

WHO WILL SPEAK UP FOR MINORITY RIGHTS IN QUEBEC?

Andrew Coyne                                                        

National Post, Jan. 24, 2014

 

Discussion of the Parti Québécois’ “Charter of Quebec Values” has until now been conducted rather on the same lines as discussion of a third referendum: as a theoretical possibility, but not an immediate likelihood. The thing was so outlandish, so crude, so ugly in its implications and so obvious in its motives — to this day we have yet to be given a shred of evidence of its necessity — that the consensus was that it was unlikely ever to be put into effect. Quebecers would not stand for this, we told ourselves. It was a throwback to an earlier time, catering to old insecurities, unrepresentative of the Quebec of today. Oh, perhaps it might fly in a few rural backwaters, but never in cosmopolitan Montreal.

 

At any rate, the opposition parties would block it in the legislature. Some watered-down version might pass, an affirmation of the secular character of the Quebec state blah blah blah, but the core of it, the ban on religious garments in the public service — effectively, a ban on religious minorities in the public service — could not possibly become law. Indeed, as more and more hospitals, school boards and municipalities spoke out against Bill 60 (as the legislation is called), as demonstrators marched against it and lawyers denounced it as unconstitutional, and as divisions began to emerge even among Péquistes as to its merits, it seemed increasingly evident the PQ’s desperate gambit — for surely that is what it was — had backfired. Evident, that is, to everyone but the PQ leadership, whose response to this firestorm of opposition was … to tighten the bill further.

 

Well, now, here we are months later, and every one of these wishful myths has been destroyed. The PQ, far from dwindling to a reactionary rump, can now see a majority government within reach: A Léger poll, taken several days after hearings on the bill had begun, put them ahead of the Liberals, 36% to 33% overall, but 43-25 among the francophone population, where elections are won or lost. That wasn’t a tribute to the leadership of Pauline Marois. Neither was there any great surge in support for sovereignty. Rather, it seems clearly to be based on popular support — enthusiasm would perhaps be more apt — for the charter.

 

While nearly half of all Quebecers — 48% — support the bill, according to Léger, that’s almost entirely due to the support it enjoys among francophones, at 57%, compared with just 18% support among the province’s linguistic minorities. The ban on religious garb, in particular, attracts even more support: 60% overall, 69% among francophones — up 11 points since September. And while support is particularly strong outside the metropolitan areas, it is very nearly as strong in Montreal and Quebec City as well.

 

But you don’t need to consult the polls to see how this is playing out. You need only look at how the political parties are reacting. Neither opposition party has come out foursquare against the bill, or even the ban on religious clothing. The Coalition Avenir Québec would restrict its application to persons in positions of authority, such as police officers or judges (as suggested earlier by the Bouchard-Taylor commission on “reasonable accommodation”). Marvellous: so only the minority police officers and judges would be fired.

 

And the Liberals — ah, the Liberals. After dithering for months, while various figures within the party freelanced a range of positions on the issue, the party leader, Philippe Couillard, emerged with a stance of such infinite nuance that it ended up contradicting itself more than the bill. The party would allow public servants to wear the kippa and the hijab, but not the burka and the niqab. OK: the latter two cover the face, which suggests at least some sort of principled underpinning. But then why ban the chador, which does not? Such exquisite parsing has earned the party the ridicule of all sides. With the opposition in disarray, there is growing talk of a spring election, with Bill 60 as its central issue. What once was a theoretical possibility has become a real, and disturbing, probability.

 

By this point, Quebecers can be under no illusion what the bill portends: the expulsion from the public service of thousands of observant Jews, Sikhs, Muslims and even the odd Christian (among the bill’s other anomalies, crucifixes would be permitted, so long as they are not too large), unless they submit to stripping themselves of any outward manifestation of their faith. And the majority seem quite content with this. Rationalize it all we like — a distinctly French approach to secularism, the legacy of Quebec’s Catholic past etc. etc. — but if the polls hold the province is about to elect a separatist majority government, on an explicit appeal to ethnocultural chauvinism. The moral implications of this are profound, and not limited to the province, or its government. They involve us all. Put simply: Is this a state of affairs we can live with in this country? Will our consciences allow it? What, in particular, will be the reaction of the federal government? Will it defend the rights of local minorities, in the role originally envisaged for it, as it has pledged to do? Or will it do as federal governments have done since Laurier, faced with a determined local majority: shrug and abandon them to their fate?

                                                                         

                                                                                   

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VALUES CHARTER COULD ‘DEVASTATE’ COMMUNITY                      

David Lazarus    

Canadian Jewish News, Jan. 26, 2014

 

Young Jews will seriously consider leaving Quebec if the Parti Québecois (PQ) forms a majority in the next provincial election and the proposed charter of values becomes law, predicts one of the country’s best-known demographers. “It would be naive to think it’s not a serious risk,” said Jack Jedwab, 55, director of the Association for Canadian Studies. Jedwab, who served as director of the Quebec branch of the now-defunct Canadian Jewish Congress from 1988 to 1998, told The CJN that while the province’s Jewish community remains vital and influential, it’s “in a state of serious, serious flux.” But “if this charter thing passes, it could be devastating.”

 

Some 30,000 Jews are believed to have left the province since the PQ formed its first provincial government in 1976. The community’s population now numbers about 90,000. Jedwab said a PQ majority government combined with the passage of Bill 60 would be “a worst-case scenario.” For the Jewish community, the proposed secular charter “is affecting the sense of who we are in society, that we are not equal to our de vieille souche [old stock] co-citizens,” said Jedwab, who is regularly asked to comment on minority issues by French- and English-language news outlets. “It’s coming across as an attack on our identity.”

 

Jedwab said he’s been impressed with the stance taken by the publicly funded Jewish General Hospital, which pledged that it would not enforce a charter rule barring workers from wearing religious symbols on the job. But, like many others, he had no idea how the provincial government would react to the hospital’s civil disobedience. “It’s a major question,” he said…

 

The government is so intent on achieving a majority and getting the charter passed into law by pandering to the province’s most base and xenophobic elements, he said, that it’s “ready to sacrifice its relationship with the Jewish community,” which almost never supports the PQ anyway. It’s clear from the current legislative hearings on Bill 60 that the party is cynically striving to exploit those xenophobic elements and distract from real issues such as the economy, Jedwab said.

 

One of the most troubling aspects of the charter debate for Jedwab is that religious rights are no longer being seen as fundamental or immutable, but as subject to legal manipulation. “It is one of the most worrisome dimensions,” he said. Jedwab is quite familiar with these issues. He was at Congress during the 1995 referendum on sovereignty, when the “No” side barely won and then-PQ premier Jacques Parizeau uttered his infamous comments blaming the “money and ethnic” vote for the razor-thin result. He was also at CJC when the late Quebecor tabloid publisher Pierre Péladeau referred to Quebec’s Jewish community as taking up “too much space,” and when Mordecai Richler suggested that anti-Semitism continued to play a role in Quebec national life. But Jedwab seems more concerned now than previously, saying that the charter is “one of the ugliest initiatives I’ve seen. I’m very, very saddened by the turn of events.”

                                                                                                 

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QUEBEC CHARTER CAN’T TURN BACK

DEMOGRAPHIC CLOCK 100 YEARS                                              

Jason Moscovitz                                                              

Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, Feb. 14, 2014

 

I have this sick feeling. Not because the Parti Québécois (PQ) will soon call a Quebec provincial election in which it can win a majority; I feel sick about how the PQ is going to go about it. The Charter of Quebec Values is blossoming as a positive election issue for the PQ. Recent polls demonstrate how a growing majority of French Quebecers see the charter as a positive force to bolster their collective rights, emboldening them to almost scream out loud, “They are Quebecers and this is French Quebec.”

 

A few weeks ago, a young woman boarded a plane from New York City to Montreal. She overheard a Québécois couple in conversation about Jewish religious people on the same plane. In French, and not thinking they were being understood, one of them muttered, “I thought we were flying to Montreal not to Israel.” That is the mindset behind the charter.

 

The charter was not as popular when it was first presented six months ago. Even two former Quebec PQ premiers opposed it, as did some nationalist interest groups. They believed proposed legislation eliminating “conspicuous” or overly noticeable religious symbols worn by people in the public sector in Quebec was uncalled for and not worthy of Quebecers. They thought it silly to debate how people serving the public can wear a small crucifix or a small Star of David but not a big one around their neck. They opposed the whole notion of burkas, hijabs, turbans and kippahs being made matters of public policy. What they also knew, but probably wouldn’t say, is how the number of people who actually serve the public with any form of religious garb is so minuscule you would have to ask why any Quebec government would run the risk of having the majority look like heavy-handed bullies.

 

The reason reflects Quebec’s French majority being a minority in North America. Insecurity within that context has always made Quebecers keenly aware of the difference between collective and individual rights. To protect themselves from what they see as a never-ending threat to their language and culture, they believe laws need to be passed sometimes at the expense of individual rights of others. The Charter of Quebec Values follows the template of the Charter of the French Language. The rationale behind both is to protect Quebecers, by protecting their language, their culture and their very existence and growth in Quebec.

 

Perhaps you can better see why that Québécois couple on the Montreal bound plane would ask themselves if they were flying to Montreal or Israel when they saw religious Jews on the plane. You could say they are small-minded xenophobes or you could try to explain it by adding they feel what they feel because the Quebec of their ancestors is, in their minds, threatened. The Charter of Quebec Values may make some Quebecers feel better, but it is not going to change anything concretely. No charter of values can turn the demographic clock back a hundred years. But feeling better is important. Politicians learned a long time ago that the better you make people feel, the more votes you get.

 

The Charter of Quebec Values is not just the product of instant electoral gratification, although it sure looks that way. To be fair, the thinking behind the charter goes back several years to Quebec’s hearings on religious and cultural accommodation. The thinking of that arduous process was accommodation was always possible and desirable in Quebec, as long as limits were set. And that brings us to the beginnings of the legislative word “conspicuous.”

 

Some years back, a rabbi put up a big, “conspicuous” mezuzah in a Montreal condo where few Jews lived. For the record, the other two mezuzahs in the building were small and discreet. Within a month, the condo owner, yours truly, got a call from the administrator of the building. It was a polite and respectful conversation in which I was asked if it were possible to replace the big mezuzah with a small mezuzah. He talked about accommodation. My conclusion, long before the Charter of Quebec Values, was that, if you want a mezuzah in a shared building, make it small so Quebecers can hardly see it, or, perhaps more politely, remember they have a collective right, which enables them to tell you how big they think it should be.

 

                                                                                                 

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THE PQ’S WAR AGAINST FAITH                                                        

Barbara Kay                                             

National Post, Jan. 22, 2014

 

It’s not often that we Canadians get to see a show trial in progress. But we’re watching one now — namely, the public hearings on the Quebec government’s proposed Bill 60, popularly known as the Charter of Quebec Values, which would ban religious symbols in the public service to ensure visible neutrality with regard to religious convictions and visible conformity to (Quebec-style) gender equality.

 

The outcome of the hearings already is known: Bill 60 will remain unchanged. The show trial’s purpose is to keep Quebec’s francophone populace continuously distracted and tribally pumped until an election is called. Since they cannot win on the usual grounds of good economic management and governance, the Parti Québécois are gambling on fear and ethnic pride as their ticket to power. It could pay off. A new Leger Marketing survey for QMI Agency suggests the PQ is, for the first time, “mathematically in position to win a majority government since their [minority] election [win] in 2012.” Nearly half the respondents reported themselves pleased with the Charter, with support much higher among francophones than other groups.

 

With hostility to the bill largely centralized in multicultural Montreal; with the anti-PQ vote split between two parties (the Liberals and Coalition Avenir Québec, both emanating equivocal, somewhat panicky vibes on the Charter); and with voting power weighted to Quebec’s homogeneously francophone regions: The reality is that Quebec may, through an impeccably democratic process, become a province where self-identifying members of faith communities are second-class citizens when giving and receiving public services.

 

The rationale for the Charter is similar to the thinking behind draconian language laws such as Bill 101. Quebec is a distinct, but vulnerable society, René Lévesque believed, with French the vehicle for Quebec’s unique culture; therefore the “face” of society must be French, with English minimized, to preserve the culture. Following the same logic, overtly expressed religious faith now is perceived as threatening to the secular character of Quebec culture. Bill 60 would neutralize the “face” of Quebec with regard to religious belief, especially belief in traditional gender roles.

 

This is poor reasoning. People may love one language, yet speak many, according to their situation. Language is a means to personal, cultural and transactional ends. But settled convictions are ends in themselves and never interchangeable. So unless a faith symbol actively harms the civic environment, there can be no democratic reason to ban it. (I will concede, however, that the actual covering of one’s face — as opposed to merely one’s hair — is psychologically threatening, and does impede social reciprocity. If the Liberals’ fully justifiable Bill 94, banning face-covering in public services, had been passed, the PQ’s Bill 60’s appeal would have been sharply diminished.) Bans on jewellery and head cover not only change the relationship of individuals to the state; they also transform relations between citizens, creating a hierarchy of civic worthiness in the minds of all, according to which participation in Quebec culture is predicated on the trivialization of faith.

 

Because Quebec’s elites are so hostile to their own Catholic cultural roots (even though cynical politicians have no problem exploiting their former faith’s religious symbols as protected “heritage” symbols in exploiting residual nostalgia amongst older voters), they have lost the capacity to understand faith’s character and its collective resilience when under threat. Politicians should realize that promoting secular conformity through voluntary submission to moral authoritativeness would be a far better path, in the end, than demanding sullen compliance through political authoritarianism.

 

Judaism, Islam and Christianity are the three main religions targeted by the Charter. Adherents of all three who wear faith symbols are precisely those representatives of their religions who are most likely to find meaning in sacred traditions and conventions deriving their authority from the pre-state past, and for whom sexual restraint and the family are the pillars of civilization.

 

How likely are these groups to accept humiliation from political masters whose own “culture” is based in rejection of the religion that created it? How likely are they to respect a “gender equality” ideal that is accompanied by indifference to marriage, widespread family breakdown and high abortion rates? Indeed, to any person of real faith, Quebec’s aggressive secularism seems more a source of cultural malaise than a strength.

 

It’s clear that Bill 60 is a transparently coarse, fear-mongering appeal to the least rational, most xenophobic elements of Quebec’s population. It may come to pass (even if it involves over-riding constitutional barriers with the Charter of Rights’ notwithstanding clause). But if that happens, the PQ may be surprised at the depth of the backlash.

 

Contents

                                                                          

Video Shows 'Positive' Criticism of Quebec Charter: Aaron Derfel, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 21, 2014 —It’s a video that some staunch supporters of the Charter of Quebec Values don’t want you to see. Produced with the full co-operation of the Jewish General Hospital, the video shows moving, compassionate images of health-care workers treating patients — all the while wearing the hijab, kippa and turban.                                                       

The PQ Charter and the Jewish Community: Don Macpherson, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 16, 2014—The Parti Québécois “values” charter would have a “devastating” effect on Quebec’s Jewish community. It could “damage” its “continuity,” and “compromise (its) acquired rights and its future.” And it risks creating “social conflicts.”                                           

Quebec’s Values Charter Debate Fuels Stereotyping, Tension: Poll: National Post, Jan. 13, 2014—As hearings begin Tuesday on the proposed Quebec Charter of Values, a new public opinion poll suggests even some Quebecers who support restrictions on religious symbols in public institutions think the move is already fuelling stereotyping and tension among the province’s communities and is likely to foster civil disobedience.                     

Quebec Business Leaders Sound Warning on PQ Values Charter: Allan Woods, Toronto Star, Feb. 2, 2014 —You know an issue has touched a nerve in Quebec when the business community turns to the microphones and television cameras. The province’s captains of enterprise did it in advance of French-language laws introduced in the 1970s.

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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Barbara Kay: the PQ’s War Against Faith

It’s not often that we Canadians get to see a show trial in progress. But we’re watching one now — namely, the public hearings on the Quebec government’s proposed Bill 60, popularly known as the Charter of Quebec Values, which would ban religious symbols in the public service to ensure visible neutrality with regard to religious convictions and visible conformity to (Quebec-style) gender equality.

The outcome of the hearings already is known: Bill 60 will remain unchanged. The show trial’s purpose is to keep Quebec’s francophone populace continuously distracted and tribally pumped until an election is called. Since they cannot win on the usual grounds of good economic management and governance, the Parti Québécois are gambling on fear and ethnic pride as their ticket to power. It could pay off. A new Leger Marketing survey for QMI Agency suggests the PQ is, for the first time, “mathematically in position to win a majority government since their [minority] election [win] in 2012.” Nearly half the respondents reported themselves pleased with the Charter, with support much higher among francophones than other groups.

With hostility to the bill largely centralized in multicultural Montreal; with the anti-PQ vote split between two parties (the Liberals and Coalition Avenir Québec, both emanating equivocal, somewhat panicky vibes on the Charter); and with voting power weighted to Quebec’s homogeneously francophone regions: The reality is that Quebec may, through an impeccably democratic process, become a province where self-identifying members of faith communities are second-class citizens when giving and receiving public services.

The rationale for the Charter is similar to the thinking behind draconian language laws such as Bill 101. Quebec is a distinct, but vulnerable society, René Lévesque believed, with French the vehicle for Quebec’s unique culture; therefore the “face” of society must be French, with English minimized, to preserve the culture. Following the same logic, overtly expressed religious faith now is perceived as threatening to the secular character of Quebec culture. Bill 60 would neutralize the “face” of Quebec with regard to religious belief, especially belief in traditional gender roles.

This is poor reasoning. People may love one language, yet speak many, according to their situation. Language is a means to personal, cultural and transactional ends. But settled convictions are ends in themselves and never interchangeable. So unless a faith symbol actively harms the civic environment, there can be no democratic reason to ban it. (I will concede, however, that the actual covering of one’s face — as opposed to merely one’s hair — is psychologically threatening, and does impede social reciprocity. If the Liberals’ fully justifiable Bill 94, banning face-covering in public services, had been passed, the PQ’s Bill 60’s appeal would have been sharply diminished.) Bans on jewellery and head cover not only change the relationship of individuals to the state; they also transform relations between citizens, creating a hierarchy of civic worthiness in the minds of all, according to which participation in Quebec culture is predicated on the trivialization of faith.

Because Quebec’s elites are so hostile to their own Catholic cultural roots (even though cynical politicians have no problem exploiting their former faith’s religious symbols as protected “heritage” symbols in exploiting residual nostalgia amongst older voters), they have lost the capacity to understand faith’s character and its collective resilience when under threat. Politicians should realize that promoting secular conformity through voluntary submission to moral authoritativeness would be a far better path, in the end, than demanding sullen compliance through political authoritarianism.
Judaism, Islam and Christianity are the three main religions targeted by the Charter. Adherents of all three who wear faith symbols are precisely those representatives of their religions who are most likely to find meaning in sacred traditions and conventions deriving their authority from the pre-state past, and for whom sexual restraint and the family are the pillars of civilization.

How likely are these groups to accept humiliation from political masters whose own “culture” is based in rejection of the religion that created it? How likely are they to respect a “gender equality” ideal that is accompanied by indifference to marriage, widespread family breakdown and high abortion rates? Indeed, to any person of real faith, Quebec’s aggressive secularism seems more a source of cultural malaise than a strength.

It’s clear that Bill 60 is a transparently coarse, fear-mongering appeal to the least rational, most xenophobic elements of Quebec’s population. It may come to pass (even if it involves over-riding constitutional barriers with the Charter of Rights’ notwithstanding clause). But if that happens, the PQ may be surprised at the depth of the backlash.

  [Barbara Kay is a National Post columnist and a CIJR Academic Fellow]

HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM: KRISTALLNACHT COMMEMORATIONS EVOKE PAST MEMORIES & PRESENT FEARS

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

 Contents:         

 

 

Open Letter to President of the Parti Québecois Concerning the Name of the Jewish General Hospital: Lawrence Roseberg, M.D., Jewish General Hospital, Nov. 13, 2013 —  I would like to express my great displeasure and concern about the remarks that Tania Longpré, the Parti Québécois candidate in the Viau riding, recently posted on her Facebook page.

Kristallnacht as a Political Instrument: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 12, 2013 — This year, as has often occurred in the past, some Kristallnacht memorial meetings in Europe were abused as political instruments rather than serving to memorialize Jewish victims.

Swastikas, Slurs and Torment in Town’s Schools: Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, Nov. 7, 2013— The swastikas, the students recalled, seemed to be everywhere: on walls, desks, lockers, textbooks, computer screens, a playground slide — even on a student’s face.

For Zion’s Sake: The Proclamation of Revolt: Daniel Tauber, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 11, 2013— Britain was once a partner in the Zionist enterprise. During the First World War, her leaders harbored visions of Jews restored to their homeland.

 

On Topic Links

 

Light in Dark Times: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Jewish Press, Nov. 7, 2013

Rabbi from Ottawa returns $98,000 he found in used desk he bought online: Zev Singer, Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 12, 2013

Extermination of Two Million European Jews Confirmed Just Prior to GA 70 Years Ago: David Geffen, Jerusalem Post, 11 Nov. 2013

Art Dealer Paid Just 4,000 Swiss Francs for Masterpieces: Louise Barnett, The Telegraph, Nov. 10, 2013

 

 

                                                       

 

  OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OF THE PARTI QUEBÉCOIS              CONCERNING THE NAME OF THE JEWISH GENERAL HOSPITAL              Lawrence Rosenberg, M.D.

Jewish General Hospital, Nov. 13, 2013

                                               

I would like to express my great displeasure and concern about the remarks that Tania Longpré, the Parti Québécois candidate in the Viau riding, recently posted on her Facebook page. An article describing these comments was also published on November 10 in the Journal de Montréal/TVA. In her posting, Mme Longpré said that she favours the removal of the word “Jewish” from the name of the Jewish General Hospital. The article notes that she is now trying to distance herself from these remarks, claiming that her initial comments were made in haste and do not represent the full range of her views. Nevertheless, it is deplorable that a candidate for public office has made such an unreasonable statement, which has no place in the political discourse of this province. From time to time, critics and commentators have asked whether it is proper for a publicly funded institution to proclaim its religious affiliation in its name. The emphatic answer is “Yes”. The Jewish General Hospital was launched in 1934 in an era when it was still common for healthcare institutions to embellish their names, facilities and medical programs with overtly religious metaphors and symbols. This had been the practice ever since the founding of Montreal and the establishment of the original Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in the early 1640s.

 

The custom continued for more than three centuries and is evident today in the names of hospitals such as Sacré-Coeur, Notre-Dame, Sainte-Justine and Saint-Luc. When the founders of the Jewish General Hospital named their institution, they were simply following an example that had been set by society. Seen from a modern perspective, the JGH was distinguishing itself from Montreal’s other hospitals through an early form of branding. Today the word “Jewish” remains an intrinsic, essential and inseparable element of the hospital’s history and values. It is a reminder that the JGH, whose motto is “Care for all”, has had a strictly non-discriminatory policy since the day it opened, in sharp contrast to the exclusionary practices that once existed in most other Montreal hospitals. Furthermore, the JGH’s policy was enacted many years before such a measure was formally required by provincial or federal human rights legislation.

 

For nearly 80 years, the Jewish General Hospital has excelled in serving patients from across Quebec, which has had a vibrant Jewish community for approximately 250 years. The hospital has done its utmost on behalf of Quebecers by drawing strength from the Jewish values of extending medical treatment to those in pain, compassion to those in distress, and assistance to those in need. In addition, the JGH’s values inspire respect for all religions, cultures and ethnic communities; recognition of the diversity and contribution of every member of staff; and a commitment to fostering a work environment where each person is valued, respected and supported. This commitment to a superior quality of care is a source of pride for the JGH which, for decades, has earned the support of government at all levels and all political persuasions. The Jewish General Hospital has no intention of dropping “Jewish” from its name, and it considers any such suggestions to be deeply offensive and discriminatory.

 

Sincerely,

 

Lawrence Rosenberg, M.D.

Executive Director

Jewish General Hospital

 

Contents

KRISTALLNACHT AS A POLITICAL INSTRUMENT

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 12, 2013

 

This year, as has often occurred in the past, some Kristallnacht memorial meetings in Europe were abused as political instruments rather than serving to memorialize Jewish victims. Memorial-day manipulation in Germany goes back many years. In 1969 on the date marking Kristallnacht, an anarchist-leftist group painted graffiti on Jewish memorials stating, “Shalom and Napalm” or “El Fatah.” Additionally, a firebomb was thrown at the Jewish community center in Berlin. The leftist groups’ common perception was that “Jews who were expelled by fascism became fascists themselves, who in collaboration with American capitalism, want to annihilate the Palestinian people.”

In 2010, Frankfurt’s then-Christian Democrat mayor, Petra Roth, invited Holocaust survivor Alfred Grosser to deliver the 2010 Kristallnacht speech in Paul’s Church. This German-born French Jewish intellectual promoted reconciliation between Germans and the French. He is a notorious anti-Israel hate-monger. Grosser used his speech to draw parallels between the conduct of the Nazis and that of Israel.
This year, another Kristallnacht manipulation drew much attention. Jerusalem Post reporter Benjamin Weinthal detailed the criticism of a memorial conference at Berlin Jewish Museum. Jewish anti-Israel hate-monger Brian Klug was invited as the keynote speaker there.

The abuse of Kristallnacht is far from limited to Germany. On November 9, 2003, in Vienna, a memorial meeting was disrupted by members of the Sedunia group, who shouted through loudspeakers. They had to be removed by participants of the meeting. Sedunia is an organization of Muslims and Austrian converts to Islam. In the same month a leading Dutch inciter against Israel, Gretta Duisenberg – the widow of a former president of Europe’s Central Bank – took part in a demonstration in one of Amsterdam’s main squares. A mock Israeli checkpoint for Palestinians was set up there. Only the participation of Palestinian suicide murderers would have made it more realistic. A few years ago, the Dutch Jewish community started to organize its own Kristallnacht memorial meetings in Amsterdam. The other, leftwing dominated commemoration, downplays contemporary anti-Semitism and focuses on general racism.

Muslim organizations also participate in it, often to promote the fight against Islamophobia. They do not speak out against the fact that the greatest violence in any religion in the world comes out of several Muslim societies. This year, at least 65,000 Muslims will be murdered by other Muslims in a number of Arab states. Nor will they mention that the involvement of Muslims in anti-Semitic incidents in Europe is far larger than their proportion of the population. This has again been confirmed in the recently published study by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights. Muslim bodies and left-wing organizations sometimes play together a major role in this abuse of Kristallnacht.

In Helsingborg, Sweden, the Jewish community refused to participate in the 2012 Kristallnacht memorial meeting. Local paper Helsingborgs Dagblad noted that the community’s leader, Jussi Tyger, said that the memorial meeting was organized by left-wing parties and Muslims, who are known to be the most racist against Jews. In the Norwegian town of Bergen, the November memorial day is not centered on Kristallnacht, but on the 26th of the month when cargo ship Donau left Oslo with 552 Jews – the great majority of whom were killed in extermination camps. They had been arrested by Norwegian police rather than by German occupiers. Last year the speakers were leader of the Socialist Left party Audun Lysbakken and former prime minster Kåre Willoch, both notorious anti-Israelis.

This was another expression of abuse of Holocaust memory: extreme anti-Israelis attempting to whitewash their reputations. The local Jews decided not to participate. An American-Norwegian Jew who has participated for years in the event with Jewish prayers and an original composition wrote on his Facebook page: “I refuse to participate in the same program as Kåre Willoch. They could not have chosen a more inappropriate speaker at a ceremony commemorating the Holocaust.” He explained to his American friends in English that Willoch is “extremely anti-Israel, and has made some terrible anti-Semitic comments.”
This year, a young gentile woman pulled out of the Oslo Kristallnacht memorial. She was meant to speak there, but received a death threat earlier that day…

Of a different distorting nature is the regular comparing of potential ecological disaster to the Holocaust.
In 1989, then-Senator from Tennessee Al Gore published an op-ed in The New York Times titled, “An Ecological Kristallnacht. Listen.” Gore called upon all humankind to heed the warning: “…the evidence is as clear as the sounds of glass shattering in Berlin.” All these vignettes above have to be seen in a broader context: the widespread and increasing abuse of Holocaust memory in general.

 

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SWASTIKAS, SLURS AND TORMENT IN TOWN’S SCHOOOLS

Benjamin Weiser

                                   New York Times, Nov. 7, 2013

 

The swastikas, the students recalled, seemed to be everywhere: on walls, desks, lockers, textbooks, computer screens, a playground slide — even on a student’s face. A picture of President Obama, with a swastika drawn on his forehead, remained on the wall of an eighth-grade social studies classroom for about a month after a student informed her teacher, the student said.

 

For some Jewish students in the Pine Bush Central School District in New York State, attending public school has been nothing short of a nightmare. They tell of hearing anti-Semitic epithets and nicknames, and horrific jokes about the Holocaust. They have reported being pelted with coins, told to retrieve money thrown into garbage receptacles, shoved and even beaten. They say that on school buses in this rural part of the state, located about 90 minutes north of New York City and once home to a local Ku Klux Klan chapter president, students have chanted “white power” and made Nazi salutes with their arms.

 

The proliferation and cumulative effect of the slurs, drawings and bullying led three Jewish families last year to sue the district and its administrators in federal court; they seek damages and an end to what they call pervasive anti-Semitism and indifference by school officials. The district — centered in Pine Bush, west of Newburgh, and serving 5,600 children from Orange, Sullivan and Ulster Counties — is vigorously contesting the suit. But a review of sworn depositions of current and former school officials shows that some have acknowledged there had been a problem, although they denied it was widespread and said they had responded appropriately with discipline and other measures. “There are anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred that we need to address,” John Boyle, Crispell Middle School’s principal, said in a deposition in April.

 

In 2011, when one parent complained about continued harassment of her daughter and another Jewish girl, Pine Bush’s superintendent from 2008 to 2013, Philip G. Steinberg, wrote in an email, “I have said I will meet with your daughters and I will, but your expectations for changing inbred prejudice may be a bit unrealistic.” Mr. Steinberg, who, along with two other administrators named as defendants, is Jewish, described the lawsuit in recent interviews as a “money grab.” He contended that the plaintiffs had “embellished” some allegations.

 

Nonetheless, reports of anti-Semitism have persisted, with at least two recent complaints made to the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County. The New York Times has reviewed about 3,500 pages of deposition testimony by parents, children and school administrators, which were provided by the families’ lawyers on the condition that the identities of the children, some of whom are still enrolled, be protected. Limited redactions were also made to protect student privacy. The children, in their depositions, accuse at least 35 students, who are identified by their initials, of carrying out anti-Semitic acts; other offenders are identified less specifically. Whatever the number of students involved in such activity, its impact was felt by the Jewish children, said Ilann M. Maazel, a lawyer for the families. “There were multiple children who just did not feel safe going to school day after day,” he said.

 

In 2008, T.E., then a fifth grader at Pine Bush Elementary School, told her mother that two boys had made drawings in school that she did not understand, adding, “I think it was something bad.” The mother, Sherri E., 48, asked her daughter to draw what she had seen, and realized it was a swastika. The mother testified that during a subsequent meeting, the elementary school principal at the time, Steve Fisch, agreed to talk with the boys but added: “What’s the big deal? They didn’t aim it towards her.” Mr. Fisch, in his deposition, denies saying that. Not long afterward, the mother said, one of the boys called T.E. “Jew” on the bus and made an offensive gesture toward her and her daughter. Sherri E. withdrew her daughter from Crispell Middle School last year, and is now educating her at home.

 

Some of the affected students saw their grades suffer, and felt socially isolated and depressed, the depositions show. One said he contemplated suicide. The swastikas, drawn or carved onto school property, or even constructed by students out of pipe cleaners, caused much of the anxiety. Sometimes they were accompanied by messages like “Die Jew,” the children testified. “I actually started to hate myself for being Jewish,” D.C., a Pine Bush High School graduate who now attends college, said in an interview. He recalled that around the time of the Jewish holidays, teachers would ask if there were Jewish students in the class. “I learned very, very quickly not to raise my hand,” he said. D.C., now 18, testified that he was “overwhelmed” by the number of swastikas he saw. In eighth grade, he said, he reported one that was about a foot in diameter, which he found in a bathroom; it was removed, but it reappeared quickly. He testified that he stopped reporting swastikas because “nobody was doing anything about them.”

 

His sister, O.C., now 15, testified about a more direct message from a sixth grader who formed his hand into the shape of a gun and “said he was killing Jews.” In seventh grade, O.C. said, she saw a girl holding her hands up to hide a swastika on her face. The girl explained that a student had restrained her while another drew the insignia; the school said it had disciplined the two students. O.C. said she heard slurs like Christ killer, stupid Jew, dirty Jew, disgusting Jew. “Jew was kind of an insult,” she explained. Her father, David C., an adjunct instructor at Orange County Community College, recalled telling his daughter’s teachers that she lacked focus because of the harassment and swastikas. He had even stumbled upon one, he testified, describing how he saw a “small swastika on one of the stalls” in a school bathroom.

 

The children testified about hearing crude jokes about the Holocaust and the killing of Jews. “How do you get a Jewish girl’s number? Lift up her sleeve,” went one. D.C. remembered a student telling him that his ancestors had died in the Holocaust. The student then blew on his flattened hand, and said, “You are just ashes.” “Every day at the high school,” D.C. testified, “I would go in, and I would just have the worst day of my life.” Mr. Steinberg said in his deposition that his challenge as superintendent was that “so many” students were being accused of anti-Semitic behavior. “The issue is not three students doing it all the time; the question is if you have 30 students doing it,” he said. “How do you undo the years of inbred prejudice?”

 [To read the full article, please click on the following link —ed.]

 

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FOR ZION’S SAKE: THE PROCLAMATION OF REVOLT

Daniel Tauber

                                  Jerusalem Post, Nov. 11, 2013

 

Britain was once a partner in the Zionist enterprise. During the First World War, her leaders harbored visions of Jews restored to their homeland. At the war’s end, she accepted responsibility for putting those visions into effect under the Mandate for Palestine. But the calculating British Empire that prepared to fight World War II was not the romantic British Empire of World War I.

In 1936, responding to Arab violence and opposition to Zionism, Britain drastically lowered Palestine’s Jewish immigration quota. In 1939, when no other country would give European Jewry refuge, Britain issued a new White Paper restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine – the internationally designated Jewish refuge – to a total of 75,000 over the next five years. It was the anti-Balfour Declaration. The anti-Jewish policy did not change when Winston Churchill became prime minister or when Britain learned of the slaughter of the Jews. Even the 75,000 immigration certificates were not all granted. Nor did it change when Germany surrendered in May 1945 or when the Labor party, which called for Jewish statehood, was elected.
The new foreign secretary, Ernst Bevin, warned against Jewish refugees trying to get unfairly “to the head of the queue” of the post-war settlement.

The British military establishment continued to view Palestine as a strategic asset in terms of military bases, communications and stemming Soviet influence in the region. Keeping oil flowing to an economically diminished Britain was also a priority. The war-time policy of appeasing Arab opposition to Zionism had to be continued. Bevin personally thought the Balfour Declaration was a “wild experiment” and “a Power Politics declaration.” He even considered partition “manifestly unjust to the Arabs.”

Instead, Bevin proposed a cantonization plan which gave the Jews a small amount of territory and no immigration control. Then he proposed a trustee plan leading to the emergence of an Arab-Palestinian state.
Britain had thus long ago renounced its role as “Mandatory” and embraced the role of imperial occupier intent on retaining Palestine as long as possible or establishing a friendly Arab state, preferably owing Britain certain treaty rights. For the Jewish state to rise, the British occupier would have to be removed.
This was not something Weizmann, Ben-Gurion, the Jewish Agency or the Haganah could admit. It was, however, long anticipated by the Revisionist-Zionist movement.

In the late 1930s Jabotinsky argued that Britain was losing its legitimacy in Palestine due to its anti-Jewish policies. Yet through 1938, he believed Britain could be convinced to return to Zionism. The younger generation in Betar and the Irgun Zvai Leumi (the National Military Organization – the Jabotinskyite offshoot of the Haganah), however, believed Britain would never repent. At the Betar World Conference in Warsaw that year, Menachem Begin, the leader of Polish Betar, proposed amending the Betar Oath to suggest rebellion against the British. When Jabotinsky asked about the practicalities, Begin replied that it would be for experts to determine. Jabotinsky compared Begin’s words to the creaking of an un-oiled door.
But in 1939 Jabotinsky came around. In Warsaw, he declared, “When the Irgun grows, your hope also grows,” and later that “the only way to liberate our country is by the sword.”

In August, Jabotinsky, sent coded plans to the Irgun, for tens of thousands of Betarim to storm Palestine’s shores, link up with Irgun forces, take and hold government buildings for at least 24 hours and declare Jewish statehood. But in September, Germany invaded Poland, the heart of European Jewry. Two days later, Britain declared war on Germany. Jewry had no choice but to support Britain. The Revisionist-Zionist movement immediately announced support for the British war effort. A few days later the Irgun announced the same. Within a year Jabotinsky died of a massive heart attack, but not before a split in the Irgun began to emerge between David Raziel and Avraham Stern. Just a few days before his death, Jabotinsky reinstated Raziel, who had resigned as commander, thereby blocking Stern from assuming command.

By October 1940, Stern and his followers left the Irgun to fight Britain – even as Italian planes bombed Tel Aviv and a German invasion become foreseeable. Rejected by the Yishuv, forced to resort to bank robberies, Stern found himself on the run. He would eventually be murdered by British policemen who had arrested him. Raziel fared no better. He was killed by a German bomb while on a mission for the British in Iraq.
[To read the full article, please click on the following link—ed.]

 

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CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!

 

Light in Dark Times: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Jewish Press, Nov. 7, 2013— What is it that made Jacob—not Abraham or Isaac or Moses—the true father of the Jewish people?
Rabbi from Ottawa returns $98,000 he found in used desk he bought online: Zev Singer, Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 12, 2013 — Sometimes when you buy a piece of furniture through Craigslist, you get it home only to find that the seller hasn’t cleaned out all the junk inside it. This story starts that way. Except it wasn’t exactly junk.                                                              Extermination of Two Million European Jews Confirmed Just Prior to GA 70 Years Ago: David Geffen, Jerusalem Post, 11 Nov. 2013— The Jewish Federations of North America functions today as the main representative body for North American Jewish groups. But in the 1940s, American Jewry was splintered into many organizations and parties, each making a bold attempt to save its brothers and sisters from the Nazis overseas.                                                                                                                   Art Dealer Paid Just 4,000 Swiss Francs for Masterpieces: Louise Barnett, The Telegraph, Nov. 10, 2013 — The art dealer whose son was found to have hoarded a treasure trove of masterpieces in his Munich flat paid the Nazis just 4,000 Swiss Francs for 200 paintings now thought to be worth millions, it has emerged.

 

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