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Wiesel Event 80% Sold
Our Annual Campaign Opening event, featuring Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, is now 80% sold. Purchase your tickets today – it will likely sell out before the event on September 10th. Buy online or call the Federation office at 604.257.5100 for tickets.
CIJA Calls for Petition Drive on United Church Report
On August 11-18, the 41st General Council of the United Church of Canada will convene to discuss a wide range of issues relating to the governance of the Church. Many proposals will be considered by the commissioners, among them a report prepared by a working group of the Church that makes policy recommendations regarding a future policy on Israel/Palestine.
While the report has some positive elements, it is flawed in a number of respects. It recommends that the Church express its “regret” for asking the Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state, and calls upon Israel to make one-sided concessions (the occupation is seen, axiomatically, as the cause rather than the result of the conflict). Most troubling is the recommendation to engage in a boycott of products from the settlements.
Such strategies are short-sighted. Singling out Israel for punishment does nothing to bring Israelis and Palestinians together in peace, and damages the Church’s reputation as a fair and balanced broker. Closer to home, it also deeply strains the relationship between the Jewish and United Church communities in Canada.
For all of these reasons, we ask people of good will to become involved and take a moment to sign this petition, which asks that the United Church reject boycotts of Israel in any form, refuse to hold the world’s only Jewish state as solely responsible for ending the Israeli-Arab conflict, and instead support positive initiatives to advance peace, reconciliation and prosperity in the Holy Land – for the benefit of both Palestinians and Israelis.
Please share our petition as broadly as you can among your contacts via email, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. We need at least 10,000 signatures to give our statement some resonance.
Tal Law Ends in Israel
This week, the controversial Tal Law, which provided an exemption from military service for men from the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community in Israel, expired. There is a lot of debate within Israeli society about what is the right way to balance the religious needs of this community with the desire to ensure that all groups are making appropriate contributions to the whole society. A very interesting observation on the subject was published this week by Dr. Ruth Westheimer, more noted for her radio broadcasts focusing on sexual education and health than for political issues. It is definitely worth reading for its thoughtful look at the issues beyond inflammatory headlines.
This week’s parasha opens with Moses pleading with God to be allowed to cross into the Land of Israel. Not only is he denied this, but God is firm in closing off further discussion of it. In the face of what must have been heartbreaking disappointment, Moses carries forward with his leadership role, reminding the people of their obligation to heed God’s laws, and restating the Ten Commandments. The parasha also includes the text of the Sh’ma, now a central part of Jewish liturgy, also a powerful reminder of the Israelites’ relationship with God.
Moses speaks of a time when future generations will question the meaning of the laws and rules established in the Torah – he could well be speaking of our time, so many centuries later. And he provides a classic response from our tradition: we are reminded that we were slaves in Egypt until God freed us, and brought us to the Land of Israel. That central narrative of our collective history is tied right in, reminding us of the connection with our God, our code of behavior, our connection with the Land of Israel, and our connection with each other.