KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
Posted: June 15,
2006 - יום חמישי,
An open letter to Mr. Sid Ryan,
President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario
From Maurice Ostroff
June 14, 2006
Dear Mr. Ryan,
Your article, "Protesting against Israeli apartheid"
(Toronto Sun June 2)
It may surprise you, that as an Israeli
who grew up in apartheid South Africa, I commend every word in the last
sentence of your article, in which you state:
Your even-handed approach comes as a breath of
fresh air by comparison with the many strident one-sided attacks on Israel
which have become commonplace.
- "For the record, our members have also
decided at a previous national convention to "call for and actively
work towards an end to all acts of violence that take the lives of
innocent people, whether they be Palestinian or Israeli. "We continue
to support a negotiated peace process based on equality -- and that means
the wall must come down"
It may surprise you even more to learn that I believe the great majority of
Israelis would join me in this commendation. We too, look forward to the day
when the "wall" can come down because it will no longer be needed to
protect us from suicide bombers. And acting in accordance with your call to
work towards an end to all acts of violence, we need your support, not your
enmity, to assist us in achieving this by negotiation with our neighbors.
I trust that, as the leader of a great trade union, which has achieved much
for its members you, will accept this invitation to a civil discussion about
the thrust of your article and the CUPE
resolution in which you protest what you understand to be Israeli
The popular "rage" against Israel's alleged apartheid would be
perfectly justifiable if the basic premises on which it is based were true and
I ask you to please consider some little-known factual information which I
hope will cause you, as the fair-minded person, you have shown yourself to be,
to re-evaluate some of your opinions.
Unlike South Africa where apartheid was entrenched in the law and strictly
enforced, in Israel, discrimination is forbidden by law. In South Africa, the
law not only denied the vote to Black citizens, it legislated to force
discrimination in almost every aspect of daily life, resembling to a degree
Israel's Arab neighbors which legislate to strictly enforce gender and
religious apartheid. By contrast,
Israel's Declaration of Independence specifically ensures complete
equality of social and political rights to all inhabitants irrespective of
religion, race, or gender. Israeli Muslims, Christians, Druse and other
minority groups enjoy exactly the same civil and political rights as Jews.
They serve in the Knesset and speak freely against the government. If you
examine Israeli high court decisions you will observe how they have
consistently upheld and continue to uphold equal rights.
The accusation of apartheid in Israel has become a popular catchphrase used as
a whip without any relevance to reality. If one looks at the facts
objectively, the inevitable conclusion is that there is no more validity to
applying apartheid to Israel than to many other countries including for
example, your country, Canada.
March 2001 by Canada to the UN Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, cite difficulties encountered by Aboriginal peoples
before the courts in establishment of Aboriginal title over land; the ongoing
dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land and the fact that some
aspects of the Indian Act that may not be in conformity with rights protected
under the Convention, in particular the right to marry and to choose one's
spouse, the right to own property and to inherit, the high rate of
incarceration of, violence against, and deaths in custody of Aboriginals and
people of African and Asian descent. Concerns were also noted about the high
number of incidents of discrimination targeting Aboriginals and other
minorities in employment.
Although the reports smack very much of apartheid, I would be the last person
to accuse Canada, with its laudable history of racial tolerance, universal
justice and strenuous efforts to ensure racial equality, of apartheid. I
quoted the above data merely to illustrate the type of generalized accusations
regularly made against Israel using bits of information out of context. Any
informed logical person realizes that the examples I quoted reflect a
completely unrealistic picture of Canada..
Bearing in mind the lesson in Mathew 7, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out
the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the
mote out of thy brother's eye.", it would not be out of place for the
Palestinians and Arab states who accuse Israel of apartheid to examine their
own records. I am sure you are familiar with discriminatory laws in Saudi
Arabia. In Lebanon too, discrimination continues to be enforced by law.
According to an Amnesty International report, Palestinian refugees are barred
from certain jobs, a Palestinian cook; accountant; medical doctor;
hairdresser; pharmacist; engineer; concierge or lawyer is unable to practice
legally and the law bars Palestinians from owning real estate and from
inheriting property or even registering property that they had already bought.
Unfortunately, as in other countries, injustices do occur in Israel, but we
Israelis are proud of the fact that by contrast with our neighbors, human
rights groups frequently win arguments even against the state.
Referring again to your union's "support for a negotiated peace
process", I hope you will agree that it would be fair and reasonable for
CUPE to demonstrate its evenhandedness by adding a call to remove all barriers
to such negotiations. I refer for example to article 9 of the PLO
Charter which declares bluntly that the armed struggle is not merely
tactical, it is the overall strategy, Article 19 which rejects the 1947 UN
partition of Palestine, implying that liberating Palestine means destruction
of the entire Jewish state and article 20 which unashamedly deems null and
void the Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that
has been based upon them.
As Hamas is now in government it would be in order for CUPE to call for
amendment its charter, which makes it even clearer that there is absolutely no
room for the peaceful negotiation CUPE calls for. Article 13 unambiguously
states, "Initiatives, peaceful solutions and international conferences,
are in contradiction to its principles and that there is no solution for the
Palestinian question except through Jihad."
For rational negotiation to take place it would also be necessary to remove
from the Hamas
Covenant concepts which Westerners have difficulty in grasping such as the
obsessive phobia about freemasons, rotary clubs, Lions and similar
organizations, promising that the day Islam is in control, these
organizations, will be obliterated. They are accused of everything from
control of the world media, stirring the French Revolution, the Communist
revolution, World War I and even of forming the League of Nations. They are
alleged to have been behind World War II, and instigating replacement of the
League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council.
Not least among the barriers to negations which need to be removed is the
continuing incitement to violence against uninvolved civilians, (women,
children and invalids alike), which has been emanating for years from the
mosques and PA controlled media and taught in schools from the earliest age.
I would very much appreciate a considered response, which will be publicized
as is being done with this open letter.
more articles by Maurice Ostroff
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