Friday, 25 March 2011

A is for Anti-semitism and Apartheid (with update)

My father and mother shared the history of growing up in Ottawa's multicultural Lower Town with their daughters. It was thus I learned of the bigotry that francophone Catholic priests spread from the height of their pulpit, preaching - and deliberately planting seeds of violence - against the Irish, the Protestants and particularly, their Jewish neighbours. Later on, I discovered research documenting the hateful manifestions of anti-semitism.

My parents' choices as well as their open minds allowed me to understand the life experiences of immigrants to Canada as well as the vital and dynamic role the Jewish community held in Ottawa since its foundation. As an adolescent, I had the privilege of attending a religious service in the old synagogue, now closed.

When my cousin who converted to Reformed Judaism in her 30s invited me to her daughter's Bat Mitzvah, I felt honoured then moved by the beauty and spiritual force of the ritual. The women and men of this congregation are equally and fully engaged in all practices of their religious traditions.

Recently a friend's mom stated the film "An Education" sugar-coated its anti-semitic depiction of anti-semitism; after watching it I agreed with her impression, though some Jewish reviewers had a different perspective.

Today my friend lagatta directed my attention to powerful opinion piece by Letty Cottin Pogrebin, one of the original founding mothers of Ms magazine. It concludes:

As a life-long, Israel-loving, peace-seeking Zionist, I disdained the hyperbolic label and the facile, incendiary parallels to pre-Mandela South Africa that, for years, have been propagated by Jimmy Carter and some pundits on the left. I’ve made at least two dozen trips to Israel since 1976 and, though strongly critical of its government’s policies toward Palestinians within and outside the Green Line — whether under Labor, Likud or Kadima leadership — I never felt that extreme indictment was warranted by the facts on the ground. Then again, until last month, I had never been to Hebron.

Justice-loving Jews cannot keep denying what is happening under Israeli auspices in Hebron; we can never say we didn’t know.

It is painful to discover that a person, an institution or a belief one respects is wrong. It takes courage to say so.

Via our feminista consoeur AntoniaZ, a link to a strong and timely opinion piece in Haaretz.


fern hill said...

Powerful. Brava!

Beijing York said...

What fern said.

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