Thursday, May 30, 2013

US Senator Pat Toomey naive about Jerusalem realities

I am a US citizen.  I vote in Pennsylvania for Federal offices and I stay in touch with my U.S. Senators from there. 

Senator Pat Toomey just sent out a newsletter saying he proudly cosponsored the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act to force moving the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv -- where all embassies of all countries are located. 

I just had to respond and wrote the following:

Dear Senator Toomey,

I am a rabbi and have lived in Jerusalem for four years. In contrast to what is said in your newsletter, Jerusalem is a tragically divided city.  Many Muslims and Christians cannot access the holy sites of their religion. 

Jerusalem is sharply divided between its Jewish areas and Palestinian areas, many of which are entirely neglected and bereft of any municipal services whatsoever. Most people who live in Jerusalem very fearful to cross from their sector to the others' and never do so. 

Regarding access to holy places, many Christians and Muslims who are Palestinian cannot access their holy places and cannot even enter Jerusalem at all. Access to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aksa Mosque is regularly restricted; young men not allowed to enter the area at all. 

People born in Jerusalem of families resident there for centuries are not permitted by the Israelis to return if they leave for longer than brief period Israeli regulations stipulate. Thousands of Christian and Muslim Jerusalemites have been deprived of their legal right to reside in the very city in which they were born and their families still live.

I hope you will take the trouble to develop a more honest understanding of the reality on the ground in Jerusalem and not be manipulated any longer by those who perpetrate and wish to cover up these very unjust realities. If you would like suggestions for sources of information, I will be very happy to help.


Rabbi David Mivasair
State College, PA

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Brief report on: Independent Jewish Voices -- Vancouver protest at CIJA conference, May 5

Objectively, the demo was very small – half a minyan of our IJV chevra.  A far greater number specifically expressed interest and support but were unable to come.  Rick Marcuse was the fifth and last to arrive, giving us immediate and undisputed hegemonic numerical superiority over the four police officers who were sent in to keep the peace.  In addition, our ally Rev. Don Grayston of Building Bridges Vancouver and a young fellow I don’t know named Tim also came.  Together we seven created a presence for about an hour outside the building where the CIJA conference was and engaged about a dozen or so people in conversation including several who were at the conference.
Subjectively, my sense is that it was well worthwhile to simply protest visibly and publically against CIJA doing business as usual.  The simple fact that we were there – despite our small numbers – meant that the assumptions implicit in CIJA’s intentionally distorted perspective were being challenged.  In addition, through our various social media connections we had impact far beyond what we accomplished on the Granville Street sidewalk this afternoon.  People learned through Facebook, Twitter and other media about this Jewish protest against CIJA and its militant support for Israel’s violence, injustice and repression.  Even though we had a very small numerical presence, the fact that we did this action at all reached hundreds of people and builds toward the future.
I hope in the future we will collaborate more effectively and make a bigger impact.  We need brief, crisply-worded, well-designed and well-produced literature pieces to hand out -- like what Jewish Voice for Peace has in the US.  And, I think we need more creativity about actions that communicate effectively with the public – more catchy than standing on the sidewalk holding signs with slogans on them.
I thank everyone in the IJV-Vancouver chapter who contributed to this today.  All members who join and support the chapter were effectively part of our presence there today.  A special thanks goes to Sheila who supported this idea from beginning to end and who made the signs for the demo and brought them today.


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Independent Jewish Voices protest at CIJA conference, Sunday, May 5

Independent Jewish Voices Vancouver chapter will hold a protest at the conference of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs on Sunday, May 5, 4 pm, outside 500 Granville Street.
Speakers at the CIJA conference include Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, Israel's ambassador to Canada Miriam Ziv and former US ambassador to the Middle East Dennis Ross.
IJV will point out that CIJA should not be believed when it postures as if it speaks for Canadian Jewry and that specific CIJA-supported policies promote ongoing large-scale violence and injustice.
Please come and join us.  If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me by e-mail or at (604) 781-7839.
To learn more about the CIJA conference, see here.
The IJV demonstration will take place at the same time as another demonstration against CIJA by the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America.  Learn more about that here

"CIJA does not represent the majority of Canadian Jews.  Rather it is a highly partisan political lobby organization which uncritically supports policies of the Israeli government which have been ruled illegal by the World Court and which are contrary to Canadian Foreign policy such as the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestine, expanding settlements on that land,  the separation barrier, and its refusal to negotiate about the rights of Palestinian refugees.  It is clear to us, as Jews, that Israel holds and abuses its overwhelming power in a way deeply inconsistent with Jewish values and human rights." -- from IJV letter to Canadian senators