“Is it possible to love Israel and still feel solidarity with Palestinians?”, asks Canadian professor

Carleton University professor Mira Sucharov has raised a challenging question for Jews who believe strongly in equality and human rights for Palestinians. Is it possible, she asks to “love” Israel and be committed to Palestinian solidarity at the same time? Though directed at Jews, her question also challenges Palestinians to imagine a new and different Israel/Palestine where Jews and Palestinians can live together in equality. Read more….

In an interesting and heart-felt essay in Jewish Telegraph Agency, a Jewish Canadian academic laments that she doesn’t feel that she quite fits into any existing group on the Israel/Palestine issue.

“Of course there are American Jews who love Israel and Israeli culture but despise the occupation. But they are all too often silent on the deepest, most entrenched parts of Israeli oppression of Palestinians: refugees, the siege on Gaza, systemic inequality within Israel,” she wrote.

On the other hand she continued, “The Palestinian-based groups are naturally not focused on Hebrew and Israeli culture. But neither are the few radical Jewish groups, it seems to me, that are human-rights focused.”

“I think I need to start a new group,” she wrote. “A group for Jews who are committed to Palestine solidarity, and who love Hebrew and Israeli culture. A group that feels connected to Israel.”

Almost as soon as she pressed “send” on her post, she started to get answers from other Jewish readers “Count me in”, they said. And quickly a new Facebook page called “Drahim – a new path forward” acquired several hundred Jewish members.

In an initial statement, Sucharov outlined 7 “group principles”.

Drachim — A New Path Forward for Israel/Palestine

Group principles:

1. An end to the West Bank occupation, and to Israel’s siege on Gaza.

2. Support of legal reform in Israel to bring about equity and equality for Palestinian citizens.

3. Recognition of the right of Palestinian refugees to return, and restitution for property expropriated by Israel. We point to projects like those issued by the NGO Zochrot to help envision what return might look like.

4. We condemn all violence against any and all civilians whether in Israel, Palestine or in the Diaspora. We also condemn all expressions of antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.  Neither do we stand in the way of any form of non-violent resistance by Palestinians intended to bring about justice.

5. We do not demand particular post-justice state arrangements, namely whether the outcome is one state or two, or a confederation arrangement. We are aware that many diplomatic calls, and the calls by many self-described peace groups, for a “two-state solution” as the only fair solution, has served, if inadvertently, to entrench the status quo. That is, as the two-state solution has become less of an apparent possibility, the demand for it by Jewish groups and others implies that Palestinians should be patient. We feel we cannot demand patience from Palestinians for wanting to exercise their basic human rights. 

6. any reimagined polity should extend the idea of political community to both Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Accordingly, we call for an end to institutionalized ethnic hegemony.

7. We envision a society that nurtures and elevates the cultural and linguistic traditions of Israeli Jews and of Palestinian Arabs. Arabic must be brought back to equal status with Hebrew (the 2018 Nation-State Law demoted it from an official language). We want to see the support and funding of new projects that continue to produce fine Hebrew-Israeli and Arabic-Palestinian cultural products — including film, literature, television, theatre and music. And we look forward to the continuation of new synergies across these traditions, without one being assimilated into the other. Both communities and cultures must be encouraged to flourish.

Principles similar to 3 BDS demands

Astute observers cannot help noticing that the first 3 principles are almost identical to the three main demands of the BDS movement, although that movement is not mentioned. “We were careful not to use words that would label people or box them in before having a conversation”, said Sucharov.

Sucharov’s new Facebook group called “Drachim – A new path forward for Israel/Palestine” already has over 450 members. It is a “closed” group, intended to be a space for a conversation among like-minded Jews..

CTIP interviewed Professor Sucharov about her motivations and her hopes.

A challenge to Jews… and also to Palestinians

Sucharov’s post is obviously a challenge to Jews. Its support for the Palestinian right of return will be difficult for many Jews, as it challenges Jewish numerical superiority and therefore seems to put into question the basic notion of a “Jewish” state.

On the other hand, her reflection and her question also poses a challenge to Palestinians, as she envisages a society in which both Israeli Jews and Palestinians not only live equally, but can evolve and thrive culturally.

Food for thought for many.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org

36 comments

  1. Thanks for highlighting this creative initiative! It’s hard to argue with the seven principles. A vision for common, equal humanity must be the foundation for any path forward.

  2. Thank you Peter for bringing this initiative to our attention. Their 7 principles are easy for those of us who are neither Jewish nor Palestinian to agree with. I wish Ms Sucharov all success and will be interested to hear how this progresses. It would be wonderful, when we can gather together again for lunch in person, to have her as a guest and have some further discussion.

  3. It would be good to see some actual work done on the question of Palestinian refugees. It’s great that Mira and groups like Zochrot want to acknowledge the Palestinian right of return, but how to do so is left pretty vague, particularly with respect to the possibility of a Palestinian majority in a democracy (see e.g. https://zochrot.org/en/wrapper/19). What can satisfy both Israeli Jews and Palestinians in Israel, the territories, refugee camps and beyond? The Israel lobby says “those who want to recognize the Palestinian right of return are out to destroy Israel.” Even former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, cited by the Israel lobby as having made a tremendously generous offer to the Palestinians, said “I’ll never accept a solution that is based on their return to Israel, any number…. I will not agree to accept any kind of Israel responsibility for the refugees. Full stop…. It’s a moral issue of the highest level. I don’t think that we should accept any kind of responsibility for the creation of this problem” (Wikipedia). Israel and its lobby say Israel can never compromise. Mira and Zochrot are saying the Palestinians will never have to compromise. It seems a recipe for the status quo.

  4. The following comment from reader Mouazzam

    It’s a great idea and it is possible. The question is -would this be tolerable for the new Israeli government whose leader has already said that he will not let an inch of the land given back to the Palestinians. Foe state that exercises oppression, systematic ethnic cleansing, discrimination and war crimes against Palestinians is to compromise that much seems very unlikely.

    Palestinians do not hate Jews –Israeli unjust policies and treatment are the major obstacle towards peace and living side-by-side, yes it is possible – culture is the same, values and identities are the same even religion and faith have originated from the sacred place. This tells us why Muslims, Jews and Christians shouldn’t live together. Jerusalem is for all. Al-Quds is not a Palestinian issue – it’s an issue of all faiths. Palestinians have suffered for more than 70 years, its time for Israel to show respect for human dignity.

  5. I have never met or heard a Palestinian who has said that he or she would could not live amicably with Jews. But I have heard Jews, including the current prime minister, talking about shipping Palestinians to Jordan. There is no problem with the Palestinians. I am familiar with Mira Sucharov and she is well meaning but maybe naive. I am a Jew who likes the music of Wagner, a known anti-Semite. Will I go and enjoy one of his operas while the Nazis are gassing my relatives? I don’t think so. I think its very inappropriate for Ms. Sucharov to talk about enjoying Israeli culture and coffee shops in Israel while Palestinians are being executed by the most moral army in the world like Black people in the USA. Depending on how one defines things, Israel is carrying on a genocide, or ethnic cleansing, by harassiment , chopping down olive trees, poisoning wells, and a million other things to harass Palestinians. People like Peter Beinart, whose position is very similar to hers, is much stronger in criticizing Israel. Meanwhile , Ms. Sucharov wants to discuss the finer points of the right to return but not in a way which would antagonize anyone. it would be interesting to know if she would give automatic citizenship to any Palestinian and not only to the refugees and their descendants. I think she said any Jew could have automatic citizenship. Ms. Sucharov thinks its OK for the Palestinians to fight for their rights while she looks on but she wants this resistance to be non-violent. I guess she would say the same thing about resisting the Nazis. Yes, Mr. Ghandi and Mr. King preached non-violence but when one hears that 80% of Jews in Israel support Netanyahu’s and Bennett’s policies and what they do in Gaza and in the West bank and how Palestinians were killed and crippled during the peaceful marches in Gaza one can be cynical about non violent methods . As you probably know, Irwin Cotler the uber Zionist in Canada has appropriated Nelson Mandela as a person who is honoured by his Zionist front, the Raoul Wallenburg Centre but he is not encouraging the Palestinians to use violence as Nelson Mandela did. I am afraid that Ms. Sucharov is fighting brainwashing she received through her upbringing in the Jewish community but there are many with the same upbringing who are much more realistic about the current situation. Instead of clutching her pearls, Ms. Sucharov should be decrying the way the lobby is pulling out all stops and lying through its teeth as it weaponizes the false claim that all aspect of Canadian society are chock full of anti-Semites. She should join the Jews who are trying to remove the Israeli flag from synagogues and Jewish schools. She should write a column saying she agrees with Seth Rogen and that she was also lied to when she went to Jewish school. She says correctly that Israel/Palestine is one state. The problem is how to make everybody equal. Worrying about Israeli culture is not the way to do that.
    Somebody has to sit her down and hold her hand and tell her that it will be alright. Tell her that when the Palestinians have equal rights, she will still be able to speak Hebrew while she drinks her coffee at her chic cafe. The real problem, as South Africa teaches us, will be to bring Palestinians up to the Jewish standard of living in the face of the entrenched racism and colonial privilege that they will encounter.

    1. Hello Mr. Erlichman,
      Thanks for your comment.

      I don’t know how many times you have visited Israel/Palestine or how many Palestinians you have talked to. I have been many times and had countless conversations – in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, in ’48 Palestine, in Gaza and also in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan.

      Not all Palestinians have the same views. I wish i could say that “I have never met or heard a Palestinian who has said that he or she would could not live amicably with Jews.” But i cant. I have met more than one.

      I have talked to many Palestinians who are so discouraged that they don’t think it is ever possible to llive with Jews. Based on their experience, I can hardly blame them. I have even met a couple of palestinians who told me that the only answer is for the Jews to “go back where they came from”.

      MOST PALESTINIANS I know DO say that it would be possible to live along side Jews on an equal basis. Many point to stories their grandparents told them about overall good relations between jewish, muslim and Christian Palestinians before 1948.

      To paint the Palestinians as uniformly “forgiving”, “turning the other cheek”, does not fit with my understanding of reality. Nor do I think it is credible to most people.

      1. I agree 100% that you have a lot more experience than I have. However, I was only repeating what I have heard in my limited experience. Nevertheless, with the advent of ZOOM I have heard many more Palestinians than I would normally experience in the boonies of Eastern Ontario where I live and they all seem to feel that they could live peacefully with Jews if everybody was all equal. It’s true that I have not been watching webinars hosted by Hamas and people who may have different perceptions about coexisting with Jews but I suspect they and the people you talked to might think differently if they felt they could live in their homeland as equals and not see a bleak future where they barely survive as poor stateless refugees. Hamas leaders might also think differently if they knew that Israel was not going to assassinate them any time the most moral army in the world felt like it. I don’t think I am being unrealistically optimistic when I say that peoples’ opinions change depending on the circumstances.

      2. i agree. thanks.
        (BTW, I have never been on a webinar hosted by Hamas. But I have spoken to Hamas members in Gaza and elsewhere who insist they have no problems with jews, but a big problem with Zionism. i believe them.)

  6. Thank you so much Mr. Erlichman.
    I agree with you 100%. Quite a number of years ago I went downtown Toronto to hear Ms, Sucharov in a small synagogue presenting her group as a model of Jews and Palestinian coming together. Back than I thought this is not solving anything, although it’s a nice operation. I think that her Jewishness trumps all at the end of the day.
    No doubt she is meaning good, but not really grasping the real reality.

  7. Mira Sucharov, can I begin by saying how lucky you are to be able to state your opinion in a Democratic setting. No one will hunt you down for saying what you do. Or cancel you.

    Jews who lived in the diaspora before World War Two are mostly gone or they would have something to say to you. One woman I knew, had a Prussian blue tattoo on her forearm. Lovely old lady. She said that when the Germans invaded her country of birth, her lovely neighbours wasted no time pointing out the Jews living in her town. Because no matter how many generations her family had lived there, they were still Jews who were living on sufferance in someone else’s country.

    I wouldn’t have thought it, but things are worse for Jews now than they were before the war. Anti semitism is rampant. Nowhere left to escape it these days, Mira.

    Mira Sucharov you need to know that:

    For the first time in its history Israel’s parliament has an Islamist party. How crazy is that? That should put paid to the usual anti Semitic rhetoric about apartheid in Israel. But it’s not in the best interests of Palestinians and the Left to do so.
    Name me an Arab nation that has Jewish politicians. Or that has has any Jews left, for that matter. Then you can talk about love and peace.

    There are five countries that have signed up to a peace treaty with Israel. An amazing achievement. Thanks to Donald Trump, who didn’t get a Nobel peace prize for it. unlike Biden (who most likely will) Biden and his thugs are busy unravelling it all as fast as they can.

    So, Mira Sucharov, professor, even you must acknowledge that in order to have peace you have to want it. Even while Yitzhak Rabin and Yassar Arafat were brokering for Peace Palestinians were bombing Israelis. Nothing has changed or will change. It’s our way or the highway’ is the Palestinian mantra. And ‘our way’ is to shove all Jews into the Dead Sea. They’ve said it again and again and refuse to go to the table.

    Last but not least, Mira Sucharov, Israel belongs to the Jews. In a historic, religious and moral sense. It’s time the world, and especially progressive Jews, especially progressive Jews in academia, stopped sucking up the Arab and left wing rhetoric. It’s time the pressure was placed on the Palestinians to stop pay for slay, to stop cramming their tunnels with ammunition. Time to stop promoting lies and propaganda. My guess is that Jews who understand their history will refuse to once more find themselves back in the diaspora.

    1. marymtf,

      I am unable to understand how anyone can suggest that it is OK to punish Palestinians for what the Germans did to our ancestors. Paradoxically, Israel and Germany now treat each other with respect but Israel treats the Palestinians under its control as if they were what the Nazis called “Untermensch” (subhuman).

      You incorrectly state that “For the first time in its history Israel’s parliament has an Islamist party”. Actually a variety of Arab parties have long been in the Parliament. They have not been treated with the respect due to the elected representatives of a substantial fraction of Israel’s citizens. What is new this time is that those wishing to topple Mr. Netanyahu did not have enough votes to do so unless they included a small number of Arab MPs in the coalition. They very reluctantly included the minimum necessary number.

      You also wrote “There are five countries that have signed up to a peace treaty with Israel. An amazing achievement.” It is amazing that President Trump was able to present agreements between countries that were not fighting as “Peace Agreements” and agreements between countries that were already quietly cooperating as cooperation agreements. Actually, it is not amazing, the Arab countries that signed these agreements were bribed with massive arms deals. If there really were peace in the area, those arms purchases would not be necessary, The winners are the arms dealers who will now provide more arms to Israel so that israel can maintain its military superiority.

      What is good about these agreements is their name, “Abraham Accords”. That name reminds us that, according to our Bible, G-d gave the land to Abraham and all of his descendants. All of the peoples in the disputed areas, consider themselves descendants of Abraham. This tells us that your claim that, “Israel belongs to the Jews. In a historic, religious and moral sense. ” That is not what the Bible that I was taught as a child says.

      1. My God, four generations and Israel’s worst enemies, the progressive Jewish left, are happy to hand Israel over to the Arabs.
        I’m not blaming Palestinians for what the Germans did. I’m blaming them for what they do. I’m saying that once the Palestinians and their left wing pals have done their job, there’s nowhere for Jews to go. I’m saying that today’s generation are too far from the past to understand that. I say that anti semitism is on the rise in Europe and Israelis had better watch out.

        “The Egyptians could run to Egypt”, said Golda Meir “the Syrians into Syria. The only place we could run was into the sea, and before we did that we might as well fight.” Golda obviously made the point better than I have. She understood then that no one values life in that region.

        The only people punishing Palestinians are their leaders who keep them in poverty and ignorance. Palestinians produce plays for kindergarten children that have them killing Israeli soldiers. If you start brainwashing that young what hope is there for peace? Whether or not GoldaMeir said, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” It’s just as relevant now as it was then.

        “Palestinians slay for pay, bomb pregnant women in outdoor cafes, stab innocent civilians in the street. They fired thousands of rockets at Israel; they did their best, it’s not their fault they didn’t succeed. If Palestinians expect respect they need to earn it. I still want to know why Arabs are allowed in an Israeli parliament.

        I’ve heard that those countries who have signed on to the Abraham accord have been quietly cooperating with Israel. It’s in their commercial interests. Whatever the deals done to get them to that point, they have signed on to to do it not so quietly. Till now, nobody’s thought to do it. I think it was a great beginning. My guess is that region fed up with the unrelenting, ongoing war and Palestinian aggression.
        Bribery with arms deals is what goes on in the Middle East. Where do the Palestinians get their rockets and what dodgy deals do they pay for them them?

        Yes, you’re all Semites together, but it’s only considered Semitic, not racist when it’s the Jews. Arabs don’t believe in the Judeo Christian God. “The Talmud is replete with statements affirming the superior religious status of the Holy Land, the obligation of Jews to live there, and the confidence in the ultimate collective return of the Jewish people.”

      2. Hey Mary,
        Thanks for your comments. You raise several different points that some people may want to respond to.

        If you are interested in promoting a serious and thoughtful conversation as I am, you might want to make several separate comments rather than one long one which is difficult to deal with. You are free to make several comments on any given post. I would like to suggest that other contributors keep this in mind as well.

      3. MARYMTF,

        You wrote, ” … there’s nowhere for Jews to go”. … “The Egyptians could run to Egypt”, said Golda Meir “the Syrians into Syria. The only place we could run was into the sea, and before we did that we might as well fight.” Golda obviously made the point better than I have.”

        Golda Meir grew up in the US and received her education there. She had a safe and comfortable place to live but made a very deliberate decision to move to what was then called Palestine. She had a place to go if she was forced to leave Israel; the same is true for many other Israelis. Many of them immigrated, entirely voluntarily from other countries. A large fraction of those could safely and legally return. After the war, most of the countries that Jews had fled saw the error of their ways and welcomed their return. In my own family, some did return, some considered it, and some refused to even visit. Golda Meir was being disingenuous. The people with nowhere to go were Palestinians.

        More important, Prof. Sucharov is not asking Israelis to leave Israel. She is only asking them to share it with others.

        Golda Meir’s remarks about Syrians and Egyptians were nonsense then and look really foolish today. There are Syrians and Egyptians now who have fled their countries and have good reason not to return. We are fortunate to have many of them here in Canada. Noticed that they arrived here seeking a safe homeland but never attempted to take control or drive the rest of us away. All they hope for is equal opportunity.

      4. Marymtf,
        You wrote, ““Palestinians slay for pay, bomb pregnant women in outdoor cafes, stab innocent civilians in the street. They fired thousands of rockets at Israel;” Paid Israeli soldiers bomb men, women and children wherever they happen to be. In the recent Gaza rebellion Israeli used far more explosives and killed 20 times more people than the Gaza forces, If we count only children, the ratio was 30 to one. In the rare cases, where an Israeli soldier is killed in a battle, you can rest assured that the grieving family will be cared for. When I hear statements like yours above, I hear “the pot calling the kettle black”. Moreover, I hear someone holding all members of an ethnic group responsible for the actions of a few who have the same ethnicity.

      5. You wrote, “Arabs don’t believe in the Judeo Christian God.” Have you forgotten that many Arabs are Christians still living in the area where Christianity emerged. Arab Christians also use the name “Allah” for god.They and their fellow Arabs who happen to be Muslim or Druze are worshiping the same G-d” as Jews and other Christians. Arabic speakers use a different name than we do because they speak a different language.. “Allah” appears to this untrained eye to be a cognate of אל a root that appears in many Hebrew prayers and seems to mean deity. It also appears to be a cognate of the Aramaic words that are attributed to Jesus when he was suffering on the cross. Those words are usually translated as “My Lord”.

  8. To improve a situation that is the result of historical events, one has to begin by recognizing and admitting the mistakes made in the past. Only then, can things move forward. The Germans were able to accept the mistakes they made during the Nazi time and the world is better as a result. I consider that the events of 1948 were a giant mistake. My impression, from this presentation, is that Professor Sucharov has not accepted that.

    I think I could pass her test and have no problem with the 7 principles but would not fit into this group.

  9. MaryMTF is just the flip side of Wolfe Erlichman (and Jake Javanshir). MaryMTF’s “Nothing has changed or will change. It’s our way or the highway’ is the Palestinian mantra. And ‘our way’ is to shove all Jews into the Dead Sea” vs. Erlichman’s “I have never met or heard a Palestinian who has said that he or she would could not live amicably with Jews.” All Palestinians are devils or they’re all angels. Take your pick. That isn’t politics; it’s moralism.

  10. An excellent initiative by Professor Mia Sucharoff for liberal diaspora and some Israeli Jews to promote truth, peace and reconciliation with Palestinians within the context of great love for Israel and Je3ish Hebraic culture. Solidarity with Palestinians s good although a final solution for Palestine self determination is going to require a 1ss or 2ss which are both equally distant now. The nationalist Jewish Israel first and only ideology now controls Israeli politics even with a new government and new PM after Netanyahu. And Palestinians remain weak, divided and occupied annexed under Israeli Jewish control which has been characterized as apartheid. Its a lot to overcome even with good will and cultural diversity by a new diaspora Jewish grouup, which has limited influence on Israrli policy and is confronted by the hardline Israel lobby in Canada,, but the effort deserves the strong supoort of the Canadian government and Canadians interested in a solution.

  11. Can’t expect anything from the government as it is the political arm of the hardline Israeli lobby

    1. Hey Wolfe, which government are you referring to? Canada or Israel?
      Unfortunately, I think the Israeli government, which is very right wing, actually represents majority Israeli opinion.

      1. I was responding to the comment that Ms. Sucharov’s effort deserves the strong support of the Canadian government in the face the hardline Israeli lobby in Canada. The Canadian government has been the political wing of the hardline Israeli lobby in Canada since Lester Pearson and Ivan Rand were instrumental in 1947 in starting Israel against the wishes of the Indigenous population. I agree with you about Israel but one can’t use that to predict the future.

      2. Hey Wolfe,
        Thanks again. I beg to differ. I think you overestimate the role of the Israel lobby.

        It is true that it has a lot of influence on the Canadian government. But that does not mean that the Canadian government is the “political wing of the hardline Israeli lobby”. The Liberals do not always do what CIJA, or Bnai Brith or Simon Wisesenfeld want. Support for UNRWA for example.

        Those organizations represent a lot of votes and a lot of money. Any government has to pay attention.

        In fact, every political party has to pay attention tp those things, which is why there is not a lot of difference between the Liberals, NDP, Bloc and Greens on the Israel/Palestine issue.

  12. Everybody has to read today’s column by Rosie DiManno in the Toronto star and write a letter.
    At the same time we should organize a press conference to denounce the yellow journalism

    1. Hey Wolfe,
      I have not seen the article and in any event, CTIP does not organize press conferences. if you want to do so, you should perhaps suggest it to another organization.

      1. Sorry. You are right. It’s truly amazing that the Star would publish such racist yellow journalism. Rosie DiManno wrote a similar column in 2017 where she libeled Richard Falk

  13. I’ll start with an old joke : A Jew is shipwrecked on a desert island. Ten years later, a passing ship notices his campfire and stops to rescue him. When the captain comes ashore, the castaway thanks him profusely and offers to give him a tour of the little island. He shows off the weapons he made for hunting, the fire pit where he cooks his food, the synagogue he built for praying in, the hammock where he sleeps. On their way back to the ship, however, the captain notices a second synagogue. “I don’t understand,” the captain asks; “why did you need to build two synagogues?” “Oh,” says the Jew, “this is the synagogue I shall never set my foot in!”

    When it comes to the jewish discourse about the Palestinian right of return, mrs. Sukarov will never set her foot in the synagogue of Arthur Milner. Wolfe Erlichman, Professor Parnas and Javanshir will never set their foot in the synagogue of Sucharov.
    Funny. Unless you are a Palestinian refugee who’s family spent the last seven decades in Jebalia, Yarmouk, Beqaa or Ain al-Hilweh

    1. Ahik,

      For the record, I would be quite comfortable walking into Professor Sucharov’s synagogue, speaking with the members, attending the ceremonies etc. I can respect them, even work with them on efforts of joint interest, etc. I could even discuss interpretations of scriptures. On the other hand, I would not join because I respectfully disagree on some things.

      There is, however, truth in that joke. During my visits in Israel, I felt I was in a deeply divided country. It wasn’t just the obvious cliff separating Jew from non-Jew but I kept being surprised by the depth of divisions between various “flavours” of Jews. In casual conversations, I kept being surprised by people who made sharply mocking remarks about such issues as style of head covering, when to wear a head covering, driving on Saturday, etc. There were also sharp divisions about interactions with Arabs and other political issues. It seemed far worse than the divisions I have observed in other countries.

      My point is that we do not to have to agree on everything to have respect for each other or to work with each other. We can visit other synagogues without giving up our own.

      The most hopeful development that I have seen in recent Israeli history is the new coalition. Frankly, I would not have considered it possible. To hear Naftali Bennet speak respectfully about people with very different backgrounds and views was amazing. It is, in the bigger picture, a tiny step forward but it is a step forward.

      1. I didn’t mean ‘synagogue’ in the literal meaning, I meant it as a metaphor for your position on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. I find it funny how Mira shunned all the Peace Now crowd only to be later shunned by you, Javanshir and Erlichman

      2. Ahik,

        It was obvious that you did not mean ‘synagogue’ in the literal meaning. Your stressing that fact does not change my position at all.

        Using your new terminology, I did not, and will not, shun Professor Sucharov, or her group. I welcome them. I think she has a valid point of view and is addressing an important group of people. I like a lot of what she had to say and am glad that she is saying it. I hope that her group proves influential because it can have a positive effect and lead to an improvement of the situation in Palestine/Israel. My only point is that her position is not the same as mine and I do not think that I am someone who would feel comfortable as a member of her group.

        The others that you name will have to speak for themselves. It is important that people do not have to be in full agreement to work together towards common goals.

  14. As a Palestinian-Canadian, I need to say that I have many Jewish Canadian friends and I am proud of their courage and leadership role in the struggle for justice and equality here in Canada and in Mandate Palestine. I welcome healthy cultural diversity in societies and see it as a source of richness.

    Prof. Sucharov is clearly very genuine in her work for equality and I respect and appreciate that. I know that it is not easy work for her to be engaged in.

    I read the group’s principles and I can definitely see a new language. At the same time, I have a serious question and concern: It is not clear to me which Israel exactly this group “loves” and which “Israeli culture” they want to promote?

    I believe that it is important for the group to begin with a clear definition of Israel (to be “loved”) and its culture that deserves to “flourish”.

    The only Israel that I and Palestinians know is based on dispossession of Palestinian land, rights and culture. Look at what is happening in Jerusalem now and you realize that Nakba is still going on. Is this Israel that you want to love?

    As for the culture, I understand that Jews who historically lived in Palestine (say before 1890) share the same culture as all other Palestinians. Those who came as settlers (mainly from Europe during 1890 – 1948), and created the Nakba disaster and dominate the Israeli political system now, have various cultural backgrounds (European (Eastern and Western), African, Jewish Arabic..). This is why I truly do not understand the meaning of “Israeli culture” that the group would like to adopt. I believe Prof. Sucharov is aware of the facts presented in this article ” Food, art and literature: How Israel is stealing Arab culture”:

    https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/food-art-and-literature-how-israel-stealing-arab-culture

    I am not convinced that there is a genuine and original “Israeli culture”.

    Based on the above, I am afraid that the project as presented now is confusing. It may serve as a reform effort within Liberal Zionism without challenging its moral and political foundations. In this case, “solidarity with Palestinians” becomes totally ambiguous and unconvincing.

    I understand why it may not be comfortable for some Jewish Canadians to see and acknowledge the reality of Israel today. But they should not avoid that if they would like be part of a real change that will support the well being of everyone.

    We need a moral, political and historic clarity on what happened in 1947- 48 and continues to happen in Mandate Palestine (especially Jerusalem and Gaza) and in Palestinian refugee camps in exile. Palestinians need real solutions to real problems. We need to come together and “share the burden of hope” – as poet M. Darwish said – and the difficult struggle to dismantle and transform a settler-colonial Israeli violent system.

    If I may, I would like to propose to Prof. Sucharov and her group to organize a series of educational sessions, perhaps in collaboration with Zochrot, on the Nakba history and stolen Palestinian culture. This is where healing of Jewish and Palestinian traumas and liberation begin.

    1. Excellent comment. Part of Israel culture is the ongoing destruction of Palestinian culture which is what all colonists do. Canada hasn’t just been active in destroying Canadian Indigenous culture but also Palestinian culture through the efforts of the “charity” called the Jewish National Fund. Our tax dollars help pay to destroy Palestinian villages and plant non-indigenous trees in places like Canada Park in Israel in order to eliminate all traces of Palestinians and discourage them from coming back. If “progressive” Zionists like Bernie Farber and JSpace were serious about treating Palestinians like human beings instead trying manipulating them to preserve Jewish privilege, they, and Ms. Sucharov, would would be campaigning to strip the Jewish National Fund of its charitable tax status. Israel is a world leader in the weaponization of archaeology as it tries to prove that Jews are the indigenous peoples of Israel. God only knows the damage they’ve done to ancient Palestinian sites.

      1. Thank you, Wolfe, for sharing your knowledge and supporting justice for all.

    2. Hey Palestinian Canadian, I believe that we will all be better of if we understand the culture of each other, I’m taking a weekly Arabic عاميه class with a Palestinian teacher, we cover culture too, and I’m often being scolded for not practicing Arabic between my lessons. If you live in Ottawa I would love practice Arabic with you and also help you learn about 130 years of modern Hebrew culture
      Peter knows me, I’m harmless
      Would you meet me?

Comments are closed.