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Author Topic: Canada and the Palestinians
Wilf Day
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Babbler # 3276

posted 05 January 2006 12:14 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I've been asked a couple of times if colonialism is something that is recognized more and more as a destructive and oppressive force in recent decades, and if that explains why younger leftists are more often pro-Palestinian than us older types.

Since I'm no expert on the history of Canadian attitudes to the Palestinians, I asked someone who is. Here's a summary, which matches my own recollection.

At first, no one in Canada spoke against the way Israel had treated the Palestinians, except a small handful of far-left Jews. Almost all Canadians saw the Arabs as more powerful than the Jews, and when Canada had refused to take Jewish refugees, we were certainly in no position to criticize them for moving to Israel. They were beyond argument history's underdogs, as they had been for centuries. Yet some Canadians, it is fair to say, had never devoted as much concern for Jewish refugees before and after the Holocaust as we see in the past two decades for the plight of the Palestinian refugees.

Attitudes started to change slightly after the 1956 war, but not much. It wasn't until the Six-Day War (1967) that Rev. Al Forrest started the Canadian sympathy for the Palestinians. Dr. Forrest was editor of the United Church Observer from 1955 to 1979. After the 1967 war he went to the Middle East, spoke on his return, and wrote an article in The Observer in Apr. 68 "What happened when I criticized Israel." He then travelled through the Middle East (Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza Strip, Egypt.) His book, The Unholy Land was published by McClelland & Stewart in 1971. It was his opinion that there would be no peace in the Middle East until the Palestinians were given a homeland by the nations of the world.

A Jewish perspective on Al Forrest's work is found here as published in The Holocaust, Israel, and Canadian Protestant Churches in 2002:

quote:
The relative silence of Canadian Protestant churches during the Holocaust and their critical attitude toward the State of Israel stemmed mainly from Christian teachings about Jews and Judaism. The very existence of Israel contradicted a fundamental tenet of Christianity, and churches faced the difficult task of finding a way to reconcile the permanent existence of a Jewish state with their theology. In The Holocaust, Israel, and Canadian Protestant Churches Haim Genizi distinguishes between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitic attacks on its legitimacy and right to exist.

Genizi pays particular attention to the controversy surrounding A.C. Forrest, editor of the influential United Church Observer, which constantly criticized Israel's policies and strongly supported the Palestinian cause, a position that led to a serious dispute with the Canadian Jewish community. Genizi also deals with the complications and ambiguities of the geopolitics of the Middle East and examines the dilemmas they pose for both the Christian and the Jewish conscience.



Here's an Anglican perspective:
quote:
During the first half of the 20th century the Anglican church "maintained a traditionally conservative attitude towards Jews and Judaism." Mr. Genizi notes that, "In 1936, the Reverend C.B. Mortlock called Judaism 'a monstrous creation of human ingenuity' and referred to the Jews as 'God killers.'" Perhaps an unsung hero at the mid-century was Canon W.W. Judd of the council for social service who provided enlightened leadership but often failed to persuade either bishops or General Synod to move quickly. Since then the church has eliminated the traces of anti-Semitism from its liturgies and called for greater sensitivity and less triumphalism when interpreting the Scriptures.

However there have also been policy changes which have troubled Jewish observers, particularly the Anglican Church of Canada's close relationship with the Anglican churches in the Middle East which Jews believe have been 'Arabized.' There is a problem here. Why would a church of Arab Christians not be Arab in the same sense that a church of Canadian Christians would be Canadian? Is it to suggest that now colonial oversight has ended, Canadian Anglicans should have nothing to do with Middle Eastern Anglicans? This is dangerous territory but it does highlight the ongoing problems which beset external response to affairs in the Middle East. There will be more problems to come. How we face them will depend on how well we understand what went before.



From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 05 January 2006 02:15 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
At first, no one in Canada spoke against the way Israel had treated the Palestinians, except a small handful of far-left Jews.

Once again, Arabs (or in this case, Arab-Canadians) are rendered mute.


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 05 January 2006 02:19 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yes. As long as the discourse remains in the realm of Judeao-Christine culture, and we get to pick the line, we can all sleep at night.
From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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Babbler # 3276

posted 05 January 2006 02:59 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by al-Qa'bong:
Once again, Arabs (or in this case, Arab-Canadians) are rendered mute.

If you can point out some Arab-Canadians speaking out from 1947 to 1956, I will stand corrected. I was told, by a pro-Palestinian friend old enough to remember (a good deal older than me), that it didn't happen.

[ 05 January 2006: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Makwa
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Babbler # 10724

posted 05 January 2006 03:30 PM      Profile for Makwa   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Wilf Day:
I've been asked a couple of times if colonialism is something that is recognized more and more as a destructive and oppressive force in recent decades
Donno, havn't seen too many 'give some land back to the NDNs' marches lately.

From: Here at the glass - all the usual problems, the habitual farce | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged

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