Generational divide on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
I wrote this letter for the Montréal Gazette last week, they decided not to publish it. Interestingly, they only seem to publish right wing views on Israel.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seem to be return as reliably as our cold winters. This most recent conflict pits a strong Israeli state against Hamas and its thousands of rockets. There are no winners in this conflict, only losers. With another 15 children killed at the time of writing, the loss of civilian lives now stands at over 1300 Palestinians, of which nearly 200 are innocent children, and three Israelis. What are those deaths for?
In an opinion piece in the Montreal Gazette two days ago, Reuben Poupko, Rabbi of Beth Israel Beth Aaron in Côte St-Luc, and an executive member of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs seems to know. He categorically states, “Just to repeat what should be obvious: Hamas wants this conflict, Israel does not.” If Mr. Poupko claims to be a holy man of wisdom, he should know better than to make such categorical remarks.
Mr. Poupko, a man of faith, goes on to explain, “Dead Palestinians provide the public-relations lifeblood of Hamas. It knows how deranged the response to Israel can be. It knows that many people in the West will embrace its ongoing attempts to delegitimize the Jewish State.” The notion that people who stand in solidarity with Palestinian civilians and their children are doing so out of support for rocket attacks is absurd.
If anything, Montréalers are saddened that our locally manufactured weapons and our financial support is supporting this ongoing conflict. People around the world, both Arab, non-arab and Jewish are losing faith in the prospects of any peace settlement and are choosing to stand with the underdog.
As a young Jewish person who has traveled to both Israel and a number of Arab countries, it is difficult to relate to my parents and grandparents generation who fled the wars of Europe. My grandfather came to Canada from Poland in 1937, just before the massacre of innocent civilians started there. His perceptions of Israel were framed by the wars of 48, 67, and 73; my Jewish mother inherited much of that framing (and we have slowly been convincing her to change). My brothers and my perception of the situation is driven by the first and second intifadas, the security wall and the current Gaza conflict. We no longer see Israel as the fledgling state that required financial and unconditional moral support from the overseas Jewish community just to survive.
The Federation CJA, Canada’s largest Jewish organization has failed to change their message for a younger generation. They still only discuss short-term threats to Israel and overlook the longer term impacts of losing the support of the younger generation. On the Federation CJA website, their updates of the current conflict make no mention of Palestinians. The CJA updates literally do not mention the word Palestinians, as if they do not exist. Times change and institutions must modernize their message if they hope to stay relevant. If the Federation CJA and synagogues such as Beth Israel Beth Aaron wish to gain the support of my generation of Jews they will need to learn to navigate a much more nuanced and complex perception of Israel and Palestine.Published on August 8, 2014