Toronto Star, Sunday, January 11, 2009
Jewish dissenters speak out over Gaza
by Haroon Siddiqui
Judith Weisman, 78, is a Toronto psychotherapist. She
grew up in "a very Zionist family" in Baltimore but
"began to change when Israel supported the Vietnam War."
She and her husband came to Canada in 1969. She
worked at the Jewish Family and Children's Services.
Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon estranged her from
the Jewish state. "It took me a while to grasp what was
being done to the Palestinians." She was critical of
Israel through the two intifadas and the 2006 invasion
She helped found Jews for a Just Peace; Jewish Women
to End the Occupation (since renamed Women in Solidarity
with Palestine); Not in Our Name; and an umbrella group,
Independent Jewish Voices.
She helped host a stream of visiting Israeli scholars
and human rights activists. She's awaiting the arrival
of Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions (7.30 p.m., Jan. 23, Trinity St. Paul's
Hers has been a long struggle, ignored by the media
and shunned by "the organized Jewish community" that is
But in recent years, she and other dissidents have
been garnering support. In recent days, they've had much
On Wednesday, a dozen Jewish women "occupied" the
Israeli consulate on Bloor St., demanding an end to the
Israeli siege of Gaza.
The group included Judy Rebick and Judith Deutsch,
president of Science for Peace (whose former presidents
include George Ignatieff, the late father of Liberal
leader, Michael, who has just joined the Stephen Harper
Tories in giving blanket immunity to Israel).
The women expressed "outrage at Ottawa's refusal to
condemn the massacres," said spokesperson Miriam
Garfinkle. They urged the media to report that "many
Jewish-Canadians do not support Israel's violence and
On Thursday, four prominent Jewish Canadians held a
Anton Kuerti, internationally acclaimed concert
"I am not an expert on what is a war crime but I can
recognize one when I see one ...
"What if almost a thousand Israelis had been killed
by F-16s and helicopters and 1,000-pound bombs? There'd
be immense outrage throughout the world ...
"Israel's behaviour makes me ashamed of being a Jew,
and Canada's servile support of the United States
position – 'it's all Hamas' fault' – makes me ashamed of
being a Canadian."
Deutsch read from a prepared statement: "The words
'never again,' so fraught with memories of the
Holocaust, means 'never again' for all peoples."
Others who spoke were Weisman; Michael Mandel,
professor of international law at Osgoode Hall, once a
visiting professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem;
and the venerable Ursula Franklin, retired U of T
research physicist, Companion of the Order of Canada and
a Pearson Medal of Peace recipient.
Later that evening, two dozen dissenting Jews turned
up at a pro-Israel rally at Beth Tzedec Synagogue.
Smadar Carmon, a dual Israeli-Canadian citizen, said
the group was harassed by another – "a mob of thugs,
full of hate, shouting 'IDF,' 'We love Israel,' and
'Terrorist supporters,' 'Traitors,' 'You are not real
On the other side of town, there was a candlelight
vigil for Gaza at the Mississauga Civic Square,
organized by Palestine House.
And yesterday, there was a demonstration in front of
the Israeli consulate, organized by an array of groups,
including the Canadian Arab Federation, Canadian Peace
Alliance, Coalition to Stop the War, Canadian Union of
Public Employees (Ontario), Canadian Union of Postal
Workers, and all the groups that Weisman is associated
She had planned to be there, as she had been the
Haroon Siddiqui's column appears Thursday and Sunday.