Letter to the Editor

A latest CJT article has accused Alternatives in a way that attacks our reputation and misleads readers

Saturday 21 February 2004, by Pierre Beaudet

Our position has never been equivocal on the necessity for a peaceful solution in the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, based on two States, secured in their borders and acknowledging each other. We have never hidden our disdain of violence, attacks against persons, disrespect for human rights and any unacceptable measures taken by either the Israeli government or the Palestinian Authorities. Palestinian NGO associations to which we are associated shared the same values, and have had trouble many times with Palestinian officials in the past. We have never shied away from that.

All our support is aimed at local organizations in Palestine and Israel based on adherence to common values, such as peace, coexistence, tolerance, pacifism, respect of human rights. It is the same approach that is generally shared and has been taken by many Canadian NGOs working in the area.

The issue of the wall is a great concern to us as well as to many Palestinian and Israeli peace activists. I do not know if the CJT allows the opinion of these activists to be known by their readers, but they are easy to find, especially that they have many organizations and publications, including Betselem, the Israeli Human Rights League and the Alternative Information Center (AIC). Wrongly described by the CJT article, AIC is based in West Jerusalem and brings together Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. Yes they have views and yes they take a stand, but to suggest that these folks are anti-Israel and anti-Semite is at the best ridiculous. In the pages of AIC, anyone can read several leading Israeli intellectuals, historians, economists and journalists, most of them very well known in Israel.

It is misleading to assimilate the critique of current Israeli government (not society) practices against Palestinian rights to anti-Semitism. It is not because the CJT opposes these critiques that they can accuse people of being «anti Semite». The accusation would be ridiculous considering that a substantial part of our (Alternatives) membership and governors are Canadian - Jewish themselves.

It would be a great contribution to the struggle against racism, anti-Semitism and violations of human rights if the CJT would allow vigorous debates about the crisis in Palestine and Israel. Surely, one can say that there are many voices in that debate, that truth is no one-sided. And that views criticizing the Israeli government or the Palestinian authorities for that matter cannot be demonized as «anti Israel» or «anti Palestine».

Pierre Beaudet
Executive Director
Alternatives

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