Letters

Letters

Time Out; Home at Last; Personal History; Surface Analysis; Post Haste; Say Cheese; Tusk-Tusk

Illustration by Lauren Tamaki

TIME OUT

In “New Year’s Revelations” (October), a cartoon by Jason Sherman and David Parkins, Stephen Harper’s support for Israel and for Jewish causes is portrayed as a means to an end—and by “end,” the author is referring to the “end time,” the period when tribulation precedes the second coming of Jesus.

According to this cartoon, Harper’s support for a democracy such as Israel—which is constantly under siege by terrorism and worldwide attempts to challenge the legitimacy of the Jewish state—is not based on principle and shared values, but solely on Harper’s supposed evangelical belief in the end of days. The cartoon unfairly suggests that he is using Canadian Jews to further his own religious agenda. It closes with an offensive image of observant Jews placing a “Free Palestine” banner on the front of a synagogue to symbolize their rejection of Harper’s supposed zealotry. According to Sherman and Parkins, these Jews would rather support the Palestinian cause than ally with Harper.

In reality, his unapologetic support for Israel has been commendable. Under his government, Canada has always backed Israel’s right to self-defence, saying, “When it comes to dealing with a war between Israel and a terrorist organization, this country and this government cannot and will never be neutral.” Harper has also taken forceful stands against anti-Israel rhetoric, as well as actions at various world bodies, including the United Nations and the Francophonie. His staunch support for Israel produces few political dividends, which he recognizes.

He has also consistently condemned increasing anti-Semitism in Canada, and he and his staff have worked tirelessly with the Canadian Jewish community to address these threats on multiple levels.

So why would The Walrus’s editorial cartoonists impugn Prime Minister Harper’s support for Israel? His support is, in fact, based on deeply rooted moral convictions, and is in the shared interests of liberal democracies.

Mike Fegelman
Executive Director, HonestReporting Canada
Toronto, ON

I was deeply offended by October’s editorial cartoon, which vilifies Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s support for the nation-state of Israel and its right to defend its borders. The cartoon also mocked Christian beliefs, as well as the wishes of many Jews and Israeli Arabs for peace in their land.

As a Canadian citizen who has travelled and worked in the Middle East, I stand in full support of our prime minister’s position. The cartoon was hateful, and did nothing to enhance or contribute to a peaceful solution.

Rev. Frank Patrick
Senior Pastor, Calvary Church
Peterborough, ON

HOME AT LAST

Andy Lamey’s “Glorious and Free” (October) is a much-needed take on the tragic issue of refugee accommodation. Although the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated to protect them worldwide, desperate asylum seekers are increasingly approaching individual nations. The problem is a global one, and we must establish a global solution. The present situation is disgraceful.

We should set up permanent international refugee centres, operated by the United Nations, to act as safe houses similar to the ones provided to those facing domestic abuse. Individuals seeking asylum would be relocated to the appropriate centre while their needs were assessed, and would receive assistance and training in preparation for their relocation—to the country of their choice.

There could be four centres—one in Africa, one in the Middle East, one in Southeast Asia, and one in Central America—depending on which countries are interested in hosting them. The UNHCR would make the final decisions and administer the institutions.

This way, rather than waiting in hastily assembled tent cities, refugees would have time to learn the language and customs of their selected country, as well as a trade or professional skill. They could also work—as Canadian prisoners used to be able to, before Harper and his government closed the prison farms.

Ross Hermiston
Founder, Holistic Party of Canada
Hantsport, NS

PERSONAL HISTORY

My wife and I just concluded five years living and working in Cairo (“Adrift on the Nile,” October). I was teaching at a large international school, and my wife was involved in Sudanese refugee school issues in the Egyptian community. We arrived back in Canada at the end of June, and we feel privileged to have been in Egypt during a time of such upheaval.

A further privilege was that we were able to spend a few delightful evenings with Paul Wilson in our apartment in Maadi (suburban Cairo) when he came to research his article. He felt drawn to Cairo, but he was unsure at first about what he might find, and therefore what he was going to write about.

I am of the same vintage as Paul and visited Prague in December 1968; my wife and I lived with our children in Germany from 1988 to 1991, so we, too, saw much of the Iron Curtain collapse on site. As Paul put this article together, by running the parallels between these two events and the contrasting causes and results, it was edifying to see just how well he knows his stuff and what a good read he makes of it all.

Neil Crouch (online)

SURFACE ANALYSIS

In “Adrift on the Nile,” Paul Wilson writes that “sexual harassment is a serious problem in Egypt; I was told that as more women cover themselves, the incidence of assaults has actually increased.” He seems surprised at this correlation.

Sexual harassment is not caused by women wearing too tight, or too little, clothing; it is caused by the severe lack of respect men reserve for women. It does not matter what clothes the woman was wearing when she was raped; it is not the victim’s fault, but that of the person who committed the actual assault. Why is this so hard to understand?

Anonymous (online)

POST HASTE

Adam Sternbergh asks what 9/11 meant (“What Happened,” October)—but 9/11 just happened. At an embassy party in Paris in the 1950s, the Chinese ambassador was supposedly asked about the “meaning” of the French Revolution. His reply? “It’s too early to tell.”

Dave Paddon
St. John’s, NL

SAY CHEESE

What do Americans know about Canadians (“The Idea of North,” October)? According to this article, Daiya! We couldn’t believe we were mentioned in this!

@daiyacheese (Twitter)

TUSK-TUSK

In “The Farms Are Not Alright” (October), kilograms of milk are misidentified as tonnes. The Walrus regrets the error.

This appeared in the December 2011 issue.