Friday, November 10, 2006

You Just Can't Get Away From It

One of the things I wonder about, without finding an acceptable explanation, is just why the Israel/Palestine conflict gets so much world wide attention. There are objectively worse man-made disasters in the world (Iraq, Congo, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, global warming ....) There are longer running occupations (China in Tibet.) There are greater threats to global stability (the North Korean atom bomb, the American trade deficit.)

One of the things that upsets me, is how one's position on Israel/Palestine becomes a proxy and litmus test for a whole range of other issues, and how it is used by both left and right to smear opponents.

Some times, I just want to get away from thinking about Israel and Palestine. But it seems to pop up where you least expect it. I receive this email, reproduced below, from my local city counselor who is running for re-election. It seems his right wing opponent is trying to smear him as being anti-Israel. He claims (and I believe him) that he is not. But what this has to do with the Toronto municipal election, I don't know.


* * *

Neighbourhoods where many of my Jewish friends reside have recently received a letter from John Adams that insinuates I support CUPE Ontario’s boycott of Israel. This is outrageously false.

When I go door to door, people complain how dirty politics has become. I am deeply saddened by the actions of my opponent, John Adams, which give truth to this unfortunate view of the political process.

As you may know, before my political career, I studied and taught religious studies at the Universities of Toronto and St. Michael’s College. My Masters thesis was entitled “The Problem of Evil in Light of the Holocaust: Jewish Debates and Christian Implications.”

At an early age, I came to the conclusion that the State of Israel had a right to exist as a Jewish state in peace and security with its neighbours, and that it must exist as a haven and centre for Jewish life around the world. My support for Israel has only deepened over the years.

I have participated on the Holocaust Remembrance Day Committee. I have actively engaged in Interfaith Dialogue programs and activities. As a former professor of Religious Studies, Ethics and Theology; as a City Councillor; and, as a concerned citizen, these issues are very dear to me.

I did not seek the CUPE Ontario endorsement. CUPE Ontario’s decision was its own.

At the time of the CUPE Ontario announcement, I made it known that I thought the resolution on Israel to be one-sided and inappropriate.

It is important to note that the City of Toronto’s own CUPE Local 79 opposes the CUPE Ontario resolution and disassociates itself from it.

I do not run for City Council with a party. Our municipal system is not set up this way. In fact, at the local level, I have a broad range of support from across the political spectrum, including Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett and MPP Michael Bryant.

This is not simply politics for me. I live in this community. I have many Jewish friends and attend simchas at shuls in the community. I am truly aggrieved that this misrepresentation of the truth about my views on Israel by John Adams may cause congregants, guests, and friends to view me in a distorted manner.


Councillor Joe Mihevc

Candidate for Re-election, Ward 21

November 9, 2006.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word on the street is that this mistake was the brilliant work of Adams campaign manager and campaign chair Jim Ross and Rob Davis.

1:53 pm  

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