Presentation by Miriam Garfinkle
to United Church Toronto Conference AGM
May 2009

My name is Miriam Garfinkle and I am a Jewish Canadian and I speak today on my own behalf. I am very grateful to be given this opportunity to speak to you. I have close family in Israel and my father is buried there.

There is no doubt that the era following one of the most horrific genocides of all time, the Holocaust, and the years of discrimination and pogroms as victims of scapegoating, has left the Jewish people in a state of fear and apprehension. What has happened though, which can certainly happen, is that the victim has become the victimizer, the bullied the bullier. A people, the Palestinian people, who had nothing to do with these acts of persecution, have themselves become the victims of a terribly sad turn of events. The very creation of the state of Israel created hundreds of thousands of Palestinians as refugees, dispossessed. The situation has worsened immeasurably as Israel in its presumed mission of ‘security‘ continues to brutally occupy these people, steal their land and water, demolish their homes and olive trees, restrict their freedom of movement, make their lives totally and utterly miserable and strip them of their basic human rights. This is not to mention the thousands of Palestinians killed and wounded including many children and the thousands who languish in prisons, many also children. This is contrary to any international conventions and laws which the world has set as a standard of moral conduct.

The siege and invasion of Gaza is beyond understanding. This can’t go on.

There are many Diaspora Jews and Jewish Israelis who are horrified by Israel’s actions. There are Israelis in Sderot, the target of the Qasam rockets, who shuddered in horror when they heard the Israeli missiles hit Gaza, knowing that the people of Gaza had no shelters, no place to hide.

There are many Diaspora Jews and Jewish Israeli voices who are calling for sanctions on Israel. I read you a part of a statement signed by over 500 Israelis in January 2009 after the invasion of Gaza:

“In the past the world knew how to fight criminal policies.
The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves: its trade relations are flourishing, academic and cultural cooperation continue and intensify with diplomatic support.
This international backing must stop. That is the only way to stop the insatiable Israeli violence.
We are calling on the world to stop Israeli violence and not allow the continuation of the brutal occupation. We call on the world to condemn and not become an accomplice in Israel’s crimes.”

Your faith community has a long history of taking a stand on social justice issues and was one of the first to support the boycott which helped end the apartheid state in South Africa. I urge you to do so in this situation. This is about taking a stand against the actions of a state, not against the Jewish people. On the contrary, you will be ultimately helping all the people of this region who must live together with one future, hopefully one which benefits all the people and their right to peaceful secure lives.


Related topics from the Connexions Library Subject Index:

Canada-Israel Relations - Crimes Against Humanity - Gaza Strip - Human Rights Abuses - International Law - Israel - Occupied Territories - Palestine - Palestine/Occupation - Palestinians