United Church Observer: The dissenters

Independent Jewish Voices operates on the margins of Canadian Judaism. But it has found common cause with church groups critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Last December, leaders of Toronto’s Jewish community donned their dinner jackets and evening gowns and made their way to the Jewish National Fund’s 65th annual Negev Dinner at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The mood was upbeat: the fundraising target had easily been reached, and the evening’s guest of honour would be no less than the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

From the sidelines I watched as the 4,000 invited guests took their seats, some greeting friends and acquaintances in the crowd. Soon all attention focused on centre stage, where the master of ceremonies was calling the evening to order.

But I found myself distracted by peripheral noises from far outside the room. What I heard was a strange, tinny chant: “Viva, Viva Palestina! Viva, Viva Palestina!”

Leaving the hall, I found a crowd of a hundred or so people not far from the convention centre carrying signs that screamed, “Stop the illegal blockade of Gaza,” “End Israeli apartheid,” “Treaty rights not greedy whites!” First Nations drummers set the beat. A young man on a makeshift stage was chanting, “Harper, Harper, you will see. Palestine will be free!”

Then the drums stopped and University of Toronto sociologist Sheryl Nestel, a short-haired, bespectacled woman in her early 60s, took the microphone. She is on the steering committee of Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada, which organized this rally…

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Read it and weep. This is what the United Church of Canada has become.  IJV (about which I know nothing) sounds like a Jewish version of UCC. Different religion, same mentality.