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Public Statement from CIJA Nov 19, 2019


Editor's note: Below is the important statement sent out to those on the mailing list of the  Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy of the Jewish Federations of Canada: 


The horror in Paris and the violence sweeping across Iraq and Syria have seized the attention of Canadians and given new intensity to an important debate. What should Canada’s role be in the war against ISIL? What are the security risks associated with admitting 25,000 refugees by the end of the year? What can we do to help? Canadians are asking these questions as our newly elected political leaders work to balance the desire to aid refugees with protecting the security of Canadians. At CIJA, we believe Canada’s actions must be focused on how we can be of the greatest help to those fleeing Islamist terrorism.

There are two things we must do: degrade and destroy the extremists and provide humanitarian support to those fleeing the violence. ISIL is evil and must be destroyed. But reasonable questions can be raised about whether air strikes are the most effective contribution Canada can make. It is perfectly credible for Prime Minister Trudeau to change the nature of our involvement, provided our redefined role is meaningful, and is considered by our coalition partners to be of equal or greater value.

We must also provide humanitarian aid, including welcoming refugees to Canada. Our plan must be multi-faceted and coordinated in way that ensures the greatest impact. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said that third-state resettlement is the least preferred option. While there is no debate that Canada should welcome refugees with open arms, we should also work with countries like Jordan and Lebanon to relieve suffering in the region. Over the long term, this would be of greatest benefit to the persecuted who want what we all would want: to eventually return home. Our discussions with the King of Jordan suggest that there are many ways Canada can help alleviate suffering on the ground.

Like many Canadians, members of our community are justifiably concerned about security. Canada has high standards and a strong record of receiving refugees. We are assured that this is a top priority and we are confident that our public officials will do everything possible to keep us safe.

However, there is another aspect, distinct from security, we must consider: readiness. Our discussions with frontline service delivery agencies suggest that Canada needs more time to prepare for the arrival of these newcomers [emphasis added]. It takes time to prepare accommodation, language lessons, healthcare, cultural training, and other important services.  We were happy to learn that the government is consulting broadly on this issue. As we prepare to extend a warm welcome to refugees arriving in Canada, a coordinated and thoughtful process will allow us to have the greatest impact with our humanitarian investment.

As we consider the best way for Canada to help, we should not allow a preoccupation with planes, numbers, or deadlines distract us from the real question: what is the most valuable contribution Canada can make? We have raised this question directly with our new government.

As I write this, I am horrified to learn about two terrorist attacks in Israel. At least five have been murdered, many more injured. The terror attacks in Paris were horrifying and tragic.  The ongoing terror attacks in Israel are no less so and deserving of the same worldwide condemnation. Please help us inform Canadians about the terrorism in Israel by joining the thousands of members of our community who have taken action for Israel here. Sincerely,


David J. Cape, Chair

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.