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Jewish leaders ask Harper to trash Tory flyer Add to ...

Leading members of the Jewish community - many identified as Liberals - have sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking him to withdraw a taxpayer-funded Conservative flyer that they say portrays the Liberal Party as anti-Semitic.

The letter is signed by academics, lawyers, politicians, a member of the wealthy and influential Bronfman family and at least one high-ranking former civil servant - Robert Rabinovitch, president of the CBC from 1999 to 2007. About two-thirds are Jews.

"We find it highly disturbing that any party or parliamentarian would attempt to use Israel as a wedge to divide the Jewish community and, indeed, Canadians, for partisan gain," the letter says.

"Support for Israel should not be portrayed as exclusive to one party. The Liberal Party has a history of support for Israel, working co-operatively and effectively with the Canadian-Jewish community and speaking and acting against terrorism."

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The flyer, sent to constituencies with large Jewish populations, says the Liberals were against listing Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist organizations and "willingly participated in the overtly anti-Semitic Durban I" conference on racism - assertions that Liberal MPs have called lies.

Nationally known Winnipeg civil-rights lawyer David Matas, a onetime Liberal candidate, said he signed because the letter represented his point of view. He said he was asked to sign by Winnipeg South Centre Liberal MP Anita Neville, who came up to him at the launch of his latest book.

University of Manitoba mathematics professor Michael Doob said he was also approached by Ms. Neville but is not a Liberal. "I signed it because I was distressed by the Conservatives using a complex issue as a cleavage in the community," he said.

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