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The United Church and Israel

Bernie Farber, chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress, claims that anybody who votes in favour of four resolutions to be considered at the upcoming general meeting of the United Church of Canada is in favour of anti-Semitism ( United Church Resolution Is Anti-Semitic, CJC says -Aug. 8). What are these resolutions attacked by Mr. Farber? In general terms they call for support of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

Why these resolutions are anti-Semitic, Mr. Farber does not explain. They do not seek the destruction of Israel, but to change its behaviour. Israel must stop violating international law with the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and it must end its collective punishment of the 1.5 million Gazans through a blockade that denies them adequate food, medicine and building materials, and that prevents them from travelling abroad for study and commerce.

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A similar campaign gradually led to the end of apartheid in South Africa, and South Africa and the world are better off for its success. If the campaign against Israel's illegal behaviour is successful, Israel, the Palestinian people and the world will be better off as well.

Edwin E. Daniel, Victoria

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Once again the Canadian Jewish Congress is trying to silence critics of Israel by labelling such criticism "anti-Semitic." Israel and Judaism are not synonymous. The United Church resolution concerns the state of Israel, not Jews.

Israel, as a nation state, must expect to take the consequences in the form of sanctions and boycotts for its deplorable treatment of Palestinians. What is "mind-boggling" is not the motion to be discussed at the United Church meeting, but the CJC's repeated accusations of anti-Semitism toward anyone who dares to speak out about Israel.

Carol Stone, Vancouver

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Although Bernie Farber and the CJC purport to speak for Canadian Jews, this is not the case. Moreover, it is not anti-Semitic to debate issues and take action designed to bring an end to the long-standing crisis in Israel and Palestine.

At its recent annual general meeting in Ottawa, our organization - which represents a growing number of Jews across Canada - passed its own resolution endorsing boycott, divestment and sanctions as part of a growing international campaign to end the Israeli government's intransigence. In contrast to Mr. Farber and the CJC, we believe that the United Church is to be commended for having the courage to confront this important issue.

Sid Shniad, co-chair, Independent Jewish Voices Canada, Surrey, B.C.

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According to Bernie Farber, if the United Church of Canada criticizes the state of Israel's treatment of Palestinians, it is anti-Semitic. If this is true, anyone who questions the administrative practices of a first nations band council is anti-native. Anyone who condemns mass rapes occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo is anti-black. And anyone who criticizes the United Church of Canada is anti-Christian.

Larry Hannant, Victoria

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The United Church's response to the extremely complicated situation in the Middle East is simplistic: target only Israel and respond with boycotts and sanctions. There is never only one side to a conflict. If sanctions and boycotts are put in place, many innocent people will suffer. Does the United Church really think punishing Israeli academics abroad will move the government of Israel to fairer relations with the Palestinian people?

Celia Brauer, Vancouver

Cooking with Margaret

We love to cook in our house and read cookbooks like novels ( Being In The Kitchen With Julia - Aug. 8). We also love our friends and family. Put two and two together and we practise our beloved hobby of cooking, showering healthy love on our friends and family of six children and 11 grandchildren. We are retired now (and busier than ever), but still we try to celebrate our relationships through food and good conversation. It does take time, sometimes many days, but it is such fun for us and those around the table. We call it "table art," or a "dinner play," because when you move through carefully planned courses of food, through to the closing coffee, it really is like a little play … of flavour and of love.

Margaret Wente writes about cooking as though it's a chore. We view it as a creative hobby, like watercolour painting, gardening or acting, one which is relaxing and gives so much to our loved ones.

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Brenda Spencer, Etobicoke, Ont.

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So what if Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon recipe gave Margaret Wente a backache and made her hate her dinner guests? There are lots of other recipes Ms. Wente could have tried. My own quasi-French beef stew has been adapted from Ms. Child's and a variety of others found in cookbooks and on the Internet.

Cooking is never just about the food or a chef wanting recognition. That mindset will fall flat every time, and Nora Ephron, herself an avid home chef, knows it. Fine cuisine is about all the other sensations and memories. For me, it's about love, and the friends and family who have sat down at my table, swilled wine and chowed down.

Carla Hartsfield, Kingston

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Out of Afghanistan

Discussing U.S. strategies for withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, a military analyst on a recent television talk show noted an important difference in the two situations ( In Accord With Canadian Thinking - editorial, Aug. 8). Iraq has had experience with strong central government in recent times, even under Saddam Hussein, while Afghanistan has not.

If withdrawal is to be delayed until a central government is prepared to take over and maintain order in Afghanistan, foreign troops will be required indefinitely.

Not a happy thought for governments whose electors want to know when the boys are coming home.

Jack Cassan, Etobicoke, Ont.

A cure for NEETness

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Re: How Britain Is Falling Down On The Yob (Focus, Aug. 8): Maybe Britain and NATO could look at the number of NEETS (not in employment, education or training) and send them to Afghanistan for a while, and give our guys a rest.

Barbara Klunder, Toronto

Yakabuski's eureka

Regarding Konrad Yakabuski's hope for "the eureka moment that creates the next RIM," the solution seems pretty obvious ( We Are In Need Of A 'Canadian Renewal' - Aug. 8). Let Jim Balsillie purchase the Nortel assets. Keep the valuable technology in Canadian hands, secure the millions of our tax dollars invested in the development of the business (exactly how much, by the way?), and put the company into the hands of a proven successful manager.

Problem solved!

Cady Williams, Ottawa

Which way to the bridge?

Despite the pity I feel for the people who may have suffered personal loss and pain as a result of the Internet pranks pulled off by "Dex" and his ilk, I couldn't help but think of P.T. Barnum's infamous comment about human nature ( Criminal Or Comedy? Online Anonymity Lets Cruel Pranksters Take Jokes Too Far - front page, Aug. 8).

Although there is some doubt as to whether or not he actually said it, Barnum is purported to have boasted: "There's a sucker born every minute."

Come on, people - use some common sense! Remember what your mother asked you: "If someone told you to jump off a bridge, would you?"

Richard Young, London, Ont.

Going green the easy way

Thomas Homer-Dixon nicely analyses the question of whether carrots or sticks more effectively promote environmentally friendly behaviour ( The Enticements of Green Carrots - Aug. 8).

His example, however, suggests that he's still thinking "inside the box" - a clothes dryer in this case - when it comes to reducing polluting emissions with green credits. The significant greenhouse-gas reductions we need will not be achieved, given growing population levels, with people buying somewhat more efficient dryers and other energy-consuming devices, even if fitted with computer chips. There are easier solutions.

To dry my clothes, I rely on the sun and a clothesline (and indoor racks in the winter to moisturize the bone-dry air in my home).

On the question of carrots or sticks, I like the carbon tax that gives us both - higher taxes on emissions to reduce consumption of fossil fuels together with lower taxes on my income (or more money for things like mass transit) from the revenues the tax generates.

Albert Koehl, Toronto

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I found Thomas Homer-Dixon's article on environmental incentives compelling and full of bright ideas.

But I can't help thinking that no one has come up with the best and most obvious solution to environmental protection yet. It is easy and costs nothing, but no one wants to talk about it.

Have fewer children.

There, I've said it.

Good luck, world.

Carol Parafenko, Guelph, Ont.

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