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January 21, 2010

Letters Jan. 21, 2010

The Canadian Charger

Re: Einstein on Palestine and Zionism

How can Corrigan explain the fact that Einstein ordered in his will all the royalties received for his works to the Zionist Hebrew University in Jerusalem? Why did his heirs allow to print his portrait on Israeli banknotes? How did the manuscripts of Einsteins' works come to the National Israeli Library?

Dr. Yedidya Itzhaki

Corrigan’s Reply

Einstein supported Jewish culture and educational institutions and strongly supported Hebrew University. Hebrew University was established in Palestine before the existence of Israel. I suspect that he would not like that his papers were transferred from Hebrew University to the National Israel Library.  However, it is clear that Einstein did make some comments which at times seem to show some support for Zionism. Einstein, however, clearly opposed political Zionism and even the creation of a Jewish state. He preferred and supported a bi-national state. He was very explicit in this view in 1946 when testifying before the Anglo-American Committee when asked the direct question did he support the creation of a "Jewish State." His answer was no. No one can dispute these quotes or other comments Einstein made on Zionism including the 1938 speech published in his official selected papers in Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950) and after the creation of Israel in 1948. Einstein's heirs have their own motivations. They can only speak for themselves not for Einstein.

Israel is always trying to co-opt important Jewish cultural figures like Einstein and Franz Kafka. However, lies and misrepresentations cannot change facts. They can, however, create a lot of smoke and confusion. I, for example, also support Hebrew University and Jewish cultural renewal and even cultural Zionism.  I genuinely believe that Jewish culture and history is very important and should be preserved. However, I also believe the same for Palestinians and for that matter any other cultural, national or religious group. I also believe that no group has the right to destroy or oppress another group. Accordingly, I cannot support the systematic destruction of Palestinian society and culture even to create "a Jewish State" that, in my opinion and in the opinion of many Jews, has lost touch with traditional Jewish values. I cannot support what the late Israeli sociologist Barauch Kimmerling termed it the "politicide of the Palestinian people." Given Einstein's pacificism, opposition to violence and war it is very clear that he would not blindly support a militarily aggressive "Jewish State" and its campaign against the Palestinian people and its aggressions against its neighbours.

Re: Child welfare for natives

Jean Crowder, MP

I read Reuel S. Amdur’s article “Child welfare for natives” with interest.

Although I agree that First Nation child welfare services need to be fully-funded to be effective and that education on reserves is also suffering from a lack of funding, I think Mr. Amdur missed an important critique on why so many First Nations children are in care.

Too often, children are removed from a family living in poverty for “neglect”. That doesn’t mean a child is facing abuse, it means that the parents do not provide a living situation deemed acceptable by child welfare agencies.

One example I know of is a child who was placed in foster care because his parents had to live with their parents, one of whom had a criminal record. That was unacceptable to the child welfare agency and they broke the family up by placing the child in an overcrowded foster home.

The solution to that situation was not to remove the child but to provide the parents with safe, secure housing. But child welfare agencies do not have that mandate.

We can reduce the number of First Nations, Métis and Inuit children in care but only if we start to think of a range of solutions available to keep families together instead of depending on one strategy – removal – as the answer to all the problems families’ face.

Yours truly,

Jean Crowder, MP

NDP Aboriginal Affairs Critic

Amdur’s reply

I agree with Jean Crowder’s observations.  They are related to the underfunding of child welfare services on reserves as well as the need for more and better housing and anti-poverty measures for natives more generally. 

Re: Sneaky Steve, a danger to democracy

There is an obvious solution which should have been implemented when Harper committed his first proroguing OFFENCE: the three parties in opposition should introduce a bill that prohibits any MINORITY government from proroguing parliament without first getting the consent of Parliament.

With the Liberals, NDP and PQ collectively holding the majority, they should have been able to force passage of this bill.

I think also the above three opposition parties should also pass a motion reprimanding the Governor General for acceding to Harper's proroguing demands without consulting with the leaders of the other three parties.  Her Majesty's representative appears to be interested in extending her term in office.

The Canadian Charger should take the lead in promoting these Ideas considering that opposition leaders appear to be acting helpless in responding to Harper. 

You should also encourage them to draft the above bill and motion in advance, and make their introduction the first order of business when Parliament resumes.  This way, the helpless people of this democratic country would gain some control over Harper's dictatorship.

Abdul Mousa, Ph.D.

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