A Palestinian family reacts after Israeli bulldozers demolished their home in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Feb. 5, 2013. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Newly elected Israeli Knesset member Yair Lapid (l), leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to Naftali Bennett, head of the hard-line national religious party the Jewish Home, during a Feb. 5 reception in Jerusalem marking the opening of the 19th Knesset. (URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES)
Richard Curtiss at work in his Washington Report office. (STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY)
Then-Vice President Dick Cheney (l) and Likud chairman Benyamin Netanyahu, out of office at the time and serving as the official Israeli opposition leader, at a March 23, 2008 breakfast meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (r) shares candies with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim during a Feb. 11 visit to the rebels’ stronghold in Sultan Kudarat on the island of Mindanao. (KARLOS MANLUPIG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Emad Burnat views his five broken cameras in his documentary of the same name. (PHOTO COURTESY KINO LORBER)
July/August 1995, pg. 39
Canada Expected to Boycott Jerusalem Festivities
By John Dirlik
Canadian officials indicated that Ottawa will join the Vatican, Britain and other members of the Council of Europe in not participating in festivities scheduled to mark the 3000th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem.
Titled Jerusalem 3000, the elaborate commemoration of King David's selection of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people will be launched this September and will continue throughout the following year with a packed schedule of cultural, religious and academic activities.
Although billed as non-political by its organizers, the highly publicized event is widely regarded as an attempt by the Israeli government to gain international acceptance for its claim to all of Jerusalem. For this reason, the European Council last year recommended that its members not support the festivities, and Great Britain as well as the Vatican already have announced that they will boycott the celebrations.
"I regret very much that we have run into cool reactions from several elements in Europe, from the Vatican, and even in the United States," Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin told Israel radio.
Downplaying any political motivation, organizers have subtitled the event "Tribute to King David...Celebration for All Mankind" and insisted that while the event will emphasize the centrality of the city to Jews, it also will acknowledge the importance of the city to Christians and Muslims.
Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, one of the driving forces behind the event, denounced international opposition to Jerusalem 3000 as "misguided."
"We recognize that most of the world does not recognize Israeli rule in Jerusalem, but this is not the issue," he said in an interview in Jerusalem. "We are talking about a celebration of a historic fact, not about making any kind of political statement."
But making political points is exactly what at least one of its organizers says motivates the event. "The purpose behind the celebrations is both to enhance the image of Jerusalem and strengthen support for Israel's position with regard to this city," said Yossi Tal-Gan, Jerusalem's former city manager, who currently is negotiating broadcasting rights with U.S. television networks.
Although a spokesman for Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs has stated that Canada "has no plans to participate in the celebrations," prominent Canadian Zionists will be actively involved. Senator Leo Kolber and former Minister of External Affairs Barbara McDougall have agreed to serve as honorary chairs of the Canadian Committee for Jerusalem 3000, which is in charge of organizing a Canadian presence in Jerusalem as well as parallel activities in Canada.
Several Canadian mayors reportedly also have been asked to participate in the celebrations, prompting the National Council on Canada Arab Relations (NCCAR) to demand that the Canadian government declare "that any, even semi-official, Canadian involvement with Jerusalem 3000 is against Canada's national interest, would jeopardize our relations with the countries of the Arab world and would undercut our credibility in the multilateral level peace efforts in which Canada is involved."
Referring to Barbara McDougall and Senator Leo Kolber's participation, NCCAR director Ian Watson said he was "deeply disappointed" that they "have agreed to co-chair what is essentially an Israeli Likud Party effort to promote and legitimize the incorporation into Jerusalem of the eastern portion of Jerusalem seized in 1967 and which remains occupied, contrary to international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions."
Western Feminists Urged to Listen to Arab Women
A Canadian-Palestinian lecturer challenged Western feminists not only to preach to, but also to learn from their counterparts in the Arab world.
Speaking at a forum organized by the Canadian Arab Women's Association in Montreal, Samia Costandi hinted at an arrogance in the view held by many North American feminists that their struggle for equality should be imitated by Arab women. "We refuse the homogenizing discourse of Western feminism that proclaims that women of developing countries should emulate Western feminists in order to be liberated," she said. "We have our own feminist and liberatory experiences."
Costandi stressed that centuries of living under colonial rule have created unique conditions in the Arab world, making the struggle of women there necessarily distinct from that waged in the West. "Our problems differ qualitatively from Western women's problems," she said. Because of this, "Arab women have had to make careful choices...I am not abashed to say that the sexual revolution has not been a priority for Arab women, but the political and social revolution has," she said.
Centuries of colonial rule have created unique conditions in the Arab world.
Although Costandi does not minimize the serious obstacles facing Arab women, she cited some cultural conditions that make their struggle in some ways easier to bear than that of Western women. "We have no illusions about the fact that we live in a patriarchal society," she said, "but we do not also forget the special values with which women are upheld" in the Arab world.
"We do not cry out for day-care because our extended family system, which cherishes family values, allows for much emotional and moral and physical support for the working mother. Men may be divorced from their wives, but rarely would you find an Arab man who will not continue to support his children and his ex-wife as an unnegotiable matter of self-respect, and he does not need to be bound by legal document to do that."
According to Costandi, despite the enormous challenges facing Arab women, many have managed to forge their identities as women and as leaders without compromising important human characteristics. "There is value in prioritizing one's children...there is value in maternal attitudes of empathy, kindness, nurturing [and] care."
John Dirlik, a free-lance writer from Quebec, writes on Canadian and Middle East affairs.