Commentary  Letters to the Editor

Responses against the recently published article, "Jewish identity in a pickle"

Response to ‘Jewish identity in a pickle’, written by IJV McGill”

Upon reading this article, I was struck by the factual inaccuracy, slander and perversion of Jewish identity that the authors employed to further their agenda as members of Independent Jewish Voices, an organization who criticizes Israeli state policy through a de-legitimization of the Jewish connection to Israel.

De-legitimizing this connection is factually inaccurate. The authors cite the Jewish people as “diasporic”, however they fail to mention that the reason the Jews constitute a diaspora is because they originate from the kingdom of Judah (what is now Israel/Palestine). Failing to acknowledge this fact is an attempt to pervert history. Jews are a Semitic people indigenous to the Levant and this is non-contestable.

Zionism was not a “radical idea invented by Herzl”, as the authors claim. The central tenets of Zionism, which encompasses the notion that Jews should be able to return to the land they have been expelled from since 740 BCE, has always been present in the Jewish consciousness. Of course, not all Jews believe this. However, decrying Herzl as a colonial oppressor ignores the fact that many Jews very much wanted to seek refuge in their ancestral homeland, due to their persecution across Eastern Europe and in the Middle East.

The article chooses to associate Zionism with “elite Ashkenazi colonialists”. Claiming that Ashkenazi Jews are ‘privileged’ (which perpetuates an anti-Semitic stereotype that has existed since the 1800’s) ignores the diversity of Ashkenazi Jewish experiences and invalidates the authors’ attempt to “create an inclusive space for all Jews”. Being a Zionist does not mean supporting Israeli state policy. Many Israelis are Zionists who share a plurality of political views, and are constantly mobilizing in protest of unjust Israeli state policies. I would encourage the IJV to inform themselves before they make sweeping claims that generalizes an entire ethno-religious identity.

– Rachel Coburn


“On IJV’s Rant: So Many Words, So Little Substance”

I write in response to the recent McGill Daily feature, “Judaism in a Pickle”, penned by three students who proudly flaunted their anti-Zionism yet lacked the courage to do so using their real names, instead hiding under pseudonyms.

The facts and anecdotes in the article range from the mendacious to the absurd. Thus, the commentary itself commits historical error by marginalizing the leadership and contribution of Eastern-European-Jews to the Zionist project, despite the fact that Israel’s first four Prime Ministers (one a woman) came from the Russian Empire. Meanwhile, a story of rejecting Israeli pickles is offered as some courageous sign of moral development and gusty rebellion.

IJV complains that its views are ignored and marginalized. The organized Jewish community has every legal and moral right to reject views that directly conflict with, indeed threaten, its members and values. As Rabbi Reuven Poupko succinctly put it, “You don’t invite butchers to a vegetarian’s convention.” 

An entity that affirms everything ultimately affirms nothing.

IJV is entitled to its views, repugnant as I and many others find them. It is not entitled to impose them on the many others, myself included, who utterly reject them and for whom their Jewish heritage and identity and love for the land, people, and State of Israel are indivisible.

I wish to highlight the fact that in its approximately four-thousand word discourse, IJV did not see it necessary or even warranted to deploy any words to condemn the nakedly inciteful and violent tweet that Sadikov published.  

Sometimes it is the words that aren’t stated that speak the loudest.

–       Michael A. (Mikie) Schwartz, Third Year Student, McGill University Faculty of Law