The Reverend Deacon Derrick Bishop, Honourary Assistant at the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, expresses strong support for Israel and the Jewish community of St. John's, asking the Manager of Metrobus to take down antisemitic bus ads.
Mr. Mark Chancey Manager Marketing & Information Services Metrobus Mr. Chancey,
I am writing this email in response to an email you forwarded to Ms. Ruth Noel. Ms. Noel is a friend of mine.
In your email you stated the following…
“The content of the ad states that various human rights groups have made claims regarding Israel and apartheid, and in our review, we have determined that the groups named in the ad have done exactly what the ad claims, therefore making the ad truthful, fair and accurate.”
I question the truthfulness and accuracy of the ad. Allow me to explain my understanding of why Israel is by no means an apartheid state.
Israel holds democratic elections allowing its Arab citizens of Muslim, Christian, or Druze background to vote. Arab persons of any religion can run for election, be elected, and participate in the Israeli Knesset. All citizens of any ethnic or religious background may obtain medical care, receive an education, and practice their religion. Does this description accurately portray a western style democracy or an apartheid state? I think you can surmise the answer. If Israel is an Apartheid nation then in fact it must follow that Canada too practices apartheid.
Are you aware that the majority of refugees after the declaration of the state of Israel were in fact Jews, who for generations had lived in Arab countries? They were obliged to flee by hostile governments and non-Jewish citizens. The value of Jewish property as result of expulsion has been estimated to be 50% greater than the value of the property of Arabs who left Israel. The Jewish refugees who fled to Israel were recognized as citizens, whereas, Arab refugees who chose to leave Israel were not offered citizenship in other Arab Middle Eastern countries. These Arab refugees and their descendants are to this day not considered citizens. This despite the fact that presently the majority were born in the country where they reside.
A person who identifies as LGBTQ has protection in Israel. Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that offers such protection. In fact as late as 2019 there were thirteen countries in the world with legislation that required the death penalty for homosexuality. These nations included: Yemen, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, The United Arab Emirates, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sudan, Brunei, Somalia, Nigeria, and Pakistan. In these countries antisemitism is widespread and democracy is suppressed. Many of these countries are in the Middle East or have been historically influenced by Middle Eastern ideology.
In truth Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East allowing all its citizens to enjoy some semblance of freedom. Yet the advisement that is to be placed on your buses implies otherwise.
In areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, a Jew would face considerable harassment and more than likely death. The areas controlled by both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority do not permit dissent amongst their populations. In fact it is severally punished. Do Hamas and the Palestinian Authority allow free democratic elections?
Why then is Israel alone being targeted by these so called Human Rights Groups. Are their intentions suspect? Might they focus instead upon other countries in the area of Israel where human rights are practically nonexistent. It would seem to the casual observer that their motives arise from misinformation at best or antisemitism.
I learned recently that Beth El Synagogue in St. John’s has been egged. An act of mere vandalism or antisemitism? The proposed ad offers license to those who hate Israel, and the Jewish people, to further acts of violence and destruction.
History has shown that those who end up killing others do so with small acts that increase in severity so that ultimately people are murdered. The Jewish German poet, Heinrich Heine, in the seventeenth century wrote, “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.” Regrettably his words proved to be prophetic in twentieth century Germany.
I feel ashamed that such an ad would be placed on public transit by a municipal government in Newfoundland and Labrador. Israel is an ally of Canada. Jewish persons in Canada ought not to be subjected to intimidation, ridicule or fear for their personal safety or destruction of property.
In 2019 I attended St. George’s Anglican College in Jerusalem. I experienced no harassment despite often wearing Christian clerical clothes. At the Western Wall, dressed in clerical attire, I was able to freely pray surrounded by Jewish worshippers. Yet when I visited the Temple Mount, under the control of the Jordan Waqf, as a Christian I was instructed as to what would be my attire, and told not to pray or read Christian scripture. While in Israel, I only experienced apartheid at the Temple Mount, a site under the control of the Jordanian waqf authority.
I ask you to reconsider your decision regarding the misinformed ad. Do not fall into the old lie that the Jews are responsible for all the evils in the world.
Rev. Derrick Bishop