Sunday, February 22, 2009

Remembering the Children

The most innocent victims of war include children. In the latest military advance into Gaza by Israel, over 400 children were killed. These children were honoured on February 8 in cities around the world with a vigil. By candlelight, a list of the children's names were read.

Mothers Across the World for Gaza also took place in Edmonton. Some members of the local Jewish community found out about the event. It was communicated to them as though ti was going to be another big rally. After remaining silent on the Israel/Palestine issue over three major rallies and being the only major city in Edmonton not to have a pro-Israel event, a handful of Jewish people (mostly older folks joined the vigil.

I found out in advance that there was going to be a Jewish presence at the event (besides myself). I gave the organizer a call and put her in touch with the main person behind the Jewish community involvement. The two of them talked and supposedly worked out who was going to speak when.

Unfortunately, that did not happen. Members of the "counter-vigil" as they were calling it, were talking and giggling throughout the service. They brought with them a list of Israeli children who have died, not from this latest episode, but over time. When it came time for a moment of silence, they wanted to read the list first and then have a combined moment. Apparently, this was not the deal. The moment of silence happened anyways, and then the Israeli list was read.

I am totally in favour of remembering all children who have been killed in Israel/Palestine. However, this was not the proper time or place. If members of the local Arab community descended upon a Jewish-organized event of a similar type, likely the police would have been called and there would have been a major media hoopla. Actions such as this does little to foster good relations between the Arab and Jewish communities.

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