I am very pleased to contribute the lead-off blog for YourSpace – JSpaceCanada’s new forum for discussion and debate. JSpaceCanada was created for those who felt they no longer had a voice in the Canadian Jewish community and who yearned for a safe space to discuss Israel and the Middle East from a progressive perspective, grounded in Jewish and social justice values. If you are looking for a safe engaging place to discuss Israel and its policies, as well as issues of the day that impact on the Jewish community of Canada, then JSpaceCanada is for you. And YourSpace in JSpace can serve as a comfortable ‘living room’ for you to espouse your views and to engage in passionate, civil dialogue on those issues.
Since JSpaceCanada was launched in 2011, we have grown considerably. We were founded by a loose collective of progressive Jews who came together to offer an alternative to the mainstream Canadian Jewish organizations that many felt had shifted too far to the right, but also to counter the far left alternative organizations that dispute Israel’s right to exist. Since then we have become an incorporated not-for-profit organization, with a diverse Board of Directors, and an Advisory Council comprised of representatives of many of the major progressive Jewish organizations in Canada. We have also created a charitable foundation to fund educational programs; and we have held three very successful biennial conferences that were attended by a wide range of community members, were endorsed by the Consul-General of Israel and attracted a dynamic speakers roster of politicians, well known journalists, pundits, academics and youth leadership.
JSpaceCanada is an all-volunteer, non-partisan, progressive Jewish organization. We support a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is guided by principles of mutual respect and fairness and reflects the legitimate rights of both peoples to self-determination, peaceful coexistence and security.
We oppose all attempts to vilify, demonize or delegitimize the State of Israel. We oppose expansion of settlements in the West Bank as an obstacle to peace and a threat to Israel’s security.
Our Objectives are clear and straight forward;
- To provide a safe space to discuss progressive ideas for peace and security for Israel, with social justice and human rights for all.
- To promote democratic and civil rights for all of Israel’s citizens, residents and neighbours, in accordance with Jewish values and Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
- To serve as a voice of fairness and balance, and as an alternative to extremist voices on the far ‘right’ and the far ‘left.’
- To educate Canadians on the historical and geographic facts behind the conflicts in the Middle East, and the historical, juridical and spiritual context of Canadian Jews’ relationship to Israel.
And we are evolving. We recognize that the work of past organizations on Israel and on matters of social justice gave much credibility to Canadian Jewry. We also accept the fact that changes within our community’s advocacy require that measures need to be taken to ensure a wider range of voices are now heard.
The Jewish community has many voices. JSpaceCanada strives to be a voice of moderation and common sense on Israel, human rights and social justice issues that affect Jews as citizens of Canada. We believe that our community, indeed that all Canadians, can benefit from raising progressive Jewish voices.
Let’s hear from you. Anyone who wishes to participate in YourSpace can do so. Please note our guidelines and policies. Racism, bullying, name-calling and rhetoric that would deny the legitimacy of a Jewish state are not welcome here. It is a safe place for constructive criticism of Israeli policies, comments on the peace process, visions for a future with human rights and social justice, and implications for Canada (all written to a maximum of 650 words) will be accepted.
Get back into the conversation! Join us in JSpaceCanada and welcome to YourSpace!