Menu JTA Search

Plaut: Deep Anxiety Besets Jewish Community in Quebec

Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut, the newly-elected president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said yesterday that while the chief concern of Canadian Jewry was once with the survival of European Jewry it is now focused on communities within its own midst.

“It is no longer secret that deep anxiety besets our people in Quebec, one of the finest and most committed Jewish communities in the diaspora,” Plaut told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview after he was elected president at the CJC’s 18th plenary meeting.

“In accepting the presidency of the Congress at this crucial time–as one who knew French before he know English–I have a deep appreciation of the aspirations of the Quebecois for cultural identity,” the Toronto Reform rabbi stressed.

“But, on the other hand, an equally deep resolve that Jewish identity, too, needs safeguarding,” he continued. “Jews can find full expression only in a society that is free and accepting of differences, is not coercive and which will staunchly defend the integrity of all existing educational and social institutions.”

In addressing the closing session of the four-day meeting yesterday, Canadian Secretary of State John Roberts, representing the federal government, told the 2000 delegates that the survival of the French language in North America can best be preserved in the whole of Canada rather than just in Quebec. He noted that the right to differ is part of the history and experience of the Jewish people.

SAYS CANADA’S RECORD ON ISRAEL IS GOOD

At an earlier session, Israel’s Ambassador to Canada, Mordecai Shalev, said Canada’s record on Israel is “a good one because there have been occasions in which Canada stood alone in clear and unequivocal opposition to resolutions vilifying and condemning Israel.” But he warned Canada not to be taken in by a new, seemingly moderate position taken by some Arab leaders and urged Canada to continue to voice its opposition at the

Chaim Herzog, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, praised Canada’s stand at the UN. He said “when human rights were discussed at the United Nations, Canada had an upright position while many of the Western nations abstained or kept silent.”

The delegates adopted resolutions supporting the principle of multi-culturalism in Canada, support for both English and French as the official languages of Canada, voicing solidarity with Israel, vowing support for Soviet and Syrian Jewry, requesting the government to develop legislation prohibiting compliance with the Arab boycott and calling for Nazi war criminals living in Canada to be brought to justice. Allan Rose was elected executive vice-president of the CJC. He was formerly the CJC’s national executive director. Steven Ain succeeded him in that post.

NEXT STORY