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Cotler Seeks New Approaches to Jewish Issues in Canada

Irving Cotler, the McGill University law professor and newly elected president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, has called for new approaches by Canadian Jewry to matters which concern it, such as the presentation of Israel’s case to the government and public opinion in Canada and combatting assimilation.

These issues and the future of Jews in a French Quebec were discussed by the 40-year-old jurist in an exclusive interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency here. With respect to Israel, he said “Part of our problem originates in the way the case was presented to the government and public opinion in Canada. We should advocate the cause of Israel not only because it is a Jewish cause but because it is a just cause. We should explain that Israel is a metaphor for human rights, that it has become the litmus test for democracy, that how it goes with Israel, so it will go with the rest of us. Thus we shall sensitize both the government of Canada and the public opinion, stressing the intrinsic merits of the case,” Cotler said.

He added, “I am sufficiently convinced that Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau will respond on the merits of Israel’s just cause.”

HOW TO FIGHT ASSIMILATION

According to Cotler, fighting assimilation with the slogan “Jewish education” is an old cliche. “What is needed is a strategy of cross-commitments, networks of Jewish identities, that is an integrated approach to the family the school, the religion, our camps and retreats; to pump in the Jewish experience wherever a Jewish child goes, “he said. “We have to create a Jewish Gestalt — an ambience one experiences in a very feeling sense. A good deal of the agenda for the eighties claims a greater dedication on the port of all of as which does not deal money. Within the financial means we have we can get better results.”

He said “if there is anti-Semitism in Quebec there is no trace of it at the government level.” He added, “Things for Jews in the Province of Quebec will be different but not necessarily worse.”

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