Readers write: June 30, 2023 issue

June 29, 2023 | Opinion | Volume 27 Issue 13
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Column about Holy Land draws response
In response to Randy Haluza-DeLay’s June 16 column, “Not talking politics in the Holy Land,”
Canadian Mennonite received over 70 identical copies of the letter below. The form letter was posted on the website of HonestReporting Canada, which describes itself as, “an independent grassroots organization promoting fairness and accuracy in Canadian media coverage of Israel and the Middle East.” According to its website, the organization has 45,000 members. The website also includes a longer critique of Haluza-DeLay’s column.
—Editor's note

Israel is not a ‘settler-colonial’ state
In a recent column in your magazine, funded by the Government of Canada, columnist Randy Haluza-DeLay shares his recent experience visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories, but he takes issue with the alleged selective choosing of history by the tourism industry in the region, arguing that “the story of the Indigenous People of the Holy Land before the return of Jews in the past century is concealed.”

In true ironic fashion, Haluza-DeLay is doing his own concealing of Jewish history by claiming that Israel is a “settler-colonial” state and by failing to mention the Jewish People’s ancient connections, instead relegating it down to “the past century.”

It is imperative that your magazine recognize and acknowledge the Jewish people’s 3,000-plus-year history in the land of Israel, their indigenous homeland.

Appreciation for column
I’m writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) to express appreciation for the column, “Not talking politics in the Holy Land.”

I’m aware that the article has come under attack by HonestReporting Canada. Our organization firmly disagrees with, and contests, their characterization of the article.

I believe Haluza-DeLay’s piece is an honest, fair assessment of his experience and I applaud his courage in speaking openly about it.

I was particularly struck by the conclusion of the article, which compares Canada’s settler-colonial history with Israel’s: “We Canadians are familiar with our own history claiming terra nullius (empty land), and the Doctrine of Discovery, that legitimized oppression of Indigenous residents.” Perhaps, in a similar vein, Canadian Mennonite would be interested in covering CJPME’s recent report “Heartbreaking Disparity: Child Detainees in Canada vs. Israel.”

The erasure of Palestinian narratives should be challenged. We applaud this effort, which succeeds in raising the Palestinian perspective in a critical context.
—Jason Toney, Director of media advocacy, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East


Heavenly herbicide
The letter from Len Block (June 2) certainly brought a smile to my face. Apparently his mother’s vision of heaven is a “field of yellow dandelion flowers and blue sky.” My working career was in horticulture, and my vision of heaven is green grass and blue sky with no dandelions in sight! At least we can agree on the blue sky in heaven. Different strokes for different folks.
—Buddy Andres, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario


Online Feedback

Pilgrim vs. tourist
I appreciate Randy Haluza-Delay’s honest reflection (“Not talking politics in the Holy Land,” June 16). In my experience also, tourism seeks to sanitize much and to package up a story that is comfortable, palatable and asks little in return.

Being a pilgrim is much different than being a tourist. A pilgrim seeks to be enlightened and to know the truth of a place and in so doing to know perhaps some truth in oneself. 

Tourism is consumption; pilgrimage is transformation.

I suspect being an honest pilgrim in the Holy Land today is hard work—holding many truths, sometimes opposing ones, together at the same time and being open to hearing multiple narratives. Thanks for leading the way.
—Ron Beresan

Beyond touristy
Thanks for the frank and insightful column (“Not talking politics in the Holy Land,” June 16). So many friends and acquaintances who go to the Holy Land, especially pastors, return with touristy comments, and miss the suffering and injustice. Christians need to contribute to the de-escalation of ideological distortion at play there, and to just solutions that reflect Gospel healing for all. Thanks for pointing in this direction.
—John Hiemstra

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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