OPINION

Laureen Harper and Heather Reisman issue open letter to Iran

Mrs. Laureen Harper and Indigo President Heather Reisman issued the following open letter to the Iranian president condemning Iran's treatment of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and that country's senseless and continual disregard for women's rights in Iran. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was initially accused and convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. Now, she faces murder charges, which carries a death sentence by hanging, a fate that has marshalled women around the world to defend her rights and take up her cause. President Ahmadinejad, As women who enjoy the benefits and protections of a democratic society that values and promotes the rights and freedoms of all its citizens - female and male - we are deeply troubled by the flagrant disregard of women's rights in Iran. In particular, the most recent and public case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, is an affront to any sense of moral or human decency and is symbolic of the plight of Iranian women. We urge you to take a progressive step towards improving the lives of Iranian women, mothers,

Too much on Steinberg

Your involvement in discrediting Bill Steinberg is extremely obvious and unabashed (if not embarrassing for all who know any of the parties). Have Abe or Danny or Sternthal any one else been paying The Suburban for the negative advertising? Because this isn't news...It's been shallow and unfair. Now that you've lost the Hampstead advertising, the stories smell like red herrings... Jeff Frank, Montreal Editor's response - No one has been paying anything Jeff. It is egregiously offensive for you to suggest that. Isn't it strange that when we defended Mayor Steinberg on the Julius Grey matter on a clear question of free speech I was Steinberg's hero, but he can't understand that what he's doing to Abe Gonshor is exactly what he was objecting to in the treatment of Julius. What a double standard! And we're biased? I have talked to Mayor Steinberg trying to make him understand his contradictions and all he said was "We'll agree to disagree." There is nothing we have printed that is not factual and we even gave his accountants the chance to clarify the finances which I wrote up. We all need a break from the whining hypocrisy.

The final word on Hampstead

The $7000 in savings mentioned by Mayor Steinberg as his reason to switch from The Suburban is bunk. The facts: Last year (July-Aug) Hampstead paid The Suburban just over $16,000. This year they have already signed a contract with another paper for $10,200 and paid The Suburban over $3,800 since July. We sincerely hope Mayor Steinberg allows The Suburban to report the news and not be part of it any longer. - Publisher

Congratulations on Sorensen and JFK

Congratulations on your tribute to Ted Sorensen which appeared in your Nov. 3 edition, as well as on your piece in 2008 by your editor Beryl Wajsman on "JFK: To rouse the world from fear". He is one of the few commentators in this country who has a true understanding of the legacy of JFK. As a longstanding admirer and student of the Kennedy administration, as well as being a member of the Kennedy Library, it is good to read someone with such insight and historical perspective on the subject. Again, congratulations and continue the good writing! Gerald C. Gummersell, Montreal

Sorensen

Fine editorial about Ted Sorensen. What a great soul and speech-writer he was! I have a book that he edited full of JFK speeches, most, I suppose, written by Sorensen. Marco Ermacora, St. Léonard Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Anti-Semitic or legitimate criticism?

Mr. Cliff Oswald asks a very timely and important question about whether one can criticize Israel without being branded an anti-Semite. My response is actually quite simple. If people would restrict themselves to criticizing the policies of the state and its government, including the occupation, most people other than those on the far right would accept that as legitimate criticism. Regrettably however, many critics of Israel go much farther by demonizing the state of Israel, questioning its right to exist and portraying Zionism as some nefarious hyper nationalism akin to fascism and racism. This obsession with the Jewish state is viewed by many as a manifestation of anti-Semitism and correctly so. I would add that Devorah Kaplan's response is just as problematic as it seems to suggest that no criticism of Israel is acceptable and that all of its actions are strictly selfdefense without once mentioning the occupation of 3.5 million people who don't want to be occupied. David Kaufman, Montreal

The fine line between criticism and hate

In last week's "Letters", Ms. Devora Kaplan wrote a spirited response to my question: "Under what conditions may I criticize Israeli policy without being branded an anti- Semite?" Ms. Devora suggested that I fill an Israeli's shoes first. A commendable thought, but difficult to fulfill. I might have gained legitimacy in her eyes had I been successful in 1967, as one of the many people in Montreal who volunteered to replace civilians in Israel so that they could fight to save their country. But I was no match for the speed of Israeli tanks who, within seven days, had reduced the far-greater numbers of their attackers to lumps of twisted steel and prisoners of war. Had they driven a little slower, who knows if I might not have become an Israeli citizen? There has to be a forum available to those who wish to speak out, otherwise, what is the purpose of a democracy? There is a difference between criticism and hate. Cliff Oswald, Pointe Claire

Concerned

Let me add my concern along with Mr. Oswald's voice. Criticizing Israel's foreign policies always bring with it vitriolic responses similar to Devora Kaplan's histrionic "reckless letter" [Nov. 3]. It's old news. Canada was founded upon the principals of equality and reason, among others, and questioning Israel's policies in the Middle East falls well within reasonable grounds. Especially in light of past and present events. Not asking questions and turning a blind eye would be myopic and dangerous. People such as Devora Kaplan, who insult and angrily point their fingers while asking non-Jews to readily accept and look the other way, are the real bigots in my opinion. So don't be daughters and sisters by unconditionally releasing Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. There remains an unparalleled coalition of support around the world to keep the spotlight on the actions of the Iranian government and the status of women in Iran. We will continue to be vigilant to highlight this case and all other similar cases in Iran. As mothers, sisters and daughters, we are gravely concerned about the unfair, undue legal processes faced by women in Iran. Repugnant sentences, such as death by stoning, are routinely rendered against women in Iran. In Canada, women enjoy all the same benefits, rights and freedoms as men. But with these rights also comes responsibilities; and as such we are morally obligated to speak out publicly in defence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and indeed all women in Iran. Once again, we strongly urge you to take the first step towards progress and unconditionally release Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Certainly, this would be welcomed by women around the world as seen as a deeply symbolic gesture toward the betterment of all Iranian women.n dissuaded by those who insult and threaten...it's our right in Canada to question. Canadian soldiers died to give us that right. Don't forget to buy your poppy. Alain Beaudoin, NDG

Likes writing style

Nice piece of writing Albert Sevigny did on the cultural corridor. Who says journalism is dead? I like the style. David Geourbs

Needless vitriol

Re: Walter Lyng's article in the Nov. 3, 2010 issue. Walter Lyng's declaration of his deep loathing of Toronto is what goes for the intellectual (sic) Noble prize in Montreal. His vitriolic article says more about himself than it does about Rob Ford. Displaying his political bent with references to "tea party nut jobs", and "rednecks" merely illustrates that Lyng's intellectual reach is limited, to say the least. I don't understand how The Suburban can allow such nonsense into the paper - on the editorial page no less. R. A. Crane, Beaconsfield

Lisbona's 200th was great

David Lisbona's 200th column was outstanding! Absolutely terrific. I thank him for speaking up, for saying what he believes in. He reflected much of the silent majority of our besieged "minority". Glenn J. Nashen City Councillor Côte St. Luc

Stop making motorists the 'cash cow'

Motorists should no longer be the "cash cow milked" by rising fuel excise taxes, parking infractions or possible car tax to support a public transit system big time in debt; what must be addressed is the non-competitive purchase of metro cars estimated to cost our city $300 million too much or the $200 million one to tell commuters the bus will be late. The most appropriate initiative would be to take Quebec to court to pay our entire billion dollar share; Quebec passed a law negating competition in contempt of the precedence established in the Alstom vs. Bombardier case. Why request from Quebec the right to tax more locally when Montreal can redirect their mentality for financial efficiency now and in the future? After all, it's our money that they received from tax revenues and must spend it appropriately for our infrastructure. Michael Shafter, Montreal THE WEST ISLAND SUBURBAN, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2010 * 13

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