Rabbi David Mivasair is a member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada and a long-time active member of the New Democratic Party (NDP). Resident of Hamilton, ON Mivasair worked at Vancouver’s Ahavat Olam progressive synagogue and First United Church homeless shelter.
Here is David Mivasair ‘s speech at a “Vigil for Palestine” that was held in Mississauga, ON on Saturday, June 5, 2021:
Thank you all very much for having me here. And just saying really [speaks in Arabic] السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته [Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you]. I’m not here alone. I’m not just one Jewish person who happened to come. I am a member of an organization [Independent Jewish Voices] across Canada with chapters from Halifax to Victoria with over a thousand members. And actually we had a new members event that almost 200 people came to, you know. So people are feeling the need to speak and to act and to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian sisters and brothers and I mean literally our cousins. A few things I’d like to say. I think the greatest thing I have to say is I am so sorry. I am so heartbroken. I don’t have words for it. I have my own grief over the killings, the suffering, the dispossession on and on and on. I feel like my words are completely inadequate, but at least I can say it. I’m very very sorry and it should never happen to anyone. And of all people on the earth the Jewish people should be the last people to ever do anything like that to anyone. So things are very wrong… I don’t want to talk too long. I have a few points I want to make. One of them Nur [speaker at the event] just said it. She said: Be in touch with your MPs. Canada plays a role of course and supporting Israel, enabling Israel in complete complicity 100 percent, and that’s, I would say, that’s only because the citizens of Canada allow that to happen. We’re living in kind of a democracy. Right? We do elect our MPs and they are accountable to us. We have to activate that. It doesn’t happen just by magic. It might be a little funny but I’m quite serious. If you don’t mind just raise your hand if you are a Canadian citizen. Put your hand up. Good. That’s great. Let me say this. Put your hand up if you’re a Canadian citizen and then put it down if you voted in the last election. Put it down if you voted. If you didn’t vote in the last election I want to talk with you when we’re done I’m serious. If you’re a citizen and you didn’t vote in the last election, of course if you’re 18 years old, seriously, meet me in the back. We have to talk. I’d like to understand why you didn’t you vote and what else is going on and can I help you get over that hesitancy that you have to participate. But all of us can do something and it’ll take all of us to do it, and there’s many many more of us than what we see here right now, and I really believe that times are changing. Politicians are seeing what’s going on, and we can make more of a difference. I’d like to share two authentic ancient Jewish religious teachings about us that comes from one of my favorite scholars or teachers or rabbis. His name was Rabbi Tarfon. He lived in Palestine 2,000 years ago and I’m sure he taught many things in his life, but in our tradition we remember only two of them, and I think it applies to now. So I want to share it with you. So first thing Rabbi Tarfon said since, two teachings he said [Hebrew]: היום קצר The day is short. We don’t have a lot of the time. He said: המלאכה מרובה The task is huge. והפועלים עצלים and the workers are lazy] And he said: השכר הרבה The reward is great. המלכים עצלים [David Mivasair misquoted Rabbi Tarfon’s teaching in Hebrew by saying the kings are lazy instead of the workers are lazy] the workers are kinda lazy, they’re not, they’re not really doing it, you know. And then he said: בעל הבית דוחק The master of the house, the one who is in charge of everything, the one who is making everything happen here, is demanding. So I’m just going to repeat that. The day is short, the task is huge, the reward is great, the workers are kinda like a little lazy and the master of the house is demanding. Is that meaningful? Does it make sense to you? It applies. And his second teaching is very important to me in my life, and he said: לא עליך המלאכה לגמור ואי אתה בן חורין להיבטל ממנה He said: It is not your obligation to complete the task. If I thought I had to complete the task, like I have to liberate Palestine, I have to make a just society, I have to bring peace, I would be paralyzed. I couldn’t do anything. I would just like oh my God, I can’t do that. So the first thing he said: It is not your obligation to complete the task. In the same breath he said: But you’re not free to just walk away from it. In other words, do what you can do. You are obliged to do what you can do. And if we all do it together it’s going to make a big difference. Another contemporary rabbi said: In a democracy not everyone is guilty, but everyone is responsible. It’s a message to all of us. I feel like I’ve maybe talked enough. No I didn’t okay. I’m just kidding. But seriously I honestly truly want to say a Jewish prayer for the souls of people who have died. And I know, there are some other Jewish people here today. I’m not the only one. If anybody wants to come to the front and stand with me, say Kaddish with me. This is called Kaddish. People who speak Arabic you probably understand this word קדיש in Hebrew is like قدس It’s something that’s holy. So if any other Jewish people want to come and say it with me. I’d love to have you with me if you don’t come up here I just trust your here. You know who you are [a young woman approaching him]. I’m saying this really for the hundreds of people who were killed in Gaza two and three weeks ago [during the war between Israel and a Gaza-based coalition of Palestinian terrorist organizations led by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad] and many others and just please God just end and there be no more people killed or hurt in any way.
יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵיהּ רַבָּא. בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא, כִרְעוּתֵהּ. וְיַמְלִיךְ מַלְכוּתֵהּ
May God’s name, which is god’s presence, it’s the way we know God, it’s our experience of the big picture of life in this world. May that be
בְּחַיֵּיכוֹן וּבְיוֹמֵיכוֹן וּבְחַיֵּי דְכָל-בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל, בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב, וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.
In your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.
יְהֵא שְׁמֵיהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ, לְעָלַם לְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא יִתְבָּרַךְ וְיִשְׁתַּבַּח וְיִתְפָּאַר וְיִתְרוֹמַם וְיִתְנַשֵּׂא וְיִתְהַדָּר וְיִתְעַלֶּה וְיִתְהַלָּל, שְׁמֵהּ דְּקֻדְשָׁא בְרִיךְ הוּא.
Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He,
לְעֵלָּא מִן-כָּל-בִּרְכָתָא, שִׁירָתָא, תִּשְׁבְּחָתָא וְנֶחָמָתָא דַאֲמִירָן בְּעָלְמָא, וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.
Beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.
יְהֵא שְׁלָמָא רַבָּא מִן שְׁמַיָּא וְחַיִּים עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל יְצוּרֶיךָ וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Your creatures; and say, Amen.
עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו, הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ, וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.
He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
Thank you. Another thing I wanted to really from the heart just really cry out like this. [David Mivasair sings in Arabic the first verse of Al-Fatiha, the first chapter of the Quran in a Chassidic melody] بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. **[Note: The next verses of the same Quranic chapter read: [All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds – The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful, Sovereign of the Day of Recompense. It is You we worship and You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path – The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger [Jews] or of those who are astray [Christians]. [translation: Saheeh International]**
And you know, friends, sisters and brothers it’s not a performance. One more thing I want to do and I hope it speaks to you literally beyond words. In our very ancient tradition from the Torah, in the Torah, God tells us in a time of danger to warn the people, to wake up, wake up, get clear, get on God’s path, stop sinning. And we do that with the voice that comes from a horn of a ram. And we do that every year on a day when we say: We have to repent توبة [repentance in Arabic] We have to change. We have to come back to God’s ways. So I want to do that right here. And then and then I’ll be done. And this is a cry for me actually I don’t know I’m trying to send it out to whoever can hear it. I’m actually thinking seriously of my, you know, my Jewish brothers and sisters who haven’t quite heard it yet. This isn’t a code. You hear it, but I want to interpret it for you. So it starts with one long sound. It’s one. It’s unified. Then there’re three sounds. It’s kind of broken. Something’s broken. Then it’s a lot of sounds and it’s like ah, ah, And like brother Hammam [Farah] said when we feel those feelings then we can come back together and we can be whole and hopefully go on. So thank you. [David Mivasair blowing the shofar]
Hamas leader: 80 military operatives of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PRC were killed
On May 26, 2021 AP reported:
Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday said 80 militants were killed during the 11-day war with Israel that ended last week, providing the group’s first official tally for losses sustained in the fighting… Speaking to The Associated Press, Hamas leader Yehiyeh Sinwar said those killed last week included 57 members of his group’s armed wing, 22 members of the smaller Islamic Jihad group and one member of a small group called the Popular Resistance Committees.
Hamas and its military wing Al-Qassam Brigades, and the Islamic Jihad and its military wing Al-Quds Brigades are designated by Canada as terrorist entities. The Popular Resistance Committees and its military wing Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades is designated by Israel as terrorist entities.
Israel: More than 200 terrorists were “neutralized”
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported that more than 200 terrorists were “neutralized” during the recent armed conflict.
Blinken: Israel “took very significant steps” to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza
On May 26, 2021 The Times of Israel reported:
[In an interview with Israeli Channel 12] US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israel “took very significant steps” to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza during the recent fighting with Hamas, but lamented the loss of lives, “especially children,” while underscoring the Biden administration’s backing for a two-state solution for solving the Israeli-Palestinian process.
Schmale: “They [Israel] did not hit with some exceptions civilian targets”
Matthias Schmale, the head of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said in an interview with Israeli Channel 12 aired on May 25, 2021:
“I’m not a military expert but I would not dispute that. I also have the impression that there is a huge sophistication in the way the Israeli military struck over the last 11 days… Yes, they did not hit, with some exceptions, civilian targets.”
IDF: Hamas and Islamic Jihad misfired 680 rockets that exploded inside Gaza
On May 27, 2021 Israel Defense Forces tweeted:
Fact: Of the 4,300+ rockets that Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired at Israel during Operation Guardian of the Walls, 680 misfired and exploded inside Gaza, killing and injuring their own civilians.
- Rabbi David Mivasair protests Palestinian death toll, including jihadi military fighters
- David Mivasair recited Kaddish honouring dead Palestinians, Hamas, Islamic Jihad fighters
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