Why did 300 Canadian Jewish leaders sign their name to an open letter published in newspapers?

letter in National Post
The letter of concern about Israel’s current government’s plans to pass judicial reform laws was published in the National Post on Saturday, April 1, and in Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz newspapers in Israel on Sunday, April 2. (Ellin Bessner photo)

Three hundred Canadian Jews including many community leaders in business, education, and the arts have put their names to a full-page ad that appeared in several prominent newspapers to express their concerns about what’s happening in Israel and about the threats to democracy there.

The message from 300 signatories is the latest and the largest single public expression of concern from Canada’s Jewish diaspora since Israel’s right-wing government took power three months ago.

The first ad ran in the Saturday edition of the National Post. A slightly different version—using more conciliatory language and supporting the “aspiration to find a renewed and applicable balance between the rulings of the majority of the Knesset and the rulings of the courts”—ran Sunday in two popular centre-left and left-wing Israeli newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz.

The organizers admit they didn’t plan for the ad to run as late as it did; they had hoped it would be published before Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last week that he would be temporarily pausing the push to reform the judiciary until after Passover, so as to avoid “civil war”. The announcement came as hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets and participated in a nationwide general strike to protest the reforms.

Toronto philanthropist Gary Goldberg and his extended family were among the small group of friends who started the campaign and paid for the ads. Goldberg joins The CJN Daily to explain why they did it.

What we talked about

  • Read Phoebe Maltz Bovy writing in The CJN about the history of Jewish open letters
  • Lila Sarick on what four Canadian rabbis tell their congregations about Israel, in The CJN
  • How Halifax got its emergency matzah shipment this weekend, after scarcity, in The CJN


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.