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Gaza divides more than states

As the death toll in Gaza continues to rise so do tensions in the GTA — between protesters on the streets, between people trying to work ...

As the death toll in Gaza continues to rise so do tensions in the GTA — between protesters on the streets, between people trying to work together on interfaith projects and, some say, between Muslims and Muslims, Jews and Jews.

The Canadian Jewish Congress works on building relationships across faiths and supported a November project that paired four GTA synagogues with four mosques, giving Muslims and Jewish worshippers a chance to host one other.

CEO Bernie Farber says when troubles flare in the Middle East it makes it more difficult to engage across religious lines — “but we have always re-engaged,” he said.

“Without question these kinds of terrible things that occur will have an impact,” he said. “But I don’t think it has a lasting impact.”

Even within Canadian Muslim and Jewish communities, the current conflict may widen the gap between moderate and extreme, some say.

“I’m very depressed because my positions, my feelings, would not satisfy any of the parties, and you lose friends during the course of this,” said Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Fatah calls himself pro-Palestinian and believes that, despite setbacks, Israelis and Palestinians are on the right track toward a two-state solution. He said Hamas is responsible for much of the tragedy that has befallen the Palestinians. Judy Rebick, an activist and writer raised Jewish, participated in the pro-Palestinian rally on Saturday and said she noticed members of the Jewish community there, some of them hoping for anonymity to avoid conflict with friends and family.

“It’s become very much if you don’t support Israel then you’re not a welcome member of the community,” said Rebick.

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