with Students from Danforth Technical School and The Toronto Men Teachers' Choir
Thursday, March 8th, 1956
CHAIRMAN: The President Dr. C. C. Goldring.
DR. C. C. GOLDRING: Sir Richard Livingstone, a well-known educator in England, wrote the following statement:
"Education is to be a process in "soul-making" and those who educate must see life as a symphony and not as a series of disconnected noises - in it there enters forth the art of living and the business of earning a living. The child learns to be useful in relation to something that is beyond utility, to experience the living relation of being `a part to the whole'."
If we accept this statement, it is evident that homes, churches, and community activities contribute considerably to the education of children as well as the schools, which carry out the formal programme. In a very real sense, education is everybody's business and this is a slogan which is being used throughout Canada during Education Week which is now being observed.
At our meeting today, we have as special guests, many principals and teachers employed by the Toronto Board of Education and some from the Metropolitan Area. We welcome members of Boards of Education today, too, as well as educators from the Department of Education. We are particularly happy to welcome the ladies and hope that they will find our programme to be interesting.
In planning today's programme, we might have invited a speaker to discuss some topic on education, or arranged a debate on such a topic as "Why Can't Johnny Read?" or "Can Johnny Figure?", or "Does Johnny Write as well as His Dad?" But these are controversial issues in education and we want peace and harmony to prevail when we have our ladies with us. Accordingly, we are going to have two items on our programme. The first is a discussion by three boys from Danforth Technical School on the difficulties faced by the Arabs and the Israeli people. This is particularly appropriate as yesterday's press despatches stated that war between these two peoples seemed more probable than it had for a long time. In the short period of fifteen minutes, these boys will explain to us some of the reasons for conflict and distrust. Their discussion will also indicate that current events are taught in school.
In the second place, we shall be favoured by a musical programme for some twenty minutes by the Toronto Men Teachers' Choir. A group of some seventy teachers, this choir has been in existence for approximately fifteen years and has sung in Toronto, in many places in Ontario, and in many places in the United States. The director is Mr. Eldon Brethour, Director of Music for the Toronto Board of Education, and copies of the programme are on all tables. Before hearing the Choir, however, we shall hear the boys from Danforth Technical School and I have pleasure in calling upon Col. Harold Dean, O.B.E., Principal of that school, to introduce the three students.
Col. Dean then introduced three students of Danforth Technical School, who presented their material on "The Problem of the Middle East."
Following the discussion, the Toronto Men Teachers' Choir, under the direction of their distinguished conductor, Mr. Eldon Brethour, presented a programme of stirring songs which was very much enjoyed by the members.
Algimantas V. J. Priscepionka: During the past year the attention of the world has been focused upon the Middle East, for the powder-keg capable of scattering the horrors of war has moved its position to that region, threatening to explode at any moment.
In order to understand fully the events taking place presently in that area, we must have a knowledge of their causes and of what is being done to eliminate them - or promote them.
As an introduction, I should like to present a brief summary of the events which led to the existing conditions in the Middle East.
In 1917, Great Britain, which had been given a mandate over Palestine at the end of the First World War, issued the so called "Balfour Declaration", which promised the Jews a national homeland in Palestine to reward their work during the war. That particular location was inhabited by about 50,000 Jews and 1,000,000 Arabs. Soon after the "Balfour Declaration" Jews from many parts of the world began to flock to Palestine, a fact against which the Arab leaders protested. All three sides were displeased with the actions of the other two, and trouble began to brew.
At the end of the Second World War, the Jews received support from the victorious powers, who felt that it was necessary to provide a homeland for the survivors of European Jewry. The Arabs again protested against this plan and demanded complete independence for Palestine. Great Britain, feeling that she would be unable to gain control over the population again, requested the U.N. to intervene and declared that she would leave the country soon.
In 1947, "The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine" recommended the division of the country into a Jewish state and an Arab state, with Jerusalem coming under international control. The Jewish people accepted this plan while the Arabs did not. As the British troops left the country, open war began during which the combined armies of the Arab League were defeated. Thus the war ended-but only on paper.
The reasons for the existing hostilities 8 years after the creation of Israel will not cease simply because that is our desire. Any change in the state of affairs in the Middle East must come from the peoples involved in the conflict, and so I shall introduce the next speaker, Joe Werner who will present the point of view of Israel.
Joe Werner - The Israeli Side of the Question: The republic of Israel came into being in 1948 by the declaration of the U.N. and at once was initiated into a war by the Arab nations. These 40,000,000 Arabs were defeated by a mere handful of 700,000 Jews only because justice was on our side and because we were defending land which was ours by right of heritage. This land was the barren strip which 4,000 years ago became the cradle of the Israelie culture and religion where, after the destruction of our nation, a group of Israelies remained among hostile neighbours (our invaders).
Recently the U.N. issued a declaration censoring Israel for its retaliatory attack on Syrian borderports and branding it as an aggressor. This report was used by the untiring Arab propaganda machinery to attack us again and further their claims that we indeed are aggressors and in truders in their land. We acknowledged the military attack, but insist that it was necessary to retaliate for the countless attacks by the Syrians on our innocent fishing vessels in The Sea of Galilee and to prevent any further recurrences of such incidents.
The word aggressor has been used time and time again against us, but would anyone with a sound mind think that a nation whose imports exceeds its exports in a ratio of 3 to 1 and who lives at the present moment on German reparations and gifts of World Jewry, whose economy is still in its infant stages would desire war which would be disastrous and would set back its life 50 years? This is sufficient proof of the falsity of the Arab propaganda and its unlikely insinuations.
The Arab-Israeli relations have been especially strained after the Soviet block expressed willingness to sell arms to the Arabs and armed Egypt. This Russian drive into the Middle East, besides being a direct threat to Israel, is a menace to the free world and is meant to increase Russian influence and political domination in the strategic area between Europe, Asia and Africa. It can only be countered by the sale of superior arms to the Israelies which unfortunately the western powers have failed to do. This is a grave error for only Israel is the true ally of democracy and freedom in that part of the world. This has been proved by the fact that Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a representative government.
If only the Arab nations would cease their hostility toward us and cooperate with us, we could bring, no doubt, a relief to the many social and economic problems confronting the Middle East today and could take together the road of prosperity and progress.
At the present moment it is an impossible task. The Arabs have shown their animosity towards us and are willing to scrap their desire to destroy our young nation and enslave its people. Their bellicosity has been expressed both in word and deed in spite of the fact that we have shown our desire to maintain peace and have acknowledged that to us, peace is more preferable even to victory in war. We need peace to grow, to build our prosperity and better our chances of survival, but as David Ben Gurbion said "We have come a long way without peace and we can go a long way without it."
Ian Leith - The Arab Side of the Question: I represent not only the Arab League, but 50,000,000 Moslems. We, therefore, are the voice of the Middle East. Since 1948 the Moslem peoples of the Middle East have been repeatedly called the cause of the crisis in that region. We have also been called aggressors and war mongers trying to destroy a new nation. This opinion seems to prevail over a large part of the western world, but, again we must assert that this is mere propaganda of our enemies. We, the Arab people, are simply trying to regain what belongs to us-land which has been taken away from us by the Zionist clique.
Nineteen centuries ago, the Jewish Nation was completely destroyed. The land which was theirs finally was passed to the Arabs. The Arabs populated this land for the next 1900 years-until 1948. Before that date, there was no such thing as the Jewish nationality. There was only a common religion. The nation had, in fact, disappeared from the face of the earth, but, recently, a small group of influential people decided to build a new nation. That was the beginning of the crisis in the Middle East.
Israel came into being by force of arms. They came as intruders. Intruders in a land populated by Arabs for 2,000 years. They forced 1,000,000 people to flee their homes and become refugees of war. These people were forced to live in the filth and squalor of tents and shacks. The homes of these refugees were taken over by Jewish immigrants. They declared openly that they had come to stay-stay in a land which was not theirs. These are the reasons why we do not, cannot, and will not recognize the state of Israel as such.
The land which the Israelies possess is hardly suitable for agriculture, a land lacking in natural resources and therefore unable to sustain a population without outside help. The population of Israel will increase with time. The land will not! This nation will be able to expand only at the expense of their neighbours, therefore, Israel is a potential aggressor. We must do everything in our power to prevent a repetition of 1948. The unfortunate refugees of 1948, still after eight years, have no hope of returning home. The imminent danger to the Arab people was made clear only recently when Mr. Ben-Gurion, the Premier of Israel stated that he is determined to strike out at the Arabs with all the means at his disposal if-what he termed, "the situation requires it."
In order to survive, the Arab people must have power to counter Jewish armed might. We are now criticized and condemned for purchasing arms from Czechoslovakia. Anyone would agree that it is only natural to purchase arms at the most acceptable price. We refused arms at the most acceptable price. We refused arms from the United States because a military pact was attached to them. Our desire is to pursue our aims according to the wishes of our people. We want to remain independent of any foreign interference in our affairs.
Israel has a plan to divert the waters of the Jordan for their own purposes. A statement was made only yesterday by the Arabs, "You divert the waters of the Jordan and we retaliate immediately". Israel consists of 840,000 acres of this, 790,000 are field and fodder, 33,300 for citrus fruit and 130,900 irrigated land. We must prevent Israel from expanding her frontiers. The time has come for the Arab people to awake and arise or be forever fallen.
Algimantas Priscepionka: The Action taken by the United Nations: In 1948, as a result of U.N. mediation efforts, a general armistice agreement was signed between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The U.N. Truce Supervision Organization, presently under the able leadership of Maj. Gen. E. L. Burns of Canada, observes the maintenance of the ceasefire and acts as an observer for the U.N.
Recently it has been suggested that an international military force be sent to the Middle East in order to prevent the border clashes occurring repeatedly between Israel and her neighbours. Although this suggestion has been hailed as a means of helping to ease the tension, people studying the problem attach little practical value to it, for it would be quite impossible to keep watch over more than 600 miles of frontier and moreover, any violation of the truce would be attributed to the inefficiency of the international force and the seriousness of the matter would be lost in the following oratorical arguments. Even if this suggestion was workable, it is doubtful whether it would be acceptable to the countries of the Middle East. This or any other plan which would impose economic sanctions, or change of frontiers, or anything else which would not please both sides of the contestants, would be a return to the old-fashioned imperialism which would not be excused by many people of the present generation, and could have unfortunate consequences. It is doubtful whether the end to this conflict could be found in the capitals of the East or the West.
The problem of the Middle East is mainly an emotional one. In trying to understand it we must realize that human emotion and instinct is more powerful than reason and that a change of frontiers or economic support will not eliminate that which has been imbeded in the minds and hearts of men for many centuries. The only solution to the problem of Israel and her neighbours - if there is a solution - must come only, and only, from the people themselves. It is a psychological problem and to solve it people must erase from their minds opinions and thoughts which began to evolve generations ago. They must learn to suppress their emotions and admit that no one can ignore the facts of our life and the unwritten laws of justice. I should like to quote Mr. Byroade, the U. S. ambassador to Egypt, who said to the Israelies:
"You should come to look upon yourselves as a Middle Eastern state rather than as a nucleus of peoples of a particular faith. You should drop the attitude of the conqueror and the conviction that a policy of force is the only policy which your neighbours will understand."
To the Arabs Mr. Byroade said, "You should accept this state of Israel as an accomplished fact. You are attempting to maintain a state of affairs suspended between war and peace, while at the present desiring neither".
If these and similar words could attract the imagination of the leaders of the countries in conflict, cooperation could be achieved, and only the full cooperation of all the peoples and all the governments involved, can solve the problems facing us today and can bring peace and prosperity, which every human being desires.