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CAEF Letter to Mr. Sherwin Modeste, Executive Director of Pride Toronto Re: Recent Pride Toronto Press Release on the Middle East

April 18, 2024

Mr. Sherwin Modeste,

Executive Director

Pride Toronto

501-158 Sterling Road

5th Floor

Toronto, ON M6R 2B7

Re: Recent Pride Toronto Press Release on the Middle East

Dear Mr. Modeste:

I am writing on behalf of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation which focuses on educating Canadians on all forms and sources of antisemitism and advocating for the end of Jew hatred.

We are dismayed by your most recent statement on the Hamas-Israel conflict, especially in light of recent escalations by the Islamic regime of Iran and its proxies. Your statement is devoid of historical context and lacks a much needed moral compass.

For an organization which prides itself on openness and inclusivity, it is most disappointing to see you publish statements based on a biased and misleading foundation. Such statements contribute to the current misunderstanding about this conflict thereby leading to more antisemitism in our institutions and on our streets.

Most perplexing is that you manage to mention the terrorist entity Hamas only once and then only in the very last line of the press release as if it was an after-thought at best.

You neglect to mention:

  1. How this latest conflict was launched by Hamas after ongoing terror a massacre and constant rocket attacks on Israel. Israeli civilians and Foreign nationals were savagely attacked by Hamas and some Gazan civilians. Approximately 1200 civilians were horribly killed and about 133 hostages remain in Gaza.

  2. The horrific conditions of the hostages still held captive and that they are subject to continued sexual abuse as reported by the UN investigator, Pramila Patten. She states that the abuse of women in captivity continues and hostages are being sexually abused and gang raped;

  3. Israel did not start this war and did not seek it. A ceasefire existed on October 6, 2023.

At this troubling time of rising unabashed antisemitism, your statement glorifies and emboldens terrorism while ignoring the reality on the ground. You ignore the heinous terrorist entity that Hamas is and the fact that the Palestinian Authority celebrated the massacre and kidnapping of innocents on October 7, 2023. There is no moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

Your press release did not ask for Hamas to change its Charter which calls for the destruction of Israel and death to all Jews, nor did you call for Hamas, a listed terrorist entity, to surrender. It also seems to place the onus for a ceasefire on Israel when in fact Hamas continues to refuse such an outcome as negotiated by United States, Qatar and Egypt.

This is not complicated. The terrorist organization of Hamas does not seek peace nor does the Palestinian Authority speak of peace. Recent polls in both Gaza and in Judea and Samaria show majority support for Hamas and armed terrorism. This is not resistance. There are no Jews in Gaza and the PA operates all Arab areas in Judea and Samaria, while Arab Israelis experience full civil rights, and freedoms not available in any Palestinian Arab territory.

Even more importantly, without vast reform of the Palestinian Authority’s education system that teaches extreme Jew hatred to kids from age 3, peaceful co-existence is not likely and terrorism will continue to be taught to Arab children.

Nowhere in your release do you call on the Palestinian Authority or Hamas to radically reform their curriculum, their summer camps, their bigotry and terrorist ideology.

The vile attacks on October 7 did not arise in a vacuum, but are the stepchildren of the multi-generational hate machine in Palestinian Arab education and culture.

Without reform the talk of peaceful co-existence is a pipedream.

In a wider context, let us quote an Arab Bahraini, Amjad Taha:

“Even when Israel was considered an enemy, it never attacked Muslim shrines or created groups to kill Muslims. Palestinian Arabs have declared Iranian assassin Qasem Soleimani (of Iran) the “martyr of Jerusalem”. Iran created an alliance of terrorist groups and killed 4 million Muslim Arabs.”

Your release is completely devoid of the historical context of this conflict and Israel’s many attempts to seek peace, and ignores the fact that every war it has fought has been defensive.

The Wall Street Journal has reported extensive involvement by UNRWA employees in the October attack and its ties to terror groups. You failed to mention this fact as well.

This conflict could end tomorrow if Hamas surrendered, laid down its arms, stopped firing rockets into Israel and released all the hostages. This fact was also ignored in your press release.

Furthermore, we fail to see the connection between this statement and your mandate. Certainly the LGBTQ2++ community is not the subject of any aspect of this conflict, and as importantly, would not do well in any part of Gaza or the PA governed areas, as they are dangerous for LGBTQ++ individuals. Your community would only be safe in Israel and this is well documented. Additionally, where are the Pride Toronto statements regarding all other global conflicts?

Where is your expressed concern for the Jew Hatred we see being played out across this country? This hatred impacts your members as well. The pro-Palestinian marchers on our streets do not speak of peace, but call for a state “from the river to the sea" and "no” to two states “back to 48” as well as other calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and people. This is pure antisemitism on display and is an affront to all Canadian society and particularly egregious for an organization like Pride to support. Your own constituents would be harmed were Israel to cease to exist, and those who are Jewish and LGBTQ+ here are being singled out rather than supported by your organization.

Please use your important voice to contribute to a positive dialogue. Jewish existence in Canada depends on honesty and integrity from organizations like Pride, and aligning with anti-Israel hate sows divisions and has the serious consequences we see happening in front of us.

Given all of the above, we request you withdraw this release and reconsider you position.

Thank you for your consideration.

Charles Cooke CAEF Board Member

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