Andria Spindel (L) Ellin Bessner (R)
On March 4th, CAEF co-sponsored an evening with the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research and the Lodzer Synagogue, that featured Canadian author, professor, historian, Ellin Bessner presenting her book, Double Threat, Canadian Jewry, the Military, and World War II.
Bessner is passionate about her subject, and was scrupulous in acknowledging those who died for Canada, for freedom, for Jewry, as well as acknowledging the presence of military family members who attended the program, some of whom had lost sons, husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, friends, during the war. What was powerfully presented, in slides, old photos, recovered archival footage, and stories, was that Canadian Jews played a very significant part in the war effort and the proportion of Jews who served was no less than that of other Canadians. A small Jewish population sent 19,000 into the various arms of the military.
Jewish soldiers and officers in army, navy and air force not only risked their lives in battle, but if caught and found to be Jews, it was an almost certain death warrant; but on top of this risk, their lives were often made unpleasant by bigoted, antisemitic Canadian policies and personnel at the time. This policy played out firstly in rejection by the military to applicants for service, then in harassment and taunting by fellow service men/women, and often in derision. Yet, there were warm and sensitive moments in which Jewish rituals and prayers were allowed and honoured, and there was pride on the faces and in the hearts of those who served, some of whom chose to go behind the enemy lines and take the greater risk of being found.
What was given to us by Bessner work was an account rarely told and little known, and the result has been at several levels. She succeeded in getting the Canadian government to actually produce documentation of the Canadian Jewish contribution, and she brought honour and pride to survivors and their families, and to those who lost loved ones.
I was particularly moved to learn that Bessner had found a small book in her research that documented the men and women from Southern Alberta who had served, and so knew of David Spindel whose story I had placed there despite the fact he was a Regina boy.
The double jeopardy that I refer to, in addition to the historic double threat, was brought home to me by Bessner, and that is the “danger of failure” if we don’t smite antisemitism today. If we ignore the signs, the threats, the evil that is coursing through society, we might yet again experience the unspeakable.
Let’s Look at Arab Rejection, Negation, Segregation
Truth is sometimes difficult to accept, but it is a key tool to fighting antisemitism, and antiZionism. There is NO intent on the part of the governing Arab body in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, to resolve the conflict that they firmly persist in fomenting. Whether in primary text books that deny Israel’s very existence or claim it to be an occupier, and that Jews have no historical connection to the land, or it is in denying Jews access to holy sites such as Joseph’s tomb in Schem (Nablus), or punishing any Arab who speaks the truth about their having been a Holocaust, the Arabs under the Palestinian Authority are held hostage to the bigotry and lies, and perennial conflict pursued by their leaders. Below is a recently reported example, provided by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) on February 28, 2020, of the inhuman governance practices and policing of the people who live under the domination of the despotic Palestinian Authority.
“Any Palestinian who sells land to Jews is ‘a traitor,’ according to the Palestinian Authority. This was recently reiterated by a PA governor who instructed the PA police to ‘take the firmest steps’ against anyone who has sold or transferred land to Jews. He emphasized that anyone doing so is ‘a traitor’.” The punishment is life imprisonment with forced labour, as set down by PA President (for life) Mahmoud Abbas.
Israelophobia?? Don’t Dismiss It
A very impactful roundtable discussion took place in Jerusalem this past week with Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, Dan Diker, Director of the Project on BDS and Political Warfare at JCPA, and Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini. It centered around themes presented in a new book that I would highly recommend which is available free as a download from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA). The title is Israelophobia and the West: The Hijacking of Civil Discourse on Israel and How to Rescue.
Free download of PDF here includes the following:
Khaled Abu Toameh - Dueling Discourses: Diaspora Demonization Versus Palestinian Pragmatism
Alan Baker - The Thin Line between Legitimate Criticism of Israel and Anti-Semitism
Alan Dershowitz - The Case for Moral Clarity: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and Legitimate Criticism of Israel
Dan Diker and Alan Baker - How to Rescue Civil Discourse on Israel
Dore Gold - The Africa-Israel Renaissance as a Response to Diplomatic Delegitimization
Daniel Gordis - Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism as Challenges to American Jewry
Malcolm Hoenlein - Walking a Thin Line: American Jewry’s Tightrope Act in Tough Times
Pinhas Inbari - Israelophobia and the Weaponizing of the Oslo Peace Process
Asa Kasher - The Spectrum of Negative Criticism: From Objective Reasoning to Anti-Semitism
William Kolbrener - Anti-Semitism and Progressive Fundamentalism’s Challenge to Israel
Yossi Kuperwasser - The New Anti-Semitism and the Threat to Israel’s National Security
Luba Mayekiso - Israelophobia and the Apartheid Criminalization of the Jewish State
Olga Meshoe Washington - The Israel-Apartheid Lie and the Appropriation of South Africa’s History
Fiamma Nirenstein - A Never-ending Struggle: Challenging Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism
Natan Sharansky - Fighting Anti-Semitism, Both Left and Right
Shmuel Trigano - Anti-Semitism as a Postmodern Ideology
Joshua Washington - Reaffirming Dr. Martin Luther King‘s Zionist Legacy
Messeret Woldemichael - Kasbian Constructive Criticism in Israel’s Democratic Discourse
Elhanan Yakira - From Judeophobia to Anti-Israelism
Photos to CAEF by Margie and Clyde Smith who are in bottom pic
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