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Renewal and Redemption | CAEF Bulletin, Jan. 24, 2024

Tu B’Shvat is More Important Now than EverCelebrate January 24-25, 2024

Rabbi Cary Kozerg wrote in a blog for The Times of Israel, how this ancient festival rings true today, and how the Biblical promises are being fulfilled in Israel.

Below are several excerpts from Rabbi Kozberg’s blog that might strengthen one’s faith during these terrible days, post October 7, 2023.

“Of course, when Jews and Christians speak about “redemption”, they understand the word differently. For Christians, “redemption” is salvation from sin through the blood and resurrection of their savior. In Jewish tradition, “redemption” refers to the eventual ingathering of our people from the four corners of the world back to Eretz Yisrael, and the restoration of the Davidic dynasty in the person of mashiach ben Dovid, the Messiah.”

Rabbi Kozberg provides a list of prophetic promises and then notes:

“In our time, we have witnessed these prophecies fulfilled and the hope be realized: the scattered of our people have been gathered. Ruined cities have been rebuilt. The land has been renewed: once again, Jews plant in their promised land. Trees grow on the mountains. Fruits and vegetables grow in the desert.”

For our enemies, let us consider a bold assertion from Rabbi Kozberg:

“Tu b’Shvat is yet another day in the Jewish calendar that denies their denial.” 


What Toronto Jews are Experiencing

Robert Sarner, in The Times of Israel, January 21, 2024 provides a fulsome account of the situation in Toronto, Ontario Canada, how Jews feel and how the police and governments have responded.

Here is an excerpt that describes some of the animosity towards Jews in this city with almost 200,000 Jews:

“Since October 7, in Toronto alone, Jews have experienced a litany of disturbing antisemitic misdeeds.

These include vandalism and boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses, mobs converging on branches of Israeli brands Café Landwer and Aroma, protests outside a Jewish community center and children’s daycare, bomb threats against synagogues and Jewish schools, assaults on Jews and the recent vandalization and arson of a Jewish-owned deli and grocery store, its windows smashed and “Free Palestine” spray-painted on a wall. In recent weeks, activists entered shopping malls shouting anti-Israel slogans, and disrupted a New Year’s ice skating party, hosted by Mayor Olivia Chow on a public rink outside City Hall.”

Note, Andria Spindel and two other Jews at the City Hall public skating party image which I sent, and make this one smaller.


Quick Explanation of Jewish History


Excusing Gazan’s Bad Behaviour to Make Israel Look Bad

Much of Western media and politicians of all stripes are assessing Israel’s war with Hamas as an excessive attack on Gazans, even suggesting intent by Israel to kill civilians. Nothing akin to this is true. It is consistent vilification of Israel, denial of reality, remaking of historical facts, ignoring the massacre of October 7, 2023, and even forgetting that a ceasefire was in place on October 6th despite countless breaches by Hamas and its Islamist allies that from time to time shot rockets into Israel.

Everyone needs to know the facts. To charge the IDF for the unintended deaths against civilians is an erroneous perspective. One must be reminded that there is a WAR and in it innocents do die. Sadly, and generally unintendedly, some innocents die. What is important to remember, is that Hamas intentionally uses its own civilians, including children, as human shields, as well it has shot opponents to its regime, shot civilians trying to flee areas of war, killed LGBTQ Arabs in Gaza, stolen humanitarian supplies and medicines from its own people to be used exclusively for its terrorist members. All of the deaths in Gaza are the responsibility of Hamas. The war would be over if Hamas surrendered. Hamas must be eradicated, and it’s leaders held accountable for its barbaric behaviour, and all Gazans freed of its tyranny.

As one Israeli explains, all Germans of the Nazi era bore collective moral responsibility for the Holocaust (link to video below).  Given several opinion polls reporting 80% support for the actions of Hamas among Gaza residents and 70% of Arab residents of Judea/Samaria do as well, it's a legitimate question of whether similar collective moral responsibility applies today.

Watch this video on German responsibility.


Was Gaza an Open Air Prison?

Certainly there was poverty and massive unemployment in Gaza pre-October 7th, but not for everyone. Hamas leaders have lived well; the top leaders with billionaire bank accounts reside in Qatar. UNRWA which is in compliance with Hamas, employs over 30,000 Arabs across Gaza, Judea, Samaria, in Jerusalem and in Lebanon and maintains that there are 5,000,000+ refugees and has been funded on this basis. However, millions live abroad. Where did the funds go? Donor countries have rebuilt Gaza a number of times; who funded the terror tunnels? Who funded the education system? Who funded the weapons caches stored in schools, hospitals, mosques?


Advocacy and Action

CAEF Message to Mayor Olivia Chow

A resident reaching out for a response

Dear Mayor Chow, Chief Demkiw,

This is my fifth message to Mayor Chow, the prior messages with no response.

While I am grateful that action has been taken to enforce our laws at Avenue Rd/401, I am extremely disappointed that the police missed an opportunity.

Instead of no more hateful protests only at Ave/401 because you’re scaring the Jews - the message should have and could have been no hate fests anywhere in our city and peaceful protests with a permit only. And no blocking traffic, interfering with normal commerce or intimidating barristas who happen to work at an Israeli franchise but trying to earn a living in Canada or a Jewish owned business. That is the law.

The message needs to be that Jewish people are people, taxpayers, citizens, having often come with no means and contributed much. Jewish people are not asking for special treatment because we are Jewish. We are asking that the law be applied because that is the basis of our civil society. And with civil society comes the possibility of peace, order and good government, and prosperity for all.

At the moment it seems good government is lacking. We need vision, compassion and understanding about how this city became great and is now at great risk.

I call on our Mayor, councillors, Chief of Police and citizens of conscience for an end to protests that call for or promote violence and intimidation. I call on our elected and governing officials to prioritize an anti-hate education campaign in this city and join the movement of mayors in Europe and the US who have adopted an action plan to restore civility to their cities.

If you disagree with this initiative, I look forward to hearing your views.


Regarding the International Court of Justice. Here are what our political parties have to say. You be the judge

Conservatives — The Conservative leader rejected South Africa's genocide allegation against Israel two weeks ago, calling the case brought before the ICJ a "shameless" and "dishonest" attack on Jewish people and the Jewish state.

Liberals — Trudeau told reporters two weeks ago that Canada's "wholehearted" support for the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is adjudicating South Africa's case against Israel, "does not mean we support the premise of the case brought forward by South Africa."

NDP — This is a crucial time for Canada to uphold the principles of international justice…. I am asking you today not to intervene in opposition to this case, and to support the decision of the Court.

Green Party — It is now imperative that Canada commits to respecting and adhering to the upcoming ICJ decision and refrains from any attempt to interfere with the course of justice or influence the decision.


News Flash!!

A recently announced conference by a UK listed terrorist group, Hizbut-Tahrir,  that has operated in Canada since at least 2012, was reported to local authorities and its event suddenly cancelled, its website, Facebook page and other social media made to disappear. This could be in part due to complaints raised by members of the Jewish community, including CAEF, or the organization chose to go dark expecting Canada to act similarly to Britain, especially since the alleged content for the event, scheduled for Saturday, January 27th in Mississauga, included presentations on establishing a global caliphate.


Positive Vibes from a Muslim Zionist

Watch Loay Al Shareef, from UAE


Canadian Ex-Muslim Stands with Israel

Ali Iqtidar is a Pakistan-born, Canada-based ex-Muslim who studied Political Science and Economics at McGill University and now works as an independent contractor with Student Accessibility Services at York University. Ali reached out to CAEF to offer support to the Jewish community, especially since he's noticed and is disconcerted by the extreme anti-Israel protests at the university where he is employed. His article provides a glimpse into his own journey to Zionism.

Ali Iqtidar

When I was much younger, I read Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. To be honest, most of it went right over my head, written as it was in such a deliberately incomprehensible way. But there was one part that stood out to me, and which has continued to stay with me . It was a couple lines in which Nietzsche, using the aforementioned Zarathustra as a mouthpiece, ponders the Christian concept of loving one’s neighbour. It goes like this (though depending on translation, it may slightly vary): "Do I counsel you to love your neighbor, the one nearest you? I counsel you rather to flee the nearest and love the furthest human being."

By “the farthest human being”, Nietzsche here is making a reference to the Ubermensch. The term comes with quite a bit of baggage – it’s a notoriously nebulous concept that was ultimately marred, like much of Nietzsche’s work, by extremists who appropriated it into what eventually became Nazi ideology (despite his own personal opposition to antisemitism). Nonetheless, this fragment lodged itself into my mind, and over time it revealed to me a fundamental truth about the world, albeit not in the way Nietzsche intended.

What do I mean by this? Well, it occurred to me that even though we fixate on loving our neighbours, and many religious traditions affirm this idea, the truth is that it’s a little redundant. We already have plenty of incentive to be nice to our neighbours, religious imperatives or not, simply by virtue of their proximity to us. Our own lives would be tangibly worse off if we had an adversarial relationship with our neighbours – by treating them well, we’re essentially acting in our own self-interest. Add to this the fact that our neighbours will tend (at least statistically) to be people who look like us, speak the same language as us and so on, and we can see how the idea that they are somehow uniquely deserving of love can, under certain conditions, morph into something uglier. So a far more necessary imperative, I feel, is to instead seek out not our neighbours, but those who are the most distant to us. This is because if they’re distant to us, then there’s a good chance they’re distant to others as well, putting them in a lonely and precarious position.

It is this imperative that led me to join the fight against antisemitism. The months following October 7th were what finally spurred me to action, though truth be told, I knew something needed to be done even before this. For years, there’s been an organized effort to push Israeli people to the margins, and this has come to include, more broadly, any Jewish person who supports Israel or who would consider themselves a Zionist. This movement has gained foothold in many academic institutions, including York University, where I work. Indeed, it reached a fever pitch during the last few months, and I have witnessed levels of anti-Israel derangement matched only by what I used to see in Pakistan growing up. Some of the rhetoric crosses all moral boundaries, up to and including outright glorification of Hamas’s actions.

I’ve often heard it said that the story of the Jewish people, through the Second World War, and ultimately culminating in the creation of Israel, represents possibly the greatest comeback story in human history. This may be true, but it’s also true that along the way, they’ve had to endure the absolute worst of what humanity is capable of. And as the events of October 7 showed us, this is a story that sadly isn’t over yet. Groups like Hamas, which have genuinely genocidal ambitious, have gained traction, with large numbers of people all over the world (including here in Canada) either failing to condemn them or in some cases straight up endorsing them. This is not okay.

So, of course I had to act. I had to do something. I feel limited in what I can do – after all, I’m not particularly rich or famous. But I do have a voice, and even if it’s not a particularly loud one, I can at least use it to articulate the values that I believe in. And I can try, in my own way, to reach out to those who have been pushed to the margins, in the hopes that we can all be brought a little closer together.


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