Last week proved to be a very active week in which the "Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation (CAEF)" addressed multiple, diverse situations arising from antisemitism and antiZionism.
This Bulletin is by way of sharing our new level of activity, stating our position and our commitment to bringing a new direct and bold voice to issues. CAEF will happily partner with Jewish and non-Jewish organizations in the battle against anti-Semitism.
Our mission is to fight anti-Zionism which IS another form of antisemitism, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and to stand up for Jewish rights in all of Israel, rights which are legal, Biblical, historical and ethical. There is NO occupation, there is No peace partner, there is No “deal of the century” that could ever include giving up parts of Judea and Samaria to create another Arab Muslim, “judenfrei” apartheid state.
We invite reader comments.
ISSUE ONE: The Israel Apartheid Speaker at UTM
The University of Toronto Palestinian Student Association jumped into the 15th anniversary of the ill-begotten, hate-filled Israel Apartheid Week festivities on March 6th with a lecture from the now infamous Norman Finkelstein. Hasbara Fellowships provided some important background on Finkelstein, who has claimed there is a “Holocaust Industry” used by Jews to develop sympathy for their "colonial project" in Israel. The speaking event provided a platform for Finkelstein which needed to be challenged.
Finkelstein is an ardent antizionist. He has demonized Israel for years. He is an outspoken leader in the BDS movement. Complaints to the University administration were not with the usual defense of non interference in student sponsored events. In an academic environment one does expect to see `free speech` valued, so the response was not unexpected. However, it is weak-kneed for a progressive, liberal, human-rights-honoring institution to allow such tripe without at least expressing a view. If someone in full blown Nazi attire were to speak, we hope that President Gertler would have the gumption to say that it’s distasteful, hate-filled and antisemitic. It is no less so when coming from a Leftist even if Jewish. Finkelstein ended up demanding that Israel succumb to the blood-thirsty violent mobs of Gaza, which under Hamas pays terrorists, abuses children by pushing them into the militia or using them as human shields. The government of Hamas, and no less that of the Palestinian Authority, is intent on only one thing--hurting Israel and its citizens, and to suggest that Israel NOT respond is akin to aligning with Nazis who had a similar intent. Surely any university president that must allow the expression of such hatred and lies as part of free speech should at least denounce them.
Here is our letter of March 8th, 2019 to Dr Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto:
Dear President Gertler;
We have followed the situation surrounding the recent presentation by the very antisemitic and discredited professor, Norman Finkelstein, a man who uses his “Jewish identity” to espouse horrific lies about Jews and Israel. We feel it’s incumbent on our organization to comment, even after the fact, not to protest this man’s right to speak his mind, his lies notwithstanding, but to ask that in your position, representing the entire University of Toronto, that you speak out as did the President of Cornell University, Martha Polllack. https://www.algemeiner.com/2019/03/01/cornell-university-president-shares-strong-opposition-to-bds-for-unfairly-singling-out-israel-questioning-jewish-states-right-to-exist/
It’s inexcusable that an institution of higher learning should claim no accountability for the rise in antisemitism which is so well documented and so blatant across university campuses. It's fine to note that various antisemitic campus organizations host these events, and that grad associations dominated by leftists social scientists pass ludicrous antiZionist motions, but to ignore this entirely and say nothing is really unconscionable. I think you are probably familiar with a famous quote attributed to Edmund Burke (most quoted saying in the world): “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Therefore, you are expected to speak up, and be counted among the Good.
It is truly outrageous that in an era of hostility towards Israel that is leading to the death of innocent people across the globe, university administrators are excusing themselves and saying nothing, not even providing lip service to attempt to quell the hatred. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), of which Canada is a member, explicitly states that demonizing Israel, holding her to a double standard (and of course ignoring the atrocities committed against Israelis) and the demonization of Israel IS antisemitism.
So, we call on you Dr Gertler, to speak out now, condemn the BDS movement, condemn Israel Apartheid Week and condemn student organizations that foster divisiveness not peace, lies not truths, and hatred not justice.
NO RESPONSE HAS YET BEEN RECEIVED
ISSUE TWO: Doing Right by Withdrawing a Speaker Invitation
An article appeared in the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) of March 5th, 2019 that reported about a speaker in Winnipeg having been cancelled after the various Jewish organizations, which included the Winnipeg Jewish Federation and several synagogues, received strong censure for the invitation. Rabbinic student Lex Rofeberg is heavily associated with the anti-Israel NGO IfNotNow, which is recruiting young Jews to vilify Israel, spread lies of “occupation”, and lies about the persecution of Arabs in Israel. This newest Leftist organization has been quite invidious, drawing recruits from established organizations like Birthright, and taking their anti-Israel training to Jewish camps in the U.S. Their presence has been felt in Canada and their message is unjust, untrue, unspeakable.
While all are free to speak, no platform need be given by the Jewish community and its funders to such rhetoric. So despite the fact that we have since been told Rofeberg was going to speak on a different topic, and that he remained a speaker for Limmud Winnipeg, there was little doubt in our minds that he is not a credible witness to Israel. We supported the Jewish Defence League in its call to action.
In response to the article on the situation that was published in the CJN, we submitted the following article which was subsequently published on March 12th and is on line at this link.
ISSUE THREE: The Global Mayors Coalition Against Hate, Antisemitism and BDS
A group of European municipal leaders have formed a new coalition to fight antisemitism at every local level. This was widely reported online in light of the growing incidence of antisemitic attacks across Europe. No less concerning is the fact that hate crimes against Jews in Canada have also been increasing as reported by B’nai Brith and other organizations.
Toronto is internationally recognized as one of the most diverse cities in the world, if not the most diverse, and everyone celebrates it as the best example of multi-culturalism and tolerance in the world. Therefore, this new initiative might serve our city and its leadership well, promoting tolerance and demonstrating a collaboration against antisemitism. Its a call to action locally.
Here is what we wrote to Mayor John Tory on March 8th, 2019:
Dear Mayor Tory;
I am writing to introduce you to a new global initiative that aims to fight antisemitism, a rising and serious concern in the Jewish community and across the world. The rate of antisemitic attacks has increased dramatically as well documented by B'nai Brith Canada and the World Jewish Congress, and many institutions in European countries. We must show leadership in Canada and denounce this, as I know you have done in the past, but now we call on you to do more.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, clearly states, based on lots of evidence, that the new antisemitism definitely includes anti-Zionism or anti- Israelism, which demonizes and denigrates Israel and holds it to a double standard, criticizing Israel for all manner of things for which other countries are ignored. Some of the worst of this ignores the fact that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, the only country with full civic rights for all of its citizens and full inclusion for all people no matter religion, race or creed, sexual orientation, gender, disability or political views. IHRA rightly condemns all forms of antisemitism and Canada is a signatory to this declaration.
On behalf of Hasbara Fellowships and the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation, we urge you to be the first Mayor in Canada to take leadership in joining the initiative described below, the Global Mayors Coalition Against Hate, Antisemitism and BDS. Several articles below announce this very new initiative. We would be very pleased to meet with you to