by Doris Strub Epstein
“If someone spits in your face, don’t call it rain.”
Titled Ancient Hatred -Modern Times, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre of Canada, (FSWC) led by CEO Avi Benlolo, held a conference that examined the state of anti -Semitism today in Canada and around the world. Held at Hart House on Sunday, a stellar array of speakers and panelists -Jewish, Muslim and Christian – sounded the alarm on the global, rising tide of anti- Semitism and the urgent need for combat. Muslim countries have expelled their Jewish citizens; European anti-Semitic attacks escalate and neo Nazi parties are gaining power. But, here in North America, it is “more subtle, masquerading as anti- Zionism,” states the FSWC in an introduction to the conference.
Jason Kenney, Minister Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism quoted Prime Minister Harper’s speech to the Knesset, where he warned that a dangerous new form of anti- Semitism has emerged that targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel, ignoring the countries with the worst abuses of human rights. “We must not allow this new anti- Semitism to take root in Canada,” he said. It sports a “veneer of respectability” on university campuses. ” Since the second intifada, Jewish students are screamed at, marginalized, vilified and sometimes attacked physically.
“We professors have failed our students,” Professor Aurel Braun told the group. “Israel Apartheid Week is now in 50 countries and hundreds of campuses. It’s not just one week, it goes on all year and has permeated every faculty.” He describes it as “fraudulent, totalitarian and uses apartheid and BDS tactics for the destruction of Israel,… which they call a criminal entity.” Their propaganda employs Jews like Noam Chomsky as a front -“Jews of convenience”. Free speech is suppressed, there is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Urging people to fight back he said, “We have to speak out. We cannot be silent. Sha shtill it will go away doesn’t work. If someone spits in your face, don’t call it rain.”
“It takes bravery to stand up for Israel on campus today,” agreed Dr. Richard Cravatts, President, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.
“We are witnessing today a new virulent global and even lethal anti -Jewishness, reminiscent of the l930’s, unprecedented since the end of WW 11,” said keynote speaker, Irwin Cotler MP , former Minister of Justice. In the international arena, Israel is singled out for differential and discriminatory treatment while major rights abusers are ignored. Genocidal anti-Semitism is state sanctioned in Iran, embedded in the policies of Hamas, Al Queda, Hizbollah and the like, sermonized in the mosque as a religious obligation.
The new anti- Semitism has moved from discrimination against Jews as individuals, to discrimination against Jews as a people. Israel, the only democracy in the area, is a human rights violator. Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, is called racist, labeled apartheid and therefore must be destroyed. Now focused n the “illegality” of the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria; Israel is treated as an “international outlaw.”
Theological Islamic anti- Semitism is state sanctioned – Jews are the enemy of Islam. Many Protestant churches are hostile to Israel, presenting the Palestinians as victims of Israel while ignoring their murders and terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens. Naim Ateek, an Anglican bishop in East Jerusalem, produces theologically based lies and libel about Israel that he feeds to visiting Anglicans from abroad.
Culturally, anti Semitism is flourishing in academe, parliaments, among intellectuals and the human rights movements.
The “cutting edge” of the new anti Semitism, Cotler says, is with the Holocaust. It goes from denial that it happened to accusations of fabricating the “hoax” of the Holocaust for reparation money, to building an “illegal” Jewish State on the backs of Palestinians. Terminology of the Holocaust has been hi jacked; Israelis are called the new Nazis; Israel is in a war of destructions against the Palestinians; the naqba is the real Holocaust.
“This evil of anti -Semitism is the ultimate assault on human rights while it masquerades as a fight for human rights.”
While all spoke out for more and better combat strategies against anti-Semitism, the most fiery speaker was Tarak Fatah, Founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress author of The Jew is Not My Enemy. “Jews don’t realize the enormity of Jew hatred, almost 90 per cent of Muslims, religious and secular. Two thousand mosques every Friday start with denunciation of the Jews,” he said heatedly. “Jew hatred is not about religion, it’s about a people.” He went on to say it’s doesn’t matter if you are an atheist or even a convert to Islam, you are still a Jew. “To fight anti Semitism it to fight Islamic fascism, worse than the Nazis.” Jews though are losing that fight, he said. “Your fight is so weak, you are losing to the enemy.”
“There are no counter actions against Islamists in our own backyard,” said Tahir Goa, founder of Muslims Against Anti-Semitism.
Raheel Raza, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, informed the audience about the madrassa curiculums that come from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. “We need to teach university students facts to push back. This is not the time to be silent.” Most Muslims, they agreed, even in Canada, do not speak out against anti-Semitism. Many, she admitted were “terrified.”
Christians were represented by Christine Williams, Director Canadian Race Relations Foundation, Reverend Andrew Love, and Dr. Andrew Bennett Ambassador, Office of Religious Freedom Canada.
Anti-Semitism is endemic, pervasive and permanent,” declared Professor Braun. “It can’t be cured only managed. It is also an offense against humanity, a threat to democratic society and against modernity.”