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Salomon Benzimra from Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights speaks: April 21, 2013

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Author, Salomon Benzimra

Salomon Benzimra has led a fascinating life. He was born in 1943 in the International Zone of Tangiers (now Morocco) which was a refuge for many cultures. His early education was in French schools, but his family was Spanish-speaking. In fact, his distant ancestors lived in Spain during the 1400’s and were among the many who crossed the Straits of Gibraltar to escape the Inquisition. In addition to French, Spanish and English, Salomon also reads Hebrew, and reads and speaks a bit of Arabic.

He studied chemical engineering in France and worked in Morocco and Montreal before moving to Toronto in 1976. He became involved in Israeli and world affairs after 9/11 and began writing for publication.

With Goldi Steiner he founded Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR), comprising a group of dedicated volunteers based in Toronto.

CILR has recently published, in Kindle format, The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel by Salomon Benzimra. This e-book is available on Amazon, and details the momentous decisions made at the 1920 San Remo Conference after the Ottoman Empire lost all its territories in the Middle East; decisions made in San Remo are crucial to understanding the present situation in the Middle East. Although suitable for any mature reader, the book was written specifically to prepare Jewish high school students to defend themselves against the defamation, lies and distortions about Israel that many face in university. The book is fact-based and educational, not political, and it debunks the current perception of Jewish Israelis as occupiers and settlers.


Canadian Muslims Unite to Recognize Israel’s Rights to Exist



Why is it in the interest of Muslims in Canada to recognize Israel’s rights to exist? This was the question posed by a speaker in a seminar in Mississauga a couple days ago arranged by the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum.

Muslim Committee against anti-Semitism under the umbrella of Canadian Thinkers’ Forum put together speakers from Muslim, Christian and Jewish Diaspora in terms of finding the way to convince Islamic nations to recognize Israel’s rights to exist.

The Muslim Committee has a simple answer that none of the Jews, Christians, Muslims and other religious or non-religious people in the Middle East are willing to die except groups like Hamas trained terrorists and suicide bombers.

“In fact, peace in the Middle East is not in the interest of Islamic extremists there. If there would be a peace in the Middle East, they would not have any business there,” said Arshad Mahmood, convener Muslim Committee against anti-Semitism.

Another speaker, Hamid Khan Bashani acknowledges that as Muslim nations would recognize Israel’s rights to exist they would be able to move on. He also delivered his thought that Palestinian state should co-exist with Israel but there should not be a question on legitimacy of the state of Israel.

Munir Pervaiz, a former board member PEN Canada and director Progressive Writers Association of Canada emphasized how to eliminate anti-Semitism within Canadian Islamic circles connected with the denial of Israel’s rights to exist.

The event MC & board member Canadian Thinkers’ Forum, Asma Mahmood, expressed the importance of such efforts by stating that “unfortunately, we Muslims are taught hatred against Jews and Israel but we need to grow now and stop this non-sense.”

Peter Bhatti, President International Christian Voice and the brother of assassinated Pakistan’s minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti said that “It’s the first time I am seeing Muslims’ efforts to recognize Israel’s rights to exist and to fight anti-Semitism. I hope such efforts would grow.”

Mark Vandermass, founder of the Israel Truth Week conference, Anita Bromberg, national director of legal affairs for B’nai Brith Canada, Paul Michaels, Director, Research and Senior Media Relations for the Centre for Israel & Jewish affairs and Len Rudner, Director, Community Relations and Outreach CIJA were also among the speakers. They appreciated Canadian Muslims’ efforts for peace and harmony.

As a founder and director of Canadian Thinkers’ Forum and Muslim Committee against anti-Semitism, I strongly condemn “Coalition against Israeli Apartheid’s” moves in terms of portraying Israel as an apartheid state.

First of all, Israel is not an apartheid state and secondly the coalition’s constant bad and unjust portrait of Israel in Canadian campuses and elsewhere is causing anti-Semitic issues for Jew students and staffers.

Unfortunately, there is already too much anti-Semitism played by a certain group of Islamists in Canada that is vocal and controlling Islamic media outlets full of hatred against Jews particularly.

Our Muslim Committee against AntiSemitism, invites “Coalition against Israeli Apartheid” in a peaceful dialogue in order to understand ground realities of the Middle East issue.

Our forum also welcomes Muslim voices in general and Palestinians’ take on why it is important for Muslims to recognize Israel’s rights to exist.

Tahir Gora is Director Canadian Thinkers’ Forum. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TahirGora

Follow Tahir Gora on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TahirGora

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Tahir Aslam Gora founded the “Canadian Thinkers’ Forum” (CTF) and the “Muslim Committee against anti-Semitism” as a means to curb Anti-Semitism in Islamic Centers of Canada


Tahir Aslam Gora, a secular Canadian Muslim writer and journalist, founded the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum (CTF) as a Toronto base Think Tank. Gora is determined to curb Anti-Semitism in Islamic Centers of Canada with the help of over one hundred secular progressive Muslims and partner Muslim and Non-Muslim organizations and individuals.

Among its various activities, CTF aims to work at:

1. Study of growing Islamic radicalization in Canada, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

2. Introduce measures for the de-radicalization of Muslim Youths in Canada.

3. Introduce measures to curb Anti-Semitism within Canadian Muslim Diaspora.

The “Muslim Committee against Anti-Semitism (MCAAS)” was established under the umbrella of the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum. This committee plans to be a watchdog body on Anti-Semitic issues prevailing in Islamic Centers of GTA, Islamic ethnic press, and public spheres.

The committee recognizes a high degree of direct and indirect Anti-Semitism under the guise of phrases such as “Zionist Media”, “Zionist Plans” or “Israel – an apartheid State.”

Also there are numerous “Holocaust Denial Theories & Stories” in the media, speeches and talks. The committee intends to work with the Islamic Schools and Muslim ethnic media in order to eliminate such negative portraits.

The Committee will arrange seminars, conferences and study projects with Muslim Ethnic Press, Muslim Youth and Muslim Student organizations in terms of creating broader awareness for not using such phrases in negative tones and other negative connotations and direct or indirect Anti-Semitism.

Furthermore, the Muslim Committee against anti-Semitism intends to put together speakers from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish Diasporas in terms of finding the way to convince Islamic nations to recognize Israel’s rights to exist.

On March 10, 2013, the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum organized its first seminar in Mississauga Ontario on the question: Why is it in the interest of Muslims in Canada to recognize Israel’s rights to exist?

The event MC & board member Asma Mahmood said that in fact, peace in the Middle East is not in the interest of Islamic extremists there. If there would be a peace in the Middle East, they would not have any business there.” He expressed the importance of such seminars by stating that “unfortunately, we Muslims are taught hatred against Jews and Israel but we need to grow now and stop this non-sense.”

Tahir Aslam Gora is a Pakistani writer of fiction and non-fiction, poet, journalist, editor, translator (English to Urdu), and publisher, with over 25 years of experience in the media industry. He also works as a freelancer to various European and American media outlets. He is also a Secretary General of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Gora was born in Kasur City, Punjab, Pakistan, in 1963 and studied at the Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore. He was active in several literary and cultural organizations in Pakistan and was a noted critic of religious intolerance in that country. He founded Gora Publishers in 1987 in Pakistan, which published more than 200 works of literature and books on the social sciences. He fled to Canada in the spring of 1999 following threats to his life.

Currently, he contributes regularly for the Huffington Post and he does a weekly Urdu language talk show “Bilatakalluf” on Mississauga based South Asian Rawal TV that could be viewed every Friday night at 9PM. He also started the radio program, Watan Radio, on 770AM in 2001.

Gora has published three collections of short stories, one novel, two collections of poems, two anthologies and one translation. Some of his work has been translated into Russian, Uzbek and English. His second novel in Urdu is in the process of publishing. He is currently at work on two manuscripts; one about Islam, the other titled “Understanding Canadian Multiculturalism.”

He has been a target of death threats by Islamic fundamentalists of Greater Toronto Areas.

What inspired Tahir Aslam Gora to become involved with issues of anti-Semitism and hostility to Israel was a meeting in October 2007 at a Toronto church to hear Palestinian Information Minister Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. The lecture was organized by the Coalition against Israeli Apartheid, and the whole purpose of Barghouti’s slide show was to prove Israel was an apartheid state.

After listening to Barghouti’s lecture, Gora started pondering: Can such extreme ideology help anyone find a peaceful solution for Palestinians? To him, it seemed certainly not.

The concept of Israel being an “apartheid state” is borrowed from South Africa’s former notorious regime. But is there any relation between Israel and South Africa’s institutionalized racism of separating black people from white South Africans? Making such a connection is merely an intellectual dishonesty and an attempt to distract the Palestinian mobs from on-the-ground realities.

While efforts continue to establish an independent Palestinian state and to find peace in the region, groups such as the Coalition against Israeli Apartheid are not playing a positive role. Israel is a purely democratic society, not an apartheid state.

Gora concluded that peace in the region would never happen without realistic efforts by Palestinian leaders and their supporters. First, they have to rule out any possibility of further violent attacks on Israel. Since Israelis have been targeted — killed and wounded — by suicide bombers from the Palestinian territories, they are not going to take the risk of attacks in their cities.

Moreover, the Arab world in general, and Islamic militant groups in particular, are fuelling the traditional hatred against Jews among Palestinian masses. Calling Israel an apartheid state is not a sincere effort to find a peace solution. If the Palestinian leadership were sincere, it would have recognized Israelis’ own need and desire for peace.

Instead of provoking violence in the region, Palestinian leaders could have settled issues with Israel. In return, an independent Palestine would by now have been prospering along with a progressing Israeli nation. And Palestinian leaders such as Mustafa Barghouti should focus their energies on finding a real way to peace rather than trying to establish a political base founded on hatred toward Israelis.


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