Last month, Toronto Police released a report on hate crimes in the city during 2015, and for the tenth year in a row Jews topped the list of most targeted communities. The facts suggest that certain people are seriously misjudging the state of anti-Semitism in Canada today: It is, unfortunately, far from being an "abused" term.
Truthfully, unless you are a member of our indigenous peoples, we are all immigrants, regardless if you gained your citizenship yesterday or 16 generations ago. Historically, immigrants and refugees who adopted Canada as their country of choice contributed to the development of Canada's social, economic and civil fabric.
I am an orthodox Jewish woman and it's something I'm proud of. I know I may seem different to you, strange even. We look different, we keep mostly to ourselves and basically live in our own little bubble. I understand you don't "get" us. But I don't understand why we deserve the hatred directed at us.
We ask you to resist the false alarm that your Zionist friends sound when they cry "anti-Semitism!" as the proverbial boy might cry "wolf!" For those who do so are robbing a horrendous historic episode of its gravity, confusing legitimate dissent with genocide. Criticism is not Kristallnacht; challenges to the occupation are not the gas chambers. The distinction is crucial.
In July 1944, some 430,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to Auschwitz in the space of 10 weeks -- the fastest, cruelest and most efficient mass murder of the Nazi genocide. Yet Wallenberg rescued some 100,000 Jews in six months in Hungary in 1944, demonstrating that one person with the courage to care, and the commitment to act, can confront evil and transform history.
Anti-Semitism is what many Canadian Jews experienced who faced quotas when applying for professional degrees, or who were barred from joining certain golf clubs. Anti-Semitism is what my ancestors experienced in Eastern Europe with pogroms, frequent assaults and massacres in Jewish communities. Anti-Semitism is the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust. How can it be in any way appropriate to use this term to describe individuals who criticize a modern political entity -- the state of Israel -- which systematically violates the rights of Palestinians?
Muslim scholar Afifi Al Akiti has clearly stated that there is no legal precedent in Islam on targeting innocent civilians and that Hamas violated this admirable precedent in 1994 by bombing a public bus in Jerusalem. We cannot forget news items like that of Hassan Askari, a Bangladeshi Sunni Muslim, who risked his own life to aid three Jewish travelers in New York from anti-Semitic assault.
I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness, and of action. I write also in the immediate aftermath of anti-Semitic terror and killing in France, and in the midst of ongoing mass atrocities by Boko Haram in Nigeria, ethnic cleansing in Darfur and South Sudan, and killing fields in Syria and elsewhere. And so, at this important historical moment, we should ask ourselves: What have we learned in the last 70 years, and more importantly, what must we do?
It is a black and white matter. Killing journalists because they write, draw or publish something you deem offensive is wrong, and yes, it is wrong even if the thing you deemed offensive is, objectively speaking, offensive. There are no shades of grey here, no colours, no nuances. None of that is relevant. It matters not if the cartoons were vulgar or sexist, or, as many think, not funny.
As a Jew, I feel sorry for Palestinians. Their plight is awful. They're at the mercy of a government who would see them dead if it would further their cause. You can be PRO Palestine without being ANTI Israel. You can be against this war and not be Anti-Semitic. Try to remember that when you ask Israel to lay down their weapons you're asking them to walk right into a gas chamber.
The Metropolitan Opera recently announced it would cancel a planned worldwide cinema broadcast of John Adams' haunting opera, The Death of Klinghoffer. Indeed the whole opera has been criticized -- including by Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, the daughters of Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer -- as humanizing and even justifying acts of terrorism.
We have become inured to anti-Semitism. It passes the lips and enters the ears without shock. We don't name and shame anti-Jewish hatred. Ryan Bellerose is a Métis. It didn't matter. The man who accosted him thought him a Jew. Knew nothing about him and suggested it was sad he existed. This is anti-Semitism.
National Post columnist Dave Bidini failed his son as a parent when he didn't address his son's questions about Roger Waters' comments comparing Israeli Soldiers to Nazis. Moving beyond the gushing star-struck comments he made about Waters through the lips of his son, Bidini's love of Roger Water's music has blinded him to Roger Waters, the man.