I'm just going to come right out and say it: I think Americans have a lot to be concerned about unless, among other things, they don't care about their freedom to choose and their basic human rights. Have you been paying attention to Donald Trump's nominees? Do you know what they believe in and stand for? I have been keeping up with his picks and their platforms. And let me tell you, unless I was an affluent, white, heterosexual, conservative Christian man, I'd be more than a little nervous.
Last Thursday I arrived at my synagogue to find it vandalized. It was heartbreaking to see blatant anti-Semitism and racism displayed in our nation's capital. But after a difficult week, far more than a silver lining has emerged. Ottawa has united to send a clear message to anyone who would target communities based on their faith, race, or other characteristic.
Canadians need to stop being polite about their racism and start owning it. Resist the urge to get defensive of multiculturalism and realize not everyone experiences Canada in the same way. Multiculturalism alone cannot mitigate prejudice, not without action. Canada is not devoid of racism because of our multiculturalism and the 'Trump Effect' must not eclipse the domestic racism that has long existed in this country.
There have been many calls to better understand the white working class voter and placing blame on "political correctness" for what Van Jones dubbed on election night "a whitelash." In other words, that the real problem was that we weren't paying enough attention to straight, white people and shouldn't have been calling for diversity, equality and respect. But arguing that if you just didn't challenge straight white male supremacy then they wouldn't have elected a straight white male supremacist is no different than blaming a rape victim for what she wore, or a gay-bashing victim for kissing his boyfriend, or a Jew for wearing a Star of David necklace.
Canada's parliament adopted unanimously a motion to condemn all forms of Islamophobia in the country. The fact that the motion received no objection from any of the federal parties shows that the Liberal, NDP, Conservative and Bloc Quebecois members have a clear understanding that Islamophobia is a severe form of bigotry.
Like it or not, Canada is a country that celebrates freedom of expression. Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "Everyone has freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication." That "Everyone" includes people who say objectionable, false, foolish, misguided, or even ugly things.
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?