As conflict rages in Syria, Israel has taken in hundreds of Syrian refugees in need of urgent medical care. Even though Israel is officially at war with Syria, the preservation of life trumps security concerns. Likewise, when Palestinian terrorists try to indoctrinate children to wear suicide bomb vests, Israel remarkably takes painful efforts to save that child's life.
If a Canadian incites hatred against an identifiable group in public and advocates murder or genocide, does that constitute a hate crime? If the incitement is against, for example, the gay, black or aboriginal community should criminal charges be laid? What if the incitement is against the Jewish community, is there a difference?
This week marked an important turning point in Ontario's awareness of determined and well-funded efforts to undermine the values and conceptual underpinnings of Canadian society by groups hoping to import a toxic and foreign ideology to our nation. Nowhere was this effort more evident than the staging of the "Al Quds Day" rally, held for the past two years on the grounds of Queen's Park. Supporters of a genocidal theocracy which aims to fundamentally reshape western democracies by exporting the values of Shariah law should not and do not have to receive the blessing of the state to exercise this right. The fundamental values cherished by all Canadians must not be discarded so cavalierly, with the acquiescence of our government and the permission of our laws.
I'm not fasting because the oldest symbol of "unity"--the Western Wall--is a battleground for religious pluralism, and I imagine that if the Cohanim were still around they would be on the side of the Haredim, not on the side of those women who, like me, want to be full participating Jews with tallit and a Torah.
The situation Canadian Natives face is not befitting of Canadians' genuine compassion and sense of fairness. But Canadian Jews have, like American Jews during the civil rights struggle, a special duty born of shared experience to actively support First Nations' efforts "to be a free people in their own land" (from the Israeli anthem).
The overwhelming majority of people in the West are not anti-Semitic and the majority believe Israel has a right to exist, but a distressingly large number has been sold a bigoted and false misconception of the correlation of moral force in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel is not without fault, and the Palestinians deserve sympathy and support toward statehood, but they will be retarded and not helped by continuing Israelophobic misinformation on a scale that caused the otherwise inexplicable boycott of an annual Jerusalem conference by scientist Stephen Hawking.
To this day, I cannot watch footage of the faces of Jewish mothers, fathers, and children consigned to the gas chambers in German concentration camps without, as a Canadian, feeling a great sense of sorrow, loss, and guilt. The government of Canada ignored not only the plight of the Jews, but also the protests of the Canadian people and the pleading of the press. Why was nothing done? Because of political expediency; because the prime minister had a visceral distrust of Jews, and in government circles an open-door policy was very unpopular. But prime ministers are not chosen to seek popularity. They are elected to provide leadership.
If we Jews and all other citizens of humanity actually mean the words we speak when we say, "never again," then we must take a stand, today, and actively choose to care and to defend justice by celebrating the uncelebrated and by protecting and giving voice to the voiceless among us, and to say that hatred and intolerance, in any shape or form, no matter how small, has no place in this world.