E.J. Dionne: Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are equally wrong

Good commentary:

The polling is imperfect, but it’s fair to say that more than 70 percent of American Jews and Muslims vote Democratic.

They do so, in part, because Democrats have spoken out strongly against both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. And now, both groups are horrified by Trumpism’s embrace of discrimination against Muslims and its trafficking in anti-Semitism.

Just watch the Trump campaign ad attacking what it claims is “a global power structure that is responsible for economic decisions that have robbed our working class,” while flashing images of prominent Jews.

And you can’t help but cheer the fact that Jews and Muslims across the country have stood in solidarity when local institutions of either group have been defaced or attacked.

Bigotry is bigotry. It must always be opposed.

This is why the dangerously careless use of language by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) about Jews and Israel — she spoke of people who “push for allegiance to a foreign country” — has been cause for both heartbreak and anger.

I get that some readers will see my use of the word “careless” as too soft because the dual-loyalty charge has historically been so poisonous. But in refraining from stronger language I’m putting my bet on hope. I’m wagering that Omar’s personal history ought to mean that she understands the dangers of prejudice better than most.

In November, many of us celebrated her breakthrough election. She won strong backing from the Jewish community in her district. Maybe I’m also giving her a break because she’s progressive. Anti-Semitism is utterly antithetical to anything that deserves to be called liberal or progressive. Surely Omar doesn’t want the Democrats ensnared in the sort of left-wing anti-Semitism now haunting the British Labour Party.

Opposing anti-Semitism should be axiomatic for everyone. And for me, it’s also personal.

My observant Catholic parents moved to our city’s most Jewish neighborhood shortly after I was born, and my sister and I were raised to see anti-Semitism as sinful. My very first friends in the world were Jewish, and my mom regularly sat down with our next-door neighbor to compare notes on Catholic and Jewish views about the nature of God. As I’ve written before, my informal second father was Jewish. A dear man named Bert Yaffe informally took me into his family after my dad died when I was a teenager, and his kids welcomed me as a brother.

Partly because of this history, but also in common with almost all liberals and social democrats of a certain age, I have always — and will always — support the existence of Israel as a democratic Jewish state.

I spent a month in Israel in the spring of 1974, as the country experienced searing existential anxiety after its close call in the Yom Kippur War, and I visited Kiryat Schmona, a development town in the north that suffered under regular Palestinian attacks. It was an enduring lesson in the constant fear that haunts Israelis over the prospects of their country’s survival.

But Israel’s commitment to democracy is also an important reason for my admiration, which is why I support a two-state solution and oppose continued settlements in Palestinian areas. Israel will not remain democratic if it continues to occupy the West Bank and Gaza, and justice requires Palestinian self-determination.

When I covered the war in Lebanon in the 1980s, a Palestinian friend underscored for me the cost of being stateless. All he wanted, he would say, was the legitimacy that citizenship and a passport confer. It did not seem too much to ask.

Thus, my sympathies have always been with the beleaguered peace camps on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. This has led to deep frustration with Palestinian rejectionists, but also with the politics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has done enormous damage to Israel’s standing with young Americans who did not grow up with my gut commitment to Israel’s survival. His appearance before Congress in 2015 to trash President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran greatly aggravated this problem. His alliance with a virtual fascist party leading into next month’s elections is unconscionable and a gift to anti-Israel propagandists.

So, yes, I know full well that you can love Israel, be critical of its current government and truly despise anti-Semitism, all at the same time. What you cannot do is play fast and loose with language that cannot help but be seen as anti-Semitic. I pray Omar now realizes this. At this moment, opponents of bigotry must be able to rely on each other.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.

Source: E.J. Dionne: Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are equally wrong

Anti-BDS laws are more than words. They are a legal attempt to punish a passive act: Neil Macdonald

I would distinguish between boycotting products and services from the occupied territories (legitimate) from Israel proper:

Back in January, the publisher of a tiny newspaper in Arkansas, standing on journalistic principle, defied the dead hand of government, the way a publisher is supposed to. Publisher Alan Leveritt’s scorching article, posted on the website of the American Civil Liberties Association, gladdened the journalistic heart.

Or at least it should have. But we don’t know whether it did; the institutions of American journalism, impoverished and increasingly frightened of their own audiences, are mostly maintaining a courageous silence. You’d think they’d be concerned.

Dozens of relatively recent state laws now require anyone who does business with government, including media organizations, to effectively make a pro-Israel pledge, and in some cases, sign one.

The signatory must promise not to in any way limit business activities with Israel or its settlements in the occupied territories, which even the United States considers illegal under international law.

Risking ad revenue

Last year, Leveritt was told to sign the pledge or lose badly needed ad revenue from the Arkansas university system. He told the state of Arkansas to go jump in a lake.

“We really needed the business,” Leveritt wrote, but at what price?

“Since when do American citizens have to pledge to act in the interest of a foreign power in order to do business with their own government?”

“As an American, I say it is none of their damn business what political beliefs we hold. We’ll see them in court.”

On the phone this week, Leveritt said his newspaper is actually unconcerned with Israel and its occupation, and has taken no editorial view on it: “We are concerned about the 20,000 people in this state who have been kicked off Medicaid. We focus on local issues.”

He in fact regards the demand to sign the pledge as the state forcing his paper to take an editorial position against its will.

“I wouldn’t sign a pro-Palestine pledge, either.”

Other newspapers across the country must have been asked to sign similar pledges, he notes (“If they have signed, they should be ashamed of themselves”), but there has been precious little support of the Arkansas Times.

“I have not received a single call. Nothing.”

Leveritt’s only ally seems to be the American Civil Liberties Association, which regards the right to boycott as a “McCarthy-era loyalty oath,” and is helping him sue. The writers’ organization PEN has expressed support, too.

But that sort of free-speecher view is not widely shared in America, at least where the boycott involves Israel.

Since 2015, 26 other states have passed laws similar to the one in Arkansas. The United States Senate just passed a federal version. Basically, these laws are an attempt to punish entities or individual Americans who choose not to do something – in this case, choosing not to invest with, buy from or otherwise economically support Israel.

It’s all an attempt to combat a strategy chosen by Palestinian leaders and their supporters roughly 13 years ago. After decades of being told by Israel and the West to abandon armed struggle and choose a non-violent path to oppose Israel’s occupation and settlements, the Palestinians and their allies decided to do just that: they founded the so-called BDS movement, standing for boycott, divest and sanction, using economic levers to pressure Israel.

BDS counterattack

At first, Israel brushed off BDS as trivial, but as the movement began to gain traction worldwide (BDS is supported in whole or in part, by, among others, the United Church of Canada and the Quakers, and the corporate world has taken notice), the Israeli government and its supporters organized an aggressive counterattack, using everything from lawsuits and public shaming of individual BDS supporters to lobbying efforts aimed at persuading other countries to outlaw boycotts. BDS, they proclaimed, is not just anti-Semitic, it’s “economic terrorism.”

Nowhere has Israel found greater support than in the United States, which is unsurprising. America has the largest population of evangelical Christians in the world. Their support for Israel is as absolute as their opposition to abortion, and they understand how to exercise political power. The anti-boycott laws generally pass with healthy bipartisan support.

“Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies,” declared Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, signing his state’s anti-BDS law.

Elsewhere, nations are choosing sides, many of them coming down on Israel’s. Governments in France, Germany and the UK have all denounced BDS. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has effectively called the movement anti-Semitic, accusing it of singling out and delegitimizing Israel.

Ultimately, though, denunciations by politicians or governments or political parties are just words – a declaration of a political position to voters. BDS supporters in Canada probably couldn’t care less what Trudeau thinks of them, and in any case, politicians are hardly consistent on such matters. Politicians are constantly singling out, delegitimizing and sanctioning other nations for bad behaviour.

Washington, for example, was furious when Venezuelan troops blocked foreign food shipments and shot protesters, but regards Israel’s blockade of foreign food aid to Gaza and its troops shooting Gazan protesters — which Israel defends on security grounds — as completely justified.

The anti-BDS laws in the United States, though, are more than words. They are a legal attempt to punish a passive act, which is a form of speech. There are powerful politicians who would actually criminalize BDS.

Leveritt, the Arkansas Times publisher, puts it this way:  “As an American citizen, I say I can not buy whatever I don’t want to buy and it’s none of the state’s damn business.”

So, ultimately, it will be the courts in America, and perhaps elsewhere, to decide how far this can all go.

Already, federal courts in Kansas and Arizona have blocked anti-BDS laws in those states as illegal suppression of speech. A speech pathologist fired from a university in Texas for refusing to sign the pledge is also suing. In Britain, the country’s high court dismissed charges of discrimination levied against local councils that supported the boycott. A high court justice, compared BDS to boycotts of South Africa’s apartheid regime, ruling: “There is legitimate scope for criticism of Israel without that implying anti-Semitic attitudes” (precisely the opposite of what Israel and its supporters argue).

Other British judges have sided with pro-Israel groups. And in the U.S., comparisons have been drawn to the boycotts of discriminatory white-owned businesses during the civil rights era. The Arkansas Times made precisely that argument.

But when Alan Leveritt got his day in court, he lost.

Arkansas Federal Judge Brian Miller, in late January, ruled that a boycott is not protected speech, and that the state has the right to force businesses to sign the pledge.

Leveritt has filed an appeal: “I’m not signing anything.”

Well, good for Alan Leveritt. He has guts. But the Arkansas Times was just forced to go from weekly to monthly publication, and principles can be expensive.

Source: Anti-BDS laws are more than words. They are a legal attempt to punish a passive act: Neil Macdonald

Austria’s Jews wary of far-right charm offensive

Rightfully so:

David Lasar’s family is sadly not unusual among Austria’s Jewish community in having lost several members in the Holocaust. But in one respect Lasar stands out — his membership of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

At its foundation, the FPOe was led by two former members of the Waffen SS, so 66-year-old Lasar’s choice of political home might well be considered surprising.

Lasar says he initially joined in the late 1990s as the FPOe was “the only party close to the people, to employees and workers who had been forgotten by the left, while the centre-right was the party of capitalism and big business”.

Now as an FPOe MP he says he has an added reason for throwing his lot in with the party.

“We are fighting tirelessly against anti-Semitism, especially anti-Semitism imported through immigration.

“We are the only party to be fighting against this, together with our partners in government,” he says, referring to the centre-right People’s Party (OeVP) of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Since entering the coalition government at the end of 2017, the FPOe has made great play of its efforts to foster a rapprochement with the Jewish community, and to establish relations between the party and Israel.

But the Jewish community has largely kept its distance in the face of repeated scandals suggesting that anti-Semitic attitudes are still present in the party’s milieu.

As for Israel, its government has maintained an official boycott of all FPOe ministers, including Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, who while not an FPOe member herself, was nominated for the post by the party.

– ‘Political calculation’ –

Benjamin Hess, co-president of the Austrian Union of Jewish Students insists: “We see no change at all within the FPOe.”

Hess himself confronted Strache in a TV programme last year for having shared an anti-Semitic image on his Facebook page in 2012.

“It’s easy to say: ‘I’m against anti-Semitism, it’s much harder to distance yourself from it in reality,” Hess says.

He and others who are still sceptical of the FPOe point in particular to the party’s deep ties to the “Burschenschaften”, student fraternities known for their strident pan-German nationalism and whose alumni include many high-ranking FPOe politicians.

Strache, who himself flirted with neo-Nazism in his youth, has tried to clean up the party’s image, insisting that it rejects anti-Semitism and expelling some of its more embarrassing members.

He has also made trips to Israel, being welcomed on his last visit in 2016 by junior members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. He also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

Lasar says he has also been to Israel on behalf of the party to foster better relations with the Israeli right, and boasts that he has made “excellent contacts”.

“The political calculation is obvious,” says Bernhard Weidinger from the DOeW institute, which researches the Austrian far-right.

When the current government came to power the European Jewish Congress (EJC) warned that “the Freedom Party can not use the Jewish community as a fig leaf and must show tolerance and acceptance towards all communities and minorities,” in an allusion to the FPOe’s anti-Muslim rhetoric.

– ‘No rapprochement’ –

The “imported anti-Semitism” that Lasar speaks of has become a favourite theme of Strache’s too, particularly as since 2015 the country has received some 150,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, many of them from Muslim countries.

In February, Strache launched his new think-tank with a podium discussion on “Islamic anti-Semitism”.

Ten days later, a prominent FPOe politician sent a letter to the Israeli ambassador in Vienna, saying that “supposed far-right extremist incidents” linked to FPOe members in recent months were down to “nothing more than agitation by the FPOe’s political opponents”.

Last year the party’s lead candidate in a regional election, Udo Landbauer, was forced to stand aside after it was revealed that the student fraternity that he belonged to had previously published virulently anti-Semitic songbooks.

He has since returned to politics for the party.

Weidinger points to the fact that the party has taken out adverts in publications that have included anti-Semitic content.

And all this against a backdrop of what Austria’s Forum Against Anti-Semitism says was a doubling of anti-Semitic incidents between 2014 and 2017.

Lasar says that “many Jews” admit to him: “I vote for the FPOe because you are the only ones who are there for us on issues around security and who speak out against radical Islamism.”

But Hess says this is still a minority view within the community.

“You find lots of different opinions among the community in Austria, but one thing unites everyone: no rapprochement with the FPOe.”

Source: Austria’s Jews wary of far-right charm offensive

Increasing Anti-Semitism: Macron Struggles to Contain Rising Hate Crimes

Worth noting:

He had hoped, said French President Emmanuel Macron with a heavy voice last Wednesday evening, that “this dinner would take place in a cheerful context.” Wearing a dark suit and a serious expression, he stood in front of a podium in the Carrousel du Louvre, an underground shopping mall near the Louvre museum.

CRIF, the umbrella association of Jewish organizations in France, had invited Macron for their annual dinner. It could have been just one event among many for the French president, whose agenda is always packed. But it didn’t turn out that way. Quite the contrary.

That has to do with a situation that is anything but cheerful. Anti-Semitic attacks increased by fully 74 percent in 2018, an unfathomable spike. Last year, 541 incidents were registered, compared to 311 the previous year.

And then there are the recent events: Only a few days before the event near the Louvre, a man shouted at philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on the street, saying that he was a “filthy Jew,” that he belonged to a “filthy race” and that he should “go back to Tel Aviv.” The man who yelled at Finkielkraut was wearing a yellow vest.

Then a Jewish cemetery in Alsace was desecrated as was, though it wasn’t yet known by the time of the dinner, another cemetery near Lyon, where someone wrote “Shoa blabla” on a memorial. Meanwhile, the portrait on the 13th Arrondissement town hall of Simone Veil, the Holocaust survivor and former European Parliament president, was daubed with black swastikas. And someone sprayed “Jews” on the window of a bagel shop.

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In his speech to the members of the Jewish organizations, Emmanuel Macron said: “For the last several years, anti-Semitism has once again been killing people in France.” Then he listed, one after the other, the names of the people who had been murdered in France in recent years because they were Jewish.

Neither anti-Semitism nor anti-Semitic violence are new phenomena in France or in the rest of Europe. Both have a long history, with a few tragic nadirs: In France, these include the Dreyfus Affair in the late 19th century, the desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Carpentras in 1990, the torture-killing of Ilan Halimi in 2006 in a Parisian suburb and the murder of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, about a year ago.

The current displays of anti-Semitism, though, are the crest of an almost all-encompassing wave of hatred and violence crashing over the country. Anti-Semitic attacks can be recognized for what they are; unlike other acts of violence, they can be categorized and geographically pinpointed. As such, the hatred of Jews can be identified even against the backdrop of broadly rising violence.

And here, too, there is a problem specific to France, as the terror attacks of the past few years have shown: The failed integration of younger Muslims and their increasing radicalization.

But a debate has emerged about whether the yellow vests are per se anti-Semitic, whether they are responsible for this new wave of violence. And the likely answer to that question is: They aren’t any more responsible nor are they any more anti-Semitic than the rest of the French. Or, for that matter, than the Germans or the Austrians.

The so-called yellow vests, after all, are not a homogenous collection of people that fall into a specific sociological category. Rather, they are a disparate movement united by only one thing: indignation. And when indignation escalates, hate is ultimately the result.

Rising to the Surface

“I am shocked how much hatred there currently is in our country,” says Denis Peschanski, a historian who researches historical commemoration. In his view, French anti-Semitism is always in the background, but in pushes its way forward in times of crisis. And it thrives, he says, in an environment where conspiracy theories are plentiful.

And this is where the yellow vests play a role, because, no matter how diverse they may be, the movement’s combined force has paved the way, both verbally and physically, for these acts of violence. What is new, though, is the unrestrained nature of the hatred.

There is a hatred of taxes and of tax increases. Hatred for the president, who some would like to see guillotined in the traffic circles in rural France where the yellow vests camp.

And then there’s the lawmaker who threatened Macron by saying the president would end up like Kennedy if he didn’t change his policies. We are essentially witnessing a collective breaking of taboos. “A Clockwork Orange” in French.

These newly blurred boundaries are also palpable within the yellow vest movement. After nurse Ingrid Levavasseur, a kind of figurehead for the movement, wanted to run in the European Parliament elections with her own list of candidates, she was so harshly insulted and threatened that she withdrew her candidacy. “Dirty whore!” one person yelled at her. “Go get raped!”

All constraints seem to have disappeared. Anyone can be whatever they want to be: racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist. Freedom of speech is showing its dark side.

And it isn’t just insults and complaints. The Arc de Triomphe was graffitied. Someone peed on the barrier protecting the French National Assembly. Hatred of the bank on the corner leads to its windows being shattered, and the same happens to the shoe store across the street.

Peschanski, the historian, connects these transgressions to two things: the presidential election in 2017 — which Emmanuel Macron won against all expectations, making him quasi-illegitimate in the eyes of many — and to the populism that has become rampant across Europe.

The more powerful the populists become, the more they spread their ideas, their rhetoric, and their hate. The question is now whether the situation can be reset, and whether this spiral of physical and verbal violence can be ended.

Emmanuel Macron is trying in his own way, by travelling to remote corners of the country and talking to people, whether they are local politicians, students or retirees. He has decreed a “great debate” for the country, which sometimes seems akin to national group therapy. He listens to the complaints, takes down criticisms and then responds to them.

An Attempt at Dialogue

To those who are angry, he argues that politicians are not fundamentally corrupt. To those who are afraid, he declares that democracy can protect them. Most of the time, he cuts quite a good form at such appearances because he tends towards the pedagogical. Having spent the first year of his administration focused on establishing his authority, he is now showing his Montessori qualities.

But Macron can’t be everywhere, and he has no alternative to offer the senseless, those who believe that nothing can be accomplished without violence. Many in France, including people who don’t take part in the yellow vest protests, believe that these weaker elements of France never would have heard from him had the yellow vests not revolted.

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, visiting the Shoah Memorial in Paris.

This is partly Macron’s fault. He didn’t respond until quite late, when the violence had boiled over. Now, he is trying to calm down the situation and to pursue reconciliation.

On Wednesday evening, in his speech to CRIF, he said he wanted to punish hate more decisively. He said this push would include laws that, for example, would keep a closer eye social networks. A form of anti-hate law is to be passed banning openly racist or anti-Semitic groups like Blood & Honour Hexagone and Combat 18. Anti-Zionist views are to be considered a form of anti-Semitism, a position which Macron had resisted until recently.

In his talk at the dinner, he said that he had been “ashamed” when he visited the desecrated Jewish cemetery in Alsace. Anti-Semitism, Macron said, isn’t a problem for the Jews, but a problem for the republic.

When his speech ended, the audience applauded. The group’s chairman, Francis Kalifat, strode on stage to thank him. First, he shook the president’s hand, then suddenly took his arm, grabbed it and held it up, like a boxing champion. It was a gesture of desperation.

Source: Increasing Anti-Semitism: Macron Struggles to Contain Rising Hate Crimes

David Pugliese: Nazi whitewash gathers momentum as memory of the Holocaust fades

Good article by Pugliese:

With the horrors of the Holocaust a distant memory, and many Canadians no longer aware of the crimes that took place in the name of the Third Reich, an opening has emerged for those who want to rewrite the history of Adolf Hitler’s regime and those who served it.

A movement is afoot to claim that the Nazi collaborators and the SS units made up of Ukrainians, Latvians and other eastern Europeans, were actually nationalistic heroes and in no way associated with the Nazis. I have written a number of articles exposing the role of these collaborators in the Holocaust and their complicity in murdering tens of thousands of Jewish men, women and children.

I have received emails from Ukrainians and Latvians who claim the Holocaust never took place. Others write that while Jews were indeed killed, they deserved the death and destruction the Nazis brought down on their communities.

And then there are others who claim that journalists who write articles about the Ukrainian and Latvian SS units – and the parades that are held in those nations to this day honouring these Nazi collaborators – are “pro-Russian” or somehow spouting Kremlin propaganda.

I’ve had the distinction of being singled out as such in a recent report on Russian disinformation by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute of Ottawa, a right-wing think-tank.

The report’s author, Marcus Kolga, claims my articles about the role of Ukrainians and Latvians in the Holocaust and their service in SS units has parroted the Kremlin’s narrative and has “been critical of Canada’s support for states targeted by Kremlin aggression.”

For starters, the articles I have written about Ukrainian and Latvian Nazis who butchered Jews don’t even mention Canada’s support for those two countries, let criticize that support.

My articles are about those who would deny that Ukrainians, Latvians, and others from eastern Europe eagerly participated in the Holocaust and supported Adolf Hitler. The articles also expose those who would declare these Nazi collaborators as some kind of heroes.

To be sure, the Ukrainian and Latvian governments were not happy about my articles, considering they exposed their nations’ dark past in supporting the wholesale slaughter of Jews.

And the Macdonald-Laurier Institute has received funding from the Latvian Ministry of Defence. In addition, the Embassy of Latvia in Canada has also provided sponsorship for the institute.

What is going on in Latvia and the Ukrainian and other east European nations is a Nazi whitewash designed to rehabilitate those from these countries who took part in some of the most heinous crimes in history.

Here’s how it works.

Ukrainian and Latvian militia and police units were among the most brutal in helping the Nazis hunt down and murder Jewish men, women and children.

They were good at killing defenceless people. So good, that the Holocaust Chronicle, published in 2003 and written by 7 top scholars in the field of Holocaust studies, noted that Ukrainians were also sent to help kill Jews during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in April 1943. The Chronicle published a photo of two of Ukrainian SS members standing over the bodies of Jews murdered during that uprising. See the photo below:

SS General Jurgen Stroop, later executed as a war criminal, was very pleased with the Ukrainian, Latvian and Lithuanian volunteers who helped him and his men murder and hunt down 56,000 Jews. In his diary Stroop wrote that these killers were not only “nationalists and anti-Semites” but among his best troops. They were “wild at heart and with a tendency towards base things. But nevertheless obedient,” Stroop gushed about his Ukrainian, Latvian and Lithuanian killers.

The Ukrainian militias who murdered Jews in the ghetto and elsewhere went on to serve in a new SS unit created by the Nazis, the 14th SS Galizien Division. Stroop was brought on as an advisor to the newly created division.

A similar development happened in Latvia. The members of Latvia’s Arajs Kommando, who had killed an estimated 26,000 Jews for the Nazis, went on to serve in the Latvian SS legion.

These SS units were sent to fight the Russians as they closed in on the Third Reich.

Decades later the whitewash began. The Ukrainians and Latvians who fought for the SS – as the whitewash explains – weren’t really Nazis. They instead were nationalists fighting for their own country against the Russians. And of course none of them committed any type of crime, or so the whitewash explains, carefully ignoring the previous role of the individual members in these SS units in the mass murder of tens of thousands of Jews.

Last year, Karlis Eihenbaums, Latvia’s Ambassador to Canada, launched an attack on Canadian journalist Scott Taylor who wrote about the Latvian Legion (15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian) et al) and Latvian killers like war criminal Herberts Cukurs as well as the members of the Arajs Kommando. Like the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Eihenbaums suggested such articles were “fake news” and “disinformation.” And like the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Eihenbaums tried to smear the journalist by suggesting he was under the “influence” of the Russian government. Eihenbaums also targeted my articles.

As I have written before, the eager participation of some Latvians in the Holocaust is not “fake news.” It is a well-documented historical fact that many of the killers from the Arajs Kommando went to the Latvian Legion. These Latvians, Ukrainians, Estonians and others from eastern Europe nations served Hitler and his war aims. No number of claims of “fake news” can change that fact.

These days there are parades in Latvia and Ukraine to honour these SS units who fought under the Swastika. These parades and memorials, which have attracted the support of Neo-Nazis and other fascist groups, have long been controversial and questioned by many throughout Europe. See the photo below and note the white pride shirt on the young Ukrainian with the Ukrainian SS veteran.

For instance, the controversy over the Latvian Legion and the annual parade held in Riga (each March) to celebrate these Nazi collaborators is well known and has been going on for two decades, long before the term “fake news” was even coined. In 1998 the parade caused a storm of protests around the world, particularly in Israel, where Holocaust survivors couldn’t understand Latvia’s desire to celebrate such ruthless killers. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President Jacques Chirac were among those that year to protest the Latvian parade. The Times of Israel reported on last year’s Latvian SS parade in Riga, which took place mid-March.

So much for “fake news.” Did Helmut Kohl and Jacques Chirac spread Russian “disinformation” when they denounced the SS parade in Latvia? Of course not.

This whole issue isn’t about “fake news” or Russian “disinformation.” It is about individuals and nations trying to whitewash their Nazi collaboration and rewrite history, while attacking journalists and other organizations who don’t want to let that happen.

While the Macdonald-Laurier report carefully ignores the crimes of Ukrainians and Latvians who supported Hitler’s Third Reich and butchered Jewish men, women and children by the thousands, there are those in the U.S. Congress and Jewish community speaking out against the Nazi whitewash.

In late April 2018 more than 50 members of the U.S. Congress condemned the government of Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to glorify “Nazi collaborators.”

The letter, signed by both Republicans and Democrats, outlined concerns about ongoing ceremonies to glorify leaders of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army as well as 14th SS Galizien Division (aka 1stGalician/Galizien or the 1st Ukrainian Division). “It’s particularly troubling that much of the Nazi glorification in Ukraine is government-supported,” noted the letter to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. The letter was initiated by Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna of California and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

In the summer of 2018 B’nai Brith Canada’s chief executive officer Michael Mostyn called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to use his trip to Latvia that year to push back against that country’s glorification of Nazi collaborators as well as attempts to deny the nation’s role in the Holocaust.

Mostyn called on the Canadian government to speak out more forcefully to denounce parades in Latvia and other eastern European nations that honour units who fought with the Nazis during the Second World War.

“We must challenge all those who distort the historical record on governments, military units or organizations that fought with, supported or sympathized with the Nazis during World War II,” Mostyn wrote to Trudeau. “This includes government leaders who acquiesce in, or fail to condemn, a process of Nazi glorification that amounts to Holocaust distortion.”

“Those who glorify the record of such organizations or units cannot dismiss criticism as ‘fake news’ “,added Mostyn. “The fact is that some organizations and their leaders, now glorified for their fight against the Soviet army, were also involved in atrocities against Jewish civilians or embraced ideologies that were deeply anti-Semitic and perpetuated social hostility towards their Jewish populations. This is why B’nai Brith rejects any efforts to constrain historians and the media from researching what happened and publicly explaining it in an objective manner.”

These are words that those at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute should pay attention to.

Mostyn letter is here:

https://www.bnaibrith.ca/canada_must_counter_the_glorification_of_nazis_in_european_nato_countries

Source: Nazi whitewash gathers momentum as memory of the Holocaust fades

Kenan Malik: Antisemites use the language of anti-Zionism. The two are distinct

Important to note the distinctions and consequent implications:

Anti-Zionism is antisemitism. So claimed France’s President Emmanuel Macron in a speech last week in which he promised to change policing regulations to criminalise anti-Zionism.

The condemnation of anti-Zionism as antisemitism has a long history, but in recent years has become increasingly accepted by mainstream politicians and organisations. This shift in perspective has taken place against the background of rising antisemitism, from physical attacks to racist tweets, fuelled by both the resurgence of the far-right and the growth of antisemitism on the left. Particularly in sections of the left, anti-Zionism has more and more appropriated, often unrecognised, antisemitic tropes.

All this is undeniably true. Yet, it remains important to resist the equation of anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

Critics of anti-Zionism observe that Zionism simply expresses the right of Jewish people to self-determination. Just as other peoples, from Armenians to Zimbabweans, have the right to self-determination, so do Jews. To deny that is antisemitic because it is to deny Jews the rights accorded to others. However, the issue is more complex. When Scots voted in their independence referendum in 2016, all residents of Scotland who were over 16, and were British, EU or Commonwealth citizens, had the right to vote. The right to self-determination did not extend to all those of Scottish ancestry living outside Scotland.

The Zionist notion of “self-determination”, on the other hand, embodies the idea that Jews anywhere in the world “self-determine” and that such self-determination relates to a state in which the vast majority of Jews do not and will not live.

Zionism is a form of ethnic, as opposed to civic, nationalism. The distinction between the two is fiercely contested, and often blurred. Many modern states fuse elements of both in nationality and immigration laws. Nevertheless, the distinction between civic and ethnic nationalism is important because they embody contrasting conceptions of national belonging, citizenship, equality and rights.

Israel itself combines aspects of civic and ethnic nationalism. As the late historian Tony Judt put it in an essay for the New York Review of Books, Israel is both a democracy in which non-Jews can be citizens and “a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded” and from which Palestinians grievously suffer. Judt faced great opprobrium for that essay, with many reviling him as “antisemitic” or a “self-hating Jew”.

To oppose Zionism but not other forms of ethnic nationalism would indeed be antisemitic. But to oppose Zionism because one opposes ethnic nationalism is a legitimate view.

Judt, who in early life was a Zionist, came eventually to accept that the only lasting solution would be a single, secular state in which both Jews and Palestinians were treated equally. For anti-Zionists like Judt, “self-determination” in that piece of contested land that is Israel/Palestine should adhere to principles of civic, not ethnic, nationalism; that is, be the self-determination of the people, and only the people, who live there, whether Jews or Palestinians.

This kind of anti-Zionism is very different from that which calls for the “destruction of the state of Israel”, usually (a not very veiled) code for the destruction of Jews. The latter is a form of anti-Zionism that refuses to acknowledge the presence of more than 6 million Jews in Israel/Palestine, whose rights, needs and aspirations are as central as those of Palestinians to any discussion of the region’s future.

There are, in other words, many forms of anti-Zionism, some progressive, some antisemitic. What has shifted is that leftwing ideas of anti-Zionism have become increasingly colonised by antisemitic forms. The reasons are complex, ranging from evolving notions of “anti-imperialism” to the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories.

One key development that has helped foster the shift is the growth of the politics of identity and of the tendency to see “good” and “bad” in terms of the group to which someone belongs and the privileges that they are supposed to possess.

Identity politics has led many to target Jews for being Jews, especially as they are seen as belonging to a group with many privileges to check, and to hold all Jews responsible for the actions of the state of Israel. Many who support the Palestinian cause, including many within the Labour party, seem genuinely unable to distinguish between criticising Israel and sowing hatred against a people.

The elision of anti-Zionism and antisemitism is a feature, then, of both sides of the debate. On the one side, it helps to legitimise antisemitism, on the other to close down debates about Israel and to criminalise genuine struggles for Palestinian rights. We should reject both.

Source: Antisemites use the language of anti-Zionism. The two are distinct

France declares anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism in crackdown on racism against Jewish people

The challenge, as always, lies in the interpretation of how “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country” is assessed and related definitions, particularly on human rights related issues as well as issues particular to Israel itself and its occupation of the West Bank.

But as a working definition, it is particularly sound in the examples of contemporary antisemitism:

Emmanuel Macron has declared anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism as he ramps up France’s crackdown on racism against Jewish people.

Speaking at the 34th annual dinner of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, Mr Macron said a surge in antisemitic attacks in his country had not been seen since World War Two.

He promised a new law to tackle hate speech on the internet and said France would adopt the definition of antisemitism set by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

The IHRA definition does not use the phrase “anti-Zionism” but does say denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination “e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour,” is antisemitic.

Some critics of Israel, its occupation of territory internationally recognised as Palestinian, and its isolation of the Gaza Strip, say they risk being unfairly branded antisemitic, although the IHRA definition says: “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country” is not.

Mr Macron’s words were well received from the World Jewish Congress which said: “This is just the beginning of a long road ahead. Adopting this definition of anti-Semitism must be followed by concrete steps to encode into law and ensure that this is enforced.”

The IHRA definition is not legally binding but does serve as an international guideline.

Germany and Britain adopted the definition in texts in 2016, though the European Union adopted a softer tone, calling the IHRA definition a “guidance tool” amid concern from some member states that it could make criticism of Israeli policy, particularly with regards to Palestinians, difficult.

Mr Macron said France would not change its laws relating to antisemitism and that recognising the IHRA’s definition must not be seen as a means of preventing people from criticising the Israeli government.

Source: France declares anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism in crackdown on racism against Jewish people

7 UK Parliamentarians, In Protest Of Jeremy Corbyn, Leave Labour Party

The ongoing saga of Labour not being able to address antisemitism, as the Conservatives flail on Brexit. Sad:

Seven members of Britain’s Parliament quit the main opposition Labour Party on Monday, accusing its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, of letting anti-Semitism flourish and failing to support a plan to hold another referendum on Brexit.

“This has been a very difficult, painful but necessary decision,” Luciana Berger, one of the seven legislators who have resigned, told reporters at a press conference Monday.

“I am sickened that Labour is now perceived by many as a racist, anti-Semitic party,” said parliamentarian Mike Gapes, adding that “prominent anti-Semites” were readmitted to the party.

The party’s leader has long faced accusations of either being an anti-Semite or tolerating anti-Semitism. Berger said the party has failed to address a strain of anti-Semitism within its ranks and has become “institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Gapes also accuses the party’s leadership of being “complicit in facilitating Brexit.” The former Labour members have said the United Kingdom’s imminent withdrawal from the European Union will trigger economic, political and social distress in the country.

“We’ve taken the first step in leaving the old tribal politics behind and we invite others who share our political values to do so too,” said Chuka Umunna, another of the politicians ditching Labour. “We invite you to leave your parties and help us forge a new consensus on a way forward for Britain.”

The seven lawmakers will remain in Parliament as the new, more centrist “Independent Group.” They support a Final Say referendum — a second poll after citizens voted for Brexit in 2016 — which they say should take place days before the withdrawal from the E.U.

In a statement, the group said the Labour Party has abandoned its progressive values and now pursues policies that could weaken national security and destabilize the British economy for ideological objectives.

“For a Party that once committed to pursue a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect, it has changed beyond recognition,” the group said. “Today, visceral hatreds of other people, views and opinions are commonplace in and around the Labour Party.”

In response, Corbyn said he was dismayed the members of Parliament are leaving the party. “I am disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labour policies that inspired millions at the last election and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945.”

He added, “The Tories are bungling Brexit while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan.”

Other prominent Labour members also expressed their dismay.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called it a “desperately sad day,” despite agreeing that the public should be allowed to relitigate Brexit and that anti-Semitism needed to be addressed within the party.

Khan and other members of the party worry that the split will lead to a Conservative government.

“We shouldn’t splinter in this way,” Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the BBC. “It is better to remain in the party, fight your corner.”

But Conservatives used the announcement as a chance to denounce the Labour Party and Corbyn himself.

Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis accused Labour of becoming “the Jeremy Corbyn party.” He said, “We must never let him do to our country what he is doing to the Labour Party today.”

Nigel Farage, who helped lead the country’s Brexit campaign, also weighed in on Twitter, saying, “This moment may not look very exciting but it is the beginning of something bigger in British politics #realignment.”

Source: 7 UK Parliamentarians, In Protest Of Jeremy Corbyn, Leave Labour Party

What would it have looked like if the Holocaust had come to Canada?

An interesting mix of historical fact and reasoned hypotheses of what could have happened:

There were only 52 Jews in Trois-Rivieres, Que. during the Second World War, but Nazi Germany knew.

This week, Library and Archives Canada unveiled its newest acquisition: A 137-page book once owned by Adolf Hitler that seems to represent the first outlines of a Nazi plan to bring the Holocaust to Canada. “It undoubtedly breaks the myth viewed by many at the time that the Holocaust and WWII were only Europe’s problems,” said Mina Cohn, director of the Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship at Carleton University.

Canadian troops participated in the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen. Canada also became a postwar haven for tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors. But Canada of the early 1940s was also a viciously antisemitic country with one of the world’s worst records of admitting Jewish refugees.

Below, some chilling details of what the Nazis intended to do with Canadian Jewry — and how willing Canada might have been to stop them.

The Nazis were apparently planning something for North America’s Jews
“I don’t think it’s a crazy claim to say that governments and militaries, especially during wartime, don’t do research for no reason,” said Michael Kent, the Library and Archives Canada librarian who acquired the German book. Entitled Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada, the book includes a detailed accounting of Jewish newspapers and organizations in Canada, as well as a census of Canada’s Jewish population and where they could be found. Cities as small as Moose Jaw, Sask., for instance, are noted to have 96 “Juden.” The book, which appears to have been commissioned for senior Nazi leadership, is similar to other censuses that Nazi authorities used to organize the deportation and murder of Jews in occupied countries. Prior to the planned invasion of Great Britain, for instance, the SS prepared a lengthy “arrest list” of British citizens, including prominent Jews such as Sigmund Freud. Of course, a Nazi conquest of Canada would have been virtually impossible. If Nazi German forces couldn’t mount an invasion across the English Channel, it’s much more unlikely they could handle one across 4,000 kilometres of ocean. Nevertheless, the book was commissioned right around the time when Germany was dispatching saboteurs to North America, and when Nazi planners were investigating the possibility of an “Amerikabomber”; an extremely long-range bomber that could lay waste to cities such as New York.

The book was likely looted by a U.S. soldier after the Allied liberation of Berchtesgaden, site of Hitler’s mountain hideout.

France, Norway and even occupied British territories all willingly participated in the Holocaust
In occupied Norway, it was Norwegian police who organized the deportation of 772 Jews and the seizure of their property. The collaborationist Vichy regime in France started cracking down on its Jewish population even without orders from Berlin. When French Jews started being shipped to Auschwitz, the French national railway took the contract to deport them east. Even in the British Channel Islands, occupied by the Germans during the war, local authorities handed over information on Jewish residents without protest. Although none of these places would have perpetrated a genocide on their own, their collaborationist governments ultimately proved remarkably willing to comply with German demands. “Why would Canada of that time be any different from all the other western civilized counties in Europe?” said Mina Cohn. Hilary Earl, a Holocaust researcher at Nipissing University, is more skeptical. Denmark rescued almost its entire Jewish population. Fascist countries such as Spain and Italy sheltered Jews. The Netherlands strongly resisted the Holocaust, but still wound up losing a higher percentage of their Jewish population than almost anyone else. “It is impossible to know for certain what would have happened and who would have pushed back,” Earl said. “Antisemitism does not automatically beget genocide, it facilitates it for certain, but it isn’t the only factor.”

Canada was much more antisemitic than we know it now 
McGill University had quotas to limit Jewish enrollment. Toronto Island and other Ontario vacation spots brazenly featured “gentiles only” signs. Alberta premier William Aberhart openly blamed Jews for the Great Depression. Newspaper editorials in mainstream publications such a Le Devoir called Europe’s Jewish population “a very serious problem.” Prime Minister Mackenzie King was deeply antisemitic, objecting to the introduction of “foreign strains of blood” and even believing that the United States was too much in the thrall of “Jews and Jewish influence.” “The vast majority of Canadians have no lived memory of a Canada in which antisemitism was widely and legally tolerated,” wrote the authors of the groundbreaking 1983 book None is Too Many. The meticulously researched book framed Canada as having the worst record among Western democracies for accepting Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. Only 5,000 Jews were admitted to Canada from 1933 to 1945, compared to 200,000 accepted by the United States and 70,000 by the U.K. Still, while Canada did not like Jews, this was far from the preconditions for participation in a genocide. “Antisemitism to a degree was universally present in the 1940s but cooperation in the Holocaust was not,” Tomaz Jardim, a Ryerson University Holocaust scholar told the National Post by email.

Canada already had a fair bit of experience with rounding up ethnic groups
During the First World War, the federal government interned 8,000 Ukrainian-Canadians and forced others to carry special identity papers. During the Second World War, more than 31,000 Italian-Canadians were forced to register as enemy aliens. West Coast authorities also forcefully rounded up Japanese-Canadians into transit centres, seized their property and then deported them to remote internment camps. Internees at the time even complained that they were being given the “same treatment the Nazi’s gave the Jews.” A French gendarme rounding up Parisian Jews for the gas chambers might have been able to take comfort in the Nazi fiction that they were simply being sent to agricultural colonies in the east. Similarly, Canadian police in the 1940s carried out mass deportation orders without full knowledge of where detainees were going. “I would hope that Canada would have proven itself to be another Denmark and resisted persecution of its Jewish population at all costs, even under extreme duress, but given the internment of Japanese-Canadians and the anti-Semitic sentiment that was widely accepted within mainstream Canadian life at the time, one can imagine a Canada engaging in anti-Jewish activity that would fill us with horror and regret today,” said Rebecca Margolis, president of the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies.

Japanese-Canadians being deported into the B.C. interior via open truck.

There were already Jews behind barbed wire on Canadian soil
During the Second World War, 2,300 Jewish men of German and Austrian origin lived in internment camps in Quebec and the Maritimes. They had come to Canada as refugees from Nazi oppression, but were detained as “enemy aliens” due to their country of origin. Had Canada fallen to Nazi occupation, these camps could have functioned as the first hubs of Canadian Final Solution. This precise scenario is what happened to the Netherlands. Shortly after the Nazi invasion of Poland, the Dutch set up Westerbork, an internment camp for the more than 400 Jewish refugees who had entered the Netherlands illegally across the German border. After Germany conquered the Netherlands in 1940, Westerbork was converted into a transit camp and its internees transferred to killing centres in occupied Poland.

Killings probably would have been carried out on Canadian soil
The Nazis prioritized efficiency above all else when it came to genocide. Initially, Jews were murdered in mass shootings conducted in open areas by German military units. Later, to assuage the psychological burden of soldiers killing hundreds of civilians per day, Nazi military scientists experimented with mobile killing vans that would asphyxiate victims with carbon monoxide. By war’s end, Nazi authorities had settled on the method of deporting Jews to centralized killing centres. The expense of moving Canadian Jews to occupied Eastern Europe would likely have been prohibitive, so German genocide planners would likely have settled on a made-in-Canada solution. “Parts of remote areas could have been turned into enormous camps where people could have been starved and left to die of the cold,” said David MacDonald, a researcher in genocide studies at the University of Guelph. At the time, the Soviet Union’s gulag system had already proven the utility of using remote northern areas to make thousands of people disappear. And Canada’s own experience of Indian Residential Schools showed that it was indeed possible for early 20th century Canadians to dig the occasional child mass grave without anybody asking all that many questions.

Source: What would it have looked like if the Holocaust had come to Canada?

A Toronto conference on racism will feature both anti-Islam speakers and Jewish groups

Strange bedfellows:

An upcoming Toronto conference is going to feature anti-Islam speakers, anti-hate advocates and some of the most recognizable Jewish organizations in Canada.

The “national teach-in” on hate and racism is organized by a group called Canadians for the Rule of Law, which argues on its website that “‘political correctness’ is distorting valid criticism” and “‘Libel chill’ is preventing the sharing of ugly facts.” The teach-in seeks to expose those who perpetuate these problems to the detriment of Canadian democracy.

To that effect, the March 17 conference will scrutinize “(A) the radical left; (B) radical Islamists; and (C) the radical right,” in that order of priority. The teach-in was supposed to take place at an important synagogue in Toronto until it pulled out last week over security concerns.

B’nai Brith Canada, one of the country’s most prominent Jewish advocacy groups, has agreed to their CEO Michael Mostyn moderating one of the panel sessions, while Robert Walker, the head of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, a pro-Israel group that works primarily on campuses, is also speaking at the event next March.

Though the conference features a number of well-known, mainstream anti-hate advocates such as Donald Carr, who sits on the board of CFTRL, David Matas and Anita Bromberg, a significant number of organizers and featured speakers are active in Canada’s anti-Muslim or alt-right circles.

Perhaps most notable among these are Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College, and Christine Douglass-Williams, who was fired from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation board for being an active writer to Jihad Watch, a leading Islamophobic platform. McVety had a national TV show pulled off the air in 2010 for his remarks against the LGBTQ community. His college hosted a Rebel Media event in Feb 2017, emceed by prominent far-right propagandist Faith Goldy. He also hosted the popular anti-Islam activist and then Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders in 2011. At the time, McVety described the spread of Islam in Canada as a “demographic jihad.” “Islam is not just a religion, it’s a political and cultural system as well and we know that Christians, Jews and Hindus don’t have the same mandate for a hostile takeover,” he said in 2011.

“No reason whatsoever not to engage in a public discussion.”

John Carpay, who heads up Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, will also be at the conference. He spoke at a Rebel Media event in Calgary last month about the threat of totalitarianism in Canada partly by comparing the Nazi swastika to the “rainbow flag,” a comment he later said was “unintentionally” made. Rebel also fundraised on behalf of Carpay’s centre and some of its initiatives.

B’nai Brith Canada’s media liaison Marty York qualified his organization’s overall involvement when asked whether the decision to send its CEO to participate was made with the consideration that it features such a prominent anti-Muslim presence.

“Mr. Mostyn is moderating one single session on hate speech, which is something he does regularly,” York told VICE News. “He found out who the panelists are going to be and he was comfortable with their identities. Whoever else is involved during the day in other sessions, I’m not even sure if he even knows.”

He said Mr. Mostyn saw “no reason whatsoever not to engage in a public discussion” on hate speech in his one session.

“So there seems to be a smear by association campaign going on, and if that’s the case it’s very unfortunate.”

He added that B’nai Brith Canada “supports the rule of law” in Canada and thus “has no qualms at all about” Mostyn’s participation, regardless of who else is involved throughout the day-long conference.

David Matas, a noted human rights specialist and Senior Honorary Counsel for B’nai Brith, says he’s troubled by the anti-Muslim presence in the planned conference, but didn’t know until friends and colleagues emailed him their concerns.

“This all sort of just popped up and I have to go through all of it and make a decision collectively with my colleagues,” he says. “I admit that from what I’ve seen, there are obviously concerns that we need to discuss and I may end up not participating, but we have to look at all the information first.”

Robert Walker, executive director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, cited addressing “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Zionism” as the main reasons for his involvement in the conference, preferring to offer no comment on the anti-Muslim participants.

“There are obviously concerns that we need to discuss.”

Hasbara is an initiative run out of Aish Hatorah, a major international network of Jewish educational centres and synagogues.

“Contemporary anti-Semitism often masquerades behind different masks, such as anti-Zionism, which is denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their historic homeland,” he told VICE News. “I do not and cannot speak for other panelists or speakers.”

Among the conference’s main topics is “Actions Against BDS,” or the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the state of Israel.

The conference was originally supposed to take place at the prominent Beth Tikvah synagogue in North York. But in an email to VICE News, Rabbi Jarrod Grover of the synagogue noted that it has pulled out of the arrangement, leaving CFTRL without a host.

Grover stated that the decision to pull out was based primarily on security concerns for participants and to avoid a “media circus” — not over any ideological concerns.

“I defend the right of CFTRL and their speakers to say what they want to say within the limits of Canadian law.”

“We like dialogue and free speech, but we are a religious, not a political organization,” he wrote. “I defend the right of CFTRL and their speakers to say what they want to say within the limits of Canadian law, despite the fact that I obviously have different beliefs than many speakers at this conference.”

According to the Canadian Jewish News, the decision to pull out came after Karen Mock, president of the progressive Jewish group JSpace Canada, reached out to Rabbi Grover to discuss “potential damage control” over media interest in the event due to “the Islamophobia and bigotry associated with some of these groups and individuals.”

A response for a media request to CFTRL’s general inbox was replied by board member David Nitkin, who rejected the request on the basis that VICE News is an “alt-left” publication. Carr did not respond to requests for comment. He told the Canadian Jewish News that the event will go on, and “we reject any attempt by those who wish to stifle free speech.”

Nitkin is also a leading organizer and board member of the anti-Islam group, Canadian Citizens for Charter Rights and Freedoms (C3RF), which indicates in its mission statement that “Islamophobia” is a concept invented by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies to infiltrate Canada and implement Shariah law. It is listed as a “community supporter” of the conference, along with ACT! Canada, which is a prominent anti-Islam group.

Source: A Toronto conference on racism will feature both anti-Islam speakers and Jewish groups