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

ICYMI: Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate’s anti-Semitism committee stuck on Israel – NOW Magazine

Good question:

The province’s Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) has produced a clear and concise strategy to combat anti-Black racism. So why have they fumbled things so badly with their sub-committee on anti-Semitism?

Anti-racism is about giving voice to those who are outside the mainstream and ensuring broad representation in all public matters.

The ARD’s Strategic Plan, A Better Way Forward, states that its approach “actively confronts the unequal power dynamic between groups and the structures that sustain it [and] involves consistently assessing structures, policies and programs.”

Yet, the directorate has set up a sub-committee on anti-Semitism that consists solely of representatives from the Jewish establishment, including from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), B’nai Brith Canada, and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre (FSWC).

Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) and the United Jewish People’s Order (UJPO) have requested to be included on the committee.

“Underlying our desire to participate is deep concern, shared by a growing number of Jews, that accusations of anti-Semitism are being used to suppress criticism of Israel,” says Rachel Epstein, executive director of UJPO’s Winchevsky Centre.

In a submission to the directorate last year, IJV campaigns coordinator Tyler Levitan expressed concern that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel, also known as BDS, might also form part of the sub-committee’s mandate.

Sadly, limiting the committee membership to mainstream voices reinforces the systemic biases that the directorate has been set up to combat.

A broader, more balanced committee is essential, including representatives from non-establishment Jewish groups.

CIJA, B’Nai Brith and FSWC don’t measure up.

While they have decried Islamophobia, the groups have opposed M-103, a parliamentary motion passed last year condemning Islamophobia and all other forms of religious discrimination.

Bernie Farber, a former executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (who is a member of the sub-committee) criticized the groups in a column last February in the Canadian Jewish News.

“How can it be,” he wrote, “that fellow Jews … deny the very same protections they would rightly demand for themselves?”

One would expect the sub-committee would include those with a dedication to anti-racism generally.

But while the organizations represented on the sub-committee claim many criticisms of Israel as anti-Semitic, they have historically failed to take issue with blatant racism expressed by senior Israeli politicians and government officials.

Recently, that has included the Communications Minister calling African refugees a “sanitary nuisance” and the Justice Minister calling Palestinian children “little snakes.”

The Anti-Racism Directorate’s credibility will be seriously damaged unless it deals with the narrow membership on the sub-committee.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Michael Coteau, the provincial Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, need to act to preserve the directorate’s reputation as it carries out its important task of combatting racism in all its forms.

via Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate’s anti-Semitism committee stuck on Israel – NOW Magazine

Holocaust-denying prof reinstated at University of Lethbridge – The Canadian Jewish News

Questionable decision but appears that investigation ongoing (B’nai Brith appears to have been overly political in their initial reaction compared to CIJA):

The University of Lethbridge has reinstated a professor who had been suspended more than one year ago for questioning the Holocaust and suggesting there was a Zionist connection to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Anthony Hall, a tenured professor in the university’s globalization studies program, was reinstated following a hearing before a labour arbitrator.

Published reports stated that the university’s board of governors and the faculty association issued a joint statement saying that issues concerning Hall’s activities will be addressed in a faculty handbook.

Contacted by The CJN, the faculty association stated that, “It’s a personnel matter and its confidential.”

Hall was originally suspended in October 2016 over his Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories. At the time, the university issued a statement saying, “From the findings of that assessment, the board has decided to proceed with a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission against Dr. Hall for publishing statements, alone and in collaboration with others, that could be considered hateful, contemptuous and discriminatory.”

The faculty association contested the suspension and, following a court decision in September, an arbitrator was appointed and a hearing was held earlier this month.

B’nai Brith Canada slammed Hall’s reinstatement and blamed the government of Alberta for passing legislation that brought faculty under the province’s labour-relations laws.

“Premier (Rachel) Notley and her government bear direct responsibility for placing a discredited conspiracy theorist back in a university classroom,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “We repeatedly warned the government of the likely outcome of its actions, but they sadly chose to ignore our warnings and expose Alberta university students to anti-Semitism and discrimination instead.

“Despite this setback, we expect the University of Lethbridge to continue fighting anti-Semitism on campus, and to do whatever it takes to ensure that Hall has no podium for his unhinged anti-Semitic nonsense.”

In an email cited in a news release by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), Premier Notley stated, “There is no question that the views of this individual are repulsive, offensive and not reflective of Alberta. Our classrooms are a place for freedom of speech and expression but that does not mean individuals get to stand at the head of the class and spread lies and conspiracy theories. I am terribly disappointed to learn that this individual has been reinstated, but let me be clear that legislation that our government introduced did not give him his job back. I can confirm that this individual is now under investigation by a committee at the university.”

For its part, CIJA stated that Hall’s reinstatement was “a direct result of an agreement between Hall, the faculty association and the university. We have also confirmed that Hall will not be teaching or interacting with students. He is continuing to be investigated by the university and his future is far from certain.”

via Holocaust-denying prof reinstated at University of Lethbridge – The Canadian Jewish News

B’nai Brith Canada condemns rash of pro-Nazi postering in B.C.

Another disturbing incident:

B’nai Brith Canada has condemned the actions of whoever put up anti-Semitic posters and chalkboard drawings at the University of British Columbia over the Remembrance Day weekend in Vancouver.

On Nov. 11, the student newspaper called the Ubyssey reported that the entrances to the War Memorial Gym were plastered with posters glorifying Nazi Germany.

One poster touts Nazi soldiers as the “true heroes of WW2” and offers links to hateful websites. Another bore a swastika and described Nazism as “anti-degenerate.”

The posters were found Saturday, the same day the school hosted Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Philip Steenkamp, vice-president of external relations for the University of B.C. — said campus security took down the posters as soon as they were made aware of them, and that the university takes incidents of hate and racism very seriously.

Two days earlier, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht or the “night of broken glass” on Nov. 9, 1938 in Germany — the night violence broke out against Jews which resulted in thousands of businesses and synagogues trashed and looted — a chalk drawing was found in the UBC forestry building with a “Heil Hitler” message.

RCMP investigated both incidents, but could not find any suspects, said UBC RCMP Const. Kevin Ray.

“Once again, we see anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism raising their ugly heads at a B.C. university,” said Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada.

A neo-Nazi poster put up at the University of British Columbia just before Remembrance Day. (The Ubyssey)

“These disturbing incidents constitute a threat to Jewish students and other minorities on campus, as well as an unforgivable insult to Canadian veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice to defeat Nazi tyranny.”

Earlier in November, posters targeting Jews were found at the University of Victoria.

Publicity around the removal of those posters was followed by a “tidal wave” of hateful comments on social media, according to anti-racism activists, who fear the far-right rallies seen this summer in Charlottesville, Va. — which saw similar posters plastered around many U.S. universities — may be emboldening racists in Canada.

via B’nai Brith Canada condemns rash of pro-Nazi postering in B.C. – British Columbia – CBC News

By discouraging criticism of Islam, M103 could make it harder to combat anti-Semitism

Striking looking at the list of witnesses before the Canadian Heritage committee studying M-103 of just how polarized the positions are, almost to the extent of parallel universes, with relatively few who bridge the gap.

B’nai Brith plays a useful role in flagging issues, as they did in flagging the issue regarding the TDSB Islamophobia guidebook.

One of the useful contributions of the Conservative government to multiculturalism was its recognition that broad anti-racism program did not address how racism played out differently for different groups. As a result, they focussed on antisemitism with a number of major initiatives, including the long overdue joining of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the hosting of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Antisemitism and the holding of unofficial parliamentary hearings on antisemitism.

Similarly, the same logic, that general messaging may not be enough to address – and debate – the concerns of Canadian Muslims, also applies to M-103.

And just as the working definition of antisemitism tried to provide some clarity on when criticism of Israeli policies crossed over to antisemitism, the same would be useful with respect to criticism regarding Muslims that crosses the line between legitimate concerns and anti-Muslim speech.

But unclear to date whether the hearings will get us there:

Recently, B’nai Brith drew attention to an official guidebook published by Ontario’s largest school board that condemned Islamophobia and defined the term to include “dislike directed… towards Islamic politics or culture.”

While the Toronto District School Board quickly realized its error and pledged to replace this absurdly broad definition, it must be noted that the guidebook was prepared with the support of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a group that has campaigned strongly in favour of M-103. One would assume that the NCCM is an authority on the proper definition of Islamophobia.

To be clear, banning or even discouraging any “dislike” of “Islamic politics” would make it nearly impossible to combat the virulent Jew-hatred that we have seen emanating from some Muslim institutions in Canada.

Canada cannot become a haven for anti-Muslim bigotry. But, by the same token, we cannot allow a misguided reluctance to criticize anything dubbed Islamic to stymie the protection of Canada’s most targeted religious minority — Canadian Jews.

Source: By discouraging criticism of Islam, M103 could make it harder to combat anti-Semitism | National Post

Toronto District School Board revises Islamic guide

Appropriate correction:

The Toronto District School Board said it will change portions of a guidebook that uses a definition of Islamophobia that a Jewish community group has called “overly broad.”

The guidebook defines Islamophobia, in part, as “fear, prejudice, hatred or dislike directed against Islam or Muslims, or towards Islamic politics or culture.” B’nai Brith Canada had complained earlier Monday that the reference to “politics” could lead to students or staff being punished for expressing dislike for the Republic of Iran’s persecution of LGBTQ people or restrictions placed on women in Saudi Arabia.

Hours later, TDSB chairperson Robin Pilkey said in a letter to the group that the updated guide will reflect the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s definition of Islamophobia, which makes no reference to politics.

Pilkey said the guide was not enforceable as policy and denied it would have led to silencing of staff or students.

“The TDSB welcomes important input from the community and from organizations such as B’nai Brith, however we must say that some of the suggestions made in your letter and subsequent news release are outrageous,” she said in the letter. “To suggest that the TDSB is encouraging students to stay silent about what they experienced in their countries of birth or that the TDSB is somehow banning students and educators from criticizing executions and other human rights abuses around the world is categorically untrue.”

The Toronto District School Board created the guide to be used in public schools in October, which it declared Islamic Heritage Month. The Toronto District School Board also celebrates Sikh Heritage Month in April and Jewish Heritage Month in May annually.

B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said a school board representative told the group the definition was included in the guidebook “in error.”

“We thank the TDSB for acting swiftly to correct this serious problem,” he said in a statement. “The definition of Islamophobia initially presented by the TDSB was clearly inappropriate, and we look forward to seeing a proper definition presented to Toronto students.”

Source: Toronto District School Board revises Islamic guide | Toronto Star

Anthony Furey’s commentary from the Sun:

The Toronto District School Board is temporarily pulling an Islamic Heritage Month guidebook following complaints from Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith Canada, the Toronto Sun has learned.

The book, as I described in a recent column, is a robust 170-page document that encourages a great deal of religious intrusion in a classroom setting that’s otherwise supposed to be a non-religious environment.

The recommendations include reciting and explaining the Muslim greeting “As-salamu alaykum” (peace be upon you) alongside the singing of O Canada and inviting children to visit a local mosque. It also includes templates of famous mosques around the world for children to construct during cut and paste exercises.

But it’s the guide’s alarming definition of Islamophobia that has caught the attention of the leading Jewish advocacy group. The school board’s guide defines the term as “fear, prejudice, hatred of dislike directed against Islam or Muslims, or towards Islamic politics or culture.”

“The TDSB definition, if enforced, could lead to punishment for students or teachers who display “dislike” towards the persecution of LGBTQ people in the Islamic Republic of Iran, harsh restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia, and Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, all of which are examples of “Islamic politics,” an earlier press release from B’nai Brith Canada says.

The organization contacted the TDSB Monday morning and by the afternoon the school board had committed to pulling the online guidebook until they revised the definition of Islamophobia, according to B’nai Brith Canada.

“A link to the resource guide was provided to school administrators across the system,” TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird told the Sun. “A revised version with an edited definition of Islamophobia will be available online shortly.”

It’s unclear if they plan to revise or remove any of the other controversial aspects of the guide.

“There are many students in Toronto schools who have come to Canada fleeing persecution from countries like Iran, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia — and now the TDSB is telling them to stay silent about what they’ve suffered. It’s simply ludicrous,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said in the earlier press release. They’ve since issued another release thanking the board for swift action on the issue.

Source: Toronto school board recalls, revises controversial Islamic guidebook

Rogers TV Drops Arabic-Language Show Following Complaint of Antisemitism

B’nai Brith report, not yet seen on mainstream media (saw this on right-wing Canada Free Press site):

Rogers TV, which runs community programming throughout Canada, has pulled the plug on an Arabic-language show called AskMirna after B’nai Brith Canada drew its attention to antisemitic messages promoted in the program.

AskMirna, which describes itself as “presenting an accurate, positive, inspiring and entertaining image of the Arab-Canadian community,” dedicated an entire episode to “Nakba Day,” in which Palestinians annually mourn the establishment of the State of Israel and call for its destruction. This included an interview with Nazih Khatatba, who described Jewish suffering as “fairy tales” and engaged in Holocaust denial

 

Khatatba, a leader of Palestine House in Mississauga, Ont. has a history of inciting violence against Jews. In December, 2014, he lauded the terrorists behind the Har Nof synagogue massacre in Jerusalem that left six dead in his al-Meshwarnewspaper. The incident was later investigated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

In other episodes of AskMirna, Palestinian-Canadian children are shown dancing to songs that praise terrorism against Israel, which is labelled “the rapist entity.”

“Antisemitic propaganda delivered through music and television is rampant in the Middle East, and constitutes a significant barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “We cannot allow such hatred to be imported into this country, potentially radicalizing Canadian youth.”

Colette Watson, Senior Vice-President of Television and Broadcast Operations for Rogers Communications, told B’nai Brith that “…there is no room on Rogers TV, community television or anywhere in Canadian media for hate of any kind.”

Jonathan Kay: Don’t blame the media for Islamophobia | National Post

Jon Kay’s balanced assessment in response to Haroon Siddiqui’s column (Canada’s news media are contributing to mistrust of Muslims | Toronto Star), including his dismissal of B’nai Brith’s annual antisemitism report (I always find the police reported hate crimes to be more objective, although imperfect and likely understated).

However, Elke Winter has done some interesting parliamentary and media analysis related to citizenship revocation in cases of terror or treason, presented at Metropolis 2016, that showed that despite balanced coverage, the net effect of the examples used, understandably largely Muslim, did contribute to distrust of Canadian Muslims:

Jews and Muslims have more in common than most people think. And not just on the superficial level of pork avoidance, a love of shawarma and (male) circumcision. In Canada, both the Jewish and Muslim communities are periodically riled up with claims that they are being victimized by epidemics of acute anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. These claims are baseless in both cases.

I flipped a coin. Let’s start with the Jews.

Every year, B’nai Brith Canada releases its Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. And every year, B’nai Brith assures us that its numbers prove that Jews are besieged by a “rising tide of anti-Semitism.”

“All one needs to do is look to the comment section of any major news site on a story examining the Israel-Hamas conflict,” declared B’Nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn when the most recent report was published. “Almost without exception, legitimate debate and dialogue devolves to accusations of the murder of children, Zionist plots and the use of anti-Semitic language blaming the ‘Jews.’ ”

But when you examine B’nai Brith’s catalogue of supposedly horrifying anti-Semitic episodes, what you find is a menagerie of demented Internet crackpots and teenage graffiti artists spray-painting backward swastikas on fences. There is no “rising tide of anti-Semitism” in Canada. It only feels that way because whenever some loon in a strip-mall mosque does express a hate-on for Jews, the incident becomes a sensation on social media.

In other cases, the examples of anti-Semitism are padded out with hateful statements that aren’t really about Jews at all — but quite specifically about the Israeli government. The idea that criticizing Israel automatically qualifies as a form of disguised anti-Semitism has become a lazy debating trick.

Based on the scattered anecdotal reports I hear, I’d say that Islamophobia is somewhat more common in Canadian society than anti-Semitism. You rarely hear of some kid named Avi or Mordechai getting mistakenly put on a no-fly list, for instance. And this month, well-heeled spectators came out to a debate in downtown Toronto where the star performer promoted the thesis that Muslim refugees just can’t be trusted not to rape our Judeo-Christian babies. That’s bad. As was last week’s debunked and retracted Halifax newspaper story about little Muslim children plotting global Islamic conquest from the merry-go-round.

Nevertheless, hate-speech watchdogs take things too far when they suggest that the mainstream media are somehow cheerleading Canada’s fringe Muslim-haters.

This month, former Toronto Star columnist and editorial-page editor Haroon Siddiqui told an audience at the city’s Aga Khan Museum that — according to the Star’s summary — “the media have contributed to widespread Islamophobia by conflating Muslim terrorists with all Muslims.”

In his speech, excerpted in the Star, Siddiqui declared: “The biggest culprits have been the National Post and the Postmedia group of newspapers across the country, which now include the Sun chain. Hardly a week goes by without these publications finding something or other wrong with Muslims and Islam. These publications are forever looking for terrorists under every Canadian minaret. They are hunting for any imam or any Muslim who might make some outrageous statement that can be splashed as proof of rampant Muslim militancy or malevolence.”

Siddiqui and I have appeared on media panels together. I like the guy, and have found him to be quite moderate on most issues. But what he’s written here is unfair.

Yes, the media are fascinated with terrorism — because our readers are fascinated by terrorism. Just as they are fascinated with all forms of horrifying violence — including the kind caused by street gangs, natural disasters and Karla Homolka. It’s human nature. We pay attention when things go bang and boom and all bloody-like.

We also pay attention to questions of motive. And since Islamist terrorists from Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant, Boko Haram, al-Shabab and al-Qaida insistently, repeatedly and explicitly tell us that they are committing their slaughter in the name of Islam, we report that, too. When terrorists in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia stop praising Allah as they self-detonate — or, better yet, stop self-detonating altogether — we media types will be the first to report on that phenomenon, as well.

Moreover, it would be nice if Siddiqui might acknowledge that in the last two years, not one but two Canadian governments — Stephen Harper’s Tories and Pauline Marois’ Parti Québécois — have been booted out of office in large part because media commentators were disgusted by their Islamophobic fearmongering on the niqab issue. I myself was working at the National Post during the 2014 Quebec election campaign, and personally authored several articles denouncing the xenophobic messaging from PQ hardliners. In both cases, it wasn’t media Islamophobia that held sway at the polls, it was media anti-Islamophobia.

Canadians should be proud that they live in a tolerant country where both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are marginalized and discredited sentiments. Haroon Siddiqui is correct to advocate vigilance against these forms of hatred, but he greatly exaggerates the scope of the problem.

Source: Jonathan Kay: Don’t blame the media for Islamophobia | National Post

B’nai Brith campaigns to stop Queen’s Park Al-Quds rally

Interesting to see C-51 being invoked in this way:

B’nai Brith Canada thinks that getting an early start and the introduction of Bill C-51 might give it a real shot this year at persuading the Ontario Legislative Assembly to prohibit an Al-Quds Day anti-Israel rally from taking place at Queen’s Park this summer.

In association with a number of partner organizations, B’nai Brith launched its first “Stop Al-Quds Day” online petition March 25, and by April 1, it had collected more than 1,200 signatures.

Critics of the annual rallies say they promote hatred and anti-Semitism and that a protest calling for Israel’s destruction should not be allowed at Queen’s Park.

Jewish groups have tried unsuccessfully to have the events banned in the past, and they’ve brought comments made there to the attention of police, who also monitor the events, but no hate charges have been laid.

B’nai Brith communications officer Sam Eskenasi said that since 2009, his group has lobbied Ontario’s three provincial political parties to push the Legislative Assembly to refuse a public permit to Al-Quds Day protesters.

He cited the federal government’s recently proposed anti-terror law, Bill C-51, as a reason B’nai Brith’s online campaign could gain traction with the legislature.

“We’re trying to get our voices heard early this year, because in the past, the [Jewish] community only heard about the rally in the news or in a press release just before it happened,” he told The CJN.

The online petition is addressed to David Joseph Levac, speaker of the Legislative Assembly, who is in charge of the grounds where the rally usually takes place: “We the undersigned… demand that you no longer allow hateful rallies promoting propaganda contrary to Canadian values at the seat of government power.”

It continues: “With the increasing threat of home-grown radicalization, we cannot allow this anti-western rhetoric to continue unabated on the grounds of our legislature.”

International Al-Quds Day, typically celebrated after the fast month of Ramadan, was started in 1979 by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in solidarity with the Palestinians and in opposition to Zionism and the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

Al-Quds Day rallies are held annually in cities across Canada and the United States. Last year’s rally at Queen’s Park was held July 26. Ramadan ends this year on July 17.

According to an International Al-Quds Day website, “International Day of al-Quds is an annual event supporting a just peace for Palestine, and opposing apartheid Israel’s control of Jerusalem.”

The website’s authors are not specifically identified, and the “About us” section says the Al-Quds Day events are “funded through many small, individual private donations within the U.S. and Canada.”

B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn said that “as Canadians, we can no longer tolerate the grounds of our legislature being used for promoting Iranian government propaganda and supporting international terror as can be seen [at past years’ protests] by things such as the waving of Hezbollah flags.”

Partners of the “Stop Al-Quds Day” initiative include the groups One Free World International, Canadian Thinkers’ Forum, Christians United for Israel Canada, Hasbara York and Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights.

B’nai Brith campaigns to stop Queen’s Park Al-Quds rally | The Canadian Jewish News.

Canadians more likely to be anti-Semitic than Americans, ADL, and commentary

NP_antisemitism_c_jrFrom the recent ADL worldwide study on antisemitism, the Canadian data showing Canada slightly worse that the US but comparatively better than most other countries:

I’m a little bit surprised that the figures aren’t greater in the United States but I’m not surprised at the 14% in Canada,” said Frank Dimant, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “We have always surmised that it is in that range — that range of ‘hardcore.’”

….

“We’re talking about 4.8 million people. That’s a lot of people who harbour this kind of hatred in their hearts.”

….

“Once, we had certain pre-conceived notions as to the stereotypic image of an anti-Semite as an illiterate boor. Today, that is simply not the case,” he said.

“We see the penetration of this disease of anti-Semitism in many new components of society… much of it is in the guise of anti-Israel.

“The coalition of hate is widespread so it ranges from academics to neo-Nazis to Islamic jihadists to radical feminists to trade unionists.”Shimon Koffler Fogel, head of the Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs (CJIA), said the survey should provide the catalyst for a national discussion.

“For us, the real take-away is that issues like anti-Semitism and racism in general have not diminished to the point where as a society we can say we don’t have to address these concerns,” he said.

Canadians more likely to be anti-Semitic than Americans, poll finds | National Post.

And the two contrasting takes on the worldwide results, starting with Commentary on the right:

Anti-Semitism has survived the death of European theocracies, Nazism, and Communism and metastasized into a belief system embraced by Muslims and Arabs, and remains a deadly force. Though some might claim that the existence of Israel and allegations about its behavior has become the single greatest motivating factor for anti-Semitism (judging by the survey, the Palestinians are the most anti-Semitic people on Earth), that assertion must be placed up against the fact that the attitudes that indicate hostility to Jews long predate the birth of the Jewish state or its coming into possession of the West Bank in 1967. Seen in that perspective, it’s clear that Israel is just the latest, albeit a vicious, excuse for Jew hatred. If not all those who hate Israel also embrace the full roster of anti-Semitic stereotypes, their willingness to embrace the war against the Jewish state demonstrates the way Jews remain the planet’s boogeyman and the objects of unthinking bias and potential violence.

Many Jews will look at these numbers and, no doubt, wonder how they can change the minds of the haters or adopt behaviors that will undercut the stereotypes. But whatever else it tells us, the survey is a reminder that anti-Semitism is about the minds of the anti-Semites and their desire to seek out a small group for hostility, not what the Jews do. Those who will seek to blame Israel or Jewish power for these numbers are deceiving both themselves and others. Anti-Semitism is an ancient belief system that can adapt itself to any set of circumstances or locale.

Israel and the Reality of Anti-Semitism

From Haaretz on the left:

4. Iran, on the other hand, not only emerges unscathed from the survey but actually stands out for the positive. It has the lowest “Anti-Semitic Index” (56%) of all Middle East countries. It is a finding sure to confound hasbara people and one that can be attributed, among other things, to the relative sophistication of the Iranian people, to the continued existence of the local Jewish community – unlike in most Arab countries – and to the Iranian leadership’s ongoing protection, for its own reasons, of Iranian Jews.

5. In fact, the ADL poll more or less upsets the apple cart altogether in disestablishing the causal connection between anti-Jewish and what are widely perceived as anti-Israeli sentiments. Sweden – Sweden, for God’s sake – a hotbed of anti-Israeli agitation that is routinely labeled as anti-Semitic is the LEAST anti-Semitic country in Western Europe, according to this survey, along with its Nordic neighbors – Iceland, Finland, Norway and Denmark.

On the other hand, Eastern European countries such as Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine, whose governments are rock solid supporters of Israel, harbor large segments of anti-Semitic feelings. The outliers are the Czechs, god bless them, who have always felt themselves more Western than Eastern European anyway. And what can you say about South Korea, a country with excellent diplomatic and commercial ties to Israel whose population – 53%, by ADL’s standards – has very questionable views of Jews.

….

7. The worst anti-Semitism, by ADL’s definition, was measured in the Middle East and North Africa, from the West Bank and Gaza (93%) and Iraq (92%) to Saudi Arabia (74%) Turkey (69%) and Iran (56%). No surprise there, really, given that in most Middle Eastern countries the media freely engages in anti-Jewish agitation, with governments either sitting idly by or actively taking part.

Nonetheless, it is an open question whether anti-Jewish sentiment in a region in which a. there are hardly any Jews and b. sees itself at war with the Jewish state and/or as the usurpers and oppressors of the Palestinians should really be included in the same rankings as all the rest, or whether Muslim anti-Semitism isn’t a category all to itself.

Ten comments on ADL’s global survey of anti-Semitism (It’s not all bad)

Of course, while dispiriting, in most developed countries Jews are more favourably viewed than other minorities such as Sikhs and Muslims (see as an What Europe Thinks of Jews, Muslims and Roma – Pew).

The link to the ADL study:

 

 

ADL Global 100