So-called voices of our community silent on Muslim solidarity

So-called voices of our community silent on Muslim solidarity

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The recent murders in Quebec City of Muslims at prayer deeply upset Canadians, including those in our own community.

Yet official Jewish voices were low key at best. Yes, there were pro-forma statements of regret, but frankly, it took one rabbi, Yael Splansky, of Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple, to give the community both a needed voice and an opportunity to demonstrate our real care and concern for the Muslim community.

Rabbi Splansky said the idea to form “rings of peace” around local mosques was inspired by events in Oslo, Norway, in 2015, when Muslims reacting to terrorist attacks targeting Jews in France and elsewhere came together – 1,000 strong – to create a circle of protection around Oslo’s synagogue. In Toronto, hundreds gathered to create “rings of peace” around seven different mosques.

I participated with many other Toronto Jews at the Imdadul Islamic Centre. So moved was the imam that he told me, “Look at all the people who came out in support of us. We are so happy… we feel more secure and reassured that we have friends here that have come in our time of need.”

‘those who purport to speak on our behalf have failed to do so’

I also spoke to many congregants arriving for noon prayers. They were overwhelmed. It’s clear that such actions bring us closer together. Civility and hope will always trump fear and hatred.

Yet where were the representatives of the so-called official Jewish community? Why were they not at the forefront of planning this needed symbolic action? Perhaps there were representatives from B’nai Brith Canada, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies at some of the other sites, but they certainly weren’t at the Imdadul mosque. And if they were at other sites, they were quiet as (forgive the expression) church mice.

Today, more than at any other time in our history, we must step up to the plate. At a time when the world’s strongest democratic nation has turned its back on Muslims and many other minorities, it’s up to all of us to stand together. At a time when white supremacists, racists and anti-Semites have wormed their way into the White House and the halls of world power, we must stand strong.

Let’s take a lesson from our American Jewish brothers and sisters. With a deep understanding of the need to walk in solidarity with victims, they have taken action. Jewish leaders and personalities have stood up and spoken eloquently against President Donald Trump’s proposed racist travel ban, and some promised to embrace U.S. Muslims if lists were ever created to identify them. That is leadership.

Rabbis protesting in front of Trump’s hotel in Washington and being arrested for siding with their Muslim American cousins: that is leadership.

But here, those who purport to speak on our behalf have failed to do so. Moreover, when an important opportunity presented itself to show support, our community failed spectacularly. Liberal MP Iqra Khalid has proposed a private member’s motion asking Parliament to condemn the present climate of “hate and fear” targeting the Muslim community. It also denounces “all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”

Of course, the expected cacophony on the ultra-right screamed its opposition, citing free speech, forgetting that similar motions condemning anti-Semitism were passed in provincial and federal parliaments not too long ago.

CIJA, the proclaimed voice of our community, joined the chorus and has refused to support Khalid’s motion. Other Jewish advocacy voices have been mute.

How can it be that fellow Jews, who better than most understand what it means to be hated because of their faith, deny the very same protections they would rightly demand for themselves?

It’s such parochialism and selfishness that in the end advances anti-Semitism.

Given the new Trump world order, where racism and bigotry are being normalized, now more than ever, we must embrace our diversity and reject hate. Our Jewish leaders must step up and be counted.

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  • TerrorIsEvil

    Silence is exactly what we get when members of the Islamic community join forces with ignorant leftists on campuses to engage in BDS and Israeli Apartheid. Where was/is Bernie Farber and the Islamic community to speak out when Jews on campus no longer feel safe to self-identify? Bernie would like to silence our fears without addressing the real causes.

    I agree, it was appropriate for community members to express their heartfelt sympathy for anyone who is mown down by a terrorist but it is not appropriate to take that one step further to express love and stand in solidarity with those radical Imams who hate us and preach that hate in their Mosques. The devil, Bernie, is in the detail.

    The detail is also important when one goes on a crusade to undermine the President and government of the USA as Bernie is doing in his new venture. You see, when you accuse someone of all kinds of racism and right-wing extremism, you need some proof. Banning people temporarily from terror-ridden countries until we know what’s going on and can properly screen applicants is not racism, it is self-defense. Guess who is
    always the target of Islamist terrorists when they arrive in North America?
    Jews are no longer your bailiwick so I guess that you do not really care.

    The motion M-103 presented by former York U student Islamist political leader Liberal MP Iqra Khalid is not like anything else we have seen in Canada. It is weighted entirely to address Islamophobia. There is no need for this motion as we already have plenty of
    (sometimes unenforced) laws to address hate crimes. It will lead to sharia law
    and eventully to criminalization of criticism of Islamic antisemitism, misogyny
    and terrorism.

    The thing is, Bernie, you are attempting to conflate antisemitsm with “Islamophobia” when one is real and the other is a fear which is justified by the long history of terrorism and violence in the name of Islam (violence which does not generally discriminate
    on the basis of religion but specifically puts Jews at the top of the hit list).

    Bernie you are alienating just about everyone in today’s diatribe. Nobody is quite pro-Islamist enough for you. Nobody is anti-Trump enough for you. Nobody is quite as sensitive as you are to the terrible straw man that you have cobbled together in your mind of terrible right-wingers. Things are not quite as simple and polarized as you
    might think. Everyone, right and left, are concerned about having people get
    along in peace and harmony; however, some people are also concerned about
    things like security, terrorism, antisemitism of all kinds (and most of it
    today is being fueled by Islamic groups, institutions, Mosques, texts and
    teachings).

  • TerrorIsEvil
  • TerrorIsEvil
  • Martin Sampson

    CIJA’s position on M-103 and our letter to MP Khalid proposing constructive changes to the motion are available here: http://www.cija.ca/m103/

    • TerrorIsEvil

      The mainstream Jewish organizations never spoke out against Israeli Apartheid during its inception. They had an opportunity in the early days when the hate movement got its impetus on the U of T campus. What did Bernie say and do? When asked, they thought it was just fine. ThisM-103 motion is much more dangerous to all Canadians, both Jewish and not, than the takeover of the universities by Islamists and Leftists because it is leading to a takeover of the body politic by those same groups and now they have matured and grown up to become MPs, etc.

  • DJ

    Really Bernie? Hated because of their faith? Their faith is not the problem, it is the politicized Islam that says its OK to kill Zionists but raises money to repair desecrated Jewish cemeteries. That talk goes on all the time in Toronto and all over the world. We know because there are videos of it. You’re falling for it hook, line, and sinker. Critical thinking is required, not virtue signalling.