Two pro-Israel activists who were instrumental in getting a speaker disinvited from Shabbat Across Winnipeg over his ties to the IfNotNow movement claim an event they sponsored was nearly cancelled after a complaint they suspect came from an anti-Israel advocate.
Ron East says he and Marty Gold, who are the duo behind pro-Israel website TheJ.ca, were contacted by the River Heights Community Centre less than a week before their July 18 program – a presentation by Herut Canada’s Lauren Isaacs on “The State of Jewish Hate: How Jewish Progressive Activists Fuel Modern Anti-Semitism” – and told that the booking was being cancelled because a member of the community raised a complaint about the nature of the event.
“They wouldn’t tell us who complained or what the complaint was about,” says East. Two hours later, “we got a second call, saying that the complaint was under review. We were also asked to tell people to stop calling the community centre and sending emails protesting the decision. A little while later, we were again contacted and told that the community centre was doing its due diligence.
“No one from the community centre contacted us again to tell us what the final conclusion was – even though we had invested time and money in this. We only learned that our program was still a go late in the day” from Coun. John Orlikow, who interceded on our behalf, says East.
“The centre claimed to be checking the backgrounds of those planning to attend,” Gold notes, adding, “This was to be a Jewish community meeting in a Jewish neighbourhood about an issue that affects the Jewish community.”
As the event was to focus on Jewish organizations critical of Israel, both Gold and East suspect that the complainant was a member of a progressive Jewish leftist group.
However, a spokesperson for the community centre disputes the allegations that the event was ever called off. She confirms that there was a complaint that the community centre looked into, “but we never cancelled the booking,” she says.
Orlikow also says that while he did speak to people at the community centre about the issue, the booking was never cancelled.