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Jewish groups express support for Israel

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Police arrive at scene of terrorist attack on Malkei Israel Street, Jerusalem. AMOS BEN GERSHOM/GPO PHOTO
Police arrive at scene of terrorist attack on Malkei Israel Street, Jerusalem. AMOS BEN GERSHOM/GPO PHOTO

As Israelis continued to be victimized by terrorist attacks on a daily basis, Canadian Jews gathered in synagogues to pray for the wounded while Jewish organizations suggested a number of practical steps that people could take to show support for Israel.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) called on its supporters to “take action against terrorism” by participating in a five-point suite of activities, including voicing their concerns to Canadian political leaders and letting Israeli leaders know they stand in solidarity with the people of Israel.

In Toronto, UJA Federation announced it was expanding a solidarity mission scheduled for Oct. 19 as well as its participation at a Keren Hayesod meeting in Jerusalem this week. UJA Federation also stated it was advancing $120,000 to the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Victims of Terror Fund to assist those attacked in Israel as well as their families.

In Montreal, Federation CJA expressed its solidarity “with our brothers and sisters in Israel. We are planning a community-wide town hall meeting the first week of November and are in the process of securing top speakers for a panel on the current situation in Israel.”

Late last week, a group of rabbis affiliated with the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus travelled to Ottawa to present representatives of the Palestinian Authority with a letter asking that the Palestinian government cease the incitement that has led to the violence.

The situation in Israel prompted a statement from Defence Minister Jason Kenney, who said: “Canada condemns in the strongest terms possible the recent wave of terror attacks against Israeli civilians that has resulted in a number of tragic deaths and injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.

“There can be no justification for these attacks, and we will continue to oppose efforts undermine Israel’s legitimacy or right to defend herself in the face of terror.”

As the Israeli death toll grew, CIJA urged Canadians take several steps in solidarity with the victims. It suggested Canadians email UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the PA diplomatic representative in Canada “to condemn Palestinian terrorism and demand action against Palestinian incitement.”

It urged people to sign its petition, which calls on the government of Canada to reaffirm its desire for peace by declaring that Canadian financial support for the Palestinian Authority depends on the PA taking certain actions.

They include condemning terrorism; taking security action to stop terror attacks; denouncing anti-Jewish conspiracy theories; and “cracking down on Palestinian religious officials, media, social media, and others who call for jihad, especially those encouraging Palestinian teenagers to commit suicide attacks.”

One particularly bone-chilling video,  released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows a cleric in Gaza brandishing a knife and citing Islamic scripture to justify the stabbing of Jews.

CIJA also asked its supporters to email Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog to let them know “Israelis are not alone.”

CIJA chief executive officer Shimon Fogel said “we are asking the community to engage politically and with the UN.” Fogel said Ban had taken a “ridiculous position” that called on Israel to investigate the deaths of Palestinians, but had not mentioned the terror attacks.

Fogel was also scathing in his criticism of media reports from the region, which had defaulted to describing events as a “cycle of violence, as if there’s no beginning or critical path.”

He said the Palestinian Authority was engaged in a policy of incitement, which included the unfounded claim that Israel was threatening to destroy the mosque on the Temple Mount or change the status quo regarding prayers on the holy site.

Not only is that patently false, but the government of Israel had taken the step of prohibiting cabinet ministers from visiting the site, in a bid to de-escalate tension, Fogel said.

The media also incorrectly reported “this trope of Palestinians as despairing of peace, the peace process and economic opportunities. Journalists have really failed on this one.”

It was the PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, who appeared in the United Nations recently and declared the Oslo peace process was dead and that he would not be bound by it, Fogel noted.

“We’re really frustrated that the media was looking for every opportunity to depict Israel in as negative way as possible,” he said.

In a telephone conference call last week, Israel’s consul general for Toronto and Western Canada, DJ Schneeweiss, suggested supporters of Israel could take several steps. “Become knowledgeable” about the situation and take to social media to inform friends and colleagues of the facts, he said.

He suggested that Canadians support charities that aid victims of terror, hold solidarity events, prayer vigils and visit Israel to convey first-hand a message of support.

Rabbi Reuben Poupko was part of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus delegation delivering a letter to the Palestinian diplomats. He told The CJN that Abbas’ speech at the UN gave the green light to Palestinians to undertake violent attacks. He rejected Palestinian leadership’s claims that Israel was changing the status quo on the Temple Mount, saying it was the Palestinians who denied the right of Jews to pray there and who “denied the history of the place.

“That calls into question the Palestinian capability of accepting the Jewish presence in the Holy Land,” he said.

Meanwhile, at least two Toronto synagogues hosted prayer services and shiurim (lessons) to honour the terror victims. An evening of remembrance was held at Yeshivat Or Chaim, while Kol Torah Congregation hosted an evening of prayer for the victims.

In Hamilton, Temple Anshe Sholom, Beth Jacob Synagogue and the Adas Israel Congregation co-hosted an evening of solidarity, prayer and information in conjunction with several Hamilton-area Jewish organizations.

Canadian Friends of Magen David Adom, which supports emergency services in Israel, called on its supporters  “to remind everyone that all Israeli ambulances must constantly be re-stocked with emergency and medical supplies as well as kept in an ever-ready emergency mode. We are asking for everyone’s co-operation and support in helping us fund the continuous flow of these crucial life-saving provisions assuring that no life is placed in danger due to dwindling supplies,” the Canadian office stated.

And Kari Zalik, national manager of student affairs for the Rothberg International School at Hebrew University, said “All the students, after the chagim [holidays], were immediately sat down and given a security briefing on situational awareness.”

None of the approximately 25 Canadians studying in the program, nor their parents, have indicated they wish to come home early, she added.