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Jewish leadership warned: “Apathy and ‘hoping’ that things will change is a recipe for genocide.”

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In response to his internal message aimed at damage control, a member of the Winnipeg Jewish community called on Federation president Joel Lazer to resign: “We need leaders with a spine to guide us through that and set up community protection programs. You simply are not that leader.”

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Harsh fallout continues to rain down on the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg after a botched newspaper ad in the Free Press seemingly undercut support for Israeli sovereignty, while failing to specifically address violence directed at a pro-Israel rally on May 15.

As previously reported, a retired city lawyer, Bill Narvey, urged the Jewish community to make their displeasure known to Federation officials. One couple did so in a sharply worded email titled “Request for leadership!” addressed to Federation president Joel Lazer, CEO Elaine Goldstine and PR Director Adam Levy. The comments were copied to Israeli Canadian Council founder Ron East (publisher of TheJ.ca).

The comments of the couple, who have asked their names be withheld at present, to Federation included the following:

“(We) had opportunity to share my concerns with a number of people in the Jewish community and the worries occurring for Jews in Winnipeg. Where the worries were shared, there was not any support in being seen and counted. We had been waiting for some leadership, direction, or support from the Winnipeg Jewish Federation (WJF) to address the issues.”

“The apparent need to separate WJF from ICC and any Jews who actively and visibly support Israel and Winnipeg Jewry in general is beyond belief. As an organization that presents itself as a leader in the Jewish community the WJF has failed dismally.”

“Denigrating the ICC for actually standing up for Winnipeg Jewry (including the WJF!) is disingenuous, divisive and dangerous to all of our lives. Shabbat or no Shabbat, the Rabbi’s remind us that defending our lives is first and foremost. Make no mistake; this is about our lives and our children’s future; indeed, our very survival is at stake as a people here in Winnipeg and worldwide.”

The couple are professionals over 60, with ties to the earliest congratulations formed in Winnipeg. They explained, “We need a rallying call to counter the lies and propaganda that are being promulgated by so-called “Palestinians”, media, and in some instances our own people as well as our government.”

“We must push our fellow Jews to see the dangers their lack of stance holds for their children and their children’s children before it is too late. Apathy and “hoping” that things will change is a recipe for genocide.”

That wasn’t all they had to say to the Federation’s top brass, warning, “Leadership from the Federation is critical at this juncture. Wait too long and the WJF risks becoming irrelevant. We call on the Winnipeg Jewish Federation to show leadership. Support ICC, disseminate facts and information, organize rallies and support groups so that Jews do not feel isolated and distanced from the issues that so profoundly affect their futures.”

The couple urged Lazer and his senior staff that “We need the Haverim of united Jews… otherwise we shrivel under our faint protestations.”

In an email to TheJ.ca, the couple confirmed that, “As of 09-June-2021 we have not received a response from WJF regarding our email sent on 04-June-2021.”

Unbeknownst to the couple, an hour before their appeal to Federation to demonstrate leadership, Federation had distributed a “Message From Our President” – but only to a limited audience. The subscribers to the Federation newsletter saw it, but it was not posted to the agency web page, Facebook account or referenced by their Twitter account. 

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When Joel Lazer’s newsletter was shared with the couple, the damage control message to his internal Federation audience raised even more concerns for them.

Lazer’s statement said, in part, the newspaper ad included “a phrase that was included that has a better version, which we missed. For that, we apologize and will do better in the future.” There was no explanation what phrase was used that had caused the controversy.

The couple noted that in his message, “(Lazer) saying “Since the conflict between Israel and Hamas erupted last month…” is soft-pedaling the actuality. Hamas started raining rockets on Israel. It would be more appropriate note that Hamas attacked Israel. There was no simultaneous commencement of hostilities!”

They further complained that Federation “persists in legitimizing the term “Palestinian Territories” in reference to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. The full-page ad in the Winnipeg Free Press referenced in the message is an egregious example. This flies in the face of historical fact and serves to further the goal of spreading the lie that there is or ever was a Palestinian country. Terminology is important. Our leadership should push back against this constant lie by reiterating the actual truth.”

While never mentioning the theft and burning of Israeli flags on May 15, Lazer’s message vaguely referred to ICC pro-Israel activism with a new explanation why Federation shuns their events.

“I have had some ask why Federation has not participated in any of the rallies that have taken place. Under normal circumstances, we would encourage community members to gather peacefully to show support for Israel. While we understand that some felt a need to gather, we have only held virtual events so as to be mindful of the health and well-being of our community members.” 

To this day, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg has not denounced the theft and burning of two flags of Israel by pro-Hamas demonstrators, as reported by the Free Press on May 15. (Screencap: WFP)

However, the couple had attended the May 20 car rally at the Asper JCC and questioned Lazer’s explanation about why neither ICC rally was supported by the Federation he leads.

“Ron East appears to be staunchly Zionist and the ICC mission statement is: “The Israeli-Canadian Council (ICC) aims to build an engaged and united Israeli-Canadian community that strengthens the Israeli and Jewish identity of our next generations, the Canadian Jewish community, and the bond between our two nations.” We fail to see why there would be any sort of problem with the Federation offering support instead of what appears to be behaviour that would seem to be actively engaged in blocking the efforts of the ICC.”

They added, “We find the section dealing with the lack of Federation participation in the rallies to be disingenuous at best. The Shabbat excuse (not addressed in this section!) for discouraging participation any rallies precludes the fact that the majority of Winnipeg Jews are not Shabbat observant.”

Among their many other comments about the “President’s message” (more next week), was a reiteration of their plea for the Federation to show a commitment to community unity.

“The Winnipeg Jewish community has several cliques. Now is the time to have only one group. Jews of Winnipeg who stand up and are seen and counted and not relying on someone else to act on their behalf.”

“We, like many, feel powerless without direction and leadership to help us actively support Israel and our Jewish community. Having spoken with several people; the response is: “What’s happening is terrible. One just needs to be careful.” The response is not one of willingly being identified as a Jew. There is a sense of apathy. We are hoping that Federation can step up and fill the leadership role for all Winnipeg Jews.” 

After community members responded to Bill Narvey’s call to action to tell the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg it needed to do better, the organization put out a message from President Joel Lazer on June 4 - but kept it to the Federation’s select private email list and failed to send it to the people who had actually voiced their concerns to Lazer and his staff. (Photo: JFW)

After waiting four days and not seeing the “Message from the President” posted in public view by Federation, ICC members took the initiative themselves and posted it on Facebook for the wider community to see. 

Another Jewish resident saw Lazer’s statement thanks to ICC and was spurred to send his opinions in an email early on Wednesday morning.  The gentleman, who was also one of the hundreds that attended the second ICC rally,  shared his correspondence with Joel Lazer for publication, which began, “Hello Joel.  I, like many others, have trouble with your actions over the past several weeks.”

In his view, “The Federation was under no obligation to publicly support the rallies for Israel during the pandemic… (but) What you did have an obligation to do was not speak out against the rallies, and to immediately and publicly condemn the pro-Hamas demonstrators both for their public display of support for the genocide of our entire people on the streets of Winnipeg, and for their brazen anti-Semitic assaults in broad daylight.”

Lazer was sternly reminded, “You don’t get to pick and choose which Jews you support because of a minor difference of political opinion or any personal issues you may have.”

“This lack of support and action is an utter failure, both for you personally and the Federation as a whole,” Lazer was told. “You should have issued a public apology for failing to speak up weeks ago. Instead, there are still many Jews in the Winnipeg community feeling alienated and abandoned due to your silence.”

The writer continued, “At this point an apology would be too little, too late. I believe that you are ethically obligated not just to publicly apologize, but to resign.”

“Anti-Semitism will only continue to rise, and violence against our community will only continue to get worse,” the man predicted. “We need leaders with a spine to guide us through that and set up community protection programs. You simply are not that leader.”

TheJ.ca has scheduled a one-on-one interview with Joel Lazer for next week’s edition where he will have the opportunity to respond to the concerns expressed to him by community members. 

Marty Gold is the Editor-in -Chief of TheJ.ca. Known for investigative reporting, he has specialized in covering municipal and provincial politics, and a wide range of sports and entertainment, in newspapers, magazines, online, and on his first love, radio. His business and consulting experience includes live events and sales, workplace safety, documentary productions, PR, and telecommunications in Vancouver, Los Angeles and across Canada, and as a contestant on CBC-TV Dragons Den.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

cOMING SOON…….

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