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Christian Zionists attest to anti-Israel rhetoric at “Nakba Day”

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Graffiti scrawled on the steps of Winnipeg City Hall proclaimed, “Free Palestine” at a May 15 protest by anti-Israel radicals. (Photo: Phil Spevack)

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After our first story about a planned “Nakba Day” march and unauthorized flag raising at City Hall, retired lawyer Bill Narvey reached out to the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and local CIJA leadership, as well as the local B’nai Brith Canada director.

In an email on May 12, Narvey referenced the description we published of the attacks by “Nakba Day” protesters last year against a pro-Israel rally. He asked what they had done about it; he noted the event hosts this year were well known for anti-Israel activism. 

“I highly doubt the police are familiar as you and our Jewish community is with what kind of anti-Israel-pro-Palestinian-pro-BDS rhetoric crosses the IHRA definition line of antisemitism and incitement of rally goers to hate all the more.”

Narvey urged the Jewish leadership to consider “(Having) a number of your organizations attend that May 15th  rally to not just hear, but to make a few videos from different angles of  what the speakers say and to show how the rally goers react.” He also suggested “Organizing a very public pro-Israel rally at City Hall in the very near future again to be videoed” and suggested comparing how CIJA and B’nai Brith take action on incidents in Ontario and Quebec, and applying that process to similar occurances in Winnipeg.

The day after getting Narvey’s comments – and two days before the flag raising –  the Federation put out a brief letter to the community insisting that “Antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric has no place on the streets of Winnipeg, or in Canada. We condemn any public display to delegitimize and demonize the State of Israel.”

However JFW again opposed counter-protests, and largely relied on an attached statement from the National Chair of CIJA to reassure the community. The razor-sharp Narvey called out their attempt to sidestep the serious threat being created by their failure to confront anti-Israel antisemitism. 

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In an email sent to Jewish Federation of Winnipeg President Gustavo Zentner and CEO Elaine Goldstine CEO, and copied to CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel and board chair Gail Adelson-Marcovitz Chair, Narvey assessed the situation on the ground:

“Gail in her communique on behalf of CIJA makes the broad general statement:

“All Canadians must reject this violence. CIJA security, in partnership with security teams at Jewish Federations across Canada, will be watching Nakba Day protests carefully.”

Narvey told the Winnipeg leadership: “If CIJA is calling for Federations to be bear witness to these Nakba day protests, that is exactly what I had suggested to you in my letters that your office should have people attend to bear witness, but with a video camera in hand to record what was being said so that if any of the speakers engaged in hate speech, you would have the evidence.” 

“It is clear you are not prepared to do so and instead in keeping with Gail’s advice, to only rely on the police to bear witness as will other Federations, following CIJA’s lead From Gail’s advice, since CIJA is not calling on Federations to attend these rallies to bear witness police officers’ focus will be only acts of intimidation, harassment or hate motivated behaviour aimed at specific communities.”

This brought Narvey to an important point about unchallenged antisemitism in Winnipeg: “Absent that, hate speech against Jews-Israel including the usual anti-Israel propaganda lies and false accusations, if police are actually informed enough to notice, will be ignored.”

Narvey emphasized, “In my view your Federation relying on the police to bear witness to this May 15, 2022 pro-Palestine rally is NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Federations must themselves bear witness.”

Christian Zionists who took the initiative in attending the scene on May 15 proved why Bill Narvey was right.

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After the Nakba Day protest was held, in addition to our report, Rev. Don James provided his own view of the event and mentioned the narratives of the anti-Israel speakers. A few days later, Narvey sent another report about the City Hall demonstration to his distribution list – an article by Penny Jones-Square, who has written for TheJ.ca in the past.

“It is critical to point out that from the very beginning of the rally, the tone set in the Facebook post was reinforced by each speaker referencing the tragic and accidental death of Al Jezeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and exploiting it as a means to demonize Israel, “ she said. 

“The first speaker claimed it had been a “targeted assassination” by an Israeli Defence Forces sniper, and that it was only another in a long line of such targeted murders of journalists by the IDF since 1992 to “establish Israel’s own false narrative” and “silence other narratives.” The first claim is yet to be determined, the second is absolutely unsubstantiated.”

She went on to report “Many historical inaccuracies, falsehoods, and distortions were espoused by the four speakers—Leah Gazan (far left NDP inner city MP); Breanne Lavallee-Heckert (member of the Metis group Red River Echoes); Idris Elbakri (director-at-large of the Manitoba Islamic Association and frequent media commentator, who has been criticized for his anti-Israel bias); and Rana Abdulla (community organizer).”

Two Zionist allies from the Christian community went to 510 Main Street to watch antisemitism spouted on the steps of City Hall on May 15, as did Israeli Canadian Council founder Ron East. B’nai Brith did have their regional director attend, but have made no public statements about what she saw or heard. The organization asked to have a discussion with TheJ.ca about our questions and are we arranging it.

But as of our deadline, neither the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg nor CIJA has responded to our inquiries about what they were doing to defend the community, both before and after the anti-Israel gathering. 

However, let’s remember that in 2019 the Federation made promises to the community about exactly how they would approach their duty to fight antisemitism and defend Israel. 

Publisher of TheJ.ca, Ron East, who is founder of the Israeli Canadian Council, observed a “Nakba Day” event at City Hall on May 15. To date neither CIJA  or the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg have spoken out about what transpired and have not yet answered the question if they even attended to monitor anti-Zionist hate speech. (Photo: Yankel Deutsch)

In 2019, the ultra-left wing Social Planning Council of Winnipeg paired with a dormant Islamic women’s group to showcase antisemite extraordinaire Linda Sarsour at a fundraising event. The panel was scheduled for a public school hall in a Jewish neighborhood.

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg did nothing.

Instead, grassroots Zionists organized a petition that grew to 4200 signatures before a panicked Seven Oaks School Division canceled the booking for the venue. 

After the panel with Sarsour took place at another location, CEO Goldstine put out a “Message to the community” to quell dissent among donors. 

“There are some in our community who have the impression that we are not taking action on issues or events of importance… No decision or stance that we take publicly is done without conducting careful research, hearing alternative perspectives, and thoughtfully weighing all options.”

She assured the community that, “… we will continue to take action against those who make public, on-record statements that are antisemitic who appear in our community.”

We asked about the process undertaken before the Palestinian flag-raising crowd occupied the City Hall courtyard on May 15. We haven’t heard back about what kind of “research” or “thoughtful weighing of options” took place.

But it is indisputable there has been no “action” and no “condemnation” of the resulting displays of antisemitism by either Federation or CIJA since. It’s natural to wonder, “why not”.  

Rana Abdulla spoke at a “Nakba Day” protest at Winnipeg City Hall. She is affiliated with event sponsor, the Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba. In promoting the protest, CPAM posted hashtags that included #ApartheidIsrael and #FuckIsrael, which Christian-Zionist ally Penny Jones-Square called “blatantly and unapologetically antisemitic”. (Screencap: Facebook) 

The evidence collected by Rev. James and by Penny Jones-Square, and the video posted online of the speeches, appears to meet the threshold that the Jewish Federation established only two days before this year’s annual hate-fest: “Antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric has no place on the streets of Winnipeg, or in Canada. We condemn any public display to delegitimize and demonize the State of Israel.”

The evidence they gathered also puts to the test the promise made to Federation donors in 2019 after the Sarsour fiasco “to take action against those who make public, on-record statements that are antisemitic.”

At the end of that May 3, 2019 message to the community, the Federation asserted, “As the voice of the Jewish community, we wanted to clarify our role and assure the community that its needs and best interests are at the forefront with each and every action we take.”

But by May 2022, Bill Narvey wasn’t buying their pitch, and neither were other Zionist activists in Winnipeg. 

As he concluded in the aforementioned follow-up he had sent to Winnipeg Federation and CIJA officials:

“I regret having to say that I am left with the sad thought that your letter to our community today incorporating Gail’s letter to our Canadian Jewish community yesterday, is filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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!

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