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‘We’ll be in touch right before fundraising season starts. Taa!’

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“How painful would it be to see your parents’, your grandparents’ tombstone damaged that way? It demonstrates contempt for the people, the real lives that those people lived … and it causes a lot of pain,” Shaarey Zedek Executive Director Ran Ukashi told CBC. (Photo: Supplied)

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The month-end newsletter sent out to subscribers by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg on June 30 seemed out of kilter right from the get-go.

“Yesterday, we learned of a major vandalism incident which took place at Shaarey Zedek Cemetery, with 60-70 headstones being toppled over.”

The Shaarey Zedek made an online statement on June 29, a few hours after the overnight rampage was discovered. Many of us learned of the incident from their post and people circulated them from there. I know I did.

But I checked, and guess who didn’t spread the word that same day?

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. 

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They decided to wait a day before telling anyone about it. The Twitter feed and the Facebook account were silent about the attack prior to the release of the newsletter.

While some point to the civic park across Main Street as a possible source of what could have been misguided antics by drunken youth that night, that this might have been a deliberate act by antisemites has not been ruled out.

Under the circumstances, the raising of the alarm about an attack on a Jewish cemetery should have been immediate and loud.

You’d think, if a Jewish leadership is truly horrified that anyone would demonstrate such a profound lack of respect by desecrating the final resting place of our community’s loved ones”, they would tell their subscription list and the broader community using social media immediately – especially to reach out to those Jews in the city who are not part of the list.

But for whatever reason, the Federation stalled on informing the Jewish community of Winnipeg about an attack on not 1, not 5, not 15 – but almost SEVENTY grave markers.

The lack of urgency, whether by design or laziness, raises questions the Jews of Winnipeg need to be asking – especially because of the tone of the rest of the newsletter, signed by the local Jewish leadership.

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The newsletter next meandered through mentions of meetings with various officials – a pair of visiting Israeli mayors, for instance – and the outgoing Mayor of Winnipeg Brian Bowman “to thank him for his consistent support of our community for the past 8 years.”

That right there is another problem, since after a pro-Israel rally was attacked with threats to stab and rape Jews, Israeli flags were stolen and burned in May 2021, Bowman never uttered a peep. 

I have searched high and low and there was not a word of condemnation from the Mayor’s Office against the violent antisemites who charged through a police line across from the Legislature that day.

To the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, that’s “support for our community.”

This spring, a year after the attack, the “Nakba Day” observance was moved right to Bowman’s front door at City Hall (which to his credit he wasn’t about to touch with a proverbial flag pole). Want to know what happened? This was sent out 2 days before:

“The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg continues to be in contact with the Winnipeg Police Service, who will be on-siteto ensure hateful rhetoric is not on display.” And since? It’s never been mentioned again.

But as we reported:

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 President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg waited about 24 hours before informing the community that over 70 gravesites at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery were vandalized. (Image: JFW)

It is indisputable that antisemitic chants and anti-Israel blood libels were heard in front of Bowman’s city hall. And Bowman’s police service didn’t stop it, despite the assurances of the Jewish leaders – who applaud Bowman as he heads into retirement.

Keep in mind in 2019, the Federation vowed, “… we will continue to take action against those who make public, on-record statements that are antisemitic who appear in our community.”

The focus of the JFW newsletter is on being machers, hob-nobbing with visiting dignitaries and breathlessly confiding “Israel is increasingly taking notice of Winnipeg” – instead of taking action against antisemites and Israel-haters as promised in 2019. 

Worse yet – here is how the newsletter was concluded:

“On behalf of all of us at the Federation, we would like to wish you and your families a safe and happy summer. We look forward to providing further updates in late August as we kick off the CJA campaign.

They leave behind the unquestioned antisemitism of Nakba Day and the possible antisemitism of the destruction of 70 gravestones; more important it seems, is hitting the beach in Gimli and camping at the Folk Festival.

With the safety of the Jews of our city under constant pressure, it takes a special kind of chutzpah to essentially announce ‘we’re taking the summer off but we’ll be back in time for you to open your wallets to pay our staff salaries and travel expenses.’

Many committed Zionists who stand against antisemitism in Winnipeg, fund the Federation without fail every fall. Now they see they are being taken advantage of, because the Federation newsletter is basically admitting it. Antisemites don’t take the summer off, but they do.

Donors may have a few hard questions when they come back from the beach.

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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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.

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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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