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Advice of Jewish Leadership Project in USA needs to be heeded in Canada

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Canadian Jewish groups said a Jewish man in Montreal being assaulted by two young thugs while leaving an Israel day rally on May 5, 2022 was a hate crime. One has been arrested since. (Photo: Dan Goldstein)

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The Jewish community of Montreal extolled the arrest of one of the suspects in an attack this past May on a community member who was leaving a pro-Israel celebration. Two young men jumped the 51 year old victim, who was carrying an Israeli flag after leaving a Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) celebration on May 5. 

Video showed that two suspects grabbed the flagpole and struggled with the victim, before one of the antisemites hit him with a stick and then hit a Good Samaritan trying to save the day. The hate crimes unit was assigned to the investigation. The Federation CJA and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) put out a joint statement at the time proclaiming “antisemitic acts and acts of aggression, intimidation, and hatred are not acceptable” and that Jewish Montrealers and supporters of Israel “must be free to celebrate in peace and safety.”

The Montreal Gazette reported on July 21 that a 15 year old “was questioned and released after signing a promise to appear in Youth Court. While the final decision on what charges will be laid rests with the Crown prosecutors office, police suggested the youth could face charges of assault and robbery.”

“B’nai Brith Canada and the Jewish community are breathing sighs of relief that the Montreal police force worked diligently on this appalling incident and have made an arrest,” said Marvin Rotrand, national director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to be attacked on the streets of Montreal or anywhere, merely because they are expressing their pride in Israel.”

But when it comes to protecting victims of even worse antisemitic attacks in Winnipeg, Jewish leaders here and across Canada have failed to raise their voices. Why is that? 

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Let’s compare the facts of these examples.

In the Montreal case in May 2022, there was an attempt to steal a flag of Israel, assault with a weapon x2, and thus far, no indication beyond what the eye can see, of antisemitic utterances, jargon or threats.

In the Winnipeg case in May 2021, over a tense 2 hour period that exploded into a riot, two Israeli flags were stolen, the owner of the flags was assaulted, about 30 other pro-Israel supporters were attacked. Chants of ‘rape your daughters’, ‘stab the Jews in Tuxedo’ (where the Asper Jewish Campus and Federation offices are), were yelled, and Jews ranging in age from about 16 to 76 were punched, pelted with rocks and hurled bottles, and even more.

The pro-Israel supporter in Montreal was walking down a street. The 30 or so Zionists in Winnipeg were standing on a intersection corner across from the Legislature downtown-  at a place designated by the cops a week ahead of time, for them go to wave their flags. Dozens of police were there to ‘protect the peace’. A pro-Hamas crowd rushed the police line, and started fighting and berating Jews.

Did I mention the 2 stolen flags of Israel were burned on the street right in front of the faces of the Winnipeg Police? 

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I’m sure anyone would concur that objectively, what happened here in my hometown is AT LEAST as vile, as objectionable, as dangerous, and as antisemitic, as the altercation in Montreal.

And for months, I’ve been trying to follow up with B’nai Brith, because they – unlike CIJA and the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg – said they were actually doing something about it.

I asked their national office, for a story I was writing about the one year anniversary of the Nakba Day-inspired riot, “if B’nai Brith had any more information about the hate crime complaint from May 15/21 in Winnipeg at last year’s Nakba Day. As far as I can tell, no charges whatsoever were laid for the attacks.”

They sent me along to their local field rep. I asked her, “if you have been in contact with the Winnipeg police service, in light of last year’s incident and your organization’s prior complaint.”

Her reply: “I will let you know as soon as I can.” That was on May 11. She hasn’t replied since. So back to B’nai Brith head office I went.

See that boot and the red stripe across from it? Those are 2 (of many) Winnipeg police who watched 2 flags belonging to the Israeli Canadian Council get pilfered and set afire, on May 15, 2021. (Screencap: CTV Winnipeg)

After getting the BB press release about the Montreal arrest, I reiterated their own statement in an inquiry:

Police deemed the attack as an armed assault and robbery, following a hate crime. The man who was assaulted had been carrying an Israeli flag in Montreal’s Westmount area.

I asked: “Can you find out please the status of that hate crime complaint? This is important because it seems that based on these two situations, there is protection for the Jews of Montreal under the law but in Winnipeg it’s fair game to pelt Jews with rocks.”

“As a Jew in Winnipeg– that’s concerning.”

What I learned after asking yet again a week later, was that since I first asked in May, B’nai Brith had no new information on the complaint.

My colleagues from the Advocacy Department are following up with this case in Winnipeg, and they might have an update on this tomorrow.

Once I have the update, I will gladly provide you with any additional information.

Which means for 14 months, either Winnipeg police hadn’t contacted BB, or the organization hadn’t followed up. Most likely, it’s both.

But, I was repeatedly reassured, BB had lots to tell me about their case work in Toronto… and Montreal. 

The tense moments before the pro-Israel rally (left) was engulfed by pro-Palestinian rioters who charged past a police line (foreground). In the lower right foreground one of Winnipeg’s Palestinian community leaders is seen in a heated talk with police officers. (Photo: File) 

Another thing I wanted an explanation about, was that in fact – their hate crime complaint wasn’t about the rocks, the bottles, the threats to stab and rape.

No, BB didn’t want those hate crimes prosecuted. Instead they wanted charges laid over antisemitic Hamas songs and chants.

Not over the punches and theft of two flags.

So I’ve wanted to ask BB, why was an attempted theft of an Israeli flag in Montreal a hate crime, but the theft and burning of TWO flags in Winnipeg, wasn’t?

In case you think I am picking on BB –which I reiterate, at least did SOMETHING – I asked about the flag burnings in an email a year ago to the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg as well. 

Last year TheJ.ca asked the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg if they considered the theft and burning of Israeli flags as an antisemitic hate crime and if so, whether a complaint was made to police. They have never responded. (Image: File)

Now I want to be clear, B’nai Brith does great work, and the organization has been especially busy in Toronto and Montreal. And their leaders say the right things:

“This assault (in Montreal) shocked the Jewish community, causing a great sense of unease,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Sadly, antizionism is the new driver of antisemitism. Quebec and other provinces must invest more in education to address these issues.”

But what Zionists experienced in my community was a failure of leadership.

The safety, indeed the dignity, of the women, men, teenagers, seniors and even the pro-Israel Christians who saw an anti-Zionist riot engulf them in seconds, weren’t a priority to the national Jewish leadership based in Eastern Canada. And certainly not to the local machars, who behave like fundraising from Jews is more important than protecting their donors.

As you’ll see in this edition of TheJ.ca, critical voices are saying American Jewish Leaders Should Lead Or Get Out Of The Way. In the article, Charles Jacobs and Avi Goldwasser proclaim that their coalition, The Jewish Leadership Project, calls on all Jews to demand their leaders finally stand up and fight against the tsunami of antisemitism.

For decades, both of us have been fighting our external enemies—the biased media, the professoriate, spineless college administrators, leftist anti-Zionists, high schools with poisoned “lesson plans,” radical Muslim antisemites and antisemitic demagogues like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan… We have finally concluded that the Jewish community cannot prevail against this organized tsunami of bigotry under its current establishment leadersJewish community leadership needs to declare a state of emergency and reprioritize all community initiatives in order to protect the Jewish community.”

Rather than support a grassroots Rally for Israel in May 2021, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg disavowed the event because they did not control it, hid behind ‘it’s on Shabbas!’ to discourage participation, and misled the community into thinking it was not allowed under pandemic restrictions. In fact, police worked with the Israeli Canadian Council to allow it to be held. (Photo: File)

Here in Canada, the same sentiment as in the USA has been growing. Nowhere more  than in Winnipeg, especially after the Nakba Day riot victims were abandoned. None were ever contacted by Federation, CIJA or for that matter, B’Nai Brith.

Jewish Leadership is not just about fundraising, hobnobbing with dignitaries, being a talking head on a Zoom panel. It includes speaking with those who have different approaches to being a proud Israel supporting Jew in Canada – and representing them too.

This week the new president of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Gustavo Zentner, spoke in person with our publisher, ICC founder Ron East. Zentner indicated he wanted to turn the page and find ways to work with the disaffected Israeli expat community as well as the homebred Zionists who have called in vain, for previous JFW honchos to walk the walk when it comes to supporting Israel and confronting Jew haters.

A good start for his administration would be to recognize the truth of Mostyn’s statement: “antizionism is the new driver of antisemitism.” 

The Federation has to heed The Jewish Leadership Project warnings to stop the sha-shteel routine when it comes to annual threats like Nakba Day. Are they even aware of emerging threats like the recent Palestinian Oral (History) project being undertaken by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Menno Simons College and representatives of the local Palestinian community? 

The Federation president should also speak with Mostyn so they can both get on the same page as the pro-Israel grassroots like ICC. They can join the ICC in asking the Winnipeg police to explain why they interpret hate crimes against Jews so differently than the police in Montreal.

Jews should be protected equally across all the provinces, and their leaders should speak out whenever Jews are attacked, whether it’s one guy celebrating Israel in Montreal or 30 people celebrating Israel in Winnipeg.

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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