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Marouf scandal aftermath lands with a thud on CIJA

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For the pro-Israel grassroots in Canada, the national community leadership appears to be letting the Trudeau government off the hook for hiring antisemitism-spouting media trainer Laith Marouf in the name of -‘woke-ism’. (Image: Twitter) 

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It’s my good fortune to occasionally be engaged in lively discussions and exchanges of information and views, with some prominent figures on Twitter. Much of it is focused on Canada, antisemitism, Israel and Zionism. So when the Laith Marouf funding scandal broke open online in August I saw it right away.

I knew I recognized Marouf’s name vaguely, and our publisher confirmed he had been mentioned to us by other grassroots Zionists who had been alert about his anti-Israel activities for the last ten years.

It was pretty clear that it didn’t ‘just happen’, that a radical anti-west academic simply popped up to quaff from the public trough. And prominent people on Twitter aren’t shy about stating, the rise of Marouf to becoming a legitimized mass media ‘anti-racism’ trainer under Justin Trudeau’s administration didn’t happen in a vacuum.   

But the public reaction of CIJA – The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs – and their enthusiastic acceptance of every excuse Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen told them seemed disconnected with what I was seeing from other prominent Jewish quarters. And so I corresponded with CIJA, asking what they knew about Marouf, and about their statements regarding the funding scandal.

According to the responses I received, CIJA confirmed they had never heard 99.9% of the things said by Laith Marouf about Jews and Israel. One spouting off in 2021 about Gaza had been noted. That was it.  

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CIJA also confirmed it had no prior awareness about the $133,800 grant to Marouf’s company from Canadian Heritage to hold six conferences in major cities across Canada entitled “Building an Anti-Racism Strategy for Canadian Broadcasting.”

CIJA knew nothing about it. Considering anti-racism and diversity programs are notoriously rife with anti-Zionist and antisemitic intersectional agendas, and this was bringing such initiatives to media platforms regulated by the CRTC, I would have thought they’d have been watching that file.

So underfunded (if at all) grassroots activists in Canada were monitoring Marouf – but not CIJA. That’s not acceptable.

If this type of radical academic anti-Israel instigator isn’t the kind of red flag that gets noticed by the agency, what does? Jewish Federations in Canada funnel substantial donors’ dollars to CIJA-   millions of dollars – on the premise that their ‘advocacy partner’ acts as a sentry for Canadian Jews. Marouf is proof CIJA flunked the test.

Consider also, how in backtracking from his initial praise for the grant, Hussen told B’nai Brith that this scandal “is a slap in the face to the Jewish community.”

In light of that admission, I was mystified by the language of CEO and president Shimon Koffler Fogel in the CIJA media release:

We are gratified that Minister Hussen has cut the funding for CMAC and suspended the program and look forward to results of the investigation into how the funds were allocated in the first place and how they plan to avoid such errors in future.”

“We are gratified”…  Who is “we”?  “Errors”? … what’s that about? 

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I wasn’t clear what information led Fogel to think that the grassroots Zionists and Israelis who Marouf targeted with his hate would want “gratitude” expressed on their behalf to Hussen for hiring Marouf and stalling for eight days after the firestorm began to cancel the funding.

More concerning to me was that Fogel was essentially declaring that CIJA had eliminated any bureaucratic or Ministerial misconduct or favouritism behind Marouf getting the consulting deal since it was just an “error”. But, where’s the proof it was an ‘error”? Where did that word come from? Was the 8 day delay part of the “error” too?

I wrote to follow up with CIJA on those questions. Here is my first question about Fogel’s statement and their replies in blue:

  • What do you mean by ‘error’? Mistake.  
  • Were you told it was an ‘error’ by someone in the government, or is that CIJA’s assessment? Do you believe that ‘error’ adequately describes what occurred here? We are also comfortable with serious error.

Given a chance to admit they had understated what a scandal this was, CIJA called it a “mistake”.

When pressed, they only grudgingly upgraded it to ‘a serious error’.  

I also noticed they avoided answering if the term ‘error’ was the official assurance of the government to them, or just Fogel’s interpretation.  

I also asked – “What message is CIJA sending the Canadian Jewish and Israeli communities by not holding the Canadian government and Heritage Canada responsible for promoting someone who is a blatant antisemite and calls for the killing of Israeli-Canadians?”

CIJA responded:We are holding them to account.”

It may sound good in an echo chamber, but to the ears of an experienced grassroots Zionist, it is in this case, a claim void of credibility. 

A sample of the questions and answers between TheJ.ca and CIJA about the Laith Marouf funding scandal in Ottawa. They called the awarding of federal Heritage funding to a known antisemitic radical an “error”. (Image: File)

“Mistake.” “Error”. It was obvious that for some reason, CIJA did not want to discuss pointing any light INSIDE the departments to see if anti-Zionists and antisemites lurk within, doling out free money to the likes of Marouf.

It’s created a credibility gap because until CIJA produces proof there was an “error” behind the government’s actions, why would anyone outside of CIJA accept the assurance they are ‘holding them to account’.  

Accordingly, I followed up with more questions (CIJA answers in blue).

  • “Was CIJA assured by the Minister or anyone else that there was no duplicitous, antisemitic or anti-Zionist motives behind any of the government staff giving their approvals and promoting this programming?” We had a long (and ongoing) conversation with the Minister and key staff and are encouraged that an investigation is underway. We will continue to hold the government to account.
  • “Should the Jewish community find it acceptable that this case lingered for 8 days, or do you believe the government should have acted with greater urgency?” The Jewish community is very reasonably concerned about this situation and is expecting the government to resolve it and the systemic failures that allowed it.
  • “Since the safety of Israeli-Canadians in the Jewish community was particularly put at risk by Marouf’s lectures and rhetoric, can CIJA explain why Israeli Canadians should dismiss this matter as a ‘serious error’ as you suggest?” This situation should absolutely not be dismissed, and we will continue to hold the government to account.

From these answers, I learned

  1. The Minister gave CIJA no assurance the grant approval wasn’t a calculated action by anti-Israel or antisemitic elements in Ottawa.
  2. Instead of addressing the government’s 8 day stall to crisis-manage the bad press Hussen and Rodriguez were getting, CIJA talked about vague “systemic failures”.
  3. When asked whether Israeli-Canadians should buy that this was all just an innocent “error”, CIJA swerved their language to make it seem like they answered the question.

It became apparent, no matter what the question posed by TheJ.ca, CIJA simply would not criticize the Trudeau government.

Perhaps, you might think, I was missing something. But after the next comment to the media I saw from Fogel, I felt I was more right than wrong, and CIJA was more wrong than right.

Hillel Neuer of UN Watch has been adamant that people inside the Trudeau government knew exactly what Laith Marouf was all about and need to be exposed. (Image: Twitter)

In an interview about the program suspension with JNS, Fogel continued to shower effusive praise on the Minister beyond all reason:

”… I offer unqualified praise for the ministry’s comprehensive response that acknowledged responsibility and correctly put into place measures both to correct the error and prevent its recurrence.”

Fogel never wavers from the rehearsed lines. Praise the Minister, then effusively praise the minister, repeat the word “error”, repeat it again.

That narrative certainly makes it appear that someone at CIJA wants the Marouf scandal to go away, not get to the bottom of it.

Fogel also talked about how Minister Hussen’s commitment to work with CIJA “will lead to high confidence that the values promoted by the government are reflected in the orientation and work of their partners outside government.

So for CIJA L’Affair Marouf boils down to:

  1. A)  An “error” that has nothing to do with bad actors inside Ottawa.
  2. B)  It’s the fault of antisemites who are outside the government, never inside.
  3. C)  Trust CIJA because they are working on it right now with Hussen and the government.

That’s certainly an approach well-suited to machars eyeing Senate appointments and patronage posts who don’t want to risk raising the ire of the hyper-sensitive and vindictive Trudeau regime.

But that approach is incompatible with the responsibility of national Jewish leaders to represent the concerns of grassroots Zionists in Canada. The grassroots are demanding justice and want protection from antisemites inside the government, which is now an undeniable reality.  

Since the suspension of his Heritage Canada funding, Laith Marouf has continued to blame the Zionist lobby for exposing his contempt for basic human rights. (Image: CNW)

The considered opinions of experts like Vivian Bercovici, David Mulroney, Darshan Maharaja and Hillel Neuer is this: The Trudeau government is infiltrated with supporters of Marouf’s antisemitic, anti-Zionist world view. This framing of L’Affair Marouf gained considerable traction online and has not been debunked. CIJA’s framing doesn’t come close to it.

Their deep sense of urgency – which is shared by THOUSANDS of Jews and our allies in this country – is the polar opposite of Fogel’s narrative. He has tweeted all of two times in 2022 and has not engaged those respected figures at all on the serious issues they have raised – and they’ve taken substantial abuse for doing so.

To CIJA, the voices of Canadian Jews on Twitter are like a tree falling in a forest, far far away from their Parliamentary reception of glad-handing MPs.

They’ve been asked repeatedly to join with CAEF and other groups to sign and promote the petition for a public inquiry into the Marouf scandal and as you can see, CIJA never once responded.

Think about the message that sends, not only to grassroots Jewish Zionists but also to our enemies, that the ‘partner and advocacy agent’ of Jewish Federations in Canada isn’t supporting a public inquiry.

That’s why we need a ‘Great Reset’ to decide who else should speak on our behalf to governments and to news agencies like JNS.

Otherwise – and I’m talking not only about long-standing Federation donors but about the rest of us too – Canadian Jews risk that once again in the future, our ‘official’ leaders will arbitrarily decide to let a government off the hook for hiring Jew-haters and tell the media it’s all under control. That may be good for the Liberal government, but it’s hard to see that as being good for anyone else.  

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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