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Ontario MPP Joel Harden’s Faux Apology For “An Antisemitic Stereotype”

No apology for claiming Israel is “a deeply racist project”

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“It is always a benefit to speak the truth that’s in your heart, wherever that leads to.” For NDP Ottawa MPP Joel Harden, ‘the truth in his heart’ led to him being ordered by his leader to apologize for spewing antisemitic canards in a year-old interview. (Screencap: YouTube)

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Once they dug up the video from August 2021, it only took 24 hours for @Antisemitism.ca to send the Ontario opposition NDP reeling from an antisemitism scandal involving an Ottawa caucus member. In a Twitterfest that started on November 19 with a link to a podcast interview, MPP Joel Harden was forced within hours to apologize for his twisted remarks about the Canadian Jewish community and Israel’s policy in the Middle East.

The ten-post thread described “A shocking interview with NDP MPP Joel Harden and Peter Larson that reveals the moral depravity and overt antisemitism that has taken root in Canadian politics”

Among the numerous outrageous statements he uttered, his attack on the Jewish state and the integrity of the IDF was a blood libel. In an appearance with the Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine.

“I will often wear my Palestinian human rights button on my coat sleeve just to see if it triggers a response from folks,” recounted @Antisemitism.ca. “”I have asked many questions of Jewish neighbours here about how much longer we should put up with this. Because if I were to name the single greatest threat… the single greatest origin of violence in the Middle East it is unquestionably Israel”.

“There are so many links between Canada and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and we should be naming them… it is a deeply racist project, sadly, that’s being built in Israel.”

Since it wasn’t a news interview, he wasn’t challenged that wars in Iran, Iraq and Syria unrelated to Israel have recorded 1.1 million casualties. Or, that Israel is a “racist project” with a “South African styled system of segregation and apartheid.”

But more importantly, neither was his antisemitism. And no wonder.

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“Peter Larson, the interviewee, runs a pro-Palestinian blog and regularly posts in CJPME’s far right Facebook group”, the thread revealed. “One poignant reflection of his about the Holocaust was that “what happened to Jews was terrible. But no more terrible than what happened to many others”

In concluding the play-by play of the video, @Antisemitism.ca observed: “What is more disgusting than Harden’s smug, self-assured minimization of antisemitism and gleeful engagement with antisemites is the expectation that he will face no consequences for this. Antisemitism has quietly assumed a place of prominence in certain wings of the NDP party and steps must be taken to stop the “Corbynization” of the party.”

As the onslaught rolled towards him online, Harden tried to use the ‘less is more’ approach with a public statement, barely addressing only a single aspect of his remarks:

“I would like to apologize unreservedly to the Jewish community for comments I made during an interview with the Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine. I spoke in a way that perpetrated an antisemitic stereotype towards Jewish neighbours. I regret my choice of words and sincerely apologize to the Jewish community. You have my commitment that it won’t happen again and I will continue to work with Jewish leaders who can help me understand antisemitism.”

Immediately, his faux-pology was picked apart by some familiar names.

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“Joel, you described an antisemitic door-knocking campaign targeting your ‘Jewish neighbours’.” replied @Hansardish. “You didn’t apologize for that campaign. You escalated beyond words to action. That escalation on the part of an elected representative of the people is extremely dangerous. You must resign.”

Former Ambassador to Israel, Vivian Bercovici, tweeted, “I’m confused, Joel. You regret your choice of words. Do you understand that the issue is that you hold “Jews” responsible for Israel? The real issue is your apparent view that all Jews are one regardless of the words you use. If you set a diff standard for Jews say so. Own it.”

“Joel this was not mere stereotyping it was full-on antisemitism for which your statement does not acknowledge the harm you caused to Jewish people,” said respected lawyer and mediator Ari Kaplan. “That was a terrifying and abnormal interview.”

Jeff Joseph (@MisterDoubleJ) was buying none of it from Harden:

“Sorry, but this is just a big jar of #sorrynotsorry sauce. He specifically talked about confronting HIS “Jewish neighbors” about Israel because of his belief that Israel is the “origin of violence” in the Middle East. That is not “perpetrat(ing) an antisemitc stereotype” but rather an out-and-out confession of his level of Jew hatred. It is unfathomable and unconscionable. That kind of hate has no place in a house of governance. He should be ejected from the Ontario NDP caucus, stat.”

NDP leader Peter Tabuns said he told Harden in a “forceful” manner to apologize for the antisemitic remarks. “I was very angry when I came across the remarks, talked to my staff, we moved very quickly on this,” Tabuns said Monday to the Toronto Sun. “I got in touch with the MPP. He has issued an unreserved apology. What he had to say was wrong, it was hurtful … I was really upset when I saw those remarks.” 

According to the report, there will be consequences if Harden “does not honor his commitment to seek out education on this issue and never repeat his comments again”.

While Tabuns in no way defended his MPP, many of the usual types of chattering characters rushed to rehabilitate Harden’s shattered credibility.

Faced with a laundry list of profoundly offensive comments to walk back, Joel Harden tried to slip an apology by that focused on only one narrow aspect of his antisemitic beliefs- the one that will cost him votes. (Image: Twitter)

Anti-racism hustler Bernie Farber quickly accepted Harden’s apology and commented “Good to see a politician take responsibility.” Similarly, an “Award Winning Teacher for Equity & Social Justice” tweeted, “We all make mistakes with our language & impact identity communities unintentionally.”

Derik Chica, a Provincial Councillor with the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation Provincial Councillor, had opened his remarks with “Lol at ppl calling for a resignation but openly exhibit anti-Palestinian racism.”

A guidance counsellor with the Toronto District School Board – quell surprise! – he concluded, “We need to make space for transformation. Zero tolerance expectations disproportionately impact oppressed ppl.” He elaborated shortly after, to explain that he, too, is among the oppressed. “The anti-Palestinian racism (APR) many of us non-Palestinians feel is if we make a mistake in talking about Israel-Palestine, we will get accused of antisemitism & lose our jobs.”

Ariel Troster is the new City Councillor for Somerset Ward in Ottawa. She tweeted, “I appreciate your sincere apology and look forward to continuing to work together to support our communities.”

Her comment drew a sharp rebuke from Artur Wilczynski (@Arturmaks). He is a former Ambassador to Norway, a retired Director General of Foreign Intelligence Operations, and part of Canada’s intelligence and security community.

“Reason he issued the apology is because his hurtful words were made public. He intentionally aimed to “trigger” neighbors he thought should be accountable for a foreign conflict. His contributions to combat antisemites are to remind them they harm the Palestinian cause.”

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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!

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