By Marvin Ross
I usually leave writing about society in general to Dr Dawson who pens some very thought provoking views while I mostly stick to mental illness but recent events are very troubling. I sit and fume at the Canadian response to the Hamas terrorist attacks and the aftermath and I’m embarrassed at the naivete of a blog I wrote in 2016 on racism.
In comparing the US to Canada, I said “I have American friends who tell me that a deep seated racism still exists but that it is (or has been till now) kept in check. Trump has let the genie out of the bottle as demonstrated by the reports of racist incidents all over the US since the election.”
Today, the genie of anti-semitism has been let out of the Canadian bottle by Hamas. In 2000, the late Canadian historian, Irving Abella, gave a speech telling of the history of anti-semitism in Canada and how it had changed over the years. It is no longer on-line but he did write about it in the Globe in 2022. Abella also authored the book None is Too Many, the policy that prevented Jews from coming to Canada to flee Hitler.
Much of that changed. As I said in 2016, “Abella’s wife, a refugee who was born in a displaced persons camp post Holocaust, sits on the Supreme Court of Canada. Abella mentions that Bora Laskin could not get a job in law when he returned to Canada from Harvard Law School. His wife, a trained cosmetician, could not get hired at Eatons (the large department store). Laskin eventually became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1961 when Louis Rasminski (who graduated from the high school that I went to) was named Governor of the Bank of Canada, Ottawa ceased being what former British High Commissioner Joe Garner called the most “anti-Jewish capital city” he had ever encountered.”
Other minorities did just as well and Canada became a bastion of multi-racial and ethnic harmony.
York University, where Abella taught for many years, has just suspended three staff/faculty because they were part of eleven people arrested for defacing Indigo Books at Bay and Bloor and denouncing the Jewish founder/CEO Heather Reisman. They are charged with mischief over $5000 and conspiracy to commit an indictable offense. Hate crime charges are being considered. Because they’ve been suspended, students are planning to walk out as I write this. One of the arrested has a PhD, one is a practicing psychotherapist, one an immigration consultant, a lecturer at Brock University who may also teach in the Toronto School Board, a migrant workers organizer, and an elementary school teacher.
Numerous university groups have come out praising the Hamas action which involved murdering women, children and the elderly and raping and murdering young women. Hamas, of course, is a terrorist group and is defined as that by most western countries. How anyone can support this group defies description although I don’t want to get into the very complex history of the middle east in this blog but everyone seems to have forgotten the thousands of missiles fired at Israeli citizens that has been going on for years and the attack on innocent civilians. Those who support Hamas might want to read their charter which calls for the complete destruction of Israel and the elimination of Jews. “In 2019, Hamas official Fathi Hamad made an anti-Semitic exhortation to the Palestinian diaspora to murder Jews everywhere: “You should attack every Jew possible in all the world and kill them”
The former director of the BC Civil Liberties Society was so pleased with the Hamas attack on civilians and young people at a music festival that she said “How beautiful is the spirit to get free that Palestinians literally learned how to fly on hang gliders.” A University of Montreal professor told a student at Concordia University who was getting support for the hostages (many of them very young children) to “go back to Poland you whore”.
Ordinary people are ripping posters of hostages off telephone poles and a student at Durham College in Oshawa made a video saying how proud she is of her Palestinian people for October 7 and wants them to keep repeating it “over and over and over again”.
Jewish buildings in Montreal have been firebombed or shot at and swastikas are appearing in Toronto elementary schools. A friend in Ottawa e-mailed me that his friend, a rabbi, was getting hate calls on his cell phone and he said “this is not the Ottawa that I love”. The situation in Toronto is so bad that when the Jewish community decided to hold a rally in support of Israel and the hostages, it was at Christie Pitts. That was the location of a riot in the 1930’s when a gang of Nazi supporters showed up waving swastika flags at a baseball game involving Jewish youth. Italian immigrants joined the Jews in the battles that followed.
Lest we forget, I have not seen any feminist or #MeToo groups come out to condemn the rape of Israeli girls. Rape is illegal and abhorrent and in an armed conflict, a war crime. Guess Israeli women don’t count.
Renowned progressive physician and member of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Dr Philip Berger of the University of Toronto Medical School, is one of 555 Jewish physicians at the U of T who recently signed a letter proclaiming their Zionism in the face of academic hostility. Dr Berger told the Toronto Star that:
“I don’t know what’s happened to the left. The left has abandoned proper research and adequate knowledge of a very complicated issue, which the Middle East is. The left has failed to see that there’s only one Jewish state, under threat by millions of citizens around it. The left does not have a scintilla of empathy for Jewish victims of terror.”
What is the pinnacle of stupidity are the posters I’ve seen saying “Queers for Hamas” and Gays for Gazans”. I wonder how they would like living under Hamas. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy states that:
“Today, gays remain subject to legal persecution in most parts of the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon (though the region is hardly unique in this regard). Where homosexuality is addressed in modern legal codes, it often appears as a category similar to adultery, for which the prescribed penalty in some Middle Eastern states is death by stoning.”
To be fair, Muslims are also being subjected to increased hate but according to police, not to the same extent as Jews.
To paraphrase my friend in Ottawa, this is not the Canada that I love. Where did we go wrong and how do we reverse this hate? I have no idea but we need to reverse it and fast. What is encouraging is that the vast majority of the comments to the news article in the Globe about York University is support for the university.