Letter Re Caricature in Le Devoir
Mr. Brian Myles
Directeur Les Devoir
1265, rue Berri, 8e étage
Montréal (Québec) H2L 4X4
Sent on May 25, 2021
Given the climate of violent antisemitism, particularly in Montreal over the last couple of weeks, I wanted to express my disappointment. Today your paper published a caricature of what can only be understood as an Israeli soldier with his knee on the neck of what appears to be an Arab person - likely a Palestinian. It is hurtful to the Jewish community - a community that abhors violence.
Aside from fanning the flame of antisemitism, this space could have been devoted to remembering Mr. George Floyd, given that today is the one year anniversary of his murder. I am saddened that instead of remembering Mr. Floyd and educating the public further about racism, the image inflames passions and unfairly draws parallels between the two events.
Nevertheless, I understand from your tweeted reaction today that you have stated that your paper's position has not changed regarding Israel: "we still support the principle of Oslo accords...recognition of two states, Israel and Palestine". You also tweeted, "we recognize Israel's right to exist". While Israel exists and is a wonderful thriving democracy, your paper's stated public support is important for Canadians to know.
As you are aware, it is the Palestinian leadership (Hamas and the PA) who has kept their own people down. They have done so by refusing peace overtures from Israel and by dedicating international aid to weaponry against Israel. Israel does not occupy one square inch of Gaza, having vacated the territory to give Palestinians the opportunity to build a state.
Instead, Hamas has attacked Israel with over 4,200 rockets. Israel defended its citizens. And on the streets of Europe, America and Canada, Jewish people have also been attacked violently. It would be helpful if we try and find peaceful solutions to this nightmare, rather than inflame passions and possibly create more anti-Jewish hatred.
Over the last two decades, the global community of first world nations have advanced important definitions and new understandings of antisemitism. Much of that deals with old and new antisemitism, particularly linked the the Jewish State. Here is a short guide I wrote just yesterday that may help everyone build further understanding and sensitivity in this arena: https://www.avibenlolo.org/post/so-what-makes-it-antisemitic-a-simple-guide-to-antisemitism
Mr. Myles, if I can help further, please feel free to draw on me at any time. My only interest is to help build a more tolerant society by reducing tensions, hate and intolerance.
Avi Abraham Benlolo
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Avi Abraham Benlolo, BA MA, Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa)
Order of Vaughan, Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal, Race Relations Award
ABOUT: Avi Abraham Benlolo has been described as the nation's most prominent and noted expert in Holocaust studies, in countering Antisemitism and promoting human rights. He has dedicated nearly three decades in executive capacities, was founding President and CEO of a major organization in the Jewish community, has raised over $150 million for charities and is a leading voice in Canada. His academic research, graduate degree, Ph.D. coursework and nearly three decades of professional work has focused on these arenas in addition to peace and security in the Middle East. He has published hundreds of articles in these areas. In recognition of his national and international leadership in this area, he has received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate from a prestigious Israeli university for his work in Holocaust studies and combating antisemitism; an Order of Vaughan for his distinguished contribution to anti-racism, equity and diversity; the Queens Diamond Jubilee Award for his contributions to Canada and a race relations award for best practice, based on distinguished service in promoting human rights.
As a supporter of Israel, he is proud to have established "The Avi Benlolo Scholarship Fund in National Security" at Haifa University.