06/18/21: Dear Friend, first and foremost, let me wish you and yours a Shabbat Shalom and a wonderful weekend. Frankly, nothing seems to surprise me anymore but congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene's apology this week for comparing the House mask rule to the Holocaust was an interesting twist.
The apology came after she visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. After her visit, she said in a press conference, "I am truly sorry for offending people with remarks about the Holocaust....theres no comparison and there never ever will be". Clearly the widespread outrage emboldened her to make the pilgrimage to the museum.
But despite condemning antisemitism saying that its "true hate" as she had saw in the museum, it was reported that she admitted to having visited Auschwitz concentration camp just two years prior. She said, "it isn't like I learned about it today". WHAT?
So, despite the fact Greene had visited the most notorious death camp in the world seeing first hand the consequence of antisemitism and hate, she still made the hurtful comparison? That on its face is even more disconcerting.
As disappointing if not more is Canada's Green Party launching of a process that could see their Jewish leader, Annamie Paul ejected from the party as its leader just months after her election. The trigger for this appears to be the fact that her former adviser stood up for Israel during the Gaza conflict and she rightly refused to to condemn him.
As importantly, because Paul refused to take a harsh stand against Israel - supposedly triggering an MP's defection in her party to the Liberals - some members of her party have been working to have her removed (although this move was defeated this week). So are we to learn that pushing an anti-Israel agenda helps you survive in the Green party? It appears to be the case.
Another tense battle was avoided this week at the Canadian Labour Congress' annual convention. I had written its President earlier in the week appealing to him to reconsider some of the proposed anti-Israel resolutions, especially those fomenting antisemitism (like BDS). In the end, of the several anti-Israel resolutions proposed thankfully none made it to the floor of the convention.
Still the CLC is in dangerous territory given that the unheard resolutions will now be dealt with the organization's Executive Committee. This will require continued effort to educate the executive to ensure a proper thoughtful process is undertaken especially now given the rise of antisemitism.
And that rise in antisemitism is especially prolific around the world. In my column in today's National Post, I provided some sobering new statistics from around the world:
Just this week, the Community Security Trust reported 201 anti-Semitic incidents had occurred in London, England, in May — an all-time high. There were 12 reports of assaults and more than 160 reports of abusive behaviour. Similarly, Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution reported what it said was a frightening increase in threats to Jewish life in the country. Among the reported incidents, a swastika was found etched on an ark at a synagogue at the Frankfurt International Airport. The trend is also disconcerting in America, where the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a new study that found that 77 per cent of the nation’s Jewish community was concerned about anti-Semitism while 53 per cent reported an increase in Jew-hatred and 40 per cent were more concerned for their physical safety.
But sometimes it happens that common sense prevails. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee this week that, “We’ve seen that countries that have put Israel on the agenda on a regular basis have expressed views that are anti-Semitic, and many of those countries are in the Middle East.” She observed that it’s “appalling that the UN Human Rights Council has one standing agenda — and that’s Israel — when there’s so many other countries that are committing human rights violations.”
Bashing Israel has always been a way to distract the world from atrocities and human rights violations happening elsewhere. Anti-Semitism is now that new distraction, which the world can no longer afford given pressing global issues that threaten human security.
And one more very positive piece of news occurred this week. Having worked on the "Your Ward News" file for many years and attending hearings and more, I was pleased to note that our justice system works. It ruled correctly against the appeals, severely punishing those who have committed hate crimes against women and the Jewish community. It set a strong precedent for hate speech and hate crime in this region.
As the world turns, it's time to take a much more experienced stand against antisemitism, hate and discrimination. What we have seen happen across our community and around North America is appalling. It shows that over the course of the year, a huge void happened where leadership was not exhibited.
As my announcement this week points out, I will be establishing a new organization that is ready to go to the next level in battling antisemitism and promoting freedom and democracy. Already numerous people are joining my movement - with out even knowing more about it. They do know however that we are in this together and together we will change the world.
If you are interested in being a part of a great new movement, and you have not subscribed to this website, it's not too late. You can subscribe at www.avibenlolo.org
Wishing you and yours a Shabbat Shalom!
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.