TheFridayReport: Tokyo2020 Honours Israeli Victims of Palestinian Terrorism
07/23/21: Dear Friends, first and foremost, I am pleased to wish you and yours a Shabbat Shalom and a wonderful weekend. If you like what you read in this dispatch, please share it with your family and friends and encourage them to subscribe by visiting the home page at www.avibenlolo.org.
All subscribers will soon be transitioned to our new powerful media engine that will be a part of The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI), an organization that you can be proud to be a part of, that is setting its sights on new heights. We are taking our time setting things up, but soon, we will be unrolling our new logo and powerful website. It's all exciting, especially given the many distinguished Canadians involved.
This week, I was pleased to offer my congratulations to Israel's incoming Ambassador to Canada, Ronen Hoffman. Having spoken with him from Tel Aviv, I welcomed Hoffman to our nation and offered him our support. As well, Canada's new US Ambassador is David Cohen, a former vice-chairman of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
We also announced that AGPI will be hosting its first annual Global Conference on Antisemitism on November 7th, 2021. The conference will be held virtually and include many high profile leaders such as Lord Eric Pickles, UK's Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues; Lara Logan, a top American media personality and defender of human rights; and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken critic of Antisemitism. Joining us will be many politicians and distinguished leaders.
This comes on the heels as Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announcing some $6 million in funding for communities that face the risks of hate crimes. Much of the funding will go to Jewish and Muslim communities, to enhance safety and security in their institutions.
Still, in a passionate interview on CBC, Green Party leader Annamie Paul expressed concern at having been left out of the summit. If any politician can speak directly about having experienced Antisemitism, it is Paul.
It is clear to everyone that what we are dealing with are tsunami-like proportions of antisemitism. I have written and spoken extensively over the past 12 months about the growing normalization and institutionalization of antisemitism. Jewish people are falsely characterized as an oppressor and demonized with the objective of isolating them and by extension, Israel.
It is clear that Antisemitism is a global phenomenon that affects us locally. The Abraham Global Peace Initiative will address its global parameters affecting hate online; Holocaust distortion and education and of course bringing in communities far and wide - because what has always been clear to me in all of my work - is the fact that Jewish people cannot alone combat Antisemitism.
Already, AGPI has become the inclusive global organization inviting into its tent a roster of Canadian leaders who are concerned about Antisemitism and the growth of hate and intolerance in their communities and around the world.
As the Tokyo Olympics launched today, the opening ceremonies included, for the first time, an official commemoration honouring the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists 49 years ago in Munich. As we think about the challenges that continue to face Israel from its avowed enemies, this is a stark reminder of the cold-blooded murder inflicted on the Israeli Olympians. I commend the organizers for including this meaningful memorial.
Still, this memorial comes on the heels of the departure of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics director in charge of opening ceremonies for a comedy skit making jokes about the Holocaust. He has since apologized.
The world community still attempts to inflict pain on Israel and its citizens. In today's National Post, I wrote about the ridiculous boycott of ice cream by Ben and Jerry's in Judea and Samaria: "Ben and Jerry’s has caused a stir in Israel and around the world by announcing that its ice cream will no longer be sold in the “occupied territories.” Its website touts important social justice activities like “climate justice, marriage equality and peace building” — but boycotting the disputed territories, where Jewish people reside because of their religious connection to the land, is not the same. Some might say it’s discriminatory. If we are all promoting freedom, why can’t Jewish people live there?"
One of the better reactions to Ben and Jerry's was a letter by Governor Ron DeSantis who wrote that "As a matter of law and principle, the State of Florida does not tolerate discrimination against the State of Israel or the Israeli people, including boycotts and divestments targeting Israel". DeSantis explicitly advised the State that it must "refrain from acquiring any and all Unilever assets"...as is consistent with the anti-boycott law in Florida.
Unilever's CEO responded to the global outrage by saying that his company is "fully committed" to doing business in Israel. But what does this mean for Ben and Jerry's?
DeSantis' letter is a home run! For those of you who might recall, along with Tim Hudak and Mike Colle who served as MPP's at the time, we had tried to pass a similar legislative Bill in Ontario at the time. The government of the time had nearly unanimously and shamelessly voted against it. Had the bill passed, today Ontario would have been in a better position to pressure Unilever into reversing Ben and Jerry's decision.
Read my full article in the National Post: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/avi-benlolo-ben-and-jerrys-serves-up-a-cold-dish-of-hate-against-israel
In other news, even while the French community was remembering the largest Nazi era roundup, France's Jewish community is denouncing anti-vaccination protestors who wore the yellow star of david on their clothes. Outrageously, they were comparing themselves to Jewish people who were persecuted in Nazi Germany.
Similarly, in Glogow Poland, anti-vaccine protestors blamed Jewish people as being responsible for the spread of Covid-19, as denounced by the European Jewish Congress. Poland still struggles with antisemitism, particularly given its right wing government's recent pronouncements about Jewish property.
Meanwhile, on the heals of reports that Canada's victims of communism memorial received donations allegedly honouring Nazi sympathizers and actors, I encouraged Heritage Canada and our prime minister to thoroughly review the program and the questionable names allegedly being proposed.
As the week comes to a close, we give thanks for all our blessings in this life. We pray for peace and friendship. And we strengthen our resolve against those who seek out acts of hate and foment despair.
Wishing you 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.