TheFridayReport: Who Gets the Upstanding Award for Good Citizenship This Week?
Updated: Jun 27, 2021
06/25/21 - Dear Friend - Shabbat Shalom. Welcome to the latest edition of TheFridayReport, bringing to you the latest issues from here at home and around the world. In the next few weeks, along with many major leaders, I will be announcing the launch of a new exciting foundation.
Thank you to so many of you who have already registered yourself and family members to this website in anticipation. While the world around us continues to spin out of control with rising antisemitism and defamation of Israel, I know we have urgent matters to address. I appreciate your patience as a strong team of leaders is building a new initiative to make our community proud - once again.
If you like what you see through my writings, advocacy, education and global outreach, please forward this message to your friends around the world and encourage them to subscribe to www.avibenlolo.org to be part of our new initiative.
To begin this report, I offer prayers and condolences for those affected by yesterday's building collapse in Miami. According to reports, 159 people are still unaccounted for. Many Jewish organizations in Florida have rushed to assist the victims of this horrible tragedy.
In my column in this week's National Post, I explained that all anti-Semitism has included boycotts of the Jews. All antisemitism has called Jews “occupiers,” “settlers” and “colonialists” — an attempt to marginalize and isolate Jewish populations around the world. When you think about it, these labels are nothing new. They have been haunting the Jewish people for centuries.
So why then should we be shocked, or even dismayed, when this week, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) passed an outrageous resolution charging Israel with “ethnic cleansing” and supporting the “ban on goods produced and exported from the settlements” (a.k.a., boycotting Jewish businesses)? The language of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel comes out of the centuries-old antisemitic playbook.
All antisemitism has included grandiose mythologies — from poisoning wells, to making matzah from Christian blood, to controlling the world’s media and banking system.
Adding onto these libels are today’s ludicrous accusations of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.” It makes no difference that Israel’s government includes an Islamic party or that the Muslim community is deeply engaged and intertwined in Israeli society.
What matters in my mind is that we stand for ourselves and by ourselves. In honour of Holocaust Survivor Day, I sat down this week with Holocaust Survivor Max Eisen for a conversation. The sadness in Max's eyes over the rising tide of antisemitism was concerning. He has spent the last three decades educating and advocating against antisemitism - yet he feels we have hardly made a dent.
He may be right. What we need is a completely new approach to dealing with Antisemitism. The same models may no longer apply. A paradigm shift is needed and while this may difficult for the Jewish community to accept - the old-world community institutions no longer cut it. What we are dealing with today is a new tech savvy generation that uses social media to propel false narratives - this must be challenged aggressively.
We are also seeing an institutionalization of Antisemitism in many workplaces, whereby Jewish staff are feeling marginalized and isolated because of their support for Israel. The same canards are replaying once more, each time hidden behind a veil. This time it’s Israel. Last time it was the economy. And before that, it was treason and disease. The excuses for anti-Semitism are laughable and surreal beyond measure or comprehension, yet the act itself has brought forth violence beyond measure throughout the centuries.
This is why we must work harder to motivate Jewish communities around the world and their friends to become more passionate about fighting back. To me, it's still shocking that I was the only major Jewish community leader who came out to Mel Lastman Square several weeks ago during the height of the Gaza conflict to speak for the State of Israel.
If we do not stand together united in defence of Israel - who will? Will we be seeing more boycotts of Jewish and Israeli owned businesses like the Philadelphia Festival's banning of an Israeli food truck? Not on my watch.
We cannot rest on our laurels - not even around the world. This week, Iran elected a hard line new president nicknamed "butcher of Tehran" for sending hundreds of Iranians to their deaths in his role as head magistrate. By appointing him to this position, Iran sent a harsher tone to the world - not one of peace and tolerance.
And Poland has gone on the offensive once again by setting a new 30 year deadline for Jews to recover seized property. Restitution has always been been an issue for Poland which refuses to take any responsibility for crimes committed by its people on its soil during the Holocaust. This announcement has been met with revulsion from Israel's political leaders.
Antisemitic incidents are affecting Jewish communities all over America too. In Tucson Arizona, police arrested a 30-year-old man for vile antisemitic vandalism of a Chabad Center. In Connecticut, police are investigating after an Antisemitic bomb threat was made to the New Haven Jewish Center. Meanwhile faculty at Franklin and Marshall College condemned Israel as a state based on "Jewish Supremacy" - as a way to express their solidarity with the Palestinians.
At the same time, positive rationale steps were taken by both the UK and Honduras this week. The British government announced it would not be joining Durban IV - a UN disguised "anti-racism" conference when in fact, it repeatedly targets Israel and Zionism. Canada, the U.S. and Australia are also boycotting the conference for good measure.
In the case of Honduras, how wonderful to see that nation this week open its embassy in Israel's capital - Jerusalem! This is a forward trend for many nations that refuse to give in to hatred and delegitimization campaigns against the Jewish State. Bravo!
But the upstanding award for good citizenship this week should go to Germany's media giant, Axel Springer who's CEO declared that its employees should look for another job if they have a problem with Israel's flag being posted outside of its offices.
In all this, we must heed Max Eisen's advice that we must take action. That history can repeat if we ignore the events happening in the world around us. And in this, we must also acknowledge positive behaviour that advances peace.
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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.