Peter Beinart’s “Yavne” and its Critics

By JOSEPH M. STEINER

On July 7, U.S. journalist and commentator Peter Beinart published an article in Jewish Currents entitled Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine. A shorter version appeared in The New York Times the next day (“I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State”).

In them, Beinart asserts that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer possible, and he advocates for a single binational state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, with equal rights for all.

In the succeeding days, Beinart’s article garnered much attention in the Jewish world, most of it highly critical, some verging on caustic.

I approach the task of evaluating his thesis and the critiques to which it has been subjected as someone who has long been committed to a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is important to be clear on the elements of Beinart’s argument, which has three components:

• That settlements have so penetrated the West Bank that separation from Palestinians there is impossible. Hence a two-state solution is impossible, and a single state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is inevitable. Indeed, he says, a single state is already in place as a result of Israeli settlements and the legal and physical infrastructure created to support those settlements.

• A binational state won’t be so bad. In fact, it would be a good outcome.

• A binational state has an intellectual “pedigree” going back to some early Zionist luminaries.

All of the many responses I have read focus only on Beinart’s second and third arguments, but not on his first. Even a response from Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, two of the most astute analysts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, addresses only Beinart’s benign view of a single state, failing entirely to respond to his first argument – that a single state is inevitable. (“Don’t Give Up on the Two-State Solution,” The American Interest, July 14, 2020).

I don’t propose to address Beinart’s second and third arguments for the simple reason that if Beinart is correct about the impossibility of the two-state solution, the issues arising from his other two arguments will not affect the outcome, even if he is dead wrong in both cases.

The only issue is whether the single state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean will be a genuine binational state – one in which all current Israeli citizens and all current Palestinian residents of the West Bank are citizens with equal rights in every dimension – or an apartheid state. In either event, the vision of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state is doomed. 

Some might argue that this situation has been brought about by Palestinian intransigence. I agree that the Palestinians have been intransigent in the face of numerous genuine efforts by Israel to negotiate separation on terms reasonable to both sides. But ascribing fault for the present situation is a useless exercise. The point of Beinart’s first argument is that the situation renders separation impossible.

To liberal, progressive life-long Zionists, this is a depressing outlook and not one to which we will readily acquiesce. But, as one test of Beinart’s first argument, ask yourself the following question: Can you conceive of any Israeli government of any political complexion taking either of the following actions as part of a genuine peace agreement, with the Palestinians meeting all of Israel’s security needs?

• Either requiring the residents of the settlements (or, perhaps, only those settlements which are not adjacent to the Green Line), to evacuate and relocate west of the Green Line (or, perhaps, into the settlements adjacent to the Green Line);

• Or, telling the residents of the settlements (or, perhaps, only of the settlements which are not adjacent to the Green Line) that they are on their own, that they will no longer have Israeli defence or economic assistance. They can maintain their Israeli citizenship, but simply as expatriates, or acquire Palestinian citizenship, or both. Those who maintain their Israeli citizenship will receive the same consular assistance, and in the same circumstances, as Israeli expats in any other foreign country, but nothing more.

If the answer to that question is “no,” then, I would argue there is no conceivable separation agreement that could ever be reached between Israel and the Palestinians of the West Bank. And that takes us right back to the single state, which is either genuinely binational or apartheid.

Beinart’s case for the death of the two-state solution is not premised upon annexation according to the Trump plan or Netanyahu’s campaign pledges. He argues that the settlements have already so penetrated the West Bank that separation is impossible. Indeed, there is a great risk that, if the current threat of formal annexation of whatever magnitude fades away, liberal, progressive, life-long Zionists will breathe a sigh of relief thinking that we have dodged a bullet.

More likely, considering 53 years of history since 1967, “creeping annexation” will continue as settlements in the West Bank expand and new settlements are created. Recent experience has shown that when the Israeli government reluctantly takes any steps against any settlement, even one that is illegal under Israeli law, those steps are accompanied by “compensation” to the settlement movement in the form of expansion of other existing settlements or transfer of the affected residents to another location in the West Bank to create yet another settlement. What “compensation” will Netanyahu feel compelled to provide if he fails to deliver on his annexation promises? 

Israel needs effective security. While a military presence in the West Bank is currently essential to Israeli security, civilian settlements in the West Bank contribute nothing to that security. Indeed, they exacerbate security issues.

I would be overjoyed to be confronted with a convincing rejoinder to Beinart’s first and primary argument. Like most liberal, progressive, life-long Zionists, I have clung to the two-state solution for decades as the basis for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at some indeterminate time in the future.

Beinart challenges us to ask whether we are clinging to an illusion. If so, whither Israel as a Jewish and democratic state? Whither Zionism?


Joseph M. Steiner
Joseph M. Steiner

Joseph Steiner is a member of the boards of New Israel Fund of Canada, Prizmah: The Center for Jewish Day Schools, Bialik Hebrew Day School (of which he is a past chair), and the Shalom Hartman Institute, and an associate member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel. He is a past chair of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and of its former Board of Jewish Education. The views expressed in this article are his own.

Editorial: Jewish Leaders Must Act Now

As reported in the Canadian Jewish Record this week, Halton Regional Police released a report this month of a vandalized monument in the St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery in Oakville. According to the CJR:

“Someone had painted ‘Nazi war monument’ on a stone cenotaph commemorating those who served with the 14th SS Division in the Second World War.

“Formed in 1943, it was part of the Waffen SS, the military branch of the SS. Members of the unit have been accused of killing Polish civilians and Jews during the war.”

The debate surrounding this unit continued long after the end of the war. Apologists have claimed that the unit was formed to fight against the Soviets, and that its being under Nazi command was a historical anomaly.

But beyond doubt is that the 14th Waffen SS Division was under Nazi charge. Indeed, it was considered such a gem within SS paramilitary squads that SS leader Heinrich Himmler personally visited the division in 1944 to laud members’ willingness to rid Galicia of a “dirty blemish…namely the Jews.”

Despite the damage to it, the cenotaph is exactly what the graffiti described: A “Nazi war monument.” Unfortunately, when news of the vandalism was released, Halton police mistakenly claimed that the crime was being investigated under Canada’s anti-hate laws.

Social media erupted, and Halton Police Chief Steven Tanner wisely clarified: “The Nazi Party/SS are by no means a protected group under any hate crime related legislation,” he stated. “The most unfortunate part of all of this is that any such monument would exist in the first place.”

Also unfortunate was the stances of mainstream Jewish advocacy groups. The CJR has been unable to find a single mention of this incident in the news section of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ website.

Meantime, it seemed to take prodding from no less an august publication as The Nation for B’nai Brith Canada to issue a statement.

“There is no place for monuments in our society that glorify military units, political organizations or individuals who collaborated with the Nazis in World War II,” the organization told The Nation on July 21. “B’nai Brith Canada calls for such monuments to be removed and for comprehensive education efforts to accurately portray the historical record of those individuals and organizations involved.”

Asked the next day whether B’nai Brith would issue a statement to the CJR, the group sent the following from CEO Michael Mostyn:

“B’nai Brith Canada calls for the removal of any monuments glorifying military units, political organizations or individuals that collaborated with the Nazis in World War II. There is no place for such monuments in Canada.

“Regarding the specific cenotaph in Oakville, Ont., we are in the process of reaching out to other groups affected by this monument in the hopes of achieving real progress on this issue.

“At a bare minimum, comprehensive education efforts are needed to shine the light of historical accuracy on Nazi collaborators and their crimes.”

As of July 22, however, this statement was not on B’nai Brith’s website.

And Friends of Simon Wiesenthal would only go as far as to say the monument was a “blight” and “insults” the memory of Canadian soldiers who fought the Nazis. But FSWC was strangely quiet on removing the monument.

We expect more from our Jewish leadership. Jewish advocacy groups quite rightly spoke out strongly and took decisive legal and human rights actions against the owner of Toronto’s Foodbenders eatery, who recently engaged in ugly antisemitic tropes.

But the glorification of actual Nazis, all of whom, no matter where in Europe they fought, aided in the murder of six million Jews, seems to be a bit of an afterthought.

Complacency (or reluctance to raise voices) in the face of Nazi glorification is not an option, especially for Jews. It’s time for everyone to speak out and demand this and other monuments paying tribute to Nazi collaborators be removed once and for all.

On the Record – Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note

SAMY ELMAGHRIBI/SALOMON AMZALLAG (April 19, 1922 – March 9, 2008) Singer-Songwriter, Cantor, Poet, Oud Player

July 22, 2020 – By DAVID EISENSTADT

By night, Samy Elmaghribi was dubbed the Moroccan Charles Aznavour – with a pop singer’s global reputation.

By day, he was Salomon Amzallag, the first Moroccan cantor at Montreal’s famed Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue. Known as Shearith Israel, on St. Kevin Street in Montreal since 1960, it’s Canada’s oldest Jewish congregation, established in 1768. Cantor Amzallag served there from 1967 to 1984.

Cantor Salomon Amzallag

Two cantors have since sung from the Spanish & Portuguese bimah, including Yehuda Abittan and present-day chazzan Daniel Benlolo, who was one of Amzallag’s students.

Amzallag was Benlolo’s mother’s cousin, and so the Montreal synagogue became their family’s new home.

“He’s the inspirational reason I became a chazzan and his shul was where I received my training,” Cantor Benlolo said. “He was a wonderful mentor. Over the years, I have been privileged to serve Sephardic and Ashkenazi congregations in Ottawa, New York, Atlanta and Caracas, to name a few. Two and-a-half years ago, I was pleased to return home to Shearith Israel to work and live in Montréal.”

Amzallag was born in Safi, a city in western Morocco. His family moved to Rabat in 1926. Growing up, he taught himself to play the oud, a short-neck, lute-type pear-shaped string instrument that dates to Assyria.

Early on, young Samy familiarized himself with Arab-Andalusian music, attending the Conservatoire de Music de Casablanca. Starting at age 20, he studied with many of the great Andalusian masters of his time.

Christopher Silver, an assistant professor of Jewish History and Culture at McGill University, has called him “a mid-twentieth century Moroccan superstar.”

“From his debut in 1948 through his professional zenith in 1956, he was a ubiquitous presence on radio and in concert,” Silver wrote in a recent issue of the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

Samy El Maghribi - Cantor Salomon Amzallag

As radio spread across Morocco, Elmaghribi’s live performances on radio and constant playing of his records on air “helped cement his status as the nation’s voice during a formative political moment.”

His popularity spilled over to commercial advertising: Elmaghribi  became an official spokesperson for Coca-Cola in Morocco. “His spoken dialogues and musical hooks for the soft drink company were played in heavy rotation on Radio Tangier International over the next several years,” wrote Silver. During this period, he became the sound of brands like Gillette, Palmolive, Canada Dry and Shell Oil.

A popular entertainer, Elmaghribi built a world-wide fan base and reinforced his Arab-Andalusian musical heritage with performances in Caracas, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, Montreal and New York, as well as playing for Moroccan fans in Oujda and Rabat. Listen to his music here.

Yet, he was committed to his cultural roots and to the sacred liturgical genre, said his daughter, Yolande Amzallag, who helped create Fondation Samy Elmaghribi.

Samy Elmaghribi and Cantor Salomon Amzallag “were one and the same person,” Yolande Amzallag told the Morocco World News at the foundation’s 2015 launch, “despite the fact they performed in different settings whose integrity was never challenged by the apparent dichotomy between the sacred and the secular.”

Her father’s allegiance to God was matched by his allegiance to art, she went on, “and he aspired to spiritual elevation both as an artist and as a practicing Jew.”

After he retired, Amzallag moved to Israel and founded Merkaz Piyyut Veshira, a centre for Sephardic music from where, from 1988 to 1994, he was pedagogical director, according to his biography.

He also co-founded and performed with the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra. In 2006, the orchestra won the country’s highest honour, the Israel Prize.

In November 2008, a few months after his death, Elmaghribi was posthumously recognized by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, who awarded him the Commander of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite medal for Meritorious Service to Morocco.

His wife, Messody Cohen-Amzallag, died in Ashdod on April 5, 2015. The couple’s children created the foundation “to perpetuate their teachings of respect for tradition, openness to others and generosity through the love of music.”


David Eisenstadt
David Eisenstadt

David Eisenstadt is founding partner of tcgpr and is a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.

Nine Days of Vegetarian Fare Precede Tisha B’Av

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, is an annual fast day that falls in July or August. This year, the fast begins on the evening of July 29.

Tisha b’Av is one of the most solemn days on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a number of disasters in Jewish history, primarily the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE and the Second Temple in 70 CE. The fast has also become associated with remembrance of the Holocaust.

In the nine days leading to Tisha b’Av, many people refrain from eating meat or poultry. Those nine days of vegetarian eating fall within shloshim or “30 days,” the month-long period of mourning preceding Tisha b’Av.

For those who observe the dietary restrictions during the first days of Av, one can find many books and websites that offer vegetarian recipes. One of my favourite sources is The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory, a cookbook/nutrition guide that was written by the late Jewish food maven, Norene Gilletz and Edward Wein.

Published at the end of 2019, just months before Gilletz’s death last February, The Brain Boosting Diet emphasizes recipes with fresh produce and whole grains.

Not all the recipes are vegetarian but the selection for vegetarian dishes is extensive. I am particularly fond of the Cauliflower-Crusted Pizza. I’ve made it many times with different toppings. It’s a real winner for pizza lovers who want to cut back on their white flour consumption.

I am also a fan of salads with Asian dressings. The Brain Boosting Diet has a variety of options in this category. I have received great feedback for the Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing. The recipe also includes a substitution for the peanut butter, an ingredient that many people avoid due to the prevalence of peanut allergies.

CAULIFLOWER-CRUSTED PIZZA

Cauliflower Crust

1 medium cauliflower, florets only about 4 cups (1 L) finely riced cauliflower
½ cup (125 ml) spelt flour (or any flour you like)
½ cup (125 ml) almond meal/flour
½ tsp (2 ml) kosher salt
½ tsp (2 ml) garlic powder
1 egg
½ cup (125 ml) finely grated reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil, for brushing

Cauliflower-Crusted Pizza. Photo Barbara Silverstein

Toppings

1 cup (250 ml) shredded smoked or reduced-fat mozzarella cheese (approx.)
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered (approx.)
Big handful of spinach (approx. 3/4 cup/185 ml)
10 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

To Prepare the Cauliflower Crust

Place an oven rack in the second lowest position and preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with olive oil. 

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the cauliflower florets for 25–30 seconds, until they resemble rice. Measure 4 cups (1 L) riced cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave on high power for 4 minutes.

Transfer the cauliflower to a clean kitchen towel and let cool. Wrap up the cauliflower in the towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl. Add the spelt flour, almond flour, salt, and garlic powder and stir well. Add the egg and cheese and work the dough with your hands so that everything is evenly distributed.

Spoon the cauliflower mixture onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and carefully spread it out. (Tip: If you place another piece of parchment paper on top and press down it will help keep your hands clean.) Flatten the crust into an oval or round shape, creating a nice, raised edge.

Bake the crust for 12–15 minutes, until golden and set.

Toppings 

Remove the pan from the oven and add the toppings, starting with the cheese. Bake 10–12 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove the pizza from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Cut into wedges and enjoy.

Norene’s Notes

Never use parchment paper at temperatures over 425°F (220°C) as it will burn.

Gluten-free option: Replace the spelt flour with gluten-free flour (e.g., chickpea flour, gluten-free oat flour, or all-purpose gluten-free flour).

Nut-free crust: Omit the almond meal and increase the grated mozzarella to 1 cup (250 ml).

Top it up: In Step 7, add a handful of broccoli florets, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, zucchini, and/or diced red onion. Crumbled feta or goat cheese and/or grated Parmesan cheese also make tasty toppings.

KALE SLAW WITH PEANUT DRESSING

Kale Slaw

1 medium bunch kale (about 1 lb/500 g)
1 tbsp (15 ml) canola oil
4 cups (1 L) shredded red cabbage (or one 16-oz/500-g pkg)
2 cups (500 ml) shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ cup (125 ml) diced red onion
½ cup (125 ml) chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
½ cup (125 ml) toasted slivered almonds (for garnish)

Peanut Dressing/Marinade

2 cloves garlic
¼ cup (60 ml) peanut butter (preferably natural with no added sugar)
2 tbsp (30 ml) rice vinegar
2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce or tamari (preferably low-sodium)
2 tbsp (30 ml) honey
1 tsp (5 ml) toasted sesame oil
3–4 tbs (45-60 ml) orange juice (preferably fresh)
Pinch red pepper flakes

Prepare the Peanut Dressing/Marinade as directed and refrigerate until needed.

Dressing

Mince the garlic in a mini prep or food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, orange juice, and red pepper flakes.

Process until blended, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If it’s too thick, drizzle in a little more orange juice.

Store the dressing in a jar in the refrigerator until it’s ready to use. Shake well before using.

Kale Slaw

Wash the kale and dry it thoroughly. Remove and discard the tough stalks and centre veins. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces and place it in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, massage the kale with oil for 2–3 minutes to break down the tough fibres.

Add the cabbage, carrots, red pepper, onion, and parsley. Drizzle the slaw with the prepared dressing and toss to combine. Refrigerate the slaw covered, to blend flavours.

At serving time, place the slaw into 8 individual salad bowls and top with almonds. Serve chilled.

Norene’s Notes

Peanut butter: Store natural peanut butter in the refrigerator. When needed, stir well, measure the desired quantity, and bring it to room temperature for easier blending. Alternatively, microwave the butter on medium for 30 seconds, then stir well.

Variation: Use almond butter (homemade or store-bought) instead of peanut butter. If you are allergic to peanuts or any nuts, use a peanut butter substitute.


Barbara Silverstein
Barbara Silverstein

Barbara Silverstein is a Toronto-area journalist and an award-winning food writer. She was a long-time contributor to The Canadian Jewish News. Her articles have also appeared in Homemaker’s Magazine, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and Tablet Magazine.

Police Backtrack on ‘Hate Crime’ Against Ukrainian Monument

Halton Regional Police, west of Toronto, no longer consider the defacing of a memorial dubbed a “Nazi monument” to be a hate crime and regret any “hurt” arising from the incident.

The event provoked a firestorm on social media, with many questioning why a monument to a World War II-era pro-Nazi unit exists in Canada at all.

The episode began on June 22 when Halton police were called to St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery in Oakville to examine graffiti on a monument in the graveyard.

Someone had painted “Nazi war monument” on a stone cenotaph commemorating those who served with the 14th SS Division in the Second World War.

Also known as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, the paramilitary unit was comprised predominantly of Ukrainians and ethnic Ukrainians from the region of Galicia, according to historian Gordon Williamson.

Formed in 1943, it was part of the Waffen SS, the military branch of the SS. Members of the unit have been accused of killing Polish civilians and Jews during the war.

According to a Halton Regional Police statement, the initial information collected by investigators indicated that the graffiti “may have been hate-motivated, targeting the identifiable group of Ukrainians in general, or Ukrainian members of this cultural centre.”

After reporting and social media posts revealed that the monument pays tribute to a pro-Nazi unit, police changed course.

“At no time did the Halton Regional Police Service consider that the identifiable group targeted by the graffiti was Nazis,” said a July 17 statement from police.

“We regret any hurt caused by misinformation that suggests that the [police] service in any way supports Nazism,” it added.

Police are now treating the incident as a case of vandalism, said Det. Sgt. Barrett Gabriel. The investigation continues, police said.

Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner went further on Twitter, questioning the reason for the monument.

“The most unfortunate part of all this is that any such monument would exist in the first place,” he tweeted, as reported by the Ottawa Citizen.

“To those who died for the freedom of Ukraine,” states the cenotaph’s inscription. But it also displays the crest of the 14th Waffen SS division, whose members are alleged to have taken part in killing hundreds of Polish civilians in 1944 in the village of Huta Pieniacka, the Citizen added.

The memorial has been in the privately-owned cemetery for years.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton issued a statement saying the city has little influence in this matter.

“Unfortunately, municipalities have no role in regulating the contents of private cemeteries. [The memorial is] personally repugnant to me. I have family who died fighting Nazis.

“If Ontario laws permitted me to have it removed, it would have been gone 14 years ago,” Burton said, according to insidehalton.com.

On July 18, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress sent a letter to the Ottawa Citizen about the paper’s coverage of the incident.

The Citizen article “propagates the narrative originating from the Russian Embassy in Canada that Ukrainians in general, and particularly all Ukrainians who took up arms against the Soviet Union during the Second World War, are ‘fascists’ and ‘Nazis,’” the letter stated.

Labeling Ukrainians as Nazis is “part of Russia’s ongoing effort to sow division in Canada and other Western democracies,” said the letter. The Russian campaign is “disinformation.”

The letter said veterans of the Galicia Division “never fought against Allied forces,” and were screened by the Allies before being allowed to immigrate to Canada.

The 1986 Deschenes Inquiry into Nazi-era war criminals in Canada “cleared these veterans of any involvement in war crimes…” said the letter, signed by Ihor Michalchyshyn, CEO of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

The memorial in question is not the only problematic one in Canada.

As the CJR reported recently, another is a bust of Roman Shukhevych, located at the entrance of the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in Edmonton’s north end.

Shukhevych was supreme commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) during World War II and held leadership positions in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, correspondent Paula Kirman wrote.

“While viewed as a hero by Ukrainian nationalists for his anti-Soviet posture, Shukhevych shared the Nazi ideology and was responsible for commanding troops that committed massacres with the goal of creating an ethnically ‘pure’ Ukraine free of Poles, Jews, and many others during the Holocaust,” Kirman wrote.

CJR Staff

AMIA Bombing Remembered in Canada, but Justice Lags

July 20, 2020 – By STEVE ARNOLD

A quarter century after 85 people died in the terrorist bombing of a Jewish centre in Argentina, two of Canada’s major Jewish organizations and some leading politicians continue to demand justice for the victims.

No one was ever charged or convicted for the July 18, 1994 attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) centre in downtown Buenos Aires – a fact many believe means that the scars from the event can never heal.

“We have seen a quarter century of justice denied in this case,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said in a July 16 YouTube commemoration of the attack. “An entire generation has passed without a single perpetrator being brought to justice for this crime.”

On the morning of July 18, 1994, a van loaded with explosives was driven at the front entrance of the seven-storey headquarters of the Argentina-Israel Mutual Association in the capital, Buenos Aires.

The AMIA building housed all of Jewish Argentina’s major organizations, as well as a theatre, library and a job bank. It was where community members went to arrange a funeral, and it housed the precious records of a hundred years of Jewish life in the country.

When the dust cleared, 85 people had been killed and 300 injured. It remains the deadliest antisemitic attack in Argentina’s modern history.

It is widely believed to have been carried out by terrorists linked to Iran, with suspected involvement from Argentina’s then-president Carlos Menem, who is of Syrian descent (last year, a court cleared Menem of covering up the attack, but the court jailed the retired judge who led the investigation into the bombing, along with an ex-intelligence chief).

Alberto Nisman, a state prosecutor who tried to investigate the incident, was murdered in 2015 on the day he was expected to testify before Argentina’s congress that the attack was carried out by Hezbollah terrorists, with help from Argentine accomplices.

The current government of Argentina continues to push, without success, for a full accounting from the previous regime. Despite that failure, the country’s ambassador to Canada told the B’nai Brith memorial the incident has not been forgotten.

“This was a disgusting and cursed attack,” Eugenio Curia said. “This was a real crime against humanity.

“Our government has been pledging its commitment to find the people responsible for this attack,” he added. “The idea is to prosecute and condemn the people responsible for this, but we need other state friends to achieve this.”

That commitment to pursue some form of justice for the victims of the attack was echoed by Canadian politicians taking part in the event.

Peter Kent, Conservative MP for Thornhill, said it is clear the government of Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Hezbollah were involved in the attack. Despite this, he accused the Liberal government of continuing to stall on a Conservative motion to have the IRGC declared a terrorist organization.

Earlier this year B’nai Brith launched a lawsuit against the federal government seeking to force action on the issue. It accuses the government of “failure to carry out the will of Parliament.”

For Manitoba Conservative MP Marty Morantz, that determination is important in facing up to the wave of antisemitism sweeping the world today.

“Antisemitism has not gone away and is unfortunately on the rise today,” he said. “We must be clear that there is no room in Canada for this kind of intolerance and discrimination.”

Away from political outrage, the attack remains a vivid scar on the memory of people who lived through it.

Anita Weinstein, for example, told the B’nai Brith event she had walked into the building that morning heading for her second floor office at the front of the structure.

“A few minutes later, I remembered I had to see a colleague at the rear of the building, and that made the great difference for me,” she said. “As soon as I got there we heard a loud explosion and material started to fall from the ceiling. There was an intense darkness and cloud of dust that covered us and we could hear panic and shouting everywhere.”

In a separate commemoration event on Facebook, representatives of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) remembered the attack as the event that changed the world for Argentine Jews.

Nico Slobinski and Graciela Najenson both work for CIJA in Winnipeg now. In 1994, however, they lived in Buenos Aires and felt the pain of the attack.

“There was a cloud of dust and smoke that could be seen for miles that day,” Soblinski recalled. “That same dark cloud that descended on downtown Buenos Aires descended on all of us.”

Soblinski said he lost close family friends among the 85 dead, and recalled how the attack added to his family’s desire to seek a safer home in the world.

“We had many conversations around the dinner table about this new, pervasive feeling we now had that we were no longer safe in this place we had called home for four generations,” he said.

Najenson recalled the Jewish community’s new obsession with security after the attack, and the effect that had on her.

“We had to realize that now there were always barricades in front of the building that were there to protect us, but this was not the way we should live,” she said.

In 2014, Yitzhak Aviran, Israel’s ambassador to Argentina from 1993 to 2000, said that the perpetrators of the attack had, for the most part, been eliminated by Israeli security forces operating abroad.

Want to Maximize your Israel Experience? Join ESRA!

July 17, 2020 – By JACK COPELOVICI

The last few months have witnessed a remarkable increase in interest from Jews in English-speaking countries in making aliyah. The reasons for doing so include Israel’s relative success in dealing with the COVID crisis, the rise in antisemitism around the world, and the desire to live a more meaningful life in Israel as a Jew.

However, some of the big questions holding back potential olim (new immigrants), especially those who are 50-plus and are already settled, may be the following:

“My Hebrew is almost non-existent. What am I going to do with myself when I get to Israel? Will I be able to find an English-speaking community in which I can feel comfortable or that has the same values as I do?”

One of the best ways to help solve these dilemmas is by joining ESRA (English Speakers Residents Association). My wife, Ida, and I are good examples. We made aliyah in June 2016 from Toronto when we were in our early 60s. We had two immediate priorities: To find an English-speaking community in which to live and to get involved in Israel by finding meaningful volunteer opportunities.

Fortunately, we found ESRA. 

ESRA was established some 40 years ago. It has roughly 2,700 members in about 21 chapters in north, south and central Israel, stretching from Eilat to Nahariya and beyond. Members originate from North America, the UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. Programming, all of which is in English, encompasses social activities, outings (when conditions permit), educational mentoring and tutoring programs, charitable and welfare activities and volunteering. In addition, and because of COVID, a majority of our social activities – talks, visual tours and cooking classes – have been and may continue on Zoom.

Through ESRA, Ida and I are involved in tutoring Israeli students in English in schools in Ra’anana, raising funds for charitable causes, and organizing Zoom lectures on various topics. Prior to the COVID outbreak, there were numerous tours to such places as the Blaustein Institute; Zichron Yaakov, among Israel’s first Jewish settlements; world-famous wineries; Jerusalem antiquities and museums; the Agam Museum; the Weizmann Institute, Abraham’s Well in Beersheba; and a Bauhaus walking tour of Tel Aviv, to mention a few. We have also done cutting-edge environmental research in the Negev.

However, ESRA is not just for those planning aliyah.

Many people living abroad want to be able to see and hear about Israel generally and/or participate in English language programs, which address various aspects of life in Israel. ESRA is the perfect vehicle for that.

A look at the upcoming ESRA calendar will show a number of topics, ranging from finance, current events, Jewish historical topics, the environment and pure entertainment, like our National Trivia Quiz, as well as an assortment of other topics available for viewing.

In short, you do not have to be here to feel like you are enjoying what Israel has to offer. ESRA can help you do this wherever you are in the world. You can join an ESRA program even when visiting Israel.

When you look at the ESRA website, you can see many types of clubs, including bridge, photography and knitting. For the hardier types, there are monthly hikes, which have recently restarted.

Bottom line: When considering whether to make aliyah, remember that ESRA is one way you can make your experience of Israel immensely more meaningful and enjoyable, both from afar and when you arrive.

Simply go to the ESRA website and follow the prompts to join. We look forward to meeting you.


Jack Copelovici
Jack Copelovici

Jack Copelovici was born and raised in Toronto. He was a lawyer for 34 years before retiring and making aliyah in 2016 with his wife Ida. He lives in Ra’anana. Ida and Jack volunteer in a number of areas, including mentoring Lone Soldiers, assisting in English classes in area schools, and in ESRA, which Jack chairs in Ra’anana.

Canadians Take Top Jobs at Orthodox Union

July 17, 2020 – By LILA SARICK

The Orthodox Union (OU), the umbrella organization for the North American Orthodox Jewish community, will be headed by two Canadians starting this fall.

Rabbi Josh Joseph has been appointed executive vice-president and chief operating officer beginning Sept. 1. He will be responsible for all OU programs and operations, other than OU Kosher, according to a press release from the organization.

Rabbi Josh Joseph

Rabbi Joseph joins Rabbi Moshe Hauer, who was appointed executive vice-president May 1, and is the organization’s new rabbinic leader.

Both men are originally from Montreal, with Rabbi Joseph having attended Herzliah High School, while Rabbi Hauer studied at Yeshiva Gedola.

The two men take the helm of the New York-based OU, which represents over 400 member synagogues and runs numerous youth programs including the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), at a critical time, as institutions grapple with the far-reaching effects of the COVID pandemic.

The OU furloughed 125 employees in April, as in-person programs were forced to cancel and synagogues closed, JTA reported.

Since he arrived in May, Rabbi Hauer has been advising synagogues how to re-open safely and how to prepare for the High Holidays.

Rabbi Moshe Hauer
Rabbi Moshe Hauer

“We’re hopeful they (synagogues) will be open but we expect it’s going to look different,” Rabbi Hauer said in an interview with the CJR. “Our congregations are very motivated to make it work.”

Services will be shorter and fewer people will be permitted to attend to allow social distancing, he said. If possible, synagogues will hold multiple services, inside and outside their buildings.

The pandemic has put a strain on individuals’ and institutions’ finances, but Rabbi Hauer said the OU will work with member congregations.

“We will welcome any synagogue with complete understanding of their financial situation,” he said. “We face financial challenges, as everybody else does, but we’re going to be there for our synagogues and our community.”

Orthodox congregations have been “major, major consumers of Zoom” for prayer services and study sessions, but unlike more liberal denominations which have permitted live streaming of Shabbat services, the OU will not change its stance on forbidding electronic devices on Shabbat and holidays, he said.

Rabbi Joseph was a senior administrator for 16 years at Yeshiva University. In 2019, he chaired a university committee of rabbis and educators to address “matters of inclusion,” including LGBTQ issues. He would use the same strategy of gathering a diverse group at the OU.

“That would be my approach at the Orthodox Union – to try and make sure we are getting the right team together to hear the voices and to try to figure out a way forward for all of those who are important to us in our community.”

There is much still he does not know about his new role, including even whether he will be working from the OU’s office or from another site, since offices had closed during the early days of the pandemic.

It would be premature to speculate about what direction he would steer the OU or what some of the challenges he anticipates confronting the organization, he said.

“When you have an organization that’s doing great, that’s literally creating magic moments on a regular basis for people, where do you go from there?” Rabbi Joseph asked. “I don’t want to break it. I don’t want to make it go anywhere else.”

On the Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note

PERCY FAITH (Apr. 7, 1908 – Feb. 9, 1976) – Bandleader, Composer, Arranger, Conductor

By DAVID EISENSTADT, July 16, 2020 – I heard the tune Theme from A Summer Place the other day and it brought back a flood of happy summertime teenage memories.

That instrumental hit single exemplified the easy-listening or “mood music” format of the 1950s and ‘60s. I knew it was performed by Percy Faith and his orchestra. I didn’t know he was Jewish and born in Toronto.

Percy Faith
Percy Faith

One of eight children born to Abraham and Minnie (née Rottenberg), young Percy studied violin, then piano, and was destined to become a concert pianist while studying at the Toronto Conservatory of Music.

But that career objective ended when he suffered serious burns to his hands while saving his younger sister’s life after her clothing caught fire. He couldn’t play the piano for nine months but during that time, became interested in arranging and composing. He quit the Conservatory without completing his degree. Soon thereafter, he married the former Mary Palanage, a union that lasted until he died in 1976. They had two sons.

In the 1930s, his experience as a theatre and hotel orchestra conductor helped land conducting and arranging radio gigs at the CBC, until he moved to Chicago in 1940 as orchestra leader for the NBC-produced Carnation Contented program. In the late ‘40s, he was the orchestra leader on the CBS network program The Coca-Cola Hour, collaborating with orchestral accordionist John Serry Sr.

As a naturalized U.S. citizen, he joined Decca Records, then moved to Columbia Records where, under the iconic Mitch Miller during the 1950s, he produced many of the albums for such talents as Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Johnny Mathis and Sarah Vaughan.

In 1960, Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 single was his Theme From A Summer Place, which won a 1961 Grammy Award as Record of the Year. Other Faith trademark recordings are Delicado (1952) and The Song From Moulin Rouge (1953).

Some music critics and others disparaged Faith for the dreamy excesses of the easy-listening genre. In the movie Good Morning Vietnam, the Army radio DJ character Robin Williams played was given a list of “acceptable” music he was allowed to broadcast: “Lawrence Welk, Jim Nabors…” at which point the irreverent Williams slips in, “Percy Faith.”

He remains the only artist to net Bestselling Single of the Year for Song From Moulin Rouge in 1953 during the pop era, and for Theme From A Summer Place in 1960 during the rock era.

Faith mined Broadway, Hollywood and Latin music for many of his hits and also scored motion pictures, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of the Doris Day musical feature Love Me or Leave Me. Other film scores included romantic comedies and dramas and the theme for the NBC series, The Virginian.

The Billboard Hot 200 best sellers chart through 1972 lists 21 Percy Faith easy-listening albums. But with rock’n’roll taking centre stage in the 1970s, Faith saw his trademark arrangements wane, although he produced two significant albums, Black Magic Woman and Jesus Christ Superstar. He ventured into country music and completed a disco-style reworking of his Theme From A Summer Place, titled Summer Place ‘76, which became a hit after he died.


David Eisenstadt
David Eisenstadt

David Eisenstadt is founding partner of tcgpr and a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.

Police Probe Neo-Nazi Posters

July 16, 2020 – Waterloo Regional Police have confirmed to Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) that an investigation is underway after neo-Nazi posters were found in Kitchener, Ont. and shared on social media by local residents. 

The posters promote a website calling itself the “official media source for the Folkish Resistance Movement, a National Socialist political organization based primarily out of North America.”

The posters include messages such as “smash white guilt,” “love not hate” with the word “love” including a swastika and the word “hate” including a Star of David; and “break debt slavery” with an image of a man breaking a chain that includes a Star of David, alluding to a longstanding antisemitic trope about Jewish control over banking and finance.

“We are urging police to conduct a thorough investigation into these posters to identify and charge the perpetrators and send a message that such hateful propaganda will not be tolerated in Kitchener or anywhere else,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of FSWC’s Campaign Against Antisemitism.

Bob Rae: The UN is a Complex Place in a Complex World

July 16, 2020 – By DANIEL HOROWITZ

When former Ontario Premier Bob Rae was asked to become Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations earlier this month, he found it an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“It’s a very uncertain time in the life of the world and I was very honoured to have been asked. I am delighted to be taking on this challenge,” Rae, who served as Ontario’s NDP premier from 1990 to 1995, told the CJR in an interview.

Bob Rae
Bob Rae

“I couldn’t refuse the job because of the significance of the times we are living in, and the significance of COVID and the impact it is having,” said Rae who served as interim federal Liberal Party leader from 2011 to 2013 and starts his new job on Aug. 4. “That is something that requires a different approach, which I’m glad to be able to advocate on behalf of our government.”

The biggest challenge before him, he said, is the COVID crisis.

“How do we recover globally from COVID and how do we work together to ensure universal access to a vaccine?” asked Rae. “And how do we ensure that the worst financial and economic impacts on countries will be averted?

“That’s going to require a lot of my time and energies, and working with other countries.”

The UN is not the only place where these discussions will take place but the topic will be “front and centre” at the world body.

When Rae assumes his newest role following the completion of Marc-André Blanchard’s four-year term at the UN, he will also go into the family business: Rae’s father, Saul, held the same position from 1972 to 1976.

Looking back at those days, his obviously proud son said he learned a lot by watching his father in action.

“I remember as a high school student, when my Dad was ambassador to the UN in Geneva, witnessing first-hand the challenges of working in a multilateral environment, and the job’s constant pace,” Rae recalled. “My Dad had a personal style that included a lot of humour and reflection – both qualities that I hope I’ve inherited.”

As for the Middle East, Rae is quick to point out his government’s belief in a two-state solution.

”Since the late 1940s and the end of the British Mandate in Palestine, the Canadian government has been a supporter of the notion of two states for two peoples,” Rae explained. “We were there when Israel was admitted to the UN; we’ve had diplomatic relations with Israel since the early 1950s. We’ve had a strong bilateral relationship with the state of Israel for a very, very long time. We’ve been part and parcel of the entire diplomatic process which proceeded since 1967 – to encourage the Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel, and for Israel to accept a two- state solution.”

Rae said the policy “struck us then as a logical approach to take, and frankly, it still underlies the positions we’ve taken.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne have made it clear that they do not support Israel’s unilateral annexation of territories in the West Bank, Rae went on.

“We still believe that direct negotiations between the parties are going to be required in order to establish any possible deal,” said Rae. “But I think we all recognize that the differences between the two sides are quite strong and have remained so for a long time, and getting to a settlement is going to be very, very difficult.”

Canada has never recognized Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem or the West Bank, he noted. That’s why the government has said that Israel’s annexation plans, on hold for now, would make a settlement of the conflict “more difficult in our view.”

As for those who might see the UN as irrelevant, Rae countered: “I always said that if we didn’t have the UN, we’d have to invent something like it.”

It’s a complex institution, he noted, because it reflects a complex world.

“I believe very strongly that we need greater international cooperation to deal with the major challenges of our time,” he said. “The UN makes mistakes. The General Assembly doesn’t always vote the way we’d like them to vote. That happens. But it’s like any other institution. It’s an important part of the architecture of what’s going to be required to make the world a stable and more prosperous place.”

The New Normal Shul

July 15, 2020 – By MARCEL STRIGBERGER

Synagogues were recently given the green light, or rather, a partial green light, to resume services. This resumption, however, is subject to guidelines and restrictions. How will these new rules change the traditional normal “normal”? I can see it affecting all aspects across the board.

Let’s start with a vital mainstay, the kiddush. After all what is a Shabbat service without a kiddush? After the concluding prayers, we would all make a beeline to the room housing that delectable buffet. In many shuls, the congregants would wait patiently for the rabbi to complete the kiddush blessing and give the go-ahead to hit the food. In others, there was a mass charge, every person for themselves, with scenes resembling the storming of the Bastille.

Now with COVID, this enjoyable institution may become history. Yeshivas may one day teach about this defunct practice as they do about the sacrificial altar or the red heifer. The rabbi might ask the pupils, “Anybody know what herring is?”

This might be followed up with, “tomorrow we’ll discuss the mystery of cholent.”

Oh, how we shall miss that kiddush!

Then, we have the rabbi’s sermon. Given that services must be getting shorter in order to get everyone out quickly, the rabbi will have to cut some corners. This will likely see the elimination of the rabbi’s weekly joke. No more, “Ginsberg and Levine go on a safari…” From now on, the rabbi will simply have to refer us to some website if we want to find out what happened to Ginsburg and Levine. I’m certainly curious.

Then, there is social distancing. The synagogue must only accommodate a maximum of 30 percent of its capacity, and participants must space out. This situation will likely see the end of comments such as, “is this seat taken?” or “I’m going to the washroom. Can you keep an eye on my place?” or “is that your siddur?”

Chances are, given the spacing distance and the donning of masks, most likely the closest person will not even hear you.

Does this mean synagogue services will also see a vast reduction in chatter? Maybe initially. As the need to gab becomes more pressing, congregants will find ways to communicate. We may soon see a surge in shul charades. I cannot say what they will try to mime, but it certainly won’t be about a kiddush.

And speaking of washrooms, all shuls likely have an abundance of hand sanitizers strategically located. These have become crucial items during this pandemic. It got me thinking: Since there is a blessing for handwashing, would it be appropriate for there to be a bracha for hand sanitizing?

I thought about it and parsed the Hebrew-sounding letters for the word “Purell,” doing a gematria calculation of the letters peh, resh and lamed. They add up to 310. That’s a little more than half of 613 – the number of mitzvot. Half would be 306.5. Then again, there are no letters in the Alef Bet representing fractions.

It is close though. Maybe it’s 310 for one hand and 310 for the other, with seven left over. And after all, the number seven is significant in the Talmud. Who knows?

The again, I doubt my gematria means much. I would have to leave this one to the rabbi. And even if he finds a meaning, would he have the time to discuss it? Maybe, if indeed he cuts out the joke.

Will our shuls be safe? Probably, if everybody follows the rules, for the most part. Can they be 100 percent safe? Yes. I can think of one synagogue that would be 100 percent guaranteed safe. That would be the one in the punchline of that joke in which the Jewish man on that island builds two synagogues – and one of them he would never enter.

Who ever said our relr change?


Marcel Strigberger
Marcel Strigberger

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. Visit www.marcelshumour.com

Elections Canada ‘Agnostic’ on Party Platforms – Even When They’re Antisemitic

July 15, 2020 – This week, the CJR queried Elections Canada about whether the agency will strip the status of the far-right Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP) or warn it against engaging in antisemitic rhetoric.

As noted in our editorial of July 15, the leader of the party, Trevor Patron, recently re-uploaded a video to social media (first posted last year) in which he called for “that parasitic tribe” to be “removed from Canada once and for all.”

Patron’s rant about “swindlers,” “snakes,” and “inside manipulators” – as well as a subsequent reference to “the synagogue of Satan” – “make his antisemitic agenda crystal clear,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs stated.

A flier posted on the CNP’s Facebook page is titled “Beware The Parasitic Tribe.” It includes quotations from the New Testament amid references to “inside manipulators” and stating, “everywhere these people go, they infiltrate the media, they hijack the central bank, and they infect the body politic like a parasite.

“If they had their way, our entire way of life would be eradicated.”

Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer conferred official party status on the CNP in September of last year. In the last federal election, the party ran three candidates and received 284 votes in all.

The following is the response from Elections Canada:

The Canada Elections Act, as drafted and enacted by Parliament, is agnostic when it comes to ideology or platform. Just as there is no mechanism under the Act allowing the Chief Electoral Officer to reject a new party’s application solely based on their [sic] ideology, there’s no legal mechanism that allows him to deregister a party for any reason not explicitly listed in the Act. Under the Act, a party can only be involuntarily deregistered (that is, not at the party’s own request) for the following reasons:

• A party will be deregistered if it fails to endorse a confirmed candidate at a general election. If a registered party is deregistered, its registered associations are also deregistered.

• The CEO may also deregister a registered party if it fails to:

¬ file statements confirming or amending the information in the Registry of Political Parties within 10 days of the writs being issued

¬ report on or before June 30 each year, confirming or amending the party’s information in the Registry of Political Parties

¬ report any changes to the information about the party in the Registry of Political Parties within 30 days of the change

¬ file an audited statement of its assets and liabilities within six months of its registration

¬ file the party’s audited financial transactions return for each fiscal period within six months of the end of the fiscal period

¬ file the party’s audited general election expenses return within eight months of election day

¬ file a statement setting out the dates of a leadership contest, varying the dates or cancelling the contest or

¬ file a report on a nomination contest within 30 days of the selection date


There are other pieces of legislation and frameworks that regulate the behaviour and discourse of individuals and groups in Canada, including the Criminal Code, but these are outside Elections Canada’s mandate. 

Kind regards,
Natasha Gauthier
Spokesperson, Media Relations 
Elections Canada
media@elections.ca 

Will the Second Generation Rise to the Occasion?

July 15, 2020 – By RUTH SCHWEITZER

Montreal filmmakers Max Beer and Deena Dlusy-Apel have noticed that as the years pass, fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors attend Yom HaShoah commemorations.

Deena Dlusy-Apel
Deena Dlusy-Apel

When the children of survivors are asked to rise at commemorations, their numbers are far greater than those of their parents.

At one commemoration, Paul Herczeg, who survived Auschwitz, asked the second generation to help keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. 

Beer and Dlusy-Apel responded to Herczeg’s appeal by interviewing children of survivors, the subject of their latest documentary, Will the Second Generation Please Rise: Children of Holocaust Survivors. 

The filmmakers interviewed 32 children of survivors, in small groups, during six sessions. Several participants are artists or writers, and one is a filmmaker. The documentary includes visits to their studios, prose and poetry readings, and a film clip. 

Max Beer
Max Beer

Members of the second generation are shown remembering their psychologically scarred parents: A father who wakes the household screaming; having nightmares about being back in the camps; and families at emotional holiday gatherings, wailing because their murdered sisters and brothers are absent.

Participants spoke about their lack of extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – or even photographs of family members who perished.

Ruth Dunsky said she was the envy of her friends – mostly other children of Holocaust survivors – because one of her grandmothers had survived. She remembers a lot of tension at home, and attributes some of it to the pain adults in her household were dealing with.

Some of the documentary’s participants said their parents never or rarely talked about the Holocaust, but Dunsky’s father was voluble. “My father spoke a lot about the past. He basically lived in the past,” she says in the documentary.

Zosia Romisher Rosenberg, who was born in Germany and lived there for 23 years, says her friends were other children of Holocaust survivors. Her parents forbade her from bringing home children with German surnames.

Asked to comment on their feelings about modern-day Germany, the consensus among participants seems to be that although they’re satisfied with how it has tried to come to terms with its past, they have a visceral response to the country.

Traumatized survivors sometimes asked their young children to be intermediaries to the outside world for them. Some parents dreaded answering the phone and asked their children to do it for them. 

Michael Rosenberg remembers his father once wanted him to phone someone for him to relay his condolences on a death. After much persuasion, his Dad made the call, but with great reluctance, Rosenberg says in the documentary.

Will the Second Generation Please Rise includes a segment about the work of Rachel Yehuda, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience who has studied children of Holocaust survivors. Yehuda is director of the traumatic stress studies division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. 

The Guardian described her work as the “clearest example in humans of the transmission to a child via what is called epi-genetic inheritance – the idea that environmental influences such as stress can affect the genes of your children and possibly even your grandchildren.”

In the documentary, Sophia Wolkowicz says she believes the experiences of our parents are carried in some parts of our bodies, and we remember them in ways we’re not aware.

One of Wolkowicz’s paintings, based on her first memory, depicts a night-time forest scene. A man hides behind a tree and in the foreground there’s another man with a rifle. His stance is casual, which Wolkowicz says is a comment on the casual stance taken by people who were murdering civilians during the Holocaust.

Dlusy-Apel said that after the interviews for the film were done, it became apparent that many of the participants had addressed what had happened to their parents through their literature, artwork and filmmaking. And it seemed to be an obvious focus for the film, she added.

A sculpture in Mark Prent’s studio, “Sleep of the Phoenix,” of a decayed figure that’s half-human, half-bird, is a reference to a mythological bird that can regenerate itself, as Jews did after the Holocaust, through their children and grandchildren, Prent says in the documentary.

In her studio, Cynthia van Frank shows a mixed media creation depicting herself and family members standing, while underneath them are the bodies of Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

Will the Second Generation Please Rise includes footage from Gina Roitman’s documentary My Mother, the Nazi Midwife and Me, in which she returns to her birthplace, Pocking, Germany, the site of a displaced persons camp after the Second World War. 

Roitman set out to investigate her mother’s claim that after the war, a midwife from the Pocking hospital murdered Jewish babies. She discovered her mother had told her the truth and, chillingly, was led to the graves of 52 Jewish babies.

Will the Second Generation Please Rise is a follow-up to Beer’s and Dlusy-Apel’s 2015 documentary, Nobody Was Interested, Nobody Asked, about the lack of interest in Montreal in Europe during the war years and in the Holocaust in the immediate years after.

Beer, a Montrealer who was born to Holocaust survivors in the Pocking displaced persons camp, devotes a segment in the documentary to how unwelcome survivors felt in Montreal.

Max Beer and his mother at Pocking Displaced Persons camp

“There was no talk about what was going on in Europe during the war, and I realized there was no talk after the war, when the immigrants started to come in. Nobody talked to them about what they had been through,” he said in an interview.

Belsen displaced persons’ camp

Dlusy-Apel’s father, who immigrated to the city in 1930, never spoke to her about the Holocaust. “They left behind brothers and sisters and didn’t talk about it,” she said. 

Some 10 years after the war ended, survivors began holding Holocaust commemorations in Montreal in Yiddish, but no English speakers were involved, Beer said.

As one participant in the film put it, “No one asked us why we were mourning.”

You can watch Will the Second Generation Please Rise here. The password is Deena2.

EDITORIAL: Elections Canada Must Shut Down Neo-Nazi Parties

July 15, 2020 – Trevor Patron is at it again. This obscure Prairie citizen from Redvers, Sask., has doubled down on his antisemitism.

From a low last year, when he railed against the “parasitic tribe” (read: Jews) for all of Canada’s imagined problems, this week, in another outburst of Jew-hatred, Patron is calling for the expulsion of Jews from the country. His screed regurgitates the pattern of all past antisemites who sought the ouster of Jews from their midst.

But this is not news. In fact, Patron would not even be worth a mention if it weren’t for this: He is the leader of a political party officially recognized by Elections Canada.

That’s right. In September 2019, Stephane Perrault, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, informed Patron that the Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP) had become a registered political party in Canada.

“Your party now has all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of a registered party under the Canada Elections Act,” Perrault wrote Patron.

This permits Patron’s fledgling band of ne’er-do-wells to run in federal elections and to receive a 75 percent tax return on any donation to the party.

(It might be some consolation to know that the CNP fielded three candidates in the last federal election and received 284 votes in total; statistically, zero percent of ballots cast).

Equally as important, Patron, as a result of a complaint laid by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) on June 26, 2019 (full disclosure: Bernie Farber, publisher of the CJR is chair of CAHN) to the Saskatchewan RCMP, Patron has been under investigation for promotion of hatred against Jews for over a year.

Yes, you read that, too, correctly: Since June of last year.

It seems incredible that the RCMP has been unable since then to reach a conclusion as to whether Patron has breached section 319 of Canada’s Criminal Code, which plainly outlines what public incitement to hatred is.

We would argue that Patron’s unsubtle words and deeds surely warrant quick and deliberate findings.

Following the June 2019 CAHN complaint, B’nai Brith Canada also wrote to the RCMP declaring its outrage, and yet the investigation continues.

Last week, following Patron’s second video, the CAHN sent another letter to the RCMP:

Dear Constable Howe,

Further to my criminal complaint against Travis PATRON filed 26 June 2019, I am writing to bring to your attention further anti-Jewish material that PATRON has published today through his Canadian Nationalist Party Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pg/NationalistCA/posts/) again repeatedly referring to Jews as parasites, members of the “synagogue of Satan,” that Jews control the central banks, and that they “infect the body politic like a parasite.”

The apparent pamphlet ends with the call, “And what we need to do, perhaps more than anything, is remove these people once-and-for-all from our country.”

I understand that criminal hate propaganda complaints are not commonplace, but the community as a whole and our Jewish brothers and sisters especially have the right to be protected from this corrosive poison and threats in a timely manner.  These are the types of messages that have already been found to meet the test for breaching the Criminal Code.

I urge the RCMP in the strongest possible terms to charge Travis PATRON under s. 319(2) of the Criminal Code for the wilful promotion of hatred against the Jewish community.

I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible,

Richard Warman
Barrister and Solicitor
Ottawa

This past week both the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) along with Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, have followed the lead of CAHN and laid complaints with Saskatchewan RCMP.

The time has come. Canada should be following the example set by Germany, which has developed law ensuring that anti-democratic groups may not gain official political party status.

While Patron and company have displayed almost no political support, it takes far less for those with hate in their hearts to create havoc. Neo-Nazis ought not to be given any respect in this country, and those who violate Canadian hate law should be charged.

Bombing Changed Argentine Jewish Life ‘Forever,’ Rymberg Recalls

July 15, 2020 – By STEVE ARNOLD

Even 26 years later, Gustavo Rymberg can’t forget the shock of the morning in 1994 when Jewish life in Argentina changed forever.

It was July 18, winter in the southern hemisphere, and Rymberg was working in his Buenos Aires office, meeting with a colleague on a graphic design project.

The telephone rang. It was a friend with the devastating news that a terrorist had just driven a truck full of explosives into the Jewish community headquarters three blocks away.

Gustavo Rymberg
Gustavo Rymberg

“That was something that changed Jewish life in Argentina forever,” Rymberg recalled in an interview with the CJR ahead of a B’nai Brith commemoration of the attack set for tomorrow evening (July 16).

“It was one of the worst chapters in Argentine history,” he said. “It’s something for which the country has never given us answers or justice.

“For some reason, the government will not make an explanation for this or tell us the truth,” he said.

The attack on the seven-storey headquarters of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (Argentina-Israel Mutual Association, or AMIA) killed 85 people and injured as many as 300 more.

No one was ever arrested in what remains the deadliest antisemitic attack in Argentina’s modern history. It is widely believed to have been carried out by terrorists linked to Iran and Argentina’s then president, Carlos Menem, who is of Syrian descent. One prosecutor who tried to investigate the incident was murdered during his probe.

Beyond the carnage, however, Rymberg and many of the country’s Jews saw it as an attack on the heart of their community.

The AMIA building, he said, housed all of Jewish Argentina’s major organizations, as well as a theatre, library, and job bank. It was where Jews went to arrange a funeral, and it housed the precious records of 100 years of Jewish life in the country.

“Every Jewish person in Argentina had to go to AMIA for something,” Rymberg said. “Suddenly, you started to be very careful about everything. Children going to school now had to go through security like at an airport.”

While Argentine antisemitism had never been openly acknowledged – until the AMIA attack, the worst event was a 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, which killed 29 civilians – the aftermath of the attack brought fundamental changes to Jewish life, starting with a communal obsession with security.

“Suddenly you felt like you were living behind walls,” Rymberg recalled. “For a lot of young families that was the point where they started to think there was nothing for them in Argentina.”

Even a quickly-organized show of solidarity with the Jewish community, dubbed the March of the Umbrellas because it was carried out in the rain, failed to ease that new feeling of fear and uncertainty.

“Hundreds of thousands of people were marching in the rain to remember the victims,” Rymberg recalled. “It was something we never expected to experience.”

The Rymberg family’s own decision to leave the country of its birth, something members had been considering in the face of a poor economy and rampant corruption, was cemented by the event.

One of the final nails was news media coverage of the attack, especially one television story that reported 85 Jews, and many “innocent people,” had died.

“To hear someone saying Jews and ‘innocent people’ is something I will never forget,” he said. “All of those things came together to push us out.”

In 1997 Rymberg, his wife Marisa, and their two young daughters, became one of the first families brought to Canada by the Jewish community of Winnipeg through its Grow Winnipeg initiative.

In a new country, he embarked on a new career as a Jewish community leader, serving in Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, and finally taking over as CEO of the Hamilton Jewish Federation in 2017.

B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights’ commemoration will be held online Thursday at 7 p.m. To join, go to: https://www.bnaibrith.ca/amia.


Steve Arnold
Steve Arnold

The Nine Pillars of ‘No Silence on Race’

July 14, 2020 – By ALEX ROSE

When conversations about race, oppression and privilege exploded across the world following the May 25 murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, they made Sara Yacobi-Harris wonder to what extent the broader Canadian Jewish community was concretely addressing its own instances of racial discrimination.

In the midst of this “racial reckoning,” Yacobi-Harris, a Black Jewish woman from Toronto, founded the campaign, ​“No Silence on Race​,” which calls on Canadian Jews to “commit to the creation of a truly anti-racist, inclusive and equitable Jewish community.”

Sara Yacobi-Harris

Yacobi-Harris established the effort with two other activists, Daisy Moriyama and Akilah Allen Silverstein.

On June 30, the campaign published ​an open letter​ “from Black Jews, non-Black Jews of colour and our allies, to Jewish organizations in Canada.”

The letter lays out nine pillars to guide organizations in making structural changes to combat racism and actively make mainstream Jewish spaces truly inclusive and equitable for Jews of colour. It also asks them to publish statements of their own outlining how they plan to meet those goals by July 29.

Yacobi-Harris said the campaign was necessary for “many, many, many reasons,” including the lack of representation for Jews of colour in most Jewish institutions.

“It’s about seeing ourselves represented in Jewish spaces, and seeing ourselves represented in Jewish literature and programming and histories that we celebrate,” she said, before quoting the beginning of the letter: “We are Jewish community board members, educators and leaders. We write from a place of love for our Jewish identities and our community, while also grappling with the cultural erasure, exclusion and structural racism that we experience in Jewish spaces. Nevertheless, we are compelled to be in Jewish community because it is who we are.”

Although the campaign is new and specific to the current collective Jewish experience, Yacobi-Harris says Jews of colour have been dealing with these issues for a very long time.

They often avoid mainstream Jewish spaces because they are not always received equally, sometimes even experiencing overt racism. For that reason, there are a number of Jews of colour who have devoted their entire lives to ensuring that Jewish spaces are inclusive and hospitable for Jews of colour.

As important as their work has been, though, Yacobi-Harris says real, comprehensive change isn’t possible without everyone committed to a unified goal.

That’s why the first pillar of “No Silence on Race” ​is “allyship.”

“Allyship is earned through trust, through action and through impact.” Yacobi-Harris explained. “You can implement as many policies and strategies and initiatives as you want. But if the culture doesn’t shift within our community, the conversation doesn’t shift, we don’t talk about our individual responsibility, then eventually the policies and strategies will hold less weight and be less meaningful. That’s why we need people behind it who truly understand their individual role in creating change in our community.”

After allyship, the next pillar is education, which is about engaging with issues at all levels of an organization and systematically implementing policies, strategies and initiatives based on education and training from consultants who are Jews of colour and other people of colour.

The other seven pillars include investing in a leadership strategy for Jews of colour, working with an equity consultant, and committing to more programming and partnerships with a more diverse range of cultural institutions.

So far, Yacobi-Harris says the response has been very positive, with people and organizations reaching out to learn more about continuing the work of anti-racism and equality.

“No Silence on Race” has heard a lot of people thanking them for the work they’re doing, saying the community needs it and people want to do more.

The response to the campaign, combined with the climate of open conversation that precipitated it, has left Yacobi-Harris feeling hopeful about the work Jewish institutions will do to make themselves actively inclusive for Jews of colour. After all, she wouldn’t have put the effort into creating this initiative if she didn’t think it could make a difference.

“People do see this work as extremely important,” she said. “And they do see the gaps that exist in our community and how much work we all have to do. And how beautiful and inspiring and supportive and important this initiative is.

“And so, having received that feedback has made me hopeful that change is coming, that action is coming and that this commitment is important for everyone and for our community,” she said.

Yacobi-Harris also encouraged representatives from Jewish organizations to contact nosilenceonrace@gmail.com to set up a meeting or have a conversation about how to best implement the nine pillars.


The Fight to Change ‘Swastika Trail’: The Gloves Are Off

July 14, 2020 – By STEVE ARNOLD

A new campaign to change the name of Swastika Trail in the township of Puslinch, Ont. will seek to defeat local councillors in the next election who don’t support the effort.

Veteran political operative and anti-hate activist Warren Kinsella has joined the campaign by Township residents who have been trying for years to get the name changed.

This time, however, the gloves are off, Kinsella warned in an interview.

“We are saying to the politicians, ‘if any of you continue to defend this, we will run campaigns to defeat you in the next election. We will make sure that everybody knows you were indifferent to this hateful name being attached to this street,’” Kinsella said.

“It’s not a threat, it’s a promise,” he added. “If you guys are going to let this foul, disgusting name continue to be associated with this street, then we’re going to make sure people know you didn’t do anything about it when you could have.”

Kinsella, a Toronto lawyer, former Liberal Party strategist, founder of the anti-hate group Standing Against Misogyny and Prejudice (STAMP) and head of the Daisy Group consulting firm, joined the latest anti-Swastika Trail campaign at the request of long-time resident, Randy Guzar.

STAMP’s past efforts include helping to bring criminal convictions against the publisher and editor of Your Ward News, a free Toronto newspaper that promoted hatred against Jews and women.

Guzar has lived on Swastika Trail for more than 20 years and has seen at least four previous efforts to get the name changed.

The street was named in the 1920s when the swastika was still widely considered an ancient good luck symbol. The private road, owned by a numbered company, is in a mostly rural corner of Puslinch Township, south of Guelph in Wellington County. About 35 families live on the street.

Swastika Trail
Swastika Trail

The most recent effort to get the name changed started in April 2017 and ended in June 2018, when an Ontario court refused to review a council decision not to change the name.

Guzar and others went to court to challenge how the matter was handled by the council, which had asked the local cottagers association to decide whether to change the name. The association voted 25-20 to keep it, and Puslinch council vote 4-1 against changing it.

The court’s three judge panel, which found that the council had acted correctly, ruled: “There is no doubt that to many people in Canada in the 21st century, the swastika is an abhorrent symbol, reminiscent of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during World War Two. While council’s decision…likely does not accord with the beliefs of many Canadians…there is no basis for finding that council’s decisions were unlawful.”

Since then, however, three of the five township councillors, including the mayor, have changed. More importantly, both Kinsella and Guzar argue there have been major changes in public attitudes about racism and hatred.

At the same time, there has been a spike in incidents of antisemitism around the world – the centuries old hatred that found its fullest modern expression under the Swastika flag of Nazi Germany.

“What has happened is that the murder of (George) Floyd) and the whole the Black Lives Matter movement has really awoken people to the importance of tolerance issues generally,” Kinsella said.

Warren Kinsella
Warren Kinsella

“For the Jewish community, given the massive outbreak in antisemitism and vandalism, this is the least this community can do. We’re not asking them to give us money. We’re not asking them to do anything other than be decent human beings and remove this name.

“There’s no time in human history when I’ve seen a greater popular response to racism and bigotry than there is right now,” he added. “What has happened this spring, in the middle of a pandemic, is extraordinary and that tells us we’re on the right side, that people are with us and we just have to make them aware of what is happening.”

Guzar argues that while the swastika may be an ancient symbol, it is too closely linked to Nazi-era atrocities ever to be rehabilitated and “does not belong in a multicultural, diverse and tolerant Canada.”

“The swastika is the symbol of the most homicidal expression of hatred that ever existed. It is the literal embodiment of racism and anti-Semitism, homophobia and genocide,” he said. “This is a modern Canada and it’s time that this name be retired.”

Despite changes on council, Guzar said he doesn’t sense a change in attitude.

“From the very first when we started our effort to retire this street name we have had no support from the township and that’s the current flavor today,” he said. “I’m very disappointed in council’s indifference to this name and their use of tax dollars to defend it in court. We would expect our council to stand up and condemn hatred and change this street name.”

In an e-mail exchange Puslinch Mayor James Seeley “politely” refused to comment. Paul Wysznski, whose company owns the road, could not be reached for comment.


Steve Arnold
Steve Arnold

Small Acts Fill Big Needs

By ELIZABETH KATCHEN

It is difficult to put into words what we are going through right now. The unthinkable, the unbelievable, the heart-wrenching. We are in the middle of a global pandemic, something rarely conceived of in the past 100 years.

This is our reality, and while it is safe to say that everyone is experiencing a new set of challenges, some populations are harder hit than others.

Currently the United States, Brazil and Russia have staggering numbers of COVID patients, so much so that their citizens have been banned from entering the European Union.

The homeless are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic. Many have pre-existing health conditions, and due to physical distancing measures, fewer beds in shelters are available. Further, the usual resources, such as case managers assisting in the relocation of the homeless and following up with regular support, have decreased.

From another perspective, certain ethnic minorities are at higher risk of contracting the virus, of requiring hospitalization, and even of dying from COVID. While information is constantly updated, according to Statistics Canada, those at greater risk include Indigenous populations, among others.

In addition, Public Health Ontario has announced that sociodemographic and race-based data will be collected and used to plan for public health practices.

Like the rest of the world, the Jewish community has been shaken by the pandemic, both physically and economically. Of note is that the proportion of Jews dying in the Diaspora, as opposed to Jews in Israel, is much higher. Israel was able to contain the virus with extremely strict restrictions in place from the outset, despite a recent spike in infections after much of the country re-opened.

The Jewish community has a well-deserved reputation for philanthropy. Tzedakah (charity) in Judaism states that the giver benefits more than the receiver. In fact, it is a mitzvah (a commandment) to give 10 percent of one’s earnings to charity. Children from a young age are taught to give charity – even dropping a few coins in the tzedakah box can be a meaningful gesture. Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher, identified eight levels of charity, each greater than the last. Now, during these most challenging times, is a perfect time to review these levels. Beginning with the highest, they are as follows:

Level 1 – Enabling another individual to be self-sufficient.
Level 2 – Giving when one does not know the recipient and the recipient does not know the giver: anonymous giving.
Level 3 – Giving when one knows the recipient, but the recipient is unaware of the giver.
Level 4 – The recipient knows the giver, but the giver is unaware of the recipient. This level allows for less shame to the recipient.
Level 5 – The giver gives directly to the recipient but without being asked.
Level 6 – The giver gives to the recipient after being asked.
Level 7 – The giver gives insufficiently, but still gives with a smile.
Level 8 – Giving in a reluctant manner.

Financial giving is certainly a timely gesture right now, but it is important to address other forms of charity that can also have a huge impact. Volunteering can reduce feelings of loneliness and provide a sense of optimism. Donations of non-perishable items are needed for food banks that are currently under greater demand. Checking on elderly neighbors (at a safe distance or by phone) is surely appreciated at this time. Fostering a pet is another special opportunity if you can safely care for an animal. If you have a special skill, such as website development, writing or marketing, do a web search for volunteer opportunities. The list goes on.

Tzedakah is supposed to be done with a full heart. Performed in a less willing manner, the effect is not quite the same. It is said that even presenting someone with a smile, and nothing else, is a form of tzedakah. Please help if you can. Consider what way would be meaningful to you, and do so with a smile. 


Elizabeth Katchen
Elizabeth Katchen

Elizabeth Katchen was born and raised in Victoria, B.C. and cares deeply about animals, the environment and the Jewish community. She is the former editor of FutureTense magazine, a national Jewish student publication, and a past freelance contributor to the Canadian Jewish News. Elizabeth is executive assistant to the programs department at Toronto’s Schwartz/Reisman Centre and Prosserman JCC.

UPDATED: Adding to the Turmoil, Foodbenders is Sued

By RON CSILLAG

Foodbenders has been served.

The Toronto eatery that’s been at the centre of a firestorm of controversy for its antisemitic and anti-Zionist posts on social media has been slapped with a lawsuit.

The action, served on the Bloor St. W. restaurant on July 10, seeks a total of $750,000 in damages. It was filed by Shai DeLuca, a high-profile Toronto interior designer, who alleges he was defamed in two Instagram posts under Foodbenders’ account.

DeLuca’s lawsuit names both the restaurant and Hawkins.

Shai DeLuca
Shai DeLuca

The lawsuit came on the heels of a complaint against Foodbenders filed at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal on behalf of GTA resident Elena Aschkenasi, 86, whose parents fled Nazi Germany. She claims Foodbenders owner Kimberly Hawkins discriminated against Jews when Hawkins publicly stated her refusal to serve Zionists in her store.

Another human rights complaint against Foodbenders by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is expected to be filed soon. A petition calling for CIJA to file a complaint has to date garnered nearly 1,500 signatures.

DeLuca’s Instagram profile describes him as a “celebrity designer…TV personality, speaker…IDF (Israel Defense Forces) sergeant (Ret) Tel Aviv/Toronto…” It also shows a small Israeli flag.

His lawsuit alleges that on or about July 6, the following message, placed partially over his profile and highlighted in black, stated: “He’s literally gathering his other whining Zionist friends to attack Palestinians and others in support of @foodbenders.”

A second post under Foodbenders’ account, highlighted in purple, said, “This guy is one of the people who was attacking@foodbenders. He’s an IDF SOLDIER (aka terrorist) yet he’s using the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement for likes. How can you sit here and post about BLM when you have your sniper rifle aimed at Palestinian Children.”

The posts “clearly” refer to DeLuca, as they were marked over his social media profile,which contains his Instagram profile nameand image, his 11-page statement of claim says.

The Instagram posts are defamatory and libelous, DeLuca claims, because they were understood to mean that he is a terrorist or is involved in terrorist and criminal activities;has murdered or is planning to murderPalestinian children; is involved in planning an attack at Foodbenders; is not law-abiding; and other misdeeds, the lawsuit alleges.

“Shai is a proud Jew,” his filing states. “He is both a Canadian and Israeli citizen. He grew up in the State of Israel, where he served his compulsory term of military service as a sergeant in the Israel Defense Forces. Like most Jews in Canada and around the world, Shai is a Zionist – he believes in and supports the State of Israel as the national home and refuge for the Jewish people.”

DeLuca seeks $500,000 in general and special damages, and a further $250,000 in aggravated and/or punitive damages. He also wants the offending posts taken down, and an admission that Foodbenders and Hawkins violated Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

The Toronto restaurant has generated headlines worldwide for the past few weeks over such online statements as “#zionistsnotwelcome,” and “Zionists are Nazis.”

A sandwich board outside the eatery proclaimed “F@ck Mossad, IDF, Bibi.”

Other posts accused Jewish groups of controlling the media and elected officials. One described Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “Zionist puppet.”

The statements were denounced by Premier Doug Ford and Mayor John Tory. In their wake, several food delivery services cut ties to Foodbenders, while other businesses said they would no longer carry its products.

Foodbenders and Hawkins have until July 30 to file a defence to DeLuca’s action. The restaurant did not respond to an email seeking comment, and its phone is inoperative.

In an email to the CJR, DeLuca said he, “like the majority of Israelis, support Palestinian rights and are forever hopeful peace will be reached in our lifetime. He said his lawsuit “in no way is an attempt to silence support for Palestinian rights.”

Rather, it’s about the “defamatory post(s), using my photo, accusing me of being a terrorist and a sniper against Palestinian children.”

He said he’s “hopeful this will serve as a moment of clarity for Ms. Hawkins, that libelous claims, based on prejudice and bigotry because of my nationality, masked as political discourse, will not be tolerated.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Toronto law firm RE-LAW LLP together with the U.S.-based Lawfare Project, which provides legal counsel and services to pro-Israel and Jewish communities that have been targeted.


Ron Csillag
Ron Csillag is editor of the CJR