High-schoolers chant ‘the Jews Are Our Dogs’, Mayor Denounces Rally: B’nai Brith Files Hate Complaint

Mississauga’s mayor has denounced a rally in her city at which Jews were called “dogs.”

In a tweet on July 7, Mayor Bonnie Crombie stated: “I stand with our city’s Jewish community in strongly condemning these hateful and disturbing anti-Semitic comments. Hate has no place in Mississauga. We’re a welcoming city that promotes unity, understanding and acceptance. Those who seek to divide us are not welcome here.”

B’nai Brith Canada has filed a hate crimes complaint with Peel Regional Police after protesters chanted “hateful” antisemitic slogans at the anti-Israel protest in Mississauga on July 4.

Peel Regional Police spokesperson Cst. Bancroft Wright confirmed that a complaint was received from B’nai Brith.

About 100 protesters gathered at Celebration Square in Mississauga last Saturday, ostensibly to condemn Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank.

A video of the rally shows attendees chanting in Arabic: “Palestine is our country, and the Jews are our dogs!” Later, protesters are heard to promise to “sacrifice our soul and blood for Palestine” and proclaim that “martyrs by the millions march to Jerusalem.”

B’nai Brith said it has independently verified the translation.

The organization said it has discovered that the co-organizers of the rally, and many of its attendees, were high school students. It said it has identified one of the co-organizers but has not named her because she is a minor.

“The display of antisemitism in Canada’s public squares is totally unacceptable,” B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn said in a news release.

“Opposition to Israeli policy can never be used as an excuse to demean Jews as ‘dogs’ or to threaten violence against them.”

Mostyn said B’nai Brith has reached out to the high school attended by one of the rally’s organizers, “and hope to visit at an appropriate time in order to educate students about the dark places to which rhetoric of this sort can lead.”

In response to the Mississauga rally, Barbara Bank of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs stated:

“Enough is enough. It is outrageous that in 2020 people feel comfortable using dehumanizing and exclusionary language targeting the Jewish community. The days of signs stating “No Dogs and No Jews” at establishments in the GTA should be firmly behind us. 

“There is a lot of room for legitimate discussion about the State of Israel and the politics of the Middle East, but our community will not accept the use of Israel as a pretense to call Jews ‘dogs.’”

Bank said it’s time for Ontario lawmakers to finalize the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, contained in a bill currently before the legislature.

Click here to see a video of the rally:


Defaced Bruce Trail Sign Replaced

A sign along the Bruce Trail Conservancythat was vandalized with an anti-Semitic message was replaced the next day and the incident reported to police.

That’s according to Michael McDonald, Chief Executive Officer of the Bruce Trail.

“There is no deadly virus,” someone scrawled on a sign. “The Jew owned media lies to you.”

Photos of the sign made the usual rounds on social media.

McDonald told the CJR that the vandalism was discovered near Hamilton on June 16. He said he a received calls about it from Avi Benlolo, the former CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, which said it had been alerted to the sign by the premier’s office.

McDonald said the sign was replaced with a new one on June 17.

“We have absolutely no tolerance for racism of any kind,” he said. He also said the incident was reported to police.

Letters to the Editor: Friday, June 26, 2020

In his recent editorial “On Spellings, Antisemitism and Free Speech” (June 12, 2020), Bernie Farber defends the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism by arguing that 1) it is not a threat to free speech because it states that “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”, and that 2) the vast majority of Jewish groups fully support it.

Regarding point one: This proviso has in no way prevented the IHRA definition from being utilized to shut down Israel-critical speech. Donald Trump’s 2019 executive order incorporating the IHRA definition into U.S. law has increasingly been used to prosecute allegations of antisemitism related to criticism of Israel on university campuses. High-profile cases investigating student activism in particular have arisen at UCLA Berkeley, Columbia, UC Irvine, UMass, Duke and UNC. The message these investigations send to students, faculty and administrators is this: Harshly criticize Israeli human rights violations and you risk prosecution and/or withdrawal of funding.  

Farber’s second argument, that there is essentially global consensus on the definition, is clearly debatable. Kenneth Stern, the definition’s co-author, has stated that it “was never intended to be a campus hate speech code. [Trump’s] executive order is an attack on academic freedom and free speech, and will harm not only pro-Palestinian advocates, but also Jewish students and faculty, and the academy itself.” Moreover, many Jewish organizations oppose adopting the definition, including  J Street, Independent Jewish Voices and dozens of others. Others may oppose it as well, but are afraid of the potential impacts of speaking out.

Recently, Independent Jewish Voices published an open letter from over 400 Canadian academics (including many Jews) who oppose adoption of the IHRA definition on their campuses. The signatories fear that the definition’s adoption will imperil academic freedom. We need to heed their voices and protect the right to research, teach and yes, protest violations of Palestinian human rights. 

As Holocaust scholars Amos Goldberg and Raz Segal have argued, proponents of the IHRA definition have managed to change the discourse, diverting attention away from Israel’s human rights violations and focusing instead on what is allowed and what is prohibited when criticizing Israel. In conducting this campaign, proponents of the IHRA definition risk not only stifling legitimate speech; they also divert attention from the rise of real Jew-hatred worldwide.

Sheryl Nestel, PhD
Member, Independent Jewish Voices Canada Steering Committee