Editorial: Kosher or Treif? Help Us Decide

Nov. 4, 2020

We had in mind to call this new addition to the CJR “Bouquets and Brickbats,” but somehow, “Kosher or Treif?” seemed more appropriate.

From time to time, the editors here would like to recognize individuals and groups for their work, whether it’s advancing Jewish ideals, pushing forward a positive agenda, or simply getting at the truth in an era in which objective truth is proving elusive.

On the other hand, we also need to know about those who, to put it politely, do not have our best interests in mind.

Recognition will be complimentary (K= Kosher) or critical (T=Treif). Please feel free to let us know if you agree by sending us your thoughts at canadianjewishrecord@gmail.ca

KOSHER: Andy Lulka is a Montessori advocate and educator. Her quiet but vital work on Holocaust education and confronting antisemitism from a point of intersectionality and anti-oppression is well known in the field. Despite health challenges, Andy has demonstrated that positivity and wisdom leads to strength of purpose.

KOSHER: York Regional Police, which has charged a white nationalist for “uttering threats” against two anti-racist activists in an online chat room. All to prove that hateful actions online can lead to serious consequences.

TREIF: Bobby Orr. The Canadian hockey legend’s fawning statement of support for Donald Trump only tells us that while he played stellar defence for the Boston Bruins, it turns out his embrace of a racist, sexist, misogynist candidate for president was nothing but offensive.

KOSHER: Mustafa Farook is the Executive Director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). His outreach to other faith communities has helped build many bridges. Most recently, following a swastika defacement of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, Mustafa publicly tweeted, “…To the lowlife that did this, if you want to intimidate the Jewish community, or dishonour the fallen you have to come through us.”

TREIF: Maxime Bernier, leader of the so called People’s Party of Canada, tried to run for a seat in Toronto’s York Centre riding in the recent by-election. His anti-immigrant, climate change skeptic, anti-transgender policies were eagerly echoed by white supremacists and others of the same ilk. York Centre voters, speaking for most Canadians, soundly sent him packing with just 642 votes. But, alarmingly, at 3.6 percent of the total vote, Bernier did better than the Greens in York Centre.

KOSHER: Annamie Paul has become the first Jewish female person of colour to head a federal party, the Greens, in Canada. She faced down sexism, racism and antisemitism to do so. Mazal tov Annamie. A welcome addition to the political scene.

KOSHER: General John Vance and the Canadian Armed Forces. Despite a slow start, the military has taken decisive action to root out neo-Nazis and white supremacists from their ranks. Gen. Vance, the Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff, has issued new standing orders that will assist others in command to take decisive action against racists and haters in the military.

TREIF: Kimberly Hawkins, owner of the Toronto-based restaurant/caterer Foodbenders. Following a flurry of online rants last summer equating Zionists with Nazis, glorifying terrorism, and saying Jews control the media, Hawkins was hit with a lawsuit, two human rights complaints and now, a possible review of her business license by the City of Toronto. Even after she issued a wan apology, Hawkins kept posting her bilge. Her food is treif and she gives us heartburn.

KOSHER: The Hon. Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has initiated a bold new plan that would see thousands more immigrants and refugees welcomed to Canada as part of our pandemic economic recovery.

KOSHER: The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), B’nai Brith Canada, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and JSpace Canada for the unprecedented move of coming together without rancour to support the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism that was approved last week by the Ontario government. This marks the first time in their collective histories that these Canadian Jewish groups from the left to the right of the Jewish political spectrum have issued a joint statement in support of an advocacy issue.

Statement From York Centre Conservative Candidate Julius Tiangson

Oct. 19, 2020

Why I Stand with Israel

Growing up in the Philippines, I always celebrated the powerful connection between the Jewish and Filipino diasporas, whose strong ties date to the decision of Manuel Quezon, the Second World War-era president of the Philippines, to issue 1,300 visas to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe in 1937-41.

Julius Tiangson

Not only did Quezon welcome as many Jews as he could get visas for, he also offered them his private land to grow food and develop a kind of kibbutz.

The Philippines was thereafter the only Asian nation to vote for the United Nations Partition plan of 1947, which led to the independence of the State of Israel, and paved the way for strong relations between the two countries through to the present day.

Quezon’s heroism is celebrated by both Filipino and Jewish people, including at the “Philippine-Israel Friendship Park” in Quezon City, the Philippines, and at “Balai Quezon” multipurpose centre in Tel Aviv.

In 2015, the board of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation approved a posthumous bestowal of the Wallenberg Medal upon President Quezon and to the people of the Philippines for having reached out, between 1937 and 1941, to the persecuted Jews of Europe.

I believe that Canada, too, should celebrate this great relationship with gratitude, with a monument in York Centre.

I am deeply committed to rebuilding Canada’s relationships with its most reliable allies, especially the State of Israel. Like our party’s leader, Erin O’Toole, I support recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and moving the Embassy of Canada to Jerusalem. Israel, like every sovereign nation, has the right to choose its own capital as a domestic decision; and the people of Israel have chosen to restore their ancient capital in Jerusalem.

Mr. O’Toole and I will stand by our ally Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East. Our party’s position on Israel is inspired by our last Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who famously promised the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, that “through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”

I agree with his argument that it is in Canada’s long-term interest to back a country where freedom, democracy and the rule of law are threatened by “those who scorn modernity, who loathe the liberty of others and who hold the differences of peoples and cultures in contempt.”

Under Prime Minister Harper, Canada was a loyal ally to Israel at the United Nations. Unlike the current government, which has infamously abandoned Israel on UN resolution votes, the Harper government consistently stood against the abuse of Israel by a body which values dictatorships as much as democracies, and elevates countries like Communist China and Cuba to its Human Rights Council.

I celebrate the Middle East’s only democracy, a multiethnic country, much like our own, made up of recent immigrants from around the globe; and the only country in the region to provide full rights and democratic participation to religious and ethnic minorities.

The vibrant free press and right to dissent available to all Israelis, including religious minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ communities, are the envy of the region. Israel is also an environmental trailblazer as the only country in the world to have more trees at the end of the 20th century than at the beginning.

I also recognize the tremendous progress that Israel has made towards a regional agreement with the Abraham Accords, through which it has made peace with two of its Arab neighbors, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain. As Prime Minister Harper rightly noted in a recent article, these agreements “are truly transformative and will pave the way for historic realignments across the Middle East.” They occurred because the world has changed – not only has the strong support of its allies proved to regional nations that Israel is a lasting part of the Middle East, but increasingly, a partner with leading Arab nations against the aggression of Iran.

I also stand with the Jewish community in embracing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, which recognizes that antisemitism “might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity” which is different from criticism leveled against any other country.

According to Statistics Canada, year over year, there are more hateful attacks against Jews than upon any other group. I will always fight the terrible scourge of the world’s oldest hatred.

I call upon all Canadians who support Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and Canada’s most reliable ally in the region, to join this campaign, because I want to represent you.

For a statement on Israel from York Centre’s Liberal candidate, Ya’ara Saks, click here.

Statement From York Centre Liberal Candidate Ya’ara Saks

Oct. 19, 2020

My name is Ya’ara Saks and I’m the Liberal candidate in the riding of York Centre in the upcoming federal by-election. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m a dedicated mother of two teenage daughters. I’m a small business owner in York Centre and I’m an active community advocate, in particular for better access to mental health services.

Ya’ara Saks

Like so many of us in Canada, I cherish my roots and where my family comes from. I’m the daughter of a Sabra. My father was born in Israel after my grandparents settled in what was then British Mandate Palestine. They fought in the War of Independence. I went to school in Israel; lived there, worked there. It was in Israel, working in the government of the City of Jerusalem, that I lived through the Second Intifada and found my love of public service, working for the Mayor. My family and I contributed to the building of the State of Israel, and we have done so out of a deep love, one that I share with so many of you.

I am a proud Canadian, and I am also an unapologetic Zionist who believes passionately in the State of Israel. I oppose and condemn BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel) and every other form of antisemitism. I have the privilege of being a dual citizen of Canada and of Israel, and having spent many years living in Jerusalem and around Israel, I know firsthand the serious threats that face Israel and Jewish communities around the world.

I believe in a Jewish and democratic Israel, with safe and secure borders, founded on the promise of the rule of law and equal rights enshrined in its Declaration of Independence. I believe that a secure peace is a moral and political imperative and that the only solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is a two-state solution reached through direct negotiation between the two parties. I believe that the Abraham Accords are an important shift in diplomacy and I am excited for the prospects of Israel’s neighbours finally recognizing its right to exist in peace and security, with the opportunities that it creates.

In Canada, we do not shy away from diversity of thought or of opinion. We embrace it. Our Canadian Jewish community is all the richer for that diversity. Disagreement and debate are rooted in our history, in our culture, in the way we practice our shared faith, and in our politics. It is a defining characteristic of who we are as a people, and it has served us well through the millennia.

This is just as true in Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. From Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, from Eilat to Rosh Ha’Nikra, Israelis often disagree with their government and with each other. I will not pretend that I agree with every initiative and policy made by Israel’s current political leadership.

But let me be clear: there is a difference between criticism of government policy and questioning the state’s existence. And let me be equally clear: I will never compromise on Israel’s right to exist, on its right to self-defence, or on its right to fair and equal treatment internationally. I oppose BDS and every other form of antisemitism at every turn. I was proud when the Liberal government condemned the BDS movement. I was pleased when the Liberal government formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. I was thrilled to see the Canadian government strengthening bilateral relations with Israel, including signing the updated Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement and standing strong against threats of violence and intimidation against our Jewish communities and institutions here in Canada. I will always work with anyone who shares those values and supports Israel and the Jewish community, even when we disagree on the best way to do so.

I have dedicated my entire career to building communities based on two pillars of common understanding. The first is that compassion is our greatest currency as human beings, and the other is that כל ישראל ערבים לזה זה – all of Israel is responsible for one another. As your Member of Parliament, as a proud Canadian and as a Zionist, I will stand by these principles.

In seeking your support as your Member of Parliament in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, in a world that is changing as rapidly as it ever has, the ideas of compassion and mutual responsibility guide me more than ever. These are the values that will inform everything I do representing the people of York Centre. From mental health support to the environment, from the economy to health care, and from striving for fair and equal treatment of all Canadians to supporting a safe and secure Israel, I will be there. For you. For our children. For all of us.

For a statement on Israel from York Centre’s Conservative candidate, Juilus Tiangson, click here.