Emil Fackenheim’s Thought: CIJR Conference

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.13.41 PMRecently I attended and filmed the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research Conference on  “The Jewish Thought of Emil Fackenheim” in Toronto (Sunday, 25 October 2015). Emil Fackenheim  (1916-2003) was a German-born Jew who went on to become a  philosopher in his own right, a Professor of  Philosophy at the University of Toronto and, after making aliyah, a professor at the Hebrew University as well. He was not only a philosopher but also an ordained German Reform Rabbi. Emil Fackenheim became known for  probing the antisemitic dimensions of German Idealist philosophy, for studying the impact of the Holocaust on Judaism and on secular modern thought, and for demanding that Philosophy address the Holocaust. In this context he analyzed critically  the secular philosophers, including Hegel,  Nietzsche,  and  Heidegger  (who espoused the Nazi   movement).

Professor Kenneth Green, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto presented on Emil Fackenheim and the Political Theology of Diabolical Evil, while Professor David Novak, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, spoke on Emil Fackenheim and Heidegger. Professor Martin Yaffe, professor of Philosophy and Religion, University of North Texas presented a paper: After 50 Years: Emil Fackenheim on Hermann Cohen.

Bringing a Jewish perspective to Fackenheim’s thought, Professor David Patterson, Hillel A. Feinberg Chair of Holocaust Studies of the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, University of Texas at Dallas, presented a paper: A Jewish Philospher’s Critique of Philosophy: Emil Fackenheim’s Response to the Holocaust. Professor James A. Diamond, Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Chair, Jewish Studies, University of Waterloo, compared the writings of the Warsaw Ghetto Rebbe, Rabbi Shapira, with Fackenheim’s teachings in a paper titled God’s Infinite Pain: Encounter between Emil Fackenheim and the Warsaw Ghetto Rebbe. Professor Sally Zerker, Professor Emeritus York University, spoke on the subject Emil Fackenheim and Post Zionist Jewish Intellectuals.

Over lunch time, we were treated to a keynote address by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, President Emeritus, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Rabbi John Moscovitz, Rabbi Emeritus Holy Blossom Temple, spoke about Fackenheim’s ideas of Tikkun Olam and Mending the World.

Many of Fackenheim’s students and friends, spoke about Fackenheim’s impact on them. Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Laureate, a  colleague, and  personal friend, sent a brief video greeting.  We were fortunate to have Fackenheim’s son, Joseph Fackenheim, now a theater director living in Toronto, share some thoughts about his father. Joseph feels that he is carrying on his father’s legacy by bringing the Jewish Theatre Aspaklaria to the Toronto stage.

Peter Margo, National Board Member of CIJR, who had known Fackenheim as a young immigrant in Montreal shared: The Young Fackenheim in Canada: a Personal Reminiscence.

Professor Edward Alexander, Professor Emeritus of English, University of Washington sent a Letter on Emil Fackenheim, which was read by Professor Krantz.

Several of Fackenheim’s students were present. Professor Sharon Portnoff, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College, and a student of Fackenheim’s, presented a paper, Emil Fackenheim’s Moral Seriousness in the Art of Living. Professor MIchael Morgan, Grafstein Chair in Philosophy and Jewish Studies, University of Toronto,  examined Fackenheim’s Legacy. Professor Paul Merkley, Professor Emeritus of History, Carleton University, also a student of Fackenheim’s presented: Emil Fackenheim: The Perspective of a Christian Realist. And another student, Professor Victor Shepherd, Professor of Theology, Tyndale University College and Seminary, presented a spirited tribute: Emil L.Fackenheim: Gratitude for the Gift He Was.

We will announce when these papers and the videos of the lectures will be posted

In the meantime below is a video of Professor Emil Fackenheim himself, presenting his ideas during a conference at the University of Oregon entitled Ethics and the Holocaust: He gave a paper entitled:  Holocaust  as a Persistent Threat to Thought.
Emil Fackenheim’s talk begins at 8:46 minutes and he speaks for an hour. But you will appreciate this I am sure for the originality, the erudition and the passion of his presentation.

Jewish Learning is Not Just for Children

Every one knows that Jewish civilization rests on the bedrock of the education of children. However study of Jewish texts and values is not limited to children. It happens to be one of the fundamental behaviors that Jewish men and women of all ages are enjoined to practice throughout their lives: study is a lifelong aspiration and a primary goal for all Jews. Here in Montreal, we are fortunate that classes are held all week and every week at various venues, synagogues and community centers. We are blessed with exceptional teachers and can be busy with Jewish learning every day of the week. In addition Rabbi Steinmetz and Rabbi Jacobsen have been offering a full day of learning to the community every year for the last several years. The most recent day of learning took place last Thursday, June 25th, 2015. This time I recorded their classes and want to share them with you so that you too can taste the nature and scope of what we call Jewish learning. I videotaped these talks and share them with you here.

1) Hachnasat Orchim – Hospitality towards strangers in the Jewish tradition: What is its Source and Why is it Important?  (Rabbi Steinmetz)

2) Why are the Jewish people called G-d`s witness. What does this mean and what are we being called upon to  witness or to testify to? (Rabbi Jacobson)

3) Talmudic Study: “acquiring an accidental treasure, when unanticipated value emerges, who owns it?” Rabbis and class sharing one on one discussion. This is typical of the way Jews study texts via inquiry but difficult to video.

4) The Racist Murders in Charleston: Is Forgiveness possible? This talk was a response to the families of the murdered victims in the Charleston Church shooting offering the murderer forgiveness at the funeral of the victims. Rabbi Steinmetz argues that offering forgiveness without asking for any reflection from the perpetrator deprives the perpetrator of the opportunity for  acknowledging his transgression and working through any personal responsibility abd regret that is involved in “asking for forgiveness? (Rabbi  Chaim Steinmetz)

5) Quebec’s Bill 52 and the “right to die”: A Jewish perspective on this issue. 1,the obligation to avoid suffering and 2. the need to appreciate every life to its very end.

(Rabbi Jacobson)

When Universities Do it Right: The Case of Emory University

teach inWhen Universities Do It Right: The Case of Emory University

Early Sunday morning, October 4th, 2014, members of my brother’s fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, discovered several swastikas spray-painted on their house. Whether students in a drunken stupor following Saturday night debauchery, so-called Palestinian “human rights activists,” or garden-variety klan-style anti-Semites, nobody has any idea who could have been behind such a shameful act of vandalism, especially on the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar, Yom Kippur.

While spray-paint can be painted over, the shock that these fraternity men felt when they realized they were the target of a hate crime will probably be forever engraved in their memory. Their sense of belonging as a respected group in the Emory community had been eroded, and they no longer felt safe in their own home. Emory Jewish students saw this as a warning, a message: “you are not wanted here.”

This incident wasn’t the first time and probably won’t be the last time swastikas have been painted on campus buildings, especially AEPi houses, at universities such as Yale and the University of Oregon. However, the way it was dealt with should serve as a shining example for other universities facing similar challenges.

Emory knew that the incident sent Jewish students the message that they were unwelcome on campus. Unlike other universities who shoved it under the rug to preserve their reputations, Emory took an active role in ensuring that the sense of belonging of Jewish students was rekindled. That same evening, Emory University President Jim Wagner sent a detailed letter to the entire university community condemning the acts, updating them on the police investigation, and emphasizing that those responsible for the vandalism are not welcome at Emory. Furthermore, Emory students were urged by their student government to wear blue the next day in a demonstration of solidarity with the brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi and the rest of the school’s Jewish community. Hundreds of Emory students did just that, making Jewish students on campus feel enveloped in a support network, a sea of calming blue. A week and a half later, Emory faculty hosted a teach-in event about anti-Semitism, which helped to combat the normalization it experienced when conflated with anti-Zionism during Opertion Protective Edge.

That wasn’t even all. While my family was having breakfast that Sunday, just hours after the act of vandalism, we received a phone call from an administrator at Emory. My parents and I, who had the call on speakerphone, received a detailed and transparent report of the events, as well as a vigilant list of what was being done in response. The administrator asked us if we had any questions or concerns, and referred my parents to counseling services provided by the university. My parents were stunned that Emory took such great care of its Jewish students, and left with a very positive impression of Emory as a Jew-friendly school, despite the crimes that hoped to demonstrate otherwise.

What was so special about Emory’s response was that it was the complete opposite of what other universities have done. While other universities quietly painted over the symbols of anti-Semitic genocide, Emory cooperated with media outlets, encouraged broad coverage, and, with utmost transparency, hoped to use the incident as a teachable moment, to raise awareness about the rising tide of anti-Semitism around the world. In doing what Emory did, they sent an even louder message than the perpetrators that the Jews of Emory are a valuable and welcome part of the community – and here to stay.

Written by Alexandra Markus

Hitler et La Filette: Youth confronts the Holocaust

catherine shvets 2 Experience the Holocaust through the eyes of a young girl

Sonia Sarah Lipsyc interviews Catherine Shvets about her book “Hitler et la fillette” that brings us into the moving experience of the holocaust through the eyes of a young girl.

See it at : jQmtl Interview / Entretien avec Catherine Shvets sur « Hitler et la fillette », a 12 min video in French with English subtitles.


At the tender age of fifteen, Catherine Shvets was writing about the Shoah through the memories of her survivor grandmother. She addressed the important actions of nameless rescuers who saved a little girl, the theme of Shvets’s recent oeuvre , « Hitler et la fillette », éd Flammarion/Québec, 2010.

Catherine Shvets, born in Quebec of Russian Jewish heritage, is today twenty-one years old and a second-year student in philosophy of education at McGill University.Carherine shvetz-gf


Is Jewish Nationalism Synonymous with a Jewish State?


I wrote this blog as a response to the opinion piece in the Gazette “Jewish Nationalism is not synonymous with a nation state.”

The author, Sam Bick, bandies about words like “nation” “nation-state” “nationalism” “ethno racial identity” without defining these terms and then makes some statements which are simply false.

He writes:
This idea of Jewish people as a “nation” or “race” in need of a territory is a new conceptualization popularized in 19th-century Europe, one that neglects the diverse experiences, practices and identities of people who have practiced Judaism around the world for hundreds of years — particularly Arabic-speaking Jews.”

The Jewish journey is documented in the bible, (the “Torah” in Hebrew). Canaan, Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people has been integral to the history of the Jews chronicled in the torah from ancient times. The destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem, the destruction of the second Temple by the Romans in 70 AD and the dispersion of Jews from their homeland, Israel, and their longing to return  is documented in literature and poetry and historical writings over millenia.

A quick google of the name of the author, of this piece, Sam Bick, reveals that he has previously written for EI (Electronic Intifada) and Tadamon (which means allies in Arabic). Tadamon has an office in Montreal). Both of these organizations, EI (Electronic Intifada) and Tadamon are integral arms of the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel and Israel alone. They sponsor the infamous Israel/apartheid week conferences on campuses all over North America. EI and Tadamon have both been exposed for propagating opinions about Israel and the Jewish people that are designed to demonize Jews and Israel and whose aim is not peace but only the destruction of Israel.

I myself, speak from experience, having attended several Israel/apartheid week conferences in Montreal. By the way the BDS  – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement – was initiated at the first UN Human Rights conference in Durban in 2001, a conference that was billed as “The First UN World Conference on Racism”. This “conference” turned out to be a witch hunt directed at Jews and Israel and Israel alone. This has been well documented and continues to be available to anyone who wishes to inform himself on these issues. It was here at Durban that the slogan “Zionism is racism” was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. Mercifully, this canard  was later retracted by the UN itself. However this fact seems to have gone above the heads of the EI and Israel Apartheid and BDS propaganda machines which actively continue to  libel Israel and Jews with this canard. For many, in our age, “truth” is an elusive thing subject to argument and debate. Most people are not aware of the background of the BDS movement or that they continue to propagate lies about Israel in order to advance their political agenda.

“Anti-israel haters should never have a free lunch” as Manfred Gerstenfeld so aptly put it when he spoke to this issue in Montreal several years ago.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


There must be a push-back on these issues by academics and others who are appalled at the re-cloaking of sheer antisemitism or Jew hatred into contemporary discourse.

Jews are a tiny minority, and it is for this reason, that we Jews and those who love truth must use our wits to fight this injustice.


Abigail Hirsch, CEO
AskAbigail Productions.com
filmmaker: Yiddish: a tale of survival



Jews and Israel: a state or a people

barbara Today while perusing blogs from The Other A Word – The Jewish Journal Blogs, I came across this moving recording by liberated prisoners of Bergen Belson broadcast by the BBC in 1945.

Listening to these survivors singing what came to be the national anthem of Israel, before there was a state of Israel, moved me to tears but it also pointed out the connection to Zion which we Jews have carried with us since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans. I scrolled through the youtubes following this one and discovered Barbara Streisand introducing Israel’s national anthem, a year ago, in Israel, speaking about Israel’s national anthem, the same song, with minor variations that became also the national anthem of the State of Israel  “Hatikva/Hope”. The last line translates as – the hope of the Jewish people to be a free people in our country, the land of Zion and Jerusalem – Hebrew- Tikvateinu, Lihyot am hofshi b’artzeinu, b’eretz Tzion, Yerushalayim”.

Then I discovered this video “The best Hebrew Songs” a four minute medley of Hebrew songs performed by a band with Russian roots in a big band rock style. What are the songs they choose? 1.They start with Shalom Aleichem – Peace/shalom to you” 2. It is closely followed by May the One who makes peace in the Heavens bring peace to us and to all Israel. In Hebrew “Oseh shalom bimromav, Hu yayseh shalom aleinu, v’al kol Yisrael.” 3. Then we are treated to the most popular Jewish wedding song with a pantomime wedding couple: May this be a good omen and bring good luck to us and all Israel. Hebrew – “mazel tov ve siman tov, siman tov vemazal tov, yeheh lanu v’l’kol Yisrael.” 4. Then we are treated to an article of faith going back hundreds of years:  “I believe with full faith in the coming of the Messiah. And although He tarry, I will wait for Him to come every day. Hebrew – Ani ma’amin b’emunah shlaima b’viyat Ha Mashiach: V’af al pi sh’yitmamaya, ahakeh Lo b’chol yom sh’yavo” 5. And they conclude with: We bring you peace: Hebrew – “Haivainu shalom aleichem”. What I find so unusual about these songs is that  Three out of the five are taken from traditional and ancient prayerbook texts. Only the last one and the first one, “Shalom aleichem” and “Haivainu shalom aleichem” is a more contemporary formulation. And yet these are the songs that a contemporary and modern band chooses as the “most popular” Jewish songs.

I thought these three You-tube videos illustrate how Jewish people all over the world, for thousands of years have always been, and continue to be bound together, with the fate of the land of Israel and Jerusalem, by communal text and by communal song.

JQMTL magazine des cultures juives: Quebecers – Who Are They: What are their Origins?

La flute de rafi Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of meeting Prof. André Vanasse, a prolific writer, professor and well known Quebecois literary figure. Recent developments in the world arouse thoughts of concern about world order, migrations, religions, commerce, and how they affect the individual. André Vanasse’ expansive historical novel, La flûte de rafi deals with the themes of migration, both physical and cultural between Europe and the New World. It tells the story of  several generations and permutations of a family. The protagonist is a young Jewish man from Poland whose father is a “shochet”, a Jewish slaughterer, i.e. a man who is well versed in the laws and regulations prescribed for the slaughter of animals for food as prescribed in the “Mishnah” and “Talmud” – the compilation of the Jewish code of life.

The project was conceived and executed by Sonia Sarah Lipsyc and she is the interviewee. Here is the piece in French with English subtitles.

This is the first of a series of similar interviews with authors, scholars, and artists whose books, works and oeuvres touch upon Jewish culture in Quebec , conceived and executed  by Sonia Sarah Lipsyc in collaboration with AskAbigail Productions for the JQMTL/videos website – the JQMtl Quebec’s Jewish Arts and Culture Magazine, Le Magazine des culture juives du Québec.

The next one will be an interview with Marc Alain-Wolf about his current work Histoires de famille, histoires de guerre, which also has autobiographical elements about the search for identity in contemporary Quebec.WOLF histoire de famille histoire de guerre






KLEZ KANADA 2012 (Photos and Video)

Klez Kanada

Klez Kanada is Quebec’s largest annual festival of Jewish/Yiddish culture and arts. Every year, musicians, Yiddishists, Jews, and non-Jews gather in the Laurentian Mountains at camp B’nai Brith for a week of inter-generational song, dance, and culture.

This year I attended several very interesting lectures and was treated to numerous musical performances by a wide range of artists, both young and old, from all corners of the globe.

Here are a few of the photos from the festival, and I’m currently working on a short video highlighting parts of the festival.

Photos by Chris Zacchia

video by AskAbigail Productions

Is the Parti-Quebecois anti-semitic? Louise Mailloux and her “Kosher Tax” ideas

Louise Mailloux is a local Quebec academic, and author. She is also running in the upcoming Quebec election in the constituency of Gouin on behalf of the Parti Quebecois. She is a strong theoretician and supporter of the Quebec Charter of values. Louise Mailloux has recently made some strange statements about Christianity and Islam:

Mailloux 2 In an April 2012 editorial for L’aut’journal, she mocked the lack of culinary prohibitions in Christianity, claiming that the church missed “a great opportunity to make money….Just as the prayers of a priest turns bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, those of the rabbi turns slaughtered chickens, Nestle Quick and ketchup into thousands of dollars,”. Louise Mailloux has also come under fire for supporting a fringe conspiracy theory holding that Jews use kosher food to fund clandestine political causes. I don’t know Ms. Mailloux personally, but I do feel that her anti-Semitic conspiracy theories need to be forcefully addressed. Ignorance should never be a shield in these matters. I am not in any position to respond to her ideas re Christianity and Islam but I can comment regarding her ideas regarding Kosher food. When Ms. Mailloux speaks about Kosher food and Jews in this inaccurate way, her misinformation needs to be exposed and corrected.

Ms. Mailloux claims that  “kosher food is a form of a Jewish tax on everyone and raises the cost of food in Quebec.” If anyone were to explore this they would find out that the companies who look to have kosher certifications seek to increase sales, and therefore they themselves seek out kosher certification to make the product appeal to a larger market. The kosher certification does not increase the price of the brand name foods but does increase the market for the manufacturer.

Kosher meat however is more expensive. “Kosher” by the way has nothing to do with the Rabbi blessing the food. It has to do with the person who slaughters the animal following the strict rules for kosher slaughter which is designed to cause the least pain to the animal. (And he does not have to be a Rabbi.) Non-kosher meat is much cheaper in price, and is readily available toanyne who does not want to pay the higher price. Kosher meat is only of interest to Jews who are concerned abut this religious practice, and they are willing to pay for this additional service when it comes to meat.

Ms. Mailloux also has been quoted as saying  “… Jews use kosher food to fund clandestine political causes”.  This is a lie, an untruth, and is a classic anti-Semitic trope implying that Jews have intentions to rule the world etc. Ms. Mailloux’s charges caused Quebec Premier, Pauline Marois, to publicly declare that her party is not anti-Semitic. Marois stated, “We have very good relations with the leaders of this community and all the different communities in Quebec”. I actually believe her and do not think she is anti-semitic but I do object to Mailloux’ prejudiced and ignorant statements regarding Jews and kosher food.
Nobody wants to be called an anti-Semite, but very few people fully understand what Antisemitism is. It is lies about Jews that become acceptable truths when no one speaks up to correct the misconception. These ideas were behind the persecution of Jews in Europe and were used to the n’th degree by Nazi Germany. They are still circulated on the internet and shared by Jew hating forces. It is of utmost importance to challenge and debunk these myths, especially when they are espoused as truth by political and academic leaders within the community, who should know better.
I just discovered this letter to the editor on this subject in the Gazette titled
Here is a link to the National Post article about the issue titled: Jewish Group accuses Parti-Quebecois candidate of spreading KKK antisemitic conspiracy theory
Here is another informative article discrediting Mailloux ‘ notions re kosher food.
And here is a letter defending Louise Mailloux titled:

Louise Mailloux is entitled to freedom of speech followed by comments from the public which I reprint below because they enhance the discussion.

  • Gayle Holdaway

    There is a fine line between free speech and inciting hatred and Ms. Mailloux represents the later. Is this really the people that you want in your government. It amazes me that the PQ still stand in front of their sign when making announcements that says “Quebec pour tous”. Really?????? I think Ms. Mailloux has just spoken out loud what many of the racist PQ members wouldn’t dare say, but think. Their whole premises of the “Charter of Values” is to discriminate against those who do not fit into their picture of what their country of Quebec should look like. Sound familiar? They had to throw in the crucifixion on the list of banned religious symbols or it would have looked way too obvious as to their discrimination against other religions. These are people and views that you should be very concerned about.
    • Suzy Kiepprien · Top Commenter

      What hate? Please explain. I’m fed up with brainless and uninformed people who lap up lies and distortions for the only purpose of dividing a society. The PQ has 3 muslims, one Jew and one Black on its team. Can any other party say the same… NO.What she said about Kosher tax imposed on non-Jews was confirmed by Jewish associations in a 2007 TV interview. The reason for this is to bring down the price of Kosher for the practicing Jews. Yes, we are paying for this unwittingly. The same with Halal except it gets worse.I am very troubled by Couillard who was seriously questioned by Canadian surveillance/terrorism agency re his possible/probable ties with groups promoting terrorism. Couillard managed to get elected as PLQ leader, I believe, to stop the investigation.Québec is loads in debt because of this corrupt bribe-loving party.As to the rest of your rant, check out what’s happening in Europe. It has already started coming our way. Sharia Law is now being carried out in certain Canadian Court rulings.

      Six million Jews walked without resistance to their deaths… it seems they haven’t learned their lesson. Read the Qur’an. You are the most vile of creatures, to be killed on sight, an ape and a pig.


      Reply · Like · March 21 at 4:36pm
    • Joseph Aspler · Top Commenter · Montreal, Quebec

      Suzy Kiepprien : Your comments are rubbish.You stated the following “What she said about Kosher tax imposed on non-Jews was confirmed by Jewish associations in a 2007 TV interview.”OK – let’s see your sources. What Jewish associations? What TV network and what TV program? Who was the interviewer? You are precise enough to claim 2007 – let’s see the rest of the date. You talk about a “tax”? What was the amount of that so-called “tax”?Perhaps you should learn actual facts, instead of parrotting Internet rumours. Like how Heinz foods doesn’t even bother counting the costs of Kosher certification. As a corporate giant with more than 30,000 employees, the trivial cost of a handful of inspectors is outweighed by something called “increased market share” for Heinz productsSome people eat Kosher food for reasons other than religion – for example, vegans and vegetarians will eat Kosher food because the Kosher mark is a guarantee that what the label says is accurate.

      Non-Jewish Coca-cola purists will even stock up on Kosher-for-Passover Coke, to the great profit of the Coca-Cola company and its shareholders. I will leave the reason for you to research. Call it a homework assignment for you, since you are desperately in need of more education.

      Reply · Like · Edited · March 21 at 10:07pm
    • Joseph Aspler · Top Commenter · Montreal, Quebec

      Suzy Kiepprien Then you also say, “The PQ has 3 muslims, one Jew and one Black on its team”.Funny that – my outgoing (liberal) MNA is Black.And wow – the PQ has one Jewish candidate. I grew up in the 60s, where we learned all about token representation.So the PQ has a single Jewish candidate? Big deal, when 95% of the Jewish community will vote NO to the separatists, as always.
      Reply · Like · March 21 at 10:17pm
  • Christopher Randle · Top Commenter · My Dawson College

    There is no place for people with views like that in a public office.
    Does it sound like secularism to you? it is not turbans or kippahs we should be worried about, but people like this. Which of course is what the PQ are made up of.
  • Mara Campagnolo · Top Commenter

    Yes she is but, she must also face the consequences of her actions which call for an immediate dismissal. Mme Marois is obviously unfit to command the helm for a good leader would have immediately denounced Mailloux’s deranged and racist rants and given her the boot.
  • Joseph Aspler · Top Commenter · Montreal, Quebec

    Louise Mailloux may be entitled to what Robert O’Brien calls “free speech”. But the price of her “free speech” is the scorn and contempt that she receives when she chooses to repeat lies and slander invented by others.You are allowed to believe that the earth is flat. But a Flat Earther is not allowed to complain that he can’t get a job as a Professor of Astronomy as a major university.And if you are running for a major political party that claims (with all evidence to the contrary) to be “all-inclusive”, then you had better be prepared for the backlash that occurs when your party’s claim to be oh-so-tolerant turns out to be rubbish.
  • Italo Camerino · Top Commenter · University of Life

    Outright lies should never be defended.

Has Anti-semitism Become Politically Correct?

bds bigotry double standards -bigotry “Anti-semitism”, has it become politically correct? Over the weekend I had the opportunity to speak about anti-semitism, BDS, Jews and Israel at the  Freedom Talk Conference in Edmonton.

Here is what I said:

I am a Hungarian born Jew who was born into the post Holocaust world.  I did not grow up with any overt anti-semitism in Montreal. Many of us thought that sharing what had happened in Europe during World War ll, would immunize  well meaning persons everywhere against the scourge of anti-Semitism, indiscriminate attacks against Jews for the sole reason that they were Jews or desendants of Jews. However, reports from all quarters of the world includng Canada report that antisemitism – prejudice and gratuitous assaults against Jews because they are Jews has returned with a vengeance. Here is a link to a report on antisemitic resurgence in Europe from an EU committee that has prepared data on this subject.

Of course, it’s impossible to have a conversation  in the present time about anti-semitism without mentioning Israel, and the Israel/Palestine conflict which has always been also an Arab/Jewish conflict.I would agree that  it is hardly anti-semitic to criticize policies between Israel and the Palestinians, or even to pressure the Israelis. However It becomes anti-semitic, when facts are distorted, problems elsewhere are simply ignored, and Israel alone is singled out to be chastised.

The record of the United Nations vis-a-vis Israel amply demonstrates this disparate and disproportional criticism. About 3/4 of all the resolutions taken up by the general assembly have condemned Israel. in spite of many other and more serious human rights violators such as China, Korea, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and the list goes on and on.

UN Watch was created to monitor this anti-Jewish, anti-Israel bias and below is  a link to the latest example posted by UN Watch.


Moreover, It was a  UN UNESCO conference  in Durban 2001, on human rights, that singled out Israel and Israel alone for human rights violations, and coined the term “zionism is racism”. This goes along with calling Israel a genocidal entity, picturing Israel as a greedy Jew with a hooked nose in cartoons gobbling up Palestinians as was noted recently in “The Economist”.

You may have also heard about the BDS movement, – Boycotts Divestment and Sanctions – proposed against Israeli by Palestinians and  supported by left wing academics, human rights NGOs like Oxfam,  some churches and now the  European Union which really should know better. The BDS movement proposes that “since Israel Is an “apartheid” state practicing “racist” policies the whole world should boycott Israeli academics, Israeli artists and  Israeli industry. Anyone aware of history could easily expose that Israel does not practice apartheid as it was spelled out in South Africa and that Israel is not and has never been racist.  But how do you defend yourself against these “wifebeating” charges?

Every year in the guise of a “conference” the pro Palestinian factions organize a one week BDS conference on campuses all over the US and Canada, espousing their one sided narratives demonizing Israel as an apartheid state and promoting the BDS (Boycotts Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel. I have attended  these conferences where those opposing these ideas are booed and hissed. Even when these resolutions fail to pass, as they usually do, the battle itself counts as a success for Israel’s enemies, as the Jewish state assumes a cumulatively negative image in the public mind. The influence-makers of tomorrow on campuses today are likely to graduate with the idea that Israel is a rogue, or at least quasi-rogue, nation. Students must actively seek out objective information if they wish to approach Israel with an open mind.

Recently Oxfam was “appalled” that Scarlett Johannsen who has been one of their ambassadors, became a spokesman  for Soda Stream, a successful Israeli enterprise on the West Bank that actually provides jobs to Palestinians. She chose to resign rather than withdraw from her support of Israel and Soda Stream. You can see here  to what degree Oxfam assumes that their attitudes toward Israel is the only true one  and the one which has beome “politically correct”.

We can also see the extent to which anti-Israel feeling has become politically correct in the responses to Harper’s visit to Israel in Canada in the left wing Canadian media. Many were “shocked and disappointed” by Harper’s support of Israel asking whether his stance was “balanced”. Steven Harper  is the only world leader who has grasped the insidious nature of the Arab hatred of Jews, and how that hatred and demonization is what is actually maintaining a state of war between Israel and the Arab population: a hostility that Israel has been contending with since its inception during the war of 1948 and 1967 and which is a threat which continues to manifest in Irans’ nuclear ambitions,, and the degree to which Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, fuelled by Islamic fundamentalists,  refuse to recognize any Jewish connection to the Holy land, threaten Israel’s very existence, and continue to be supported by the left wing human rights mafia.

Fortunately the academic left leaning world is an ivory tower and Israel enjoys amazing support across the board from average Americans and Canadians like yourself who understand her plight and are not taken in by this perfidious and increasingly “politically correct” propaganda machine.

Israel, Jewish organizations, Jews and non-Jews, have taken up the challenge to expose and educate regarding this new anti-semitism. I refer you to several organizations that you can access over the internet that were created to expose the bias of the UN, left wing academia, and the anti-semitism that has infected the dialogue regarding Israel in the Middle East.

CIJR Canadian Institute for Jewish Studies
ISGAP Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy
SPME Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
MEMRI Middle East Media Research Institute

As well as individual journalists, scholars, and observors, who have spoken out, like the Winnipeg  born scholar Catherine Chatterley, the historian Andrew Roberts, The Washington Post journalist, Bret StephensRobert Wistrich, Jonathon Goldhagen, David Nirenberg, and  even some of my own blogs which have focused on exposing these trends.

Footnote:  3/8/2014
Today I discovered on the internet a study by University of Warsaw regarding the current state of antisemitism in Ploand: Anti-semitism, The Indelible Stain. It bears out the notion I discovered in two recent books about anti-semitism that anti-semitism has very little to do with Jews and that it can exist even more virulently in places where there are no Jews: Poland since World War ll is virtually Judenrein or Jew-free.

The two important new books on the subject are: The Devil that Never Dies by Jonathon Goldahagen. And the other new book is Anti-Judaism by David Nirenberg.

The above links are to two excellent reviews of these books which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to understand “why Anti-semitism? and Why the Jews?”.