Antisemitism: Rational or Irrational?

Antisemitism has been at times likened to a disease or a mutating virus.israel apartheid dry bones

Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Laureate and Auschwitz survivor, made the remark, “The world has changed in the last 2,000 years, and only antisemitism has remained … The only disease that has not found its cure is antisemitism.” (1)

Where does antisemitism come from and why? Is antisemitism rational or  irrational. This is the sixty four million dollar question and the answer is: – “it is both rational and irrational”.

The Goals and Purpose of Antisemitism

To the propagators  of antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, antisemitism is understood to be a powerful psychological weapon in the interest of national policy.This is very rational and goal directed. Both Hitler and the current day jihadists/Palestinians, understand this very well. Hermann Rauschning, who claimed to be Hitler’s ‘confidant’, said in the mid-1930s:

“Anti-Semitism … was beyond question the most important weapon in [Hitler’s] propagandist arsenal, and almost everywhere it was of deadly efficiency. That was why he had allowed Streicher, for example, a free hand. The man’s stuff, too, was amusing, and very cleverly done. Wherever, he wondered, did Streicher get his constant supply of new material? He, Hitler, was simply on thorns to see each new issue of the Stürmer. It was the one periodical that he always read with pleasure, from the first page to the last”.[10]

 

And now here is the deceptive and irrational part exemplified by deceptive books and newspapers, such as the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Hitlers’ Mein Kampf (which was largely based on the previous book and Der Sturmer, the antisemitic German newspaper which began its publication in Germany in 1924. I quote from wikipedia: 

“Beginning in 1924, Streicher used Der Stürmer as a mouthpiece not only for general antisemitic attacks, but for calculated smear campaigns against specific Jews…Streicher orchestrated his early campaigns against Jews to make the most extreme possible claims, short of violating a law that might get the paper shut down. He insisted in the pages of his newspaper that the Jews had caused the worldwide Depression, and were responsible for the crippling unemployment and inflation which afflicted Germany during the 1920s. He claimed that Jews were white-slavers and were responsible for over 90 percent of the prostitutes in the country. Real unsolved killings in Germany, especially of children or women, were often confidently explained in the pages of Der Stürmer as cases of “Jewish ritual murder.”

One of Streicher’s constant themes was the sexual violation of ethnically German women by Jews, a subject which served as an excuse to publish semi-pornographic tracts and images detailing degrading sexual acts. These “essays” proved an especially appealing feature of the paper for young men. With the help of his notorious cartoonist, Phillip “Fips” Rupprecht, Streicher published image after image of Jewish stereotypes and sexually-charged encounters. His portrayal of Jews as subhuman and evil is widely considered to have played a critical role in the dehumanization and marginalization of the Jewish minority in the eyes of common Germans – creating the necessary conditions for the later perpetration of the Holocaust.”

Although Julius Streicher was able to escape the consequences of his writing during Nazi times. (He was frequently sued for libel but manged to evade guilty verdicts): in 1945 he was one of the nine Nazis tried and found guilty by the Nuremberg Tribunal. Julius Streicher was one of the nine Nazis who were convicted  for “Crimes against Humanity.” and died on the gallows.

Joshua Muravchik in his book “Making David into Goliath” documents the pro-Palestinian leanings of the EU. Is this political stance rational or irrational? Joshua Muravchik points to the policy of appeasement of Palestinian hijackers by European states in the wake of Palestinian terror attacks such as the plane hijackings which were so ubiquitous in the 1960’s and the Munich Olympics terror attack in 1973.

In an interview based on his book Joshua Muravchik  notes:

We know that several European governments made quiet deals with the Palestinians to keep the violence off their soil. One barometer of this was that in virtually every case – and there were dozens – where the perpetrators were taken into custody after a hijacking or terror act, they were soon released. This was sometimes in exchange for other hostages who had been seized by the terrorists and sometimes as part of some other diplomatic deal. This was a measure of how much governments, particularly European governments, didn’t want to be embroiled in a conflict with these groups and were inclined to make concessions to keep things quiet.

Thus for policy reasons, European nations have turned a blind eye towards the anti-Israel terrorism on their own soil and on Israeli soil. Of course, this policy has come back to bite them big time. As many have noted “antisemitism may begin with the Jews but it never ends with the Jews.”

These are the Rational Purposes of Antisemitism: What about the Irrational Aspects? What about those ideas prevalent since the middle ages and into the present time, that Jews use human blood to create matza (unleavened bread) for Passover. Can any rational person believe this? And then there are the even more outlandish internet videos on youtube that spew lies about Jews and Israel the following is just a very abbreviated list:•  

 ARE THE JEWS ALIEN LIZARDS ? I thought it was a crazy idea until I studied it by Neo triestowarnyou 124,198 views 
 1:20:59

•    Where have the Rothschilds disappeared to? by The Bilzerian Report 1,373,332 views 
 21:03

•    Michael Collins Piper vs Eric Jon Phelps – The Great Debate: Zionists or Jesuits? by Reasonable Doubtt 28,625 views 
 1:26:06

•    Should the British stop tolerating intolerance? (The Big Questions, 15/6/14) by Islam & Islamicate 58:50

(By the way I have not watched all of these but any brief look  at the titles will advise you of the nature of the content.)

And then there are the conspiracy theory antisemites highlighted inthese kinds of videos.

•    The Protocols Of The Learned Elders Of Zion by ZeroSixtyFive 40,721 views 
 3:21:38

•    Evidence that The Protocols of Zion are Genuine, 1of4 by TheRapeOfJustice 10,258 views 
 14:57

But we have not yet talked about the most significant driver of antisemitism, the emotional psychological driver. It is well known that emotional arguments suffused with fear and anxiety have a powerful hold on individuals both children and adults and take precedence over critical thinking. The best example of this is the claim that “Jews murdered Jesus”. This calumny is what motivated Christian antisemitic pogroms as it was promoted by the Christian church to the masses who then felt justified in hating and murdering Jews through many centuries of Christian church influence.

 

Antisemitism/Islamic Jihad/Do they have anything in common

Antisemitism/Islamic Jihad – Do they have anything in common?  And are they equally important? Prof. Gunther Jikeli of Germany has just published a book on his research of antisemitism among Muslims in Europe today.

Jikeli bookThe first graph below based on research by Fondapol surveyed Muslim populations and non-Muslim populations living in Europe. They were asked to agree or disagree with the following statements:

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.01.37 AMThe above graph measure what percentage of the population that self identifies as Muslim, or members of far left or far right organizations agree with each of these questions.  What do you think about the above statements? Do you agree with any of them?  Do you agree with the first question – “The Jews use today their status of victim-hood of the Nazi genocide during the second world war for their own interest?” According to the graph 40% of the European population whether Muslim far right or far left, agree with this statement. Do you agree with this statement? What about the second statement: 2. “The Jews have too much power in the economy and the financial world”?: What about the third statement 3 – “The Jews have too much power in the media?”. What about the fourth statement 4 – “The Jews have too much power in politics?” What about the fifth statement 5 – “The Jews are responsible for the current economic crisis”? What about the sixth statement 6 – There is a Zionist conspiracy on a global scale?”

And what about these questions: Are Jews evil? Are Zionists trying to take over the world?  Do Jews deserve to be attacked? Did they deserve to be attacked in Nazi Germany? What about Israelis? Are they any more criminal or evil than anyone else?

Perhaps you are among those, whether you are Muslim or not, who do not agree with these statements. Are you represented above or below the yellow line in the graph?  The line measures  the percentage of antisemitic ideas among those people who do not self identify as part of either the far left or the far right in Europe. Their agreement with the above statements  varies widely from 35 % of the population to 6% of the population polled depending on the individual question. In this way the graph examines the not always obvious beliefs about Jews in the general European population whether they are Muslims or not, whether they are members of the far left or the far right. The highest number, 35% of the European population believe that, “The Jews use today their status of victim-hood of the Nazi genocide during the second world war for their own interest?”. This is a sickening statistic attesting to the underlying antisemitic notions of the European public and attests to the lack of understanding of many in Europe that the systematic murder of six million Jews was not just another atrocity but a rupture of civilization. How did professors, philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, professionals, and the common man, acquiesce to the Nazi program of expulsion and murder of their Jewish compatriots, and so many other Jews just because they were born Jewish.

By now everyone knows that the sacred texts of Islam, the Koran and the Hadith are chock full of commands to hate the Jews because they are such evil people and cursed by Allah. The Jikeli research additionally offers evidence against the commonly held belief that social class, discrimination, and similar factors play a role in Muslim antisemitism. It is rather that the level of antisemitism rises with the level of religiosity and fundamentalist interpretations of Islam.(reference)

Moreover, anti-zionism, anti-Israel propaganda is also part of the ideology of Islamic Jihad. and more and more outrageous ideas about Israel and Jews are propagated every day by the Islamic world. Have you heard that Israel is the creator of Islamic Jihad? An article by Manfred Gerstenfeld exposes these outlandish ideas that are daily propagated by Islamic scholars.

 

Although Muslims are most prominent in their assent to these antisemitic tropes or lies about Jews, Europeans – on the far right and the far left are not far behind.

violent acts by whom 2015-12-16 at 9.57.49 AM

Where does European non-Muslim antisemitism come from? Again Manfred Gerstenfeld reminds us:

This idea of Jews being absolute evil is ensconced in history. Christianity has long promoted it by saying that the Jews were eternally responsible for killing the “son of god.” This was in their view the worst imaginable act. In his book, The Devil and the Jews, Joshua Trachtenberg wrote that medieval Christendom perceived the Jew as “sorcerer, murderer, cannibal, poisoner, blasphemer.”[13]

 

As you can see from this graph, some of them are Muslims, some are identified as belonging to the far right/Nazi parties and most are not identified. This exposes the lack of attention paid to these antisemitic violent crimes by the authorities and the public.

Sadly, anti-zionist, anti-Israel Muslim forces, often those advocating on behalf of Palestinian refugees, have long been active in poisoning the minds of  European/western students about Israel as well.  On many universities in Europe and in North America, Israel is equated with the Nazi state and with Apartheid South Africa, and similar calumnies, such as the IDF harvesting organs for trafficking and murdering babies.

The acceptance of such antisemitic ideas among Europeans, whether Muslim or not, is highlighted by the popularity of Dieudonne M’bala M’bala. Below are two slides created by Prof. Jikeli to illustrate this point.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.40.15 AMScreen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.40.59 AM

 

And just as any bully will only be strong if no one stands up to him, the silent acquiescence to antisemitic ideas by the general public has greatly emboldened the anti-semites and the jihadists and resulted in a massive increase in hostile antisemitic actions.

Antisemitism has greatly increased in France since the year 2000 as most people have stood idly by and refused to name the beast whether it comes from Muslims or non-Muslims. And this has resulted in a massive and increasing exodus of Jewish families from France where they feel unsafe. The increase in antisemitic acts and antisemitic violence is documented below.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 9.36.01 AMHowever antisemitism is only one strand of the anti-infidel Islamic jihad ideology. And these supremacist false Islamic ideas currently threaten the fabric of all European and non-European western democratic nations as can be seen by the recent indiscriminate attacks in France, Spain, Belgium, England, Australia, Canada and the United States.

The picture below documents the recent attackers of innocent civilians in a cafe, in a concert hall etc.of which I am sure you are all well aware.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 1.24.53 AM

The immorality, prejudice, and violent acts of the anti-semites and the jihadists have to be exposed, condemned, and prosecuted both by individuals, the media, and the state, if Europe is to make any headway in its current struggle with Islamic jihad and antisemitism. We all have to clearly understand what is antisemitism, what is Islamic jihad, and we must expose these and any other  pernicious political currents that promote violence as a tool for change.

If you want to see the insidious workings of these forces in the world for yourself  watch this report on a notorious U.N. human rights official Alfred de Zayas — a hero to Holocaust deniers — for his new essay absurdly blaming the Paris terrorist attacks on America, the West and Israel.

Are these ideologies important to understand? Yes indeed, for the sake of all humanity. If we don’t open our eyes, face these issues, and do our part, we are all doomed.

And here is a video of the seminar by Professor Jikeli that I participated in at McGill that this essay is based on:

 

 

Muslim Antisemitism: Rational or Irrational Enmity?

January 2015 has been a tough month for Europe and for Jews.

January brought us the Charlie Hebdo murders and the Paris Kosher Market murders. January 26th marks the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. What have we learned in the interim between the systematic murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis and their Hungarian, Polish, Austrian, French, Belgian and Dutch collaborators? And What to make of the resurgence of Jew hatred in current times all over Europe, and Jew hatred in the Middle East which continues to threaten Israel and its inhabitants?

Just a few days ago Professor Mordechai Kedar of BESA the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies gave a seminar at McGill on the roots of Islamic hatred of Christians and Jews which goes back to the origins of Islam, the teachings of Mohammad in 609 AD. the very founding of Islam.

He explained that Mohammed borrowed extensively from the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians but when this was pointed out to him by Christians and Jews, he attacked them for the denial of his message. And further made the claim that only his, Muhammed’s message was the true one. The scriptures of the Jews and Christians were deception and void. A very convenient self serving doctrine which he followed up with murder of Jews and Christians, and with an insincere truce, followed subsequently by additional murders and forced conversions by the sword. This can be verified by any Islamic scholar or wikipedia.

The conflict between Shia and Sunni also goes back to the founding of Islam and the conflict over the succession to Mohammed. This continues to be the driving division between Sunni and Shia, each one calling the other “infidel”.

As Professor Kedar pointed out Muslims have a different view of history, and different values than those that have developed in the western democracies. I.e. their concept of peace is “the peace of Sharia”, and no compromise with other religions or cultures can be envisioned. This is a hard lesson to accept but it has to be faced if we are to understand the current state of conflict in the middle East between between Islam and the West, between Shia and Sunni, and between Islam and Israel which sees itself as a democratic but Jewish state.

In addition, to the anti-infidel hatred of Muslims, the hatreds of Nazi Germany in the twentieth century found fertile ears among the Arabs, specially the Mufti of Jerusalem. Professor Kedar in his talk, spoke about the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It has become a popular book in the middle east all over the Arab world. Apparently, no one has told them that this was a forged anti-semitic document published by the Russians; It was even one of the documents that the New Library of Alexandria, in recent times, chose as one of the two most important books representative of Jews and Judaism. (Until the Israel ambassador intervened when the library was opened.)

If you have never heard of the 

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

I quote from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

“The Protocols is a fabricated document purporting to be factual. Textual evidence shows that it was transcribed by a speaker of Ukrainian and could not have been produced prior to 1901…”

And it’s forgery was already uncovered in 1921:

“The Protocols is one of the best-known and most-discussed examples of literary forgery, with analysis and proof of its fraudulent origin going as far back as 1921.[9] The forgery is an early example of “conspiracy theory” literature.[10] Written mainly in the first person plural,[a] the text includes generalizations, truisms and platitudes on how to take over the world: take control of the media and the financial institutions, change the traditional social order, etc. It does not contain specifics.[12]”

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other similar books such as Mein Kampf written by Hitler himself formalized the rampant antisemitism and made it sound ratuonal. It formed the basis of the irrational Jew hatred which lay behind the genocidal murder of at least six million Jews for the sole reason that they were “Jews” as identified by the Nazis. It’s publication has been banned in many countries due to its libelous nature.

This fraudulent book is considered to be G-d’s truth in the Arab World as evidenced by the many publications and republications. Some of the covers are reproduced here:     

 

Alongside other anti-semitic publications:

 

In addition one can find hundreds of videos on youtube espousing  conspiracy theories regarding Jews, Israel, Judaism and its supposedly demonic aims. One wonders who is the audience for these videos?

As unpleasant as this is, it has to be faced if anyone wants to understand the sources of anti-Jewish  and anti-israel sentiment in the Muslim world and even in the non-Muslim anti-Jewish ranks.

Sadly few Western pundits or journalists basing their ideas on “rational actors” and supposed “facts” has faced this dark truth about Islam and European antisemitism.

Fortunately most Europeans and Americans are aware of the deceptions involved in antisemitic tropes although many don’t understand how these tropes infiltrate anti-Israel attitudes and dogmas such as the Israel/apartheid calumny.

And Of course one always wonders how the theory accords with what actually exists on the ground in Islamic communities.  But now we have the cold hard facts about how Islamic communities on the ground think and feel. An extensive  Pew report on the views of Islamic people in different countries was just published:

The evidence is that the middle east where Islam is already the law of the land, are most supportive of Islam and sharia Islamic law.

“Indeed, the survey finds that support for making sharia the law of the land is often higher in countries where the constitution or basic laws already favor Islam over other religions.2 Majorities in such countries say sharia should be enshrined as official law, including at least nine-in-ten Muslims in Afghanistan (99%) and Iraq (91%). By comparison, in countries where Islam is not legally favored, roughly a third or fewer Muslims say sharia should be the law of the land. Support is especially low in Kazakhstan (10%) and Azerbaijan 8%).3

I think this means that there are differences among Islamic communities in different parts of the world but we have to be aware of what the terms and ideas are in order to understand how to deal with them.

Open Letter to the Students of Concordia re: CUTV

Open Letter to the Students of Concordia re: CUTV

My name is Abigail Hirsch. I have been an active volunteer at CUTV (Concordia University Television) prior to it’s current management team for two years, and I would like to share a number of my concerns with you.

CUTV as you know is funded by your student association fees, which you are required to make, and will soon be voting to increase. It therefore follows, that the station funded as it is by the entire student body, should represent that student body fairly and honestly, without becoming divisive or discriminating.

This policy has changed since September 2010 when Laith Marouf became the new programming manager of CUTV.  How has he acted?

First, he has taken a leadership role at the Israel-Apartheid movement since many years, and the CUTV programming now reflects his anti-Israel bias.

Second, he has been censured for unethical reporting by the McGill radio station, ‘The Olive Tree’ where he was the executive producer. He was asked to retract a baseless claim, which alleged that Israel had been involved in the Abu Graib scandal in Iraq. His retraction was made evasively and without contrite honesty.

Anti-Israel Programmer Suspended by Montreal Campus Radio (April 20, 2010)
CKUT Radio suspends “Under the Olive Tree” programmer Tariq Jeeroburkhan following HRC member’s complaints.

Third, since his tenure at CUTV, they have posted to youtube a news piece in which Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, writer and Nobel Prize winner, was characterized as a “war crimes apologist”.

And here are the comments that I posted to CUTV that Laith Marouf found objectionable.

“Israeli war crimes apologist? Elie Wiesel? Now that’s a kangaroo court.

I disagree with the CUTV being shut out of the media, however it is clear from this interview that CUTV is biased and not listening to Mr. Wiesel at all.

Is the interviewer aware that not everypne agrees with his assumption that Israel is guilty of oppression and war crimes.

For anyone who is truly interested in Israel/Palestine, two courses are offered for credit at Concordia: Contact CIJR 514-486-5544.”

What is most distressing however is what I found out when I approached the campus ombudsman about this situation. I learned that the Concordia Students Association is actually a legal union of workers governed by the laws of union in Quebec and is outside the authority of the Concordia Academic Apparatus. It is for this reason that the Student Association is able to function with impunity based on the funding of your student fees which go directly to the student union which then manages a rather large budget.

It is time to decide how much longer your news should be reported with bias and rancor. I feel certain that you are strongly against biased and  dishonest reporting and biased management. Is Laith Marouf the kind of person that you entrust with media leadership? Is Mr. Marouf your choice of station manager? Is CUTV deserving of your student dollars and financial support

I hope you will inform yourself accurately about this situation so that when it comes time to vote again you will be able to do so with clarity and enlightenment.

Sincerely,
Abigail Hirsch
Former volunteer at CUTV
Concordia student

The above letter was sent to the student paper and I don’t believe was ever published. The student paper is also funded by the student association fees. The letter was published here on my website: November 28, 2011. I am republishing it now with the addendum below which can act as a smoking gun for Students at Concordia. (Isn’t it wonderful that nothing disappears on the WEB.) I am publishing it in wake of the recent vote to approve the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) re Israel academics by the CSA (Concordia Student Association) which I believe is highly unrepresentative of the Concordia Student body, (all of the votes re BDS were submitted and concluded on Friday evenings or Jewish holidays). A CSA, a Concordia Student Association which functions with impunity under the aegis of the Quebec law of workers unions, which is funded by a compulsory student fee and which apparently continues to be monopolized by the Pro-Palestinian mafia that demonizes Israel in its Israel/apartheid conferences etc.

I am publishing here my own research regarding Laith Marouf and CUTV and CKUT in 2011

Here are links re Laith Marouf that are worth looking at because it shows the entire infiltration by student councillors of the Student Council that is funded by student fees.

Anti-Israel Programmer Suspended by Montreal Campus Radio (April 20, 2010)
CKUT Radio suspends “Under the Olive Tree” programmer Tariq Jeeroburkhan following HRC member’s complaints.
http://www.honestreporting.ca/news_article_name/49578uothostsuspended.aspx

Montreal Campus Radio Reprimands Anti-Israel Program (March 26, 2010)
A CKUT Radio program that lent credence to bizarre claims of Israeli culpability for the notorious 2004 Iraqi prisoner abuse atrocities
http://www.honestreporting.ca/news_article_name/radioreprimand45965.aspx

Montreal Campus Radio Blames Israel for Abu Ghraib Prisoner Atrocities (January 26, 2010)
A CKUT Radio McGill program lent credence to bizarre claims of Israeli culpability for the notorious 2004 Iraqi prisoner abuse atrocities at Abu Ghraib without any supporting evidence.
http://www.honestreporting.ca/news_article_name/58420CKUTAbughraib.aspx

For other links about his problematic past, simply type “Laith Marouf” in Google and you’ll get plenty of articles:

and here are additional information of the workings of the Concordia Student Union

2001 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents

“English-Language Universities
In September 2001, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) published an Agenda entitled Uprising, which accuses Israel of being involved in “state terror that has killed civilian men, women, and children whose only ‘crime’ is their nationality”. The CSU-produced Uprising goes one step further with an article by Laith Marouf that insinuated that “the ‘Jewish’ Rector knows how much money the university owes to Zionists”, and accused the Concordia administration of being Arabophobic.

Earlier in the year, Mr. Marouf, a foreign national from Syria who was in Canada on a student visa, is alleged to have harassed and intimidated the editor of a Concordia University newspaper and her staff, by alluding to their religion. He is also alleged to have stated in an undergraduate Political Science class in the winter semester of the 2000-2001 academic year, in front of all his peers and the professor, that the “Talmud obliges Jews to kill all non-Jews”.

Marouf, who was elected as a CSU student councilor in March 2001, was allegedly caught on two occasions scrawling graffiti on Concordia University property. One of these incidents relates to graffiti containing both anti-Jewish and anti-Israel diatribes, including “Stop Jewish Apartheid”, “End Jewish Occupation”, “Israel is a racist State”, and the Star of David being equated to a swastika. Similar anti-Jewish and anti-Israel graffiti was scrawled by an unknown person or persons on the corners of eight sidewalks on St. Catherine Street not far from the York Theatre, stating “Stop Jewish apartheid” and “End Jewish supremacy”.
http://www.bnaibrith.ca/publications/audit2001/audit2001-02.html

Broken code
http://www.mcgilltribune.com/2.12361/broken-code-1.1637972

Jihad at ‘Gaza U’
http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/311

Calling all Students: PIRG, Tadamon, BDS, SPHR: Are they related?

israel apartheid dry bonesHave you ever heard of a PIRG? Have you ever heard of QPIRG or McGill PIRG? What about Tadamon? BDS? SPHR?

If you are a student, you no doubt have been recently challenged by a vote by the student councils of both McGill and Concordia University promoting a pro-Palestinian vote on BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel which have both been shelved for the present.

The PIRG movement was originally proposed in the book Action for a Change by Ralph Nader and Donald Ross, and materialized in the early 1970’s on U.S. college campuses starting with University of Minnesota. By the 1980’s, the PIRG movement caught fire in North America. Today, there are more than 200 PIRGs in the US and 20 in Canada.
However, the Canadian PIRG model has diverged sharply from its U.S. counterpart.
While most US PIRGs are state-based lobby and community action groups, Canadian PIRGs are almost entirely run on university campuses. US PIRGs focus primarily on issues related to environmental protection, child health and obesity prevention, closing corporate tax loopholes, increasing energy efficiency, health care reform, consumer protection, and public transit reform. However in Canada, this public interest research idea has become a cover for the most virulent anti-Israel demonization campaign on campuses throughout Canada otherwise known as Israel/apartheid week, a week dedicated to promoting the  BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) demonization of Israel on campus.

Sixteen of Canada’s 21 PIRGs are involved in funding, planning and/or executing Israel Apartheid Week on their campuses. “Wherever there is an anti-Israel event on campus, it is likely run by a so-called ‘Public Interest Research Group,’ or ‘PIRG,’ financed by students who have no idea how anti-Israel they are,” said Dr. Roy Eappen, assistant professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal. In fact, every Israel Apartheid Week held in Canada, except for Winnipeg’s and New Brunswick’s, received funding from a PIRG last year.

All Canadian PIRGs provide discretionary funding to dozens of working groups and events that speak out against Israel. QPIRG McGill and Concordia’s most up-to-date list includes a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Conference which took place in October 2010 in Montreal, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-Concordia, a “Remember Gaza” event, and many others. They will tell you that they also fund other worthy causes. I will get back to this later.

University of Regina’s PIRG, actively supports BDS, describing itself as a group of students “committed to showing support to the people of Palestine by answering the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society call for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel”. The PIRG at the University of Lethbridge, in Western Canada, recently screened documentaries by Concordia film professor Mary Ellen Davis that denounced “the occupation” and hosted an event with the author of Building Apartheid, a book described by LPIRG as “a critical primer about Canada’s ties to Israel that suggests Canadian complicity in the 20th and 21st century colonialism, dispossession, and war crimes.”

Tadamon is another Pro-Palestinian Montreal group connected with Concordia and funded by QPIRG, Tadamon claims in its mission statement that they “recognize that the colonization of Palestine has, from its inception, been connected to Western European aspirations to dominate the entire ‘Middle East,’ and oppose the apartheid policies of Israel and endorse the July 2005 call by Palestinian civil society organizations for an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. According to QPIRG’s (Quebec PIRG) annual report, Tadamon, receives the maximum allocation a PIRG is allowed to give to a working group ($2000.) This sum does not include the money QPIRG spent organizing Israel Apartheid Week at McGill last year. Those sums are listed under discretionary expenses and allocations to other supposedly worthy causes, such as LGBT, aboriginal issues, feminism. However if you analyze the platforms of these groups you will notice that they too are focused and  committed to BDS/QPIRG/Tadamon issues.

Tadamon, for example which supports the removal of Hezbollah from the Canadian government’s list of terror organizations, also supports  artists against apartheid campaign, as well as Queers Against Israeli Apartheid and of course Tadamon is a co-host  of Montreal’s Israel Apartheid Week in conjunction with QPIRG McGill and QPIRG Concordia.

Tadamon’s letter of thanks to QPIRG reads:“Because of QPIRG McGill, we have been able to actively work with students and student groups at McGill, such as SPHR (Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights) and the Political Action Working Group of Queer McGill.”

This begins to explain why queer organizations in Montreal and Toronto consistently parade against Israel, caliming that Israel is an “apartheid state” even while Israel is the only country in the Middle East that protects gay rights.

Now here is the dope on student funding of PIRGs. Canadian university-based PIRGs are funded by a fee  of $1-$5 per semester that is imposed on all students, meaning that some PIRGs get up to $300,000 per year. While at some universities, students can opt out of the fee, some PIRGs make it very difficult and guilt-inducing, requiring students to visit their headquarters where they are made to feel that if they opt out, that they don’t care about social and environmental justice,” said Jess Weiser, a 2011 McGill graduate who led the university’s QPIRG Opt-Out campaign. The McGill administration changed the system in 2007 to enable students to opt out of the fee anonymously and online.

McGill is not the only university that has acted to create an opt-out option.Opt-out committees, such as “StopNSPIRG.org” in Nova Scotia and “NOPIRG” in Ontario, encourage students to opt-out of these organizations because they fail to support the views of the majority, opting only to advocate for “marginalized” “leftist” causes like “anticolonialism”. OPIRG Queen’s in Kingston, Ontario, lost its fee of $4.36 per student after 62 per cent of voters in a February referendum voted for its removal. The organization is now defunct; its website has not been updated since the end of the Winter 2012 semester. (It is interesting to note that there was no Israel Apartheid Week 2012 held in Kingston, after having been held there in previous years). University of Western Ontario’s PIRG was shut down in 2008 due to its controversial positions on many issues. It had been the official sponsor of a number of pro-Palestinian speakers on campus. At McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, the use of the term “Israeli Apartheid” was banned, which caused an uproar from the OPIRG McMaster offices and the cessation of activities related to the delegitimization of Israel from that PIRG.

As noted above, These PIRG’s support advocacy for an anarchist, socialist political system, as is evident by the many events and organizations they sponsor: For example they compare the aboriginal issues in Canada with the Israel Palestine conflict, claiming that Canada too is an apartheid state that has “stolen aboriginal lands” in the same way that supposedly “Israel has stolen Palestinian land”. Although these ideas are totally bizarre and intellectually bankrupt, they manage to attract young students eager to be on the right side of traditional left wing liberal causes.

Fortunately students are getting wise to this scam. The McGill PIRG has been feeling the bite and has gone to the extent of writing the following article in the McGill Daily: The Anti-PIRG Campus Conservative Conspiracy.

The next struggle will be to educate the Concordia campus to institute an opt-out option.

Written by Abigail Hirsch, an educated observer of the campus scene

Researched by Alexandra Markus, a recent graduate of McGill University and second year medical student.

For anyone interested in pursuing these issues I am listing some relevant recent events connected to BDS.

British Architects Reverse Israel Boycott Motion, in Severe Blow to BDS Movement http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/12/05/british-architects-reverse-israel-boycott-motion-in-severe-blow-to-bds-movement/
Hating Jews at Berkeley http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/12/05/hating-jews-at-berkeley/

Crushing Labor Unions, and Other Harbingers of a Palestinian Dictatorshiphttp://www.algemeiner.com/2014/12/05/crushing-labor-unions-and-other-harbingers-of-a-palestinian-dictatorship/

This is an article from the Dean of a University: Martin Kramer
When the Middle East Studies Association Boycotts Israel:http://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/2014/12/when-the-middle-east-studies-association-boycotts-israel/

And for anyone who doubts that the left is ant-semitic, I suggest this article by Robert Wistrich, the foremost scholar in the field

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/judeophobia-and-marxism/

 

 

Anti-semitism? in the middle east?

Anti-semitism is a very unsexy subject. No one wants to be considered an anti-semite, a Jew hater; especially in the West. It is as unsexy as racism – taboo. So why has ISGAP, the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism, presented over 100 speakers on this subject and posted all of them to Vimeo?

To really understand the deep seated anti-semitism of the current leadership in the middle east I suggest that you watch one of the ISGAP speakers, Edwin Black’s recent talk for ISGAP speaking about his book: The Farhud: The Arab/Nazi alliance and its lasting effects.

He points out that the Arab Jew-hatred did not start with World War II, but preceded it, and the Farhud, the Arab governing organization of the time, allied with Hitler, whose need for oil coincided with the Nazi and Arab Arab desire to eliminate the Jews. Few people are aware that Palestinian Arabs fought alongside Hitler all over Europe and in the Middle East: while England pandering to the Arab presence blocked any Jewish immigration to the area then known as Palestine, now known as Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as well as the area currently known as the West Bank and Gaza. Edwin Black removes the veil of ignorance about a nasty and unpleasant topic, the anti-semitism of the Arab world from 1850 to the present, which we ignore at our peril. He has researched a book on the subject and here lectures about it to a University audience. After listening to this talk, you will never again be able to close your eyes to the anti-semitism that pervades the middle east today and you will understand why there is no peace there now, nor will there be peace in the near future as long as the current Islamic leadership persists in their anti-semitic, anti-Jewish beliefs that have been inculcated for years:

And this is not to say that Jews and Islam have never been able to co-exist or that all Muslims hate Jews just that the road to peace between Israel and its neighbors needs to address these issues head on and so do the do-gooders in the West.

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 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.

      THE ONLY RELIGION I ADMIRE IS ISLAM – Adolf Hitler

      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.

http://www.unwatch.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=bdKKISNqEmG&b=1317489&ct=13398889

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?”.

 

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-devil-that-never-dies-global-antisemitism-by-daniel-jonah-goldhagen/2013/11/07/6057b6fa-14b6-11e3-a100-66fa8fd9a50c_story.html

 

Lessons from Henry Morgentaler and Carlos de Soussa Mendes

Rabbi Kruger and Aristides de Sousa Mendes

Rabbi Chaim Kruger and
Aristides de Sousa Mendes, 1940

Yesterday, a full auditorium at the Jewish Public Library, in Montreal, watched the film about Aristide de Sousa Mendes, Disobedience, made for French television, and we all listened to the moving discussion by the panel, one of whom was Louis Philippe Mendes, the grandson of Aristide Sousa de Mendes, who grew up in and happens to live in Montreal.

This is how the movie, created by French television, is described in a recent post:

Joel Santoni’s powerful drama is a vivid retelling of the moving true story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul General stationed in Bordeaux, France, during World War II.  His government had issued strict orders to all its diplomats, in a document called Circular 14, to deny visas to Holocaust refugees seeking to escape Occupied Europe through Portugal.  Sousa Mendes defied these orders and issued Portuguese visas to an estimated 30,000 people in May and June of 1940 in an operation described by the Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer as “perhaps the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.” Sousa Mendes’ defiance of government’s order was harshly punished by Salazar, ally of Hitler, the dictator of neutral Portugal.

As Louis-Philippe reminded us last night: Aristides de Sousa Mendes’s act of conscience consisted in defying the direct orders of his government and exhibiting courage, moral rectitude, unselfishness, and self-sacrifice by issuing visas to all refugees regardless of nationality, race, religion or political opinions.

The movie shows how all of his heroic work was done over a period of several days with the help of his male secretary, and a certain Rabbi Kruger, pictured above from the archives of the Jewish Public Library, a man introduced by a letter from a friend who Aristide welcomed into his home along with his four daughters at that very time, and his eldest son. Aristide de Soussa Mendes was the father of 14 children and his mistress was also expecting at that very time.

What I really loved about this “you are there” movie recreation were the little vignettes that one witnesses such as the opening which starts with de Soussa Mendes conducting a small orchestra made up of his children playing a compostion by “me, Aristide de Soussa Mendes”: glimpses of his relationship with his wife, and his mistress, his relationship with his son, with Rabbi Kruger, with his loyal male secretary, and with his twin brother. The other reason that it is worth watching this movie is for the glimpse into the process of totalitarian power: the glimpse of how Salazar, the dictator of Portugal, thinks and acts, how he deals with “insubordinationan”, and glimpses of the others who carry out Salazar’s orders.

A moving and gripping story that is a lesson for all humanity and for all time.

The same day, I listened to the Gian Gomeshi interview with Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, son of the late abortion rights advocate Dr. Henry Morgentaler, following his father’s  recent death at the age of ninety.

The outpouring of interviews and reviews unleashed by the death of Dr. Henry Morgentaler, were intense and worldwide, but hearing about him from his son was special. As his son explained, Henry Morgentaler, grew up in Lodz, Poland, facing local antisemitism there, and then at the age of eighteen endured the Nazi invasion which led him and his family first to a ghetto and then being transported to Auschwitz. After losing both his parents and surviving a slave labour camp, Henry Morgentaler, arrived in Montreal, became a doctor, married and had children, and in the course of his work championed medical abortions for women in Quebec and Canada, at a time when the Church considered that sinful, and the laws of the land supported that stance. He went to jail more than once for upholding his values, and eventually won for women the legal  right to a safe, medical abortion in Canada.

Two stories that Abraham Morgentaler, the son, shared struck me as poignant. He shared a story from his childhood. He was perhaps nine year old at the time. He and his friends were arguing about who was the best hockey player in the world, “Rocket Richard or Richard Beliveau”. Eventually, all the kids ganged up on him: one kid said “we all believe that it’s Rocket Richard, so you are wrong!” He was telling his father about this when his father was putting him to bed, and he recalls his father saying very clearly, “It is possible for everyone in the world to say that you are wrong and for you still to be right.”

The other wonderful image was Gian Gomeshi asking Abraham Morgentaler, “What is your favorite memory of your father to which he responded that he would always remember his Dad, at family celebrations addressing the family, and then singing either a Yiddish song or one of his favorite Edith Piaf songs. And I am thinking perhaps, “Rien de rien, je ne regrette rien”?

Just to let you know that although, Aristides de Sousa Mendes died in poverty and struggling to clear his name, since the death of Salazar, his heirs have banded together with community members to share his story. You can read all about it on the site of the Sousa Mendes Foundation. The movie has been shown at many Jewish Film Festivals and private screenings. Currently, the movie can only be seen via arrangement with the Sousa Mendes Foundation.

The following appears on the website:

For information on hosting a film screening, please contact us at info@sousamendesfoundation.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing he would face harsh consequences for his actions, Sousa Mendes decided to act in accordance with the dictates of his conscience and Catholic faith.
For this adherence to his sense of humanity, Aristides de Sousa Mendes was rendered helpless in a society which no longer recognized his diplomatic status and forbade him from practicing law to earn a decent living and support his family. He spent the rest of his life pleading his case and being ignored time and again by the Portuguese dictator Salazar and his political machine.

 

The same day I heard
http://www.cbc.ca/q/2013/06/10/authenticity-and-politicians-willem-dafoe-henry-morgentalers-son/