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PMW credited by Canadian minister for change in understanding of Middle East - Canadian Jewish news
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TORONTO — When it comes to the persistence of anti-Semitism, even in Canada, the largely Jewish audience who came to hear Immigration Minister Jason Kenney recently on the topic did not need to be reminded of each jot and tittle of the phenomenon.

Still, the minister’s survey of the current state of Antisemitism touched a chord among the capacity crowd, as they responded with a standing ovation following his address.
Antisemitism, Kenney told a lunchtime audience at the offices of Bennett Jones LLP, is

“objectively the most durable and persistent form of hatred and should be of concern to all communities, especially those that face bigotry and hatred.”

“When it comes to hatred, Antisemitism is the canary in the coal mine.”

Speaking on “Antisemitism Globally and in Canada” at an event presented by the Speakers Action Group and the CanadianJewish Civil Rights Association, Kenney said there are historical consequences to Antisemitism and “the uniquely pernicious and durable hatred that is Antisemitism” should be explored, even to a Jewish audience.

Referring to the 1941 massacre at Babi Yar outside Kiev of 30,000 Jews by Nazi forces, Kenney said the killers mowed down their victims, even toddlers, indiscriminately. In Mumbai last year, terrorist targeted Chabad Lubavitch’s Nariman House. The centre is still filled with shrapnel, bullet holes, rubble and “evidence of torture” of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, Kenney said.

The terrorists specifically selected the nondescript Jewish facility in a city of 30 million, and they displayed the same sort of hatred that was present at Babi Yar. It was, he said, a new manifestation of the old Antisemitism.

Kenney took direct aim at those who hide their anti-Jewish bias behind the facade of anti-Zionism. While it’s true that not all anti-Zionists are Antisemites, “by and large anti-Zionists are not intellectually honest” when they focus exclusively on Jewish nationalism and ignore other nationalisms. They don’t oppose particular Israelis actions, they oppose the existence of the state itself, he said.

Turning to the Canadian scene, Kenney suggested Antisemitism occurs in universities, where Jewish students are chased down halls for daring to support Israel; at the Toronto International Film Festival, which a number of celebrities protested because of a twinning program with Tel Aviv; and in organizations that seek to remove Hamas and Hezbollah as designated terrorist groups.

Kenney said he once shared the view that “Israel is a bully in the Middle East” serving as a colonial outpost of the United States.

But his worldview changed dramatically after viewing a one-hour presentation by Palestinian Media Watch. It was “an eye-opener” that quoted Palestinian sources – imams, music videos, school texts, news reports – “that were chillingly, explicitly Antisemitic.”

With an election looming, Kenney took some partisan potshots, contrasting how the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper backed Israel during its 2006 war with Hezbollah – losing nine per cent in the polls as a result – and the statement by current Liberal Michael Ignatieff. Though he didn’t mention Ignatieff by name, he clearly was referring to him when he noted he said Israel was guilty of war crimes in Lebanon. (Ignatieff later backed away from that statement.)

Those are “profiles in leadership,” Kenney stated.

The Canadian government under Harper was the first to pull out of the Durban II, the recent follow-up to the UN’s world anti-racism conference; it joined an international Holocaust remembrance organization; it established an educational centre in Halifax harbour to commemorate the St. Louis, which was not permitted to land Jewish refugees fleeing Germany, and it has provided financial aid to communities to subsidize security measures, he said.

Antisemitism can be defeated by practical measures to bring people together, he continued, citing a Jewish/Somali mentorship program.
The antidote to hatred is personal experiences and avoiding social fracturing, he said.