A win over hate took place this week as an anti-Jewish group announced it was disbanding. For nearly a decade, FSWC and its friends in the gay community countered a hateful group called "Queers Against Israeli Apartheid" (QUAIA) - an oxymoron of a name as Israel is the only free nation in the Middle East for homosexuals.
Among several reasons for disbanding, the group finally recognized its hypocrisy citing "the deteriorating situation in the Middle East." The group nearly destroyed Toronto's Pride Parade by putting the City of Toronto's funding in jeopardy over discrimination charges by FSWC and community activists like my good friend, Martin Gladstone.
In the end, they realized their argument had little merit or truth and that their enemies are the very same people who would destroy Israel and freedom in an instant. Last year, FSWC's Tour for Humanity joined the Pride parade to demonstrate the human rights that the Jewish community espouses and the good will it spreads.
QUAIA is gone, but FSWC and its advocates are still here - resilient as ever. Coincidentally, this week our "Whiskey Group" hosted Richard Warman, a lawyer active in human rights, for a closed discussion about hate groups. In his case, it was about neo-Nazi white supremacists. After years of legal action against them, they too are in disarray in Canada.
The fight against antisemitism however, is far from over. On Tuesday Canadians learned of direct and violent threats made against several residents of a Montreal neighborhood, who were horrified to find their cars covered in red swastikas; envelopes containing threats and bullets were left on top of five vehicles in the parking lot of their apartment building.
Late last week, virulent anti-Jewish hate literature was found at Toronto's George Brown College. Pamphlets describing a global Jewish conspiracy, including text from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, were distributed across the college grounds. This is not the first time this antisemitic hate literature has been promoted at George Brown.
Antisemitism on our university campuses is increasing by leaps and bounds daily. Students no longer feel safe and secure on several campuses. This week, I met with police officials to discuss filing hate crimes charges or activating an investigation, at the very least.
This week, the House of Commons once again debated and condemned antisemitism, unanimously passing a motion. I am not convinced either was necessary. What is necessary is action and support of initiatives that counter antisemitism.
We are pleased that the Minister for Multiculturalism and Defence lauded Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for its fine work in combating antisemitism through education.
Nice words, and a noble goal. However, coming in the same week as the above noted incidents, and four and a half years after the release of the Final Report of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, I believe the time for inspirational speeches is over. It is no longer adequate for our elected officials to simply debate this issue and send out press releases. The reality is that we have moved beyond the talking phase; real world events have overtaken us.
If there is genuine concern, Parliamentarians have a responsibility to fund and support programs designed to combat antisemitism like the Tour for Humanity, tolerance training workshops, high level missions to Auschwitz to counter the narrative of Holocaust denial, and scholarships promoting academic research into antisemitism and the Holocaust.
The burden of countering antisemitism and defending Canadian values of democracy and human rights can no longer be allowed to rest with individual, mostly Jewish, donors. Countering antisemitism is about defending human rights and is, therefore, everyone's responsibility. Genuine and tangible action must be taken immediately if we are to avoid the appalling realities faced by Jewish communities in Europe today.