The annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, is Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. It will mark eighty years since the Nazis began World War Two and marks the beginning of the end for six million Jews.
While it might seem obvious to say that the lessons of the Holocaust still need to be taught, it’s not easy to fight today’s anti-Semitism, wherever it may appear.
As a problem, anti-Semitism has risen all over the world, including Canada.
According to the recently released report from Statistics Canada, hate crimes against Jews have spiked 60 percent in 2017, making Jews the most targeted minority group in the country, two years in a row. In 2017, there were 360 hate crimes against Jews, while attacks against Muslims were second at 349. But these statistics as mere numbers alone can mislead.
According to the Center for Israel Jewish Affairs, there are nearly 400,000 Jews in Canada, while the National Household Survey says that the Muslim population of Canada was estimated at over a million. With those numbers in perspective, Jews are three times more likely to be attacked than Muslims. In no way am I justifying or minimizing the attacks on Muslims, but comparing equally each religion’s hate crimes doesn’t paint the full picture.
From Swastikas sprayed on homes to physical assaults to synagogue doors being stoned, there’s about a one in a 1,100 chance any given Jew in Canada, on any given day, will be a victim of hate.
In fact, weeks after the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in North America took place in Pittsburgh, four 17-year-old Jewish boys were victims of a hate crime attack in Toronto. They were physically assaulted by a group of 9 teenagers who were unknown to them. To add insult, law enforcement pretended the incident had nothing to do with hatred of a specific religion.
— John Tory (@TorontosMayor) November 12, 2018
This particular police report noted the victims were “wearing attire of their religious faith.” Which faith, precisely? Were they wearing Buddhist monk robes, clerical collars, turbans?
(Imagine if the Pittsburgh terror attack was described as “eleven people killed while praying in their house of worship.”)
One might forgive such silliness from a profession so clearly walking on politically correct eggshells, but our own prime minister couldn’t take seven seconds out of his busy day to condemn the attack until three days later:
We must be on constant guard against this troubling resurgence of antisemitism, here at home or anywhere else. We thank Toronto police for their work and send our full support to the young students affected. https://t.co/znISw5Ah14
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 14, 2018
Recall, this is the same Justin Trudeau who has spoken at Holocaust remembrance ceremonies and issued an apology for Canada’s turning away of the SS St. Louis, a shipload of 937 Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. But the anti-Semitism of today? Crickets.
So, what are we supposed to do when our government and various agencies of authority shrug and yawn? Well, we must demand they stop shrugging and yawning. Just as sure as it took individuals of a nation to opt into hatred, it requires individuals of a nation to opt-in to fight it. A single voice spurs a choir of voices.
Yes, condemn what happened to the St. Louis – as much as condemn Louis Farrakhan’s vileness. Anti-Semitism is alive and well with the Nation of Islam leader, who for decades has been comparing Jews to termites.
Words about yesterday are merely pomp and puffery unless today people clamour for the removal of newly-elected Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who said that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” These words should remain in the era of gas chambers, not in the US legislative Chambers.
That goes equally with any promotion of hate on Canadian soil – be it Queers Against Israeli Apartheid hijacking the Toronto Pride Parade, campus BDS movements, or the Al-Quds Day Rally at Queen’s Park. We must speak out; each of us. Since if we do not, we tacitly permit the virus of anti-Semitism to spread in all of its various forms.
Thank goodness we haven’t seen the hate-filled violence that Europe has experienced lately. But must we wait until things get really bad? Must we abdicate our moral action, until the camel’s back breaks?
Being the last generation to ever see Holocaust survivors face to face, we must reaffirm “never again”. Doing so means calling out anti-Semitic behaviour and speech in all its forms, coming from anywhere.
Because historically we know this: when good people stay silent, civilized nations begin crumbling.