A Word From Our Chair - We are forever changed

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Gail Adelson Marcovitz
|November 08, 2023
A Word From Our Chair | Gail Adelson-Marcovitz

On October 7, our Jewish world changed dramatically and forever with the unleashing of a horror so vile, so unimaginable, that none of us will ever be the same again 

 In these last four weeks we have all been further traumatized by the reactions and responses we have witnessed. Around the western world we have seen joyous celebrations of this indescribable inhumanity and calls for a worldwide intifada. We’ve seen posters of the hostages ripped down and shredded. We’ve seen a Nazi moustache added to the image of a three-year-old kidnapped toddler and the word hostage replaced with the word occupier, suggesting that the hostages themselves somehow deserved their fate.

In demonstrations, Palestinian supporters have chantedgas the Jews” and “keep the world clean.” At universities across North America, student groups have issued statements of support for Hamas, describing both the massacre and the hostage-taking as reasonable and acceptable “resistance.” Professors have selectively offered extra credit to those who attend pro-Palestinian rallies; and a group of demonstrators chased their fellow Jewish classmates into a campus library where they had run for safety, hearing them pounding on the doors 

We have seen a seemingly never-ending cesspool of antisemitism online across all social media platforms. And we watched as the UN refused to support an amendment to a resolution tabled by the Canadian government calling for a humanitarian pause that would have acknowledged the acts of terrorism committed by Hamas. 

What has become abundantly clear in the aftermath of the October 7th assaults is that this is not just a war focused on Israel. It’s hatespewed against Jews everywhere. Antisemitism has risen sharply the world over. And Jew-hate seems to be showing up everywhere. 

We are all reeling and horrified. We are anxious, and we are scared. This is not 1943, but it does feel eerily like 1933, with one fundamental difference: as a Jewish community, we are no longer powerless. We must change that trajectory, or risk suffering disastrous consequences to our democratic, tolerant, and diverse society.  

We continue to demand that our government support Israel’s right to defend its people and its borders. We continue to advocate to bring our hostages home and to ensure that Israel retains the support it needs to eliminate Hamas and free Israelis and Palestinians alike from their tyranny, the danger they pose and the obstacles they create that prevent dialogue and ultimately peace. 

If you haven’t already done so, please sign the Action Alert to keep up the pressure on politicians to continue to support Israel in a war we didn’t start or ask for and to continue to call for the release of the hostages 

We have renewed our efforts to have the federal government bring in their promised online hate legislation and will pursue our work with partners to see this much-needed bill finally tabled in our House of Commons. 

And we made added requests for additional funding for the increased security necessary to safeguard our institutions and synagogues during these turbulent dayswhich, we’re happy to report, the federal government has agreed to and announced on November 6, adding $5 million to their Security Infrastructure Program so we can protect and strengthen the security of our community centres and synagogues.  

We continue to work with university administrations in Canada to combat the rampant antisemitism permeating their institutions from student activists as well as from the podium, as academic circles and faculty unions regularly support a paradigm that equates Israel with settler-colonialism and Hamas violence with a struggle for social justice.  

Worried by the rise of antisemitism associated with the October 7 attacks, we recognized a need to use every legal tool available to combat it. That’s why CIJA and UJA created a Legal Rapid Response Team within CIJA’s Legal Task Force. With the objective of helping Jews facing antisemitism, we will use human rights law, labour and employment law, criminal law, tax law, and international law to ensure that members of professional organizations adhere to their ethical obligations.  

We will continue our efforts, which began at the Antisemitism: Face It, Fight It conference, to empower each of you to advocate for Israel and the Jewish people. Click here to download a toolkit containing helpful information for engaging in meaningful conversations with colleagues, associates, friends, and peers. 

We are all looking for constructive ways to direct our energy. At CIJA, we’ll continue to organize avenues to ensure support for Israel and the Jewish people.  

In the meantime:  

Speak out. Familiarize yourself with the history of the conflict and share the facts and alternate perspectives. Most people are inundated on social media with false narratives and statistics. Don’t let these assertions stand unchallenged. Concentrate your efforts on those in your circle who are not already polarized and who are willing to have respectful conversations. Use every opportunity that presents itself to open a dialogue, and remember to frame your comments or concerns in a productive way. Encourage friends and community allies to go on the record. 

Advocate. Share your perspective with your elected representatives at all levels of government. Ask for real action not just support!  

Ensure that they too be held accountable for the proliferation of fake news and propaganda. Proposals should be specific and actionable. For a list of MPs with their email addresses and templates of letters you can send click here.

Our resilience in these dark days should never be taken for granted, but it is in the power of the collective that we will find sustenance and renew our spirit to fight back!  

I know we all continue to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel. We stand for their right to defend themselves and their borders from attack. We remember the victims of these heinous assaults. We mourn together as a community and alongside their families and friends. We pray for the safety of the Israeli people and for the brave young soldiers who have dedicated their lives to protecting us all.  

We stand united in our grief, in our commitment to bring our hostages home, and in our insistence on upholding a moral code that respects the value of human life and abides by the laws of war. 

Am Yisrael Chai

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada | Le CIJA est l'agence représentative des Fédérations juives du Canada

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