Monday evening, thousands of Jewish community members gathered in Toronto for a rally and in Montreal for a vigil to demonstrate our united support for Israel following an unprecedented attack by Iran-backed Hamas. It was a barbaric, revolting, multi-pronged terror assault targeting innocent civilians, babies, children, women, and men. The latest reports are of at least 1200 Israelis dead with more than 2,700 injured and at least 100 people held hostage in Gaza.
It is simply unfathomable.
All weekend I was dazed and shocked, paralyzed as the news trickled in. Gradually, eye-witness accounts were shared, family members came forward, and, in an ultimate expression of inhumanity, Hamas itself released video footage of their depravity.
The sheer scale of death and destruction in Israel is hard to comprehend. But the magnitude is not the only measure. It is also the terrorists’ dehumanization of their victims and the sheer brutality as they looked them in the eye and murdered, or raped, abducted, and paraded them through Gaza.
And then, the additional blow of witnessing the celebrations of this depravity in Canadian streets as Palestinians and their supporters gathered to publicly glorify the barbaric cruelty of Hamas and justify their assault as “resistance.”
The violence infuriates and disgusts me. But it also renews my commitment to fight the evil scourge of antisemitism.
Make no mistake, while it was the blood of Israelis that was spilled this past weekend, it was Jews and indeed all people of goodwill who were the targets and victims of this heinous act perpetrated by Hamas. This was not only an attack on Israel. It was also an attempt to terrorize the entire Jewish community. It was part of an orchestrated campaign to wipe Jews off the map of the Middle East, and it was an attack on the shared values of Canadians and Israelis.
Our hearts break for the lives lost and the families shattered. We will remember them. We will honour them. We will fight for justice for them.
The despicable and inhumane actions of Iran-backed Hamas and its supporters cannot be tolerated and must be called out for what they are and punished – by the entire world community.
These brutal attacks cannot be justified by ANY provocation, real or imagined. Not by ‘occupation,’ not by ‘colonization,’ nor by any other artificial construct.
Memorials help us heal. Vigils like the one in Montreal and others in Toronto and elsewhere are necessary. Memory must be kept alive. But, to properly honour the victims of this tragedy, we must stand strong. We must stand united, in our support for the people and the land of Israel, for Israel’s right to exist, and for its absolute right to defend itself, its citizens, and its borders.
The words “never again” must be given real meaning, and, to borrow a phrase, Never is Now.
There is no territorial or cultural war that can justify the brutality we have witnessed. Videos of elderly women and children taken hostage are sickening. This is not resistance. This is terrorism. The actions of Hamas are so evil they defy explanation or reason. What we all saw was devoid of morals or decency.
And, as we watch that horror unfold from afar, glued to our screens and televisions, many of you want to know how you can help.
It starts with speaking up – making our voices heard with our governments, asking them to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people and land of Israel and demanding that they unequivocally denounce these horrific acts as the war crimes that they are and pressure Hamas to release its innocent hostages immediately.
There has never been a more important time to learn how to stand for Israel, to face antisemitism and to fight back against it. You can learn more right now at www.fightit.ca.
I leave you with these thoughts.
We can be proud that many of our Canadian leaders and elected representatives have indeed already answered our call to condemn Hamas and stand in solidarity with the victims of their atrocities.
We can be heartened to see flags at half-mast and the Peace tower illuminated with the Israeli colours.
This is a war started by terrorists intent on killing and torturing innocent Israeli civilians and bringing about the destruction of Israel. They will not prevail.
We pray for the safety of Israelis and for the lives lost. We pray for the brave soldiers entering the battle and defending our right to exist.
May the memory of the victims be for a blessing.
Am Yisrael Chai.
I look forward to seeing many of you in Ottawa next week.
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