Sheldon Kirshner

An Insidious Form Of Antisemitism

Deborah Lyons, Canada’s special envoy on Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism and its former ambassador to Israel, did not mince words.

After learning that Leah Goldstein, a Canadian Jewish athlete, had been disinvited as the keynote speaker at an International Women’s Day event in Peterborough, Ontario, on March 8, she took to the social media site X to express her indignation and disappointment.

Due to Goldstein’s service in the Israeli army three decades ago, a small but vocal group in Inspire: The Women’s Portrait Project, objected to her role at its venue. Goldstein, a former professional cyclist and a motivational speaker, was outraged by its decision.

With the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, Inspire clearly had a change of heart regarding Goldstein’s suitability: “Our focus at Inspire has been and will always be to create safe spaces to honor, share and celebrate the remarkable stories of women and non-binary individuals. In recognition of the current situation and the sensitivity of the conflict in the Middle East, the board of Inspire will be changing our keynote speaker.”

Goldstein, 55, was understandably hurt, angered and heartbroken by Inspire’s foolish and mean-spirited decision to replace her.

On her website, she wrote, “I will not pursue legal action, although I have been advised to do so. That’s not who I am. Right now, I am sad. I’m mad … I hope for peace. I hope that humans can learn to treat each other with respect and love.”

Goldstein, born in Vancouver and now a resident of Vernon, British Columbia, insisted that her history as a conscript in the Israel Defence Forces and later as an Israeli policewoman “do not define me as a human being.”

And she added, “As a Jewish woman, I would never be offended if a Palestinian woman were to speak about her obstacles and life journey. I thought that’s what women were supposed to do for each other — listen and support!”

Struck by Inspire’s shabby treatment of Goldstein, Lyons denounced Inspire: “It is well past time that organizations and events receiving government funding fight the rising tide of antisemitism. Revoking Leah Goldstein’s invitation to speak and caving to what they referred to as ‘a small but growing and extremely vocal group’ that harassed the organization and other event speakers is just another example of the erasure and silencing of Jews going on across Canada and around the world. Leaders must speak up against this insidious form of anti-Jewish organizing, and taxpayer dollars should not be used to support it.”

Lyons is absolutely correct.

Why should anyone, no less a Canadian citizen like Goldstein, be penalized for having been a soldier in the Israeli armed forces? The IDF, a people’s army, is Israel’s protective shield. Does Israel not have a duty and a responsibility to defend itself like any legitimate and internationally recognized nation?

Is Inspire suggesting that Israel’s right of self-defense is transitory or non-existent? Has it come to that since Hamas’ barbaric massacre/rape fest in southern Israel on October 7?

Inspire is erroneously conflating Jews in Canada with Israel, though the vast majority of Jews in the Diaspora support Israel and its quest for acceptance, legitimacy and security. To its detriment, Inspire has taken a leaf out of the tactic of misguided and aggressive Palestinian groups and their supporters that have brazenly demonstrated in front of Jewish-owned businesses and even a major health care facility, Mount Sinai Hospital, in Toronto.

In Montreal, meanwhile, antisemitic vandals have attempted to firebomb a Jewish school and a synagogue.

These manifestations of hatred have led to a significant uptick in antisemitism in Canada since the eruption of the Gaza war.

Inspire, influenced by a bunch of fanatics who hate Israel and disrespect Jews, has contributed to this climate of intolerance by replacing Goldstein as its featured speaker.

Its egregious foray into the shoals of antisemitism will neither be forgotten nor forgiven.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal,
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