‘Cause You Gotta Have Faith’

A positive attitude can change the world. Good deeds start with good thoughts and kind words.

In a fractured world like ours, there are people who are standing up and speaking out every single day.  This week, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with a number of individuals – who in their own way – are taking action and standing up for truth and justice.

A wonderful gentleman of British origin came to see me this week about his church and his concern with the United Church of Canada’s irrational orientation against the State of Israel, and its promotion of the boycott campaign. In his own words, he took the initiative to challenge his own church’s “oppressive denominational policy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanction against the State of Israel.” In taking this stand, he will be meeting with and explaining to the leadership of the UCC the irrational and antisemitic position they have embraced.

Not dissimilarly is the action undertaken by another individual who, this week, stood up and voiced his opinion and concern at an important union convention. Through this person’s words and deeds, others within the participating unions stood up and spoke out against biased and discriminatory resolutions that were introduced to the floor of the convention. One defamatory resolution against Israel was quashed as a result, while even as the other succeeded, it was met with public accusations of racism and antisemitism – an important pushback against the silence that has often taken hold at these conventions.

Another social change maker who visited our offices this week is an activist who has made it his mission to remove hateful graffiti in Montreal. Corey Fleischer, who will be speaking at FSWC’s Freedom Day this fall, said that 90% of his efforts involve removal of swastikas and other antisemitic or Nazi-type graffiti from walls, bridges, back alleys, telephone poles, apartment buildings and parks of Montreal. One of the most remarkable acknowledgements Fleischer revealed to me was just how much hate graffiti can be found in regular neighbourhoods – some of them upscale – “you would be surprised.”

Counter balancing negative thoughts and deeds with positive action – often through education and advocacy – is also what takes place at schools across the country daily. This week, I had the pleasure of speaking to committed heads of schools who were intent on positively effecting change in their schools. Antisemitic incidents and incidents of racism and intolerance often confront them – and the pushback from the community can be challenging at times. Those in the educational world, whom we have worked with, are willing to confront the challenge head on and ensure the experience becomes a productive learning opportunity for the students, their parents and the community itself.

There is hope that together, through positive action, the rising tide of antisemitism and bias against Israel will subside. There are good people speaking out every single day and challenging negative attitudes. We gotta have faith!

About the Author
Avi Benlolo is the President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC), a Jewish non-profit human rights organization. Avi is a prominent Canadian human rights activist dedicated to promoting tolerance, freedom, democracy and human rights.
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