As Israel continues to defend citizens from Hamas’s newest wave of terror, communities across the globe took to the streets in protest of Israel’s obligation and inherent right to safeguard its citizens, Diaspora Jews have had to reconcile with what Israeli Jews have known all along, anti-Zionism is antisemitism.
Hamas’s latest attack on the Jewish state, saw over 2,000 indiscriminate rockets launched at civilian populations across Israel, targeting Arabs and Jews alike. Since the attacks began, social media forums have become even more of a hotbed of antisemitic tropes and local authorities haven’t done nearly enough to protect Jewish residents.
So how have we arrived at this defining moment in Jewish Diaspora history and where do we go from here, especially here in Canada?
Just over a week ago, international news outlets began to publish a story regarding eviction proceedings of a number of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The story was framed to suggest that hundreds of Palestinian families were being forcibly removed from their owned homes, by Israel to clear the way for Jewish inhabitants, claiming, ethnic cleansing.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the dispute, which is a private landlord/tenant matter, that made its way through the Israeli court system, saw four families in total face eviction for non-payment of rent to the property owners, who happened to be Jews. It is important to note that this legal battle has been in the courts for years. The court ruling that was handed down allowed the families to remain in their homes, but required back payment of rent to be paid which was seen an equitable and fair solution.
Hamas used this private legal matter as a propaganda tool, falsely declaring ethnic cleansing and promising a response, which can only be seen as an attempt to wage support in the proposed Palestinian elections, which, to date, still have not taken place. Sadly, world news outlets ran with the Hamas narrative.
It is essential to note that globally, most western democracies (including Canada) recognize Hamas as a designated terror organization.
On the 10th of May, Israel celebrated Jerusalem Day, as it does every year, commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem. As is custom, the Flag March joyfully parades through the city, in song and dance, ending at the Western Wall, the closest Jews are allowed to pray to Judaism’s holiest site, The Temple Mount. While celebrations were happening below the Mount at the Western Wall plaza, riots were raging up above. Rocks, Molotov Cocktails and fireworks were gathered inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, with credible threats that they would be used against Jewish civilians on the plaza below. Police entered and were immediately greeted with violence. In an attempt to injure officers, a firecracker was hurled and ignited a tree, unknowingly to those participating in the festival.
Once again, international media ran with the false Hamas narrative that Israelis were rejoicing as the Temple Mount burned.
In true Hamas form, they used the fire on the Temple Mount, started by a Palestinian rioter, as an Israeli provocation and began to once again, fire indiscriminate rockets, funded by Iran, into civilian populations, murdering Israelis, Jews and Arabs, as well as Gazans. As many as 30% of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip fall short, and land in their own population causing civilian death and destruction.
This time, however, it was clear that while Gazans struggle with unemployment, lack of infrastructure and government services, their government had procured a substantial arsenal of longer-range missiles using the aid provided by the international community to launch into Israeli civilian populations. Hamas’s rudimentary rockets were not long-range in the past, and it was clear from the distance of their targets, that these were supplied by another enemy of Israel — namely Iran.
Nine million Israelis were under attack and as any sovereign nation would, Israel retaliated.
What this latest round of Hamas terror and Israeli response did was set off a wave of Antisemitism across the globe, that I had yet to see in my lifetime, reminiscent of Europe in the mid to late 1930s. Twitter verified accounts such as actor Mark Ruffalo, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Roger Waters and numerous musical talents rallied behind Hamas against the region’s only democracy. They also received support from the US Congress’s Democratic “Squad” whose members include, Alexandria Ocasión-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Presley & Rashida Tlaib, well known for their anti-Israel stance, and no strangers to Anti-Semitic scandals.
In London, a car cavalcade drove through predominantly Jewish neighborhoods, wrapped in Palestinian flags, declaring using megaphones, “Fuck the Jews. Rape their daughters”. In a separate London Incident, videos emerged of rioters marching in London’s streets chanting “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, jaysh Mohammed quad I’mun” which translates to, “Khaybar Khaybar oh Jews, the army of Mohammad is returning” as a threat to Jews of an impending religious war aimed at ridding the world of Jews unless they convert.
Here is Canada, Toronto police are now in possession of a video showing an elderly Jewish man being beaten relentlessly by a mob of rioters using Palestinian flags and poles while screaming “Allahu Akbar”. Another video surfaced from two young women who were attacked in their car by vigilantes, faces covered in kaffiyehs attempting to pull them out of the safety of their vehicles and when they couldn’t, they began to attack the car with the same weapon of choice – poles displaying the Palestinian flag. Toronto police released a statement regarding several arrests separate from the aforementioned attacks for charges ranging from assault, mischief, and bringing a weapon to a public meeting.
In Montreal, Jews, including a rabbi were attacked with racial slurs calling for the death of Jews, as rocks were hurled at Jewish passers-by and vehicles vandalized. Online and in social media, Jews are being trolled, attacked and threatened in numbers not seen in my living memory.
So where do we go from here? Israel will continue to fight Hamas until its terror arsenal is diminished substantially or eradicated. Israel will continue to exist, a point of contention for many online and offline racists. While statements were made by political figures across the board condemning these attacks, they are not enough. Not by a long shot.
Canada’s police services and courts find themselves at a critical moment in time. Will our elected officials do everything necessary to ensure Canadian Jews remain safe or will this new violent Anti-Semitic wave of violence push Jewish families to prepare an exit strategy? This is something Jews are all too familiar with – look at France, for example. The difference this time is that Jews have a safe haven to flee to. Our indigenous, ancestral home. Israel. The irony of which is not lost on this Israeli-Canadian.