Gefen Bar-On Santor

Elite hate does not help Gaza

According to reports, Dr. Christian Zaarour, a SickKids anesthesiologist, and University of Toronto instructor, posted the following quote on Instagram (I believe the quote is by an Imam whose name I could not read because the name was blurry in the media image):

“We consider Israel to be absolute evil.  There is nothing worse than Israel.  If Israel and the devil fight each other, we will stand with the devil.”

Dr. Zaarour is now on voluntary paid leave while the matter is being investigated.

In my imagination, I am dreading that the next chapter in the saga might be an apology from Dr. Zaarour about his poor choice—followed by his swift and quiet return to the ranks of the medical elite.  I can also imagine comments about what a wonderful, dedicated and hard-working physician Dr. Zaarour is—and about the Jewish friends, colleagues and collaborators he has.  These are the tropes that sometimes emerge when a member of the medical elite is publicly shown to have done wrong (they are so wonderful—until they were not so wonderful).

Will members of the intellectual and medical elite who spread lies about Israel learn that hate for the Jewish state (over 20% of whose citizens are Arab) has consequences?  Or will they just learn that a doctor must be a bit more covert when it comes to spreading hate and distortions about Israel?

Going covert might make it possible to hate Israel without endangering one’s position in the elite—but it does not help the people targeted by Israel hate.

Canada has a public healthcare system in which patients often practically have little or no choice about who provides them with medical care.

An Israeli Canadian or anyone who loves Israel or anyone who is Jewish (obsessive and disproportionate “criticism” of Israel IS Jew hate) should not be put in a position in which the person made available by the public healthcare system to care for and to help make decisions about their children is someone who apparently agrees, contrary to empirical evidence, that “there is nothing worse than Israel.”

No hypothetical apology, Jewish friend or explanation from Dr. Zaarour would be likely to convince me that the decision he made to post the message above was not about power and about hate.  I would tend to interpret any hypothetical apology that may perhaps be offered in the future as the expression of Dr. Zaarour’s fear to lose his place in the elite.  And this is assuming that Dr. Zaarour would choose to apologize, which can by no means be taken for granted in a culture that might excuse his actions in terms of his personal pain and concern for the suffering of people in Gaza (pain and concern that I share).  As anesthesiologist, Dr. Zaarour should know that Jew hate is not an ethical method of pain relief.

In my opinion, if the implied association between Dr. Zaarour and Israel hate is true, there would likely be only one honest way for Dr. Zaarour to practice medicine while respecting the right of patients, as SickKids says, “to be treated with respect, professionalism and feel safe:” he may look for a medical setting outside of Canada that is free of Jews.

However, I would be surprised if the professional consequences for Dr. Zaarour will extend much beyond paid time off and a slap on the wrist.

In my opinion, Dr. Zaarour’s social-media post is likely the tip of the iceberg of the Israel hate that might luxuriate among some members of the medical and academic elite—most of whom exercise more self-control than he does.  I believe that most members of the academia and the medial community are not Israel haters—but a small number likely are, and they have the power to do moral harm.

One of the arguments that is often voiced in response to the October 7 pogrom is, “how would you feel if this happened to you?”  This argument is not effective because many people believe that there is a fundamental difference between themselves on the one hand and “the Jews,” especially the Israeli Jews, on the other hand.  And one of the most persistent false tropes of Jew hate is that the Jews deserve to suffer because they are exceptionally bad.  People look up to the intellectual and medical elite for social cues about what is right and wrong, what is acceptable or not acceptable.  People fear and revere the medical and intellectual elites, not wanting to upset the doctors or professors but rather wishing to align themselves with elite views.  So increasingly, with some people like Dr. Zaarour in the elite, expecting empathy for the Jews is like expecting water to come out of a stone.

The problem of Jew hate will be solved not when grapes start growing on thorn bushes (to refer to Matthew 7:16)—but when people who have Jew hate in their hearts start to realize that they have a problem that they must honestly confront for the sake of their own souls.

Jew hate is a phenomenon that resembles addiction in that it provides mood-altering effects that haters seem to seek and regard as positive (for example, the excitement provided by the fantasy that Israel is very bad and deserves to be destroyed).  People suffering from addiction sometimes realize that they have a problem only when they hit rock bottom.  But the experience of being put on paid leave, which may or may not have negative mood-altering effects, is not necessarily the same as hitting rock bottom.  In Canada, there is a risk of some Israel haters occupying highly secure positions within the elite with the confidence that they will not experience significant professional or socioeconomic consequences—and therefore with little incentive to change and to forego the ”uplifting” mood-altering effects of Israel hate.

But what are the consequences of Israel hate for the rest of us?  What does it mean that Israel haters—both overt and covert—are found among the ranks of the Canadian elite?

For those members of the elite who hate Israel, it likely means the thrill of power and control from a position of security, comfort and privilege.

For the Hamas, it likely means the grandiose feeling that comes with international support: lies and crimes against humanity will be excused and “contextualized” by elite supporters in the university and medical network.

For Canadians who love Israel, Dr. Zaarour’s action is the kind of thing that can keep us awake at night—anxious about our future.  It means living in fear that we and our children will encounter Dr. Zaarour sometime in the future in our hour of vulnerability and medical need.

It also means a reminder of why Zionism came about—so that Jewish people would not have to beg for empathy and protection from people who may have little or none to offer.

And for the people in Gaza, such power-oriented behavior from privileged people who claim to be their supporters in the West has not translated into stability or prosperity.

While Dr. Zaarour experiences time off, likely paid for by the taxpayers of Canada, the people of Gaza are suffering the tragic consequences of being led by a corrupt and power-oriented elite that has, time and time again, chosen hate and lies over the healing of the conflict and the path to peace and prosperity.

This is the ultimate tragedy of elite Jew hate: it is harmful to the people of Gaza, most of whom likely want to live in peace with Israel but are forced into the opposite situation by corrupt and selfish elites.

About the Author
Gefen Bar-On Santor teaches English at the University of Ottawa, as well as adult-education literature courses at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa, Canada. She is an enthusiastic believer in life-long learning and in the relevance of fiction to our lives. She also writes at
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