The voice of Order of Canada recipient, Jacques J.M. Shore (my brother), reverberates worldwide.
There is either a deafening silence or confused messaging coming from too many of our leaders who refuse to genuinely console the Jewish people.
I am the son of Holocaust survivors. Until my mother passed away five years ago, I did not define my identity that way, but I do today, because the horrors and atrocities of the Holocaust must be remembered.
Yet, the world has displayed its amnesia by forgetting the Holocaust, and I find myself feeling indescribable pain following the barbarism and monstrous acts as witnessed on Oct. 7, 2023, in Israel, just steps away from Gaza. Such predators of the innocent have tragically littered the pages of earth’s history through the ages, but it is hard to reconcile that our modern world still endures such inflictions of violence.
Nothing can describe my outrage as I think of my late father and the agony-drenched moment when he learned that his five-year-old son and his loving first wife were murdered for the crime of just being Jewish. Why has humanity learned nothing? What motivates people to wreak evil? Why don’t the blessings endowed on earth engender the obligation to be good to one another?
As a lawyer, trained to pursue justice, I cannot accept that humanity can be complacent by the actions committed by hordes of demons.
We, in Canada, subscribe to a foundation of values we cherish in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yet, there is either a deafening silence or confused messaging coming from too many of our leaders. They refuse to genuinely console my Jewish people, and speak out clearly against evil with harsh words of indignation.
I stood at the War Memorial in Ottawa, steps from Parliament Hill, this past Nov. 11 on Remembrance Day, just a few weeks after the butchery of more than 1,200 of my people in Israel. I cried because I realized the world has learned nothing from the ravages of war and hateful destruction. Too many are ignorantly indifferent to the murderous aggression against Jews from so many hidden corners of the world. I am distraught because my mother’s and others’ lifelong work to build bridges between people have failed when we see countries like Iran act through such proxies as Hamas and other hateful entities, and go unpunished. I cry, too, for the Palestinian people and the loss of life. I feel the world has abandoned truth when Hamas is not blamed for the thousands of innocent civilian casualties within Gaza because innocent people are the human shields of Hamas terrorists. How can the United Nations not understand that Israel protects its people with rockets, while Hamas protects its rockets with people?
I felt the dark winds of war descending upon us as I stood in the cold on that typical Ottawa mid-November day.
I search for answers as I am apprised of the shameful and ignorant behaviour of the thousands of students on university campuses who spew venomous chants, mostly unaware of what they even mean, and seek the destruction of the one tiny piece of land in the world Jews have called their home—a land that has belonged to Jews for more than 3,000 years, a land which we Jews have prayed towards Jerusalem during the many hundreds of years of our exile. Why is there such a lack of empathy? What’s behind the callous dismissal of the yearning of the Jewish people to have a homeland for people who have contributed so much to civilization and to humanity, and done so through too many painful paths along the centuries?
I looked up at the monument and prayed that somehow the world would come to its senses. Somehow, my Jewish people would not be targeted, vilified, slandered, or libelled by the same evil we have so tragically witnessed through millennia. Surely, a modern world would be different. Surely, the Jews of today would be protected by the lessons the world has learned from the past centuries. But no, I am not feeling any level of comfort. I fear, and I am disgusted, that Israel is the focus of unmitigated criticism and hate by those countries that have no moral compass and no respect for truth.
Humanity and the world stand no chance to live in peace if truth is discarded in this century’s dustbin. Civilization must rely upon truth to uphold the rule of law. Otherwise, there is no hope of justice and civil society. The pillar of truth risks sinking into quicksand if human decency is incapable of relying on it.
Why are facts and truth so unattainable and such casualties meaningless when it comes to the Jewish people? What is this earthly forgetfulness that has made a people to suffer as we have, and yet has not deterred us from facing east in prayer, looking to Jerusalem through the generations, from the moment we are old enough to stand and capable to express our passionate wish to live in peace in Jerusalem? Why be so cruel as to admonish us for our ancestral piece of soil in the land where Abraham made his covenant with the Lord and our prophets sowed the seeds of spirituality and ethical enlightenment?
As I stood at the Cenotaph and we sang our national anthem, I thought of the senseless blood spilled through wars, and through too many epochs of hate. For the first time in my life, I felt vulnerable as a Jew, afraid for my family and my people. I stand on guard for Canada, but I wondered: who today stands on guard for me? Who stands on guard for my Jewish people? Of course, I can count on Israel, but who in the diaspora truly stands on guard to protect us on the campuses of our universities, in the places in which we work, from the bias in the media, and from the countries and terrorist proxies seeking to destroy our Jewish homeland and us?
Jacques J.M. Shore, C.M. is a partner at Gowling WLG and co-founder of the voluntary advocacy group Operation Abraham, which has helped more than 1,500 Afghans escape Afghanistan following the collapse of the previous democratically elected Afghan government.