Outrage Envelopes Jewish Community

Signed petitions against Prime Minister Trudeau’s condemnation of Israel are pouring into our servers from across Canada. Canadians are incensed by the prime minister’s harsh statement toward Israel. They are particularly perturbed that Hamas was neither mentioned nor condemned.

Israel’s action to defend its citizens from an armed mob was called “inexcusable.” The prime minister’s statement went further calling for “an immediate independent investigation to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground.” Surely such language could only embolden Hamas’s strategic terrorist activity and drive a wedge between allies. Canada typically stands in solidarity with Israel, and its Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland has tweeted that Israel has a right to defend itself.

The prime minister’s statement was counterintuitive, particularly with respect to Canada’s own foreign policy. In reference to a Canadian doctor who was unfortunately wounded in the Gaza mayhem, Prime Minister Trudeau said he wants to “determine how a Canadian came to be injured.” But as our own government travel advisory website warns, “avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip due to continuing conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terrorists, such as Hamas…and large gatherings.” So it’s a strange thing to try and determine how a Canadian was injured, given our own stated warnings.

The prime minister’s statement could have been much more nuanced and careful about the possibility of lending Hamas a diplomatic win. Members of Parliament Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt have commendably tried a course correction by condemning Hamas in a press release issued late yesterday. It’s a statement we would have liked to see the prime minister make.

Simply put, it’s easy to condemn Israel from a million miles away, especially when you are not on the front lines and the very existence of your country is not at stake. Our cities haven’t had to endure over 10,000 rockets raining down on kindergartens since Hamas stole power from the Palestinian Authority in 2006. Since then, Hamas had become the ruler of its own land and people with plenty of opportunity to build schools, hospitals, roads, parks and a civil and peaceful society with Israel. Instead, it has chosen war and carnage. How sad for its 1.8 million citizens.

As Jews we despair about Hamas’s destructive path. How we wish we could help Gaza’s Palestinians build an amazing society. We would be first in line.

Instead, Hamas sends 50,000 armed people (shielded by women and children) to try and breach Israel’s border, infiltrate its villages and slaughter as many Jewish children as possible. From there, Hamas’s stated plan is to march on Jerusalem to take over Israel’s holy sites, its parliament buildings, its supreme court and civil authority institutions – to stage a coup. Can you imagine a mob of violent people marching on Ottawa – into our parliament complex and our supreme court, foreign affairs and military services buildings?

We love our subway systems in Canada, which make our daily lives very comfortable. But how would we feel if someone was tunneling under our homes? Hamas has dug more than 32 tunnels under Israel’s border since 2014 – and they are not for a subway system. They are explicitly dug so that the “al aqsa martyrs brigades” could infiltrate Israeli territory to kill Jews.

The Jewish community and its friends is clearly outraged. The prime minister failed to condemn Hamas, which Canada itself designates a terrorist organization. Worse – by calling for an investigation into a sovereign state which also happens to be an ally of Canada, many Canadians are asking just which side are we on?

So here is the cold hard truth, Ottawa: Hamas is an evil terror organization. It is inciting hate and antisemitism against Jews. Its stated objective is the destruction of Israel. It uses children as human shields. It has admitted that most of the people killed in recent clashes were its own militants. Its actions against its own people and Israel constitute crimes against humanity.

Given the media bias, it has been difficult lately to see from the forest to the trees. Thankfully, many of us still can.

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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