Vivienne Grace Ziner
Vivienne Grace Ziner

Toronto’s Jewish leaders: Stand up loud and proud for Jews… now! (while you can)


It has been a month since the violent attacks on Toronto’s Jewish community took place, the riot rally at Nathan Phillips Square where bloodthirsty pro -Hamas agitators screamed for Jewish blood. Their harassment and attacks continued over that weekend, with barbarians roaming like jackals in Jewish neighbourhoods, screaming ‘death to Jews’, throwing stones at women and children, kicking Jewish property and doing Nazi salutes.

One can almost understand how, one month on, many in the Jewish community wish to blur those jagged edges, filter through gauze the vicious hatefests suddenly thrown at unsuspecting Jews in Toronto. Jewish doctors, social workers- even mommy groups- were bewildered, astonished and mostly frightened by the vitriolic and vicious Jew hatred being laser -focused on them: online and up close and personal.

For the first time in many decades, Jews in Toronto and throughout Canada were brazenly and openly attacked because they were Jews- not because they were Israelis, nor because they were Zionists-but simply because they were Jews.

Some Jews who have just returned from The Promised Lands of Israel or Florida, who are receiving this news now second hand and with the benefit of time having elapsed, have chosen to believe that, although the situation sounded horrifying it somehow seems to them a tad unbelievable and possibly exaggerated.


After all, they are wont to say, this is Canada.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen.

This IS Canada- now, in 2021.

It is not the same Canada of five years ago.

It is not the same Canada as even two months ago.

The fundamentals have changed.

The demographics have changed.

The players have changed.

Power has shifted.

Politicians have shifted.

The media has definitely shifted.

It is now time for Canadian Jews to wake up and deal with our new and tragic reality.

Wanting to deny the Jew hatred which whirled into Toronto like a full force tornado a mere month ago is understandable- but no longer an option.

We have crossed the Rubicon and there is tragically, no going back. We can no longer be complacent.

Who was there to support the Jewish community when these horrendous and dangerous acts of Jew hatred were being perpetrated?

Did any politician come out loud and strong against Jew hatred after the riot- like rally? Yes, Erin O’Toole did speak to the Jewish community- in a special broadcast directed specifically to the community, but not from a media outlet.

Other politicians pontificated and expounded on Islamophobia, making Jew hatred sound like an add on.

Who allowed the rally to take place during such a tight lockdown?
Why were the police so ill -informed and unprepared?

These questions need to be answered- but they are already an answer in themselves.

We cannot take anything for granted at all anymore.

Most important, we must be unified as a community. We must speak in one voice and stand up strong against Jew hatred. Our actions must be powerful and dramatic, vocal and forceful- or consequences for Canadian Jewry will become dire.

We cannot run and we cannot hide.

Not if we want to continue living in Canada freely.

It is a time we have all dreaded and feared, a time of unbridled, orchestrated, manipulated and calculated Jew hatred, like the unleashing of the Furies against the Jewish people on a global scale. This is the result of brilliant, cynical and sinister public relations campaigns, spun and manipulated over the past forty years, implemented masterfully on university campuses, through ever-so-willing braindead media and politicians happy to prosper through these new associations and blithely forget all that the Jewish people have done to make Toronto- and other cities and countries around the world- the great places they are today.

The barbarians have breached the gates, yet again.

We must speak with one clear resounding voice with one message- the Jewish people stand strong and defiant against Jew hatred.

Now is the time we need our leaders- our financial, our business, our philanthropic leaders to stand up, straight and tall, and demand, from the politicians, from the universities, from their various philanthropies, from their charities, from their business and social associates to shout publicly against Jew hatred. Period.

But first these Jewish leaders have to emerge from the shadows, announce their unwavering commitment to stop Jew hatred- and become public about being Jewish.

They need to identify publicly as proud Jews.

As Esther did at Purim, even though it is uncomfortable and difficult.

It is easy to be a leader when things are good, but it really counts when they aren’t.

What our wealthiest, most powerful Jewish business tycoons don’t seem to appreciate is they are no safer in this new Canada than the rest of the Jewish population.

They are already known and pigeonholed as Jews.

Even the most respected Jewish families in Toronto have already been hit with absurd ultimatums to disengage from Israel and Zionism or face censure and boycotts.

No one is immune.

To demonstrate this ‘up close and personal’, I share my family’s own story:

My father, John Ziner z’l’’ was from a very wealthy haute bourgeois Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary. Contrary to Hungary’s rural Jews who were Orthodox, Budapest’s Jews were secular, assimilated, and accepted as ‘virtually true Hungarians’ during and shortly after the Austro-Hungarian Empire. My father’s family had a box at the Budapest Opera, my grandmother’s beautiful face graced an opera magazine, my father had the first motorboat on the Danube. He dated princesses and countesses, as well as a vast variety of debutantes and show girls (notably two of the three Gabor sisters.) He was handsome, charming, wealthy, very popular and totally ‘accepted’ by Budapest society.

Until the 1940’s.

When he became Just. Another. Jew.

As a wealthy, powerful business baron, as a well- loved and admired “Hungarian”, even years later he could never fully grasp how his erstwhile friends and associates could have abandoned him as they did.

The lesson?

Money cannot protect you. Prestige cannot protect you. Your ‘friends’, at a certain point can no longer protect you-even if they wanted to.

And even if they could, which they really can’t- what of your children? Grandchildren? Friends? Are you willing to abandon all that you have created, all that you have built, all that you have made for yourselves here?

Think carefully. Think how many times you have asked “How did the Holocaust happen? Didn’t they know when they were confronted with Jew hatred?” “Why didn’t they do something?” Why didn’t they react?”

Ask your children and grandchildren what they already endure on campuses across this country.

Ask your children and grandchildren what they are facing very day from the InstaFada.

Ask your children and grandchildren what they hear from their friends- and previous friends.

Listen to the media.

Look at how they are skewering Annamie Paul -not for being Black. Not for being a woman. Just for being Jewish.

To every single Jewish person of any influence or power- now is the time for you to come and speak out loud and clear against Jew hatred.

If you don’t, why should anyone else?

About the Author
Vivienne Grace Ziner is a vociferous and outspoken activist, advocate, writer and speaker for international human rights, the global advancement of human dignity and the cause of Israel and the Jewish people.
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