On the first day of the latest Hamas-Israel ‘war’, I attended a zoom webinar with a lovely group of Jewish women. I was late on the Zoom because I had been watching the rockets land in Israel, with an intensity and range that I had never seen before. When I ‘entered’ the Zoom, I asked the facilitator if anyone was mentioning the tragic events and if we could have a moment’s prayer.
I was informed that she could not interrupt the organizers. I waited anxiously for someone- anyone -to say anything about the rein of rockets pummelling Israel.
I am known for being brutally honest and if there was ever a time for that attitude, it is now.
I repeat this story with no malice nor is it my intention to offend anyone.
The story demonstrates the Jewish community’s complacency- and not just in Toronto.
The Survivors are dying out. The tough Jews who grew up in downtown Toronto before it became fashionable to live downtown are dying out. The second and third generation of Jews have no idea whatsoever what Jew-hatred looks like, up close and personal. They were raised, for the most part, with all that their parents and grandparents could possibly provide them.
With my black humor, I joke that I gave my children everything but poverty and insecurity, the attributes that tend to motivate and underline the Jewish people’s need to be aware and vigilant at all times. It is where that little voice that every Jew from the birth of Jesus, who has endured exile, hatred, discrimination, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, the beatings, the killings, the ghettoes, the Holocaust and the hatred of Israel can be heard, that little voice that says: “Yoohoo! Jews! Don’t get too comfortable here. You are only a visitor, here at our whim and our discretion. Yes, you can build our hospitals, endow our universities, build our buildings, become our doctors and lawyers, make us beautiful and rich- until we say: Enough. Goodbye.”
Wake up and look around you. The Toronto you lived in a mere two weeks ago no longer exists. Your sense of belonging, of being part of, of knowing safety- not the same.
Jews on the Thursday night before Shavuot had supported Israel doing our sweet parade up and down Bathurst Street, the “Jew street of Toronto”, waving our little flags, while adhering to all the rules of Toronto’s never-ending lockdown, socially distancing, honking horns- loud and proud -and we still got called out for not sticking to the draconian rules one hundred percent.
That night, and over the entire weekend, Jews in their neighborhoods were threatened and harassed by pro-Hamas supporters, throwing full water bottles at passers-by, doing Nazi salutes, screaming Free Palestine and frightening obscenities, throwing stones. To hurt and intimidate.
On Saturday, all hell broke loose at Toronto City Hall, when six thousand screaming, bloodthirsty pro-Hamas thugs, sponsored and supported by virulent Jew-haters with extremist Pakistani support, stormed and hurt the Jews who were there, screaming ‘death to Jews’, ‘back to the ovens, Jews’ and other obscenities as they tore at Israeli flags, beat Jews trying to protect themselves from their bloodthirsty attacks, their rage and hate directed not only against Jews, but also at the police and passersby. Their disrespect of Canadian law and identity manifested as they swore and fought against Canadian police trying to maintain order, who themselves were terrified by the bloodlust they were witnessing.
How do I know this so well? Two of my children went to the rally, simply to observe from what they felt would be a safe distance.
They went with no flags, nothing identifying them as “Jewish”. As the understaffed and overwhelmed police escorted the pro-Jewish protestors out of Nathan Phillips Square, all the exits and entrances from the square were overrun by the screaming, fury-driven mob. My kids were swarmed as they were trying to leave. When my son tried to assist an older man, who was being viciously attacked for carrying an Israeli flag, my son was attacked, his head smacked from behind, while my daughter was pushed to the ground, straddled and beat in the face. As my brave son tried protecting his sister, four thugs punched him and smashed him into the ground.
He now has a concussion.
She now has PTSD.
So, welcome, once again, to our new reality.
The Jewish community wants answers. Not the smarmy, milquetoast condescending answers that we have been getting from our erstwhile ‘friendly ‘politicians.
We want answers.
We deserve answers.
In Toronto, under a never- ending lockdown, we believed that our politicians would shut down this day of rage before it began. Many people wrote to various officials beforehand, including both my husband and me. We naively believed that with all the never-ending lockdown restrictions put in place by our government, surely they would not allow a potentially explosive mass gathering of hate-driven people swarming together in front of our City Hall! No masks, no social distancing, no adhering to the rules that all Ontarians were honoring and respecting.
The politicians capitulated to the pressure from the haters, supporters of true Jew-hatred, from communities that openly brag about their vile demonization of Jews.
So, let’s just be upfront and honest for once.
Prime Minister Trudeau??????
Where are you on this?
Know that lame, vague equivocating tweets are not going to calm our community, nor make us feel safe and welcome.
How supportive are you of the great community that has contributed so much, that has been fundamental in building this great city of Toronto with our sweat and blood, our dedication, our commitment, our philanthropy, our love?
We built buildings that bear our names, funded hospitals, created old age homes amongst the finest in the world, arts and culture centers that have brought joy and culture to Toronto.
Where are your voices in support?
Have you so quickly forgotten those who have contributed so much to Toronto, to Ontario, to Canada?
And where are those communities the Jewish people helped when others didn’t welcome you, didn’t hire you? The Italian community? Portuguese? Vietnamese? The Black communities? We helped you get sponsored, helped bring you into Canada from the Philippines, helped the Chinese community create old age homes, sponsored Syrian refugees?
Have you all forgotten?
Are you willing to sacrifice your Canada, your land of diversity, the great mosaic, your vision of a fair and just society for the hate and division that will swallow and transform you after they go for us? Jews are always the ‘canary in the coal mine’- when we get threatened, or persecuted and unsafe- know that you are not far behind us.
Maybe you don’t know what is happening right here in Canada, in Toronto, in your own backyard. Mainstream media and social media are blocking information of any sort that supports the Jewish people – and any freedom of thought and ideology.
Our Jewish students have been warning us for decades, how pernicious and insidious those who hate us have been on campus.
Now, after years of threats, harassment and bullying on Canadian campuses, from ‘woke’ professors, administrations and students on Jewish students, our own youth have become a fifth column, having been bullied out of clubs and associations if they supported Israel and Zionism. They have been brainwashed and hoodwinked, buying into a murderous and pernicious ideology committed to their destruction.
Today, the Jew-hating wrath and hate are directed towards Jewish doctors, social workers, even mommy groups who are scrambling to online Zoom meetings for support and guidance on how to maneuver, yet again, through Jew-hatred.
Some of us knew this was coming.
We have been crying into the wind for decades, warning our community of what was happening. Our pleas went mostly unheard. We were scoffed at while people blithely went about playing golf and mah-jongg and enjoyed the comfort of believing themselves ‘safe’ in Canada.
We are indeed, in dangerous times. Our community, many of whose parents and grandparents escaped the ashes of the Holocaust, others who fled despotic regimes and virulent Jew-hatred have basked in the glow of a sun that is quickly setting and leaving a community frightened, unprepared and fractured.
But we are a strong and resourceful people.
We have faced persecution, discrimination, intolerance before and we will again. But, like the phoenix, we will rise yet again with determination, resistance and commitment.
We helped create this Canada and we will fight for our rights to be fully protected and safe citizens here.
So, to those who have forgotten our contributions or who are closing their eyes to this seething hate directed towards the Canadian Jewish community- take heed.
We now know who you are.
Over three thousand years of hate and persecution have taught us well.
We shall not go silently into the night.