What if a Jewish newspaper received demands from its subscribers to fire a contributing writer because the public felt that this writer’s values and ideals differed radically from many others in the mainstream Jewish community?
What if the complainants felt that this writer’s viewpoint was antithetical to Jewish values, too radical, too far “Left”, too politically “progressive” and therefore, this writer should not be given a public forum to air his views?
What if this writer was dismissed –and then the story of why and how that happened became public knowledge?
The mainstream Jewish community would probably have issues around this curtailing of “freedom of expression”- but without doubt, the most vocal hue and cry, the shrillest accusations of suppression of free speech and diatribes against censorship, would most certainly emanate from those very same “progressives”.
The “progressives” would scream and shout about their rights and freedoms being curtailed, their liberties impinged, their “inclusive” paradigm being undermined. They would give non-stop interviews and mobilize the sympathetic mainstream media to their “cause”, write scathing denouncements, resoundingly denounce this “discrimination” and demand to be given the same right to openly express their opinions as those who accuse them.
Then one must ask: why did these self -proclaimed heroes of “open dialogue and non –censorship” do exactly what they would protest against so vehemently, should it have happened to them?
Why did these “progressives” actively and forcefully attempt to impose censorship and suppress freedom of speech on those whose ideologies did not align with their own “progressive” (or as some believe, “regressive”) ideas, concepts and beliefs?
Recently, Bernie Farber and Karen Mock, both leaders of “progressive” JSpace Canada, Canada’s “little cousin” to America’s J Street, interfered with and forcibly tried to stop an independent Conservative group’s event from happening, going so far as to pressure many, including a well-respected rabbi of an established synagogue to cancel this event.
Throughout December of 2018, on numerous occasions, both Farber and Mock contacted Rabbi Grover of Beth Tikvah Synagogue, in Toronto, to force him to revoke a signed contract to rent space at Beth Tikvah to a conservative group, Canadians for the Rule of Law, for a Teach-In.
What could possibly be Mock and Farber’s “justification” to harass the rabbi to renege on his commitment to rent space to an independent group?
On December 9th, Bernie Farber wrote to Rabbi Grover:
“a number of the participants that are either sponsoring or participating as speakers at this event…Sadly, some, not all, are active in spreading anger and hate against certain segments of Canadian society…..the reaction from the general public will be harsh and I believe will lead to more negative and unwanted publicity for Beth Tikvah.”
Rabbi Grover immediately pushed back, responding to both Farber’s and Mock’s emails, citing the right of allowing differing viewpoints equal rights to freedom of speech.
On December 10th, Bernie Farber responded:
“This is an issue which I believe will have a deleterious effect on our entire community when it goes public given that the ‘teach-In’ is being held at a synagogue.”
“As we approach Jan.29, the second anniversary of the murders of six Canadian Muslims peacefully at prayer in their Quebec City Mosque, you can be sure that the media, the government and many others will be looking at how Canadians are responding to anti-Muslim hate.”
“I reiterate, some of the sponsoring groups and individuals associated with this “teach-In” are hard core Islamophobes.”
Wow. Upon reading the above quotes, I believe one would not be remiss in perceiving innuendo and veiled threats, an exceptionally judgmental attitude and explosive accusations being suggested.
As Barbara Kay, a highly respected writer featured in Canada’s award winning newspaper, The National Post wrote:
“Left-wing attacks are forcing us to hold our law conference in secret”:
“Conservatives don’t clutch their pearls and try to de-platform leftists they disagree with when they exercise their freedom of speech”
“I can’t tell you where the conference is taking place, because the original locale, a large Toronto synagogue, withdrew its invitation when it was “doxxed” (with a photo of the building) in a column by Michael Coren in Now Toronto, fomenting security concerns. As is becoming the norm for groups mounting events that deal with conservative ideas or politically incorrect topics, locales are being kept secret until the last minute to avoid potential violence from Antifa-style activists, for whom Coren’s column was, in my opinion, a dog whistle…..Coren’s attack was echoed by longtime Jewish community professional, Bernie Farber, chairman of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, who reportedly pestered several of the conference’s Jewish participants in a stream of reproachful emails to step away from this perceived hate-in.”
Returning to Farber’s quote about “hard core Islamophobes”, what does “Islamophobe” actually mean?
Here are some sourced definitions:
1. Merriam- Webster: “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against Islam or people who practice Islam”.
2. Webster: “prejudice against Muslims”
3. Google: “a person with a dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force”
4. Oxford: “a person with a dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force”
There are obvious differences between the first two definitions and the second two.
While I believe that a majority of everyday Canadians (and others world –wide) believe the first definitions to be true, the “progressive left” not only believe the second ones- they are actually the ones who have formed and created those definitions to fulfill their needs and, many believe, to serve their cause and mission.
Here are undisputable facts:
Islam is a religion- which Muslim people practice. Islamization- is the politicization of Islam; it is NOT a religion. If you don’t like Muslims or the religion they practice, you are, by Definition#1 and #2, an Islamophobe.
If you believe definitions #3 and #4, you believe that if you do not support Islamization, or the Politicization of Islam, you are an Islamophobe.
There must be total clarity here.
The politicization of Islam changes Islam from a religion- into a very defined and specific Islamic political party, one that is fundamentally governed by absolute obedience to Sharia Law and is predicated on the belief that everyone should be subjugated by a strict adherence to Islam. Sharia Law is a political force that has full legal authority, a legal system and rules that are governed by a body of jurists.
Sharia Law is by its very nature, undemocratic. It is not imposed by democratically elected officials, where everyone has the same right to vote. By example, women and non -Muslims do not have the same representation nor rights under Sharia Law as do Muslim men.
It is a belief amongst many Canadians that Islamization involves the politicization of Islam which is contrary to the basic rights and freedoms and to the Judeo-Christian values of human rights and equal rights for all that underpin Canada and Canadian society.
According to both the Webster’s and Merriam Webster’s definition of an Islamophobe, someone who questions the politicization of Islam does NOT therefore meet the requirements to be an Islamophobe.
So, who are these “hard core” Islamophobes that Farber alludes to?
While neither Farber nor Mock initially stated names to the rabbi (which one could perceive as McCarthy-like behaviour) when they were challenged by community leaders for their actions of interference and possibly libelous comments, in their justification of their actions and in defense of what many perceived as their ongoing “witch hunt”, they later spewed names.
One name was Christine Douglass –Williams.
Christine Douglass-Williams is a self-described visible minority immigrant who was born in Trinidad, and migrated to Canada when she was five. Trinidad was once a model society of true multiculturalism until its “islamization” and is now known for “the highest recruitment for ISIS” in the Western hemisphere. She has first hand knowledge and experience of what the impact of Islamization can be.
She told me:
“I could never promote hate and intolerance. I fight against those ills, but I do not see color and race when I do so… I have been victim of racism myself and it can be soul destroying. ..I love Canada and I care about its future. .. I (also) uphold the rights of Muslims as a people entitled to their religious rights under democratic law. But their faith like all others must be open to scrutiny.”
She continued :…”Intolerance throughout history was not owned by any one group….The global threat was once Nazism, also Communism (Stalinism, Marxism). It’s now Islamism and people are suffering the worst atrocities: blacks, women, Yazidis, minority Muslims, Christians and the state of Israel as a Jewish state with Jewish identity. I am horrified by the spread of Islamism. (Islamization). I separate Islamic supremacists from peace-loving Muslims who welcome debate. My book “The Challenge of Modernizing Islam” features Muslim modernizers… …Farber never approached me to ask about my writings …
My book is in The Library of Congress, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Wollingong in Australia and Dubai and many more places… “.
As for Farber’s remarks concerning the Quebec City Massacre, of course anyone with compassion would have sympathy for those who suffered this January 29th, 2018 tragedy. But within this overall frame work, one must ask simultaneously, where did Bernie mention or show empathy for the horrendous slaying of Jews while they were praying at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which had transpired a mere two weeks earlier?
In any of his emails to the rabbi? Nowhere.
With the greatest of respect, one must ask: was Bernie Farber et al so insensitive to the situation where Jews were murdered in cold blood only two weeks prior, while innocently praying at a synagogue that he did not appreciate his suggestive nuance when he stated “the reaction from the general public will be harsh and I believe will lead to more negative and unwanted publicity for Beth Tikvah”?
What could possibly be his rationale with respect to politicizing the Quebec City massacre and connecting it to this Teach-In by actually stating “the media, the government and many others will be looking at anti-Muslim hate”?
In addition, one could understand where there would be those who could perceive the above statements themselves as thinly veiled threats.
Were Farber and Mock so blind to the rage they were “suggesting” could be ignited, that they did not see or appreciate how their intransigent and one sided position, their accusations, defamations, their interference and most seriously, their co-operation with an inflammatory article that Farber was involved with, could have a detrimental affect on the safety of Jews, on the safety of the synagogue, on the well-being of our Jewish people?
One can certainly see where some would ask: does their compassion, their care and concern only apply to their “chosen few”, those that they support at all costs?
When Farber stated to Rabbi Grover that “sadly, while some, not all, (participants) are spreading anger and hate”, he and Mock were also accusing, by-association, such illustrious community leaders as Donald Carr O.Ont.,Q.C.,J.D., L.H.D., T.E.P., known throughout many communities as an extraordinary pillar of decency, common sense and an international advocate for many decades for both Canadian and international Jewry; B’nai Brith, which has fought hate crimes for over a century; Andria Spindel the past President of March of Dimes for thirty seven years; Robert Walker, who in spearheading Hasbara has diligently assisted Jewish university students fight campus anti-Jewish and Israel hatred; Shirley Anne Haber, who has tirelessly fought against anti-Semitism.
Furthermore, to slur or defame Jewish leaders like B’Nai Brith’s Michael Mostyn is unequivocally, undeniably and absolutely unacceptable.
What of such highly respected Muslims as Tahir Gora and Salim Mansur who are also speaking at the Teach-In? Are these educated, democracy-loving Muslims also “Islamophobes” in their condemnation of Islamism?
The absurdity and the actual racism implied by the “progressive left”, having the audacity to infer that respected Muslims are “Islamophobes” by association is so patronizing, trivializing, disrespectful, insulting and condescending that it belies believability.
While both Farber and Mock seem concerned about “guilt by association”, one could advise them “that people who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones.”
After all, many people have voiced concerns over some of Farber and Mock’s relationships and associates who have been linked to questionable and even outlawed groups and organizations.
Their support of questionable Imams, who have been cited for anti-Semitic speech and inflammatory rhetoric has also not sat well with many respected Christians, Jews and Muslims.
This is not the first time that Farber and Mock and their followers have intervened or interfered with events, politicians or speakers that did not meet their exclusive “progressive standards”.
There have been far too many times where the “left” has successfully labeled, chastised, castigated, judged and condemned those who do not share their point of view.
Demonizing and denigrating people by innuendo and slurs is a tactic that intimidates many into not voicing their beliefs or concerns for fear of being labeled as “racist”, “homophobic” or an “Islamophobe.” –three favourite accusations levelled at Conservatives.
Again, definitions are necessary here. What exactly do “homophobic” and “homophobia” mean?
Merriam Webster: “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals”.
Collins English : “involving or related to a strong and unreasonable dislike of homosexuals”
Oxford:“ dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people”
Dictionary.com: “unreasoning fear of or antipathy for homosexuals and homosexuality”
Cambridge English: 1.“a fear of gay or dislike of gay people” 2.” Fear and dislike of homosexuals”
Vocabulary.com: “ fear of homosexual people”
If the definitions of “homophobic” and/or “homophobia”, defined by reputable dictionaries differ so greatly, why is it that everyone should be forced to accept only the “left’s” interpretation as valid?
If there is not universal agreement as to definitions, how can someone’s character be smeared by labeling them Islamophobes or homophobes?
It has been far too easy for far too long for the ‘’progressive left” to defame and accuse people of ‘racism’, ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘homophobia’.
Many Canadians feel threatened by the “left’, their intolerance, their rigidity, their labelling. It is worrisome for the wellbeing of democracy and freedom of thought and speech.
Last year, before the Provincial elections, in the Canadian Jewish News,Farber accused then-candidate Doug Ford of ‘racism’, ‘homophobia’ and ‘Islamophobia’, either for Mr. Ford’s own statements or, once again, by his “associations”. I responded and answered to Farber’s accusations, rebutting him in my article in The Canadian Jewish News, finishing my response by stating that Doug Ford was none of those things; rather, Doug Ford was “the next Premier of Ontario”.
I ask: by way of Farber’s accusations and inferences, could one infer that he is in any way suggesting that the people who voted for Premier Ford –are ‘racist’, ‘homophobic’ and ‘Islamophobes’?
What possible justification do Farber and Mock have to impose their beliefs, their values, their condemnation upon others?
In one of Farber’s emails, he states:
“With the greatest of respect, please understand that we come to this from an area of expertise and many long years of batting racism. Between Karen and I we have decades of hand on work in the filed of anti-racism, providing workshops and forums for police services, school boards and various levels of government on all matters dealing with prejudice, extremism, bigotry and anti-Semitism. As well, Karen and I are amongst a very few experts in Canada qualified by Canadian Courts as expert witnesses on matters dealing with hatred and bigotry. Further, both Karen and I sit on the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (I sit as its Chair) advisory board which is made up of the most senior and knowledgeable experts and academics dealing with hatred and extremism in Canada.”
Well. One could certainly argue that for every “expert” on the Left there will be a corresponding expert on the Right. As for the accolades that Farber seems to be citing for himself and Mock, if one were cynical by nature it could be argued that it appears many of these tributes or recognition could be perceived as the Left praising and recognizing the positions of the Left.
With the greatest of respect, one might respectfully suggest that both Farber and Mock read their JSpace Canada website-
On the JSpace Canada website, under “Our Objectives” it states:
1.To serve as an informed voice for a balanced approach…..
2.To let the public, community leaders and elected officials to know that the Jewish community has many voices.
Under “Jewish Community”:
At a time when attacks on the Jewish community are increasing, many community leaders are more engaged in criticizing each other than uniting to confront common challenges. We want to build bridges, recognizing the value of constructive dissent …..”
It is reasonable to surmise that some could have difficulty reconciling the above mentioned virtual “Mission Statements” of JSpace Canada, with the condemnation, the interference, the accusations, the judgment, the censorship hurled by their leaders against another group just because they offer a different viewpoint.
In a true democracy, people have the right to meet, discuss, analyze, criticize, any and all concerns about any issues, any situations, any politics.
That is democracy. That is freedom of expression. That is freedom of speech, of thought, of varying points of view.
This Teach-In is designed to openly question and explore the political realities of Canada and how Canadians are currently impacted by immigration policies, refugee claimants, “open migration”, Islamization, radicalization, anti-Semitism, anti-Israel hatred, B.D.S., campus harassment against Jewish students as well as to learn how to effectively deal with ongoing interference, misinformation and fear mongering –and much more.
The rights to question and learn are absolutely vital at this moment of time.
We are at a “tipping point”, a “crossroads for Canada and her state of democracy. We must have honest conversations with each other, even when they are difficult and even when they are painful.
As for those who will be attending the Teach-In and those who are speaking there as well, please do not assume that these Canadians don’t like Muslims. Attending this Teach-In does not mean these people don’t want Muslims to come to or live in Canada.
It means they want to understand about Islam, to learn what sharia law really is, and how it might affect them; and to become informed about Canada’s immigration policies and what its impact can be. Canadians want to (and should) have a say in how Canada moves forward-without intimidation, name-calling and innuendo.
Conservatives are not inherently bigots, as the left would like Canadians to believe. Conservative points of view are just as valid as the Left’s and if the Left really believes what is espoused on JSpace Canada ‘s website, I politely suggest that the Left begin to respect Conservatives’ points of view as being equal to their own.
It is such arrogance for “progressive Leftists’’ to believe that only their view is sacrosanct, above reproach or assessment. No one has the exclusive moral authority to enforce his or her own “exclusive” beliefs upon all Canadians.
One has to ask: what is the Left so afraid of that they need to demonize, judge, condemn, criticize, censor and denigrate those who do not agree with them?
Allow open dialogue, pluralism and mutual respect. Support freedom of speech as enshrined in Canadian rights and freedoms.
What if JSpace, its leaders, supporters and those on the Left could do that?
G-d bless Canada, her people and our democracy!!! Amen.
VIVIENNE GRACE ZINER