Canadian Jews say No to Israeli massacre; Canadian Jewish Congress tries to smear protesters

January 15, 2009

In News

Jewish Activists Condemn Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) for Supporting Crimes Against Humanity: CJC seeks to smear critics of Israeli atrocities

01.14.2009 |


Toronto – Activists and concerned community members are voicing outrage that, in the context of an ongoing Israeli military assault which has killed more than 900 Palestinians, wounded more than 4,000 and destroyed essential civilian infrastructure in the already devastated Gaza Strip, the Canadian Jewish Congress is seeking to smear those who have protested these atrocities.

At 1:30pm on Wednesday January 14, some of these concerned community members will assemble in front of Toronto’s Sutton Place Hotel (955 Bay Street at Wellesley) to denounce the CJC’s attempts to distract people from ongoing Israeli crimes, and to provide information regarding the CJC’s connection to the propaganda campaign accompanying the latest Israeli assault.

Judy Deutsch, a member of Independent Jewish Voices (IJV)-Canada and one of the eight Jewish women who recently occupied the Israeli consulate in Toronto to protest the Israeli attack on Gaza, emphasizes that the real scandal is the whitewashing of Israeli crimes as they transparently unfold. “The disinformation from Israel is transparently dishonest and shameless and is a travesty to all civilians caught up in this needless invasion,” Deutsch says. “There is no excuse for these distortions of the facts as there is such reliable information from numerous human rights and medical witnesses to the atrocities.”

Dan Freeman-Maloy, a graduate student at York University who researches Canadian-Israeli relations, notes that the CJC is directly connected to Israel’s system of wartime diplomacy. “It is well known that Israel has established a National Information Directorate to justify its invasion of Gaza before world opinion, involving representatives of the IDF, key government ministries and the Jewish Agency,” Freeman-Maloy explains. “The CJC, like the Canada-Israel Committee, is part of an advocacy system closely associated with the Jewish Agency, and its shameful apologetics for Israeli crimes amount to crass and cynical diplomacy.”

Andy Lehrer, a member of the IJV-Canada steering committee, adds that CJC smearing of anti-war demonstrations is wrought with hypocrisy. “Such charges are aimed at suppressing legitimate protest against Israeli war crimes,” asserts Lehrer. “Ironically, the CJC has ignored repeated requests that they distance themselves from a bona fide hate group, the Jewish Defence League (JDL), which has had a high profile within the Jewish community, including at CJC-sponsored events. In addition, the JDL has engaged in verbal abuse and intimidation at Gaza solidarity events,” Lehrer explains. “Last Thursday we held a vigil across the street from the CJC’s own pro-Israel rally and were subjected to a barrage of hate speech and vitriolic abuse from the JDL, who had come out to support the CJC rally. Among the things they yelled were ‘you’re not Jews, you’re shit,’ ‘you’re rats’ and ‘blow yourselves up.’ The next day I talked to Farber and asked him to publicly denounce the JDL. He refused.”

Foreign journalists have recently been barred from entering Gaza, multiple news offices within the Strip have been damaged by IDF attacks, and numerous journalists working from Gaza have been killed by IDF forces. While Israel wishes to see international perceptions shaped by its diplomats and their associates, Canadian journalists can hopefully adopt a more critical attitude.



Judy Deutsch – (416) 929-8349

Dan Freeman-Maloy – (416) 537-9100


Videotape adds to rift in Jewish community

01.15.2009 | Toronto Star
By Emily Mathieu, Toronto Star
Staff Reporter

[please go here to post comments]

Some object to the way images portray T.O.’s ‘pro-Hamas’ protests

The release of a videotape containing images of people burning flags
and shouting slurs at “pro-Hamas” rallies has exacerbated a rift
within Toronto’s Jewish community over Israel’s actions in Gaza.

“Everyone has the right to peacefully protest,” said Bernie Farber,
chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress, which
released the tape at a Toronto media conference yesterday.

“People have the right to protest Israel’s policies regarding Gaza as
others have the right to protest terrorist groups like Hamas. No one
has the right to vilify, demonize and incite.”

Farber said the recent scenes of “pro-Hamas” demonstrators in Montreal
and Toronto shouting slogans against Jews, burning Israel’s flag and
waving signs equating the Star of David with a swastika are examples
of a “frightening” tide of intolerance flowing unchecked on Canadian

He called for organizers and supporters at the rallies to condemn the
excessive behaviour.

CJC put together the four-minute tape using its own video of the
rallies and clips posted online by others. CJC has posted the tape on
YouTube, under the heading “Canadian Jewish Congress exposes
incitement to hatred and violence at pro-Hamas rallies.” There is a
link to the tape at

A handful of protesters braved the frigid cold outside yesterday’s
conference to speak out against the CJC’s release of the tape.

Dan Freeman-Maloy, a York University graduate student, said the group
was “in no moral position, as its leaders shamelessly justify ongoing
crimes against humanity, to smear those who have the basic human
decency to speak out against these horrors.”

He called the tape a diversionary tactic meant to deflect attention
away from Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Judy Deutsch, one of eight Jewish Canadian women recently arrested
during a peaceful protest at the Israeli consulate in Toronto, said
the tape gives a distorted view of the rallies and ignores the
viewpoint of Jews opposed to Israel’s action.

“It doesn’t do Jews around the world any good if Israel continues to
act with impunity, over and over again, against international law.”

The CLC has sent its tape to police in Toronto and Montreal and the
RCMP to check for illegal conduct.

Protests incite anti-Semitism?

01.15.2009 | Toronto Sun

Jewish group calls RCMP over pro-Hamas rallies

Members of the Jewish Congress held a press conference condemning
recent hateful demonstrations throughout Canada.

The Canadian Jewish Congress wants the RCMP to investigate possible
human rights violations after anti-Semitic slurs were heard at recent
pro-Hamas rallies in Canada, including Toronto.

“Everyone has a right to peacefully protest,” CJC CEO Bernie Farber
said at a news conference yesterday. “No one has a right to vilify and
demonize. What is frightening — and possibly illegal — is the
hyped-up rhetoric that has increased in hate over the last 10 days.”

The group showed photos and videos off YouTube that depicted Jews
being compared to Nazis, terrorists and dogs. In one video allegedly
shot at the Jan. 10 rally outside the Israel Consulate on Bloor St., a
woman screams, “Jewish child, you’re going to f—ing die.”

“What we see is a dangerous trend in importing what’s happening in the
Middle East into our communities, into our streets,” said Sara
Saber-Freedman of the Canada-Israel Committee.

More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 4,000
wounded from rocket fire on the Gaza Strip from the three-week-old
Israel military assault.

CJC lawyer Mark Freiman said the congress has contacted the RCMP and
local police over the videos and photos in Toronto, Montreal and
Calgary to determine if any human rights violations were made at these
protests. If there were, the CJC wants police to file charges.

“If you can provide information that promoting hatred, genocide …
like we have shown you here, I would denounce it in a New York
minute,” Farber said, when asked whether he’d denounce violence
against Palestinians made by Jews at the rallies.

Meanwhile, about 10 protesters held placards outside the hotel where
the news conference was held, claiming the CJC was “whitewashing
Israeli crimes.” “The Canadian Jewish Congress does not speak for us
when they put forth an uncritical view of Israel,” said Andy Lehrer of
Independent Jewish Voices. “They don’t speak for us when they try to
demonize tens of thousands of people who are demonstrating in favour
of Palestinians rights. I think they’re trying to change the channel
and trying to exaggerate that to distort what’s going on.”

Saber-Freedman dismissed the allegations. “There is no suggestion here
that is any obligation for homogenous opinion,” she said. “There’s a
diversity of opinion in Israel and within our community, although I
would suggest that the people outside represent a very small part of
our community.”

War protesters inciting hate, say Jewish groups

01.14.2009 | National Post
By Melissa Leong, National Post

In a dimly lit room inside a downtown Toronto hotel, Canadian Jewish
groups played video footage from rallies that they said “should shock
all Canadians” and asked the organizations involved in the
demonstrations to denounce the “hateful rhetoric.”

The video clips and photographs were of people in Toronto, Calgary and
Montreal protesting Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

“Unless those organizations denounce and distance themselves from this
kind of language, the effect implicitly for the people doing this kind
of chanting will be that they may feel that that behaviour is somehow
acceptable in Canada,” said Sara Saber-Freedman, executive
vice-president of the Canada-Israel Committee.

The groups that participated in the demonstrations included the
Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Archdiocese of Montreal’s
Social Action Office.

“They demonize, incite and they provoke hatred. Calls for murder and
genocide abound,” Bernie Farber, chief executive of the Canadian
Jewish Congress, told media while a slide show of images appeared on a
screen to his right.

One picture featured four men standing with an Israeli flag and giving
the Nazi salute in Calgary. In another, someone in Montreal held a
sign that read, “Israelis are the Nazis of the 21st century.”

The video footage included a clip of youthful demonstrators in
Montreal lighting an Israeli flag on fire while chanting “Burn, burn,
Israel”; also, a woman is seen yelling: “Jewish child, you’re going to
f—— die. Hamas is coming for you.”

Mark Freiman, a lawyer representing the CJC, said the material will be
sent to the police to determine whether they constitute hate speech.

“No one is suggesting that political speech be censored or that people
have to hold their political discussions over a tea party,” he said.
“What you can’t do is cross the line where you’re calling for violence
against an identifiable minority.”

Mohamed Boudjenane, who is executive director of the Canadian Arab
Federation, said he found the images and video clips offensive but
that organizers had “nothing to do with it.

“Was there a deliberate attempt by the organizers to encourage hateful
messages and permit and facilitate hateful demonstrations? Were there
any attempt in the speeches to attack the Jewish faith and demonize
the Jewish community?

“To those questions, `No, no, no.’ ”

“We would never support hateful activity. We would never use these
types of message and slogans toward the Jewish communities because at
the end of the day … this is about occupation. That is the issue we
should be debating.”

Organizers of rallies in Toronto to oppose the action in Gaza said
parade marshals did not witness any improper behaviour.

Members of the Aryan Guard appeared at a Calgary march but organizers
asked them to leave.

On Wednesday, about eight people protested on the sidewalk in front of
the hotel arguing that the Canadian Jewish Congress’s press conference
detracted from the issue and “demonized the opposition.”

“The real human rights crisis is not a bunch of signs. More than 900
people have been killed so far in Gaza. The CJC is just trying to
change the channel,” said Andy Lehrer, a member of the Independent
Jewish Voices — Canada.

He said he has heard offensive statements from various rallies and
vigils from both sides of the issue.

Mr. Farber said that if he was presented with evidence of any “vile,
disgusting, hateful rhetoric,” from a member of his community, “I
would have absolutely no hesitation in denouncing it.”

Letter to the National Post (being “considered” for publication)


Thanks for your letter. It will be considered for upcoming editions.
Paul Russell
NP letters editor

—–Original Message—–
Sent: Wed 14/01/2009 10:48 PM
To: Letters (National Post)
Subject: ‘War protesters inciting hate, say Jewish groups’

Re: “War protesters inciting hate, say Jewish groups’

Your article paraphrases a rather lengthy discussion I had with your
reporter as follows: “He said he has heard offensive statements from
various rallies and vigils from both sides of the issue.” I don’t
believe this accurately conveys what I said which was, in reference to
videos of the Gaza solidarity rallies put on YouTube by supporters of
Israel, that in a demonstration of 10,000 people it’s inevitable that
you’ll find a handful who will say offensive things but that,
conversely, I had heard a barrage of abusive statements coming from
supporters of Israel when I attended an anti-war vigil across the
street from a pro-Israel rally last week in Toronto. Further, I said
that it was hypocritical of the CJC to claim that organizers of
pro-Palestinian demos were responsible for every word said by every
protester while simultaneously disclaiming responsibility for
offensive statements made at pro-Israel rallies.

Yours truly,

Andy Lehrer,
Independent Jewish Voices,

Jewish group claims pro-Gaza protests have violated Canadian laws

01.14.2009 | Canadian Press

TORONTO — Rallies held in cities across Canada to condemn Israel’s
attacks on Gaza may have broken Canadian laws by inciting hatred and
genocide, the Canadian Jewish Congress alleged Tuesday, but the
position was quickly dismissed by the Canadian Arab Federation.

The congress said it would screen video and images at a news
conference Wednesday from protests in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to
make its case that the demonstrations crossed the legal line.

The material will show “pro-Hamas” demonstrations that are “uncivil,
un-Canadian, that demonize Jews and Israelis,” and might violate
Canadian laws, congress CEO Bernie Farber said in an interview.

“Some of the rhetoric and chants that we have heard are everything
from calls to murder, to comparison of Jews and Israelis to Nazis, to
calls to genocide,” he said.

The Jewish advocacy group said it plans to ask both local police and
the RCMP to investigate whether any crimes might have been committed.

Thousands of people have demonstrated in cities across Canada against
the attacks on Gaza that have killed hundreds of people.

The Israeli government says the action is in retaliation for Hamas
rocket attacks on Israel from the Palestinian territory.

There have also been several Canadian rallies in support of the
Israeli action.

The congress said it would release a list of those who co-sponsored
the anti-Israel protests, among them the Ontario wing of the Canadian
Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Peace Alliance and the
Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

One of the groups Farber is naming, the Canadian Arab Federation,
calls the congress’s approach an unsurprising attempt to divert
attention from the horrors the Israeli military has been visiting on
Gaza and its people.

It’s only normal that many Canadians, horrified by what has occurred
in Gaza, would react strongly, but labelling them anti-Semitic or
Muslim extremists is just fear-mongering, said Mohamed Boudjenane,
executive director of the federation.

“We had 10,000 people (protest),” Boudjenane said.

“How can you control every single person there and not have someone
who will scream some weird stuff or someone who could have a flag of
Hamas or whatever? But the purpose of the march has nothing to do with

Boudjenane pointed out that numerous Jews have also rallied against
the Israeli attacks, naming some prominent ones such as author Naomi
Klein and political and social activist Judy Rebick.

They aren’t anti-Jew, he said, but were only there to protest the
“massacre” happening in Gaza.

Boudjenane also accused pro-Israeli counter-demonstrato rs of taunting
the pro-Palestinian side with such epithets as “murderer” and “terrorist.”

Farber said if the temperature isn’t brought down, the rallies could
lead to real violence in Canada or attacks on Jewish institutions, as
has happened in some places in Europe.

“We are firm supporters and believers in the need to be able to
passionately demonstrate in free and democratic societies,” Farber said.

“But most us as Canadians also abhor the vilifying and demonizing and
promoting some of the most hateful images that one can really imagine
in terms of such demonstrations. “