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No Voice For Fair Play

By , contributor
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I have been looking and listening but have not seen or heard any organizational voices raised in the Canadian Jewish community to protest against the unfair attack pamphlet issued by the Conservatives. 

This scurrilous pamphlet arrived with my mail but I have no idea which mailing list, identifying me as a Jewish voter, was utilized for this effort. As most of us know, by now, the pamphlet was not simply an effort to tout the Tory record on Jewish issues but came close to libeling the Liberal Party as anti-Semitic. Several of the points, raised by the Conservatives, are either questionable or divorced from context. However their first accusation that the Liberals “willingly participated in anti-Semitic Durban I. ” is clearly outrageous and aimed quite obviously at former Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler and Liberal candidate in Thornhill Karen Mock, who were both part of the Canadian delegation at Durban I.

Among others, Rabbi Michael Melchior, who at the time was Israel ’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and had responsibility for Durban , has given the lie to the Tory charge. Rabbi Melchior states, that after the Israel delegation had withdrawn, “I requested from the Canadian delegation that they lead and coordinate the work at Durban , to combat the dangerous anti-Semitic language in the final resolution.” Melchior specifically commends Cotler, saying “no one worked harder…to combat anti-Semitism and … Israel bashing.” In other words, the Tory pamphlet was defamatory and an obvious attempt to undermine the courageous work of Cotler, Mock and the other Canadian participants at Durban I.

I can understand the support that some in the Jewish community are giving to the Conservative Party. They like the party’s steadfast support for a right wing Israel, do not question the building of more settlements on the West Bank, the inaction in removing illegal outposts, and support the party’s criticism of human rights abuses in China but ignore Israel’s less than stellar performance in that area.

However, the Canadian Jewish Congress, B’nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish News and the Jewish Tribune all know and have previously recognized both Cotler and Mock for their many contributions in the defense of Israel and in the fight against anti-Semitism. Karen Mock’s work as national director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights and later as director of Canada ’s Race Relations Foundation, confirmed her status as one of our premier experts on anti-Semitism and racism. Cotler’s fight has been global, in defending Natan Sharansky, in the search for Raoul Wallenberg and as a world renowned advocate against anti-Semitism. We should take pride in these two outstanding individuals, and the Jewish community, especially including those who do not share their political allegiances, should defend them against this unfair Tory attack.

Shame on those leaders in our Canadian Jewish community, who remain silent, when members of the community are unjustly attacked. Frank Dimant, the head honcho of B’nai Brith covers up for his Conservative friends, and characterizes the Conservative pamphlet as merely an effort to show that the Tories “were more in tune with the Jewish community.” Some years ago, when I headed the League for Human Rights, Frank Dimant and I spoke out against attempts to unfairly link the Reform Party to anti-Semitic elements. I suspect that in the last few years the ties of Dimant and others in our community to the Conservative Party have become so strong that they now overwhelm any sense of fairness on their part. They do not speak up in behalf of leading members of our community who are victims of unfair attacks. Shame on B’nai Brith, shame on Congress, shame on all those in positions of community responsibility who have become so narrowly politically partisan that they choose to ignore unjust attacks on outstanding Canadian Jews.

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