By Yves Engler
Has the extreme right gone mainstream in Canada’s pro-Israel community?
A number of prominent figures in Toronto’s Jewish establishment have rallied to support a “settler colonial NGO” set up by a racist homophobe. In so doing, Bernie Farber and others aligned with the Jewish Defence League (JDL).
On Saturday 15, pro-Palestine activists rallied in front of an event organized by Jerusalem-based NGO Regavim, which Ha’aretz calls “one of the most prominent right-wing groups in Israel today.”
In response to a half dozen Regavim events in the Toronto area last week, 30 groups endorsed a campaign calling on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to stop providing tax receipts for donations to an organization that works to demolish Palestinian homes and communities.
A comprehensive formal complaint about Regavim was submitted to the CRA and more than 1,800 individuals emailed the revenue agency to oppose the government subsidizing a racist NGO. “Canadian taxpayers shouldn’t be giving a penny to subsidize this violent settler colonialist organization”, noted Rabbi David Mivasair in a media statement released by the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute and Just Peace Advocates.
Once he learned about opposition to Regavim the long-time leader of the now defunct JDL quickly sprung to its defense. Meir Weinstein repeatedly attacked those challenging Regavim and when he discovered a rally was planned to counter Regavim’s final event in Toronto Weinstein tweeted, “Urgent: The BDS is Planning on Harassing Jews at the Or Chaim Yeshiva Tonight Sat. Dec. 17, 7:00 PM 159 Almore Ave, Toronto. Join Meir Weinstein and Stop this Antisemitism tonight.”
— The Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) December 19, 2022
Unsurprisingly, Weinstein brought out some unsavory characters. One of them repeatedly called the Palestine solidarity activists “murderers” and “scum”.
As has happened multiple times in the past, many among Toronto’s Jewish establishment then echoed Weinstein. The Director of Education at AGPIworld.com, Neil Orlowsky, tweeted a video clip from the anti-Regavim protest with the note, “this was the scene this evening in a Jewish, not Israeli, neighborhood in Toronto. Another Free Palestine group targeted the Jewish community on Shabbat and congregated outside a Jewish day school. This is why we say anti-Zionism is antisemitism.”
Despite Orlowsky’s inaccuracies and lies of omission – immediately countered by many Twitter users – his Tweet was shared widely. Toronto city Councillor James Pasternak quote tweeted it noting, “deeply disturbed by another incident of harassment of the Toronto Jewish community by the anti-Israel mob at Yeshiva Or Chaim and synagogue on Saturday night. #antisemitism.”
A member of Ontario’s legislature, Robin Martin, quote tweeted Pasternak, noting “like councilor Pasternak said I am upset by this incident and will always fight for the right of every person to worship freely and safely anywhere in Ontario.”
In a sign of Zionism’s ideological bedfellows, both Rebel News editor Ezra Levant and Canadian Anti Hate Network chair Bernie Farber retweeted Orlowsky. Farber quote tweeted him noting, “Targeting Jews in general for the actions of the Israeli government is an antisemitic act no matter how it is defined. This must stop.”
The supposedly progressive Farber defended a group established by Bezalel Smotrich, a vicious racist and self-described “proud homophobe”. Appointed “overlord” of the West Bank, Smotrich will control the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Netanyahu’s new far-right government. As Haaretz recently put it, “The Regavim NGO and Bezalel Smotrich don’t want law and order, they want to use more force against the Arabs.”
Extremist Jewish pro-settler group Regavim demanded, on Thursday, the Israeli army and the Shin Bet security service to end protests by Bedouin residents of the Naqab (Negev) desert region against planting trees on Palestinian land, Israeli media reported.https://t.co/nesphBv7Sn pic.twitter.com/9q4MzWVgyq
— The Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) January 14, 2022
Farber, Levant, Orlowsky and the others believe anyone who opposes that is “antisemitic”. The support for Regavim suggests Canada’s Israel lobby will continue their unflinching backing for Netanyahu’s new far-right government, regardless of its extreme nationalism, homophobia and racism.
Those who rallied in the cold last Saturday evening to protest Regavim should be applauded, not criticized. They were opposing crimes against humanity. People of conscience will never accept Zionists’ bid to erase Palestinians.
– Yves Engler is the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and a number of other books. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit his website: yvesengler.com.