Tree of Life Synagogue: Tragedy in Pittsburg

This post is part of The Exchange. The opinions expressed by contributors shared on The Exchange do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of CIJA, its staff, or Board of Directors.

As millions of Canadians mourn the tragic deaths at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, we re-affirm our support and friendship and will continue to do all within our power to educate and act in support of our Jewish friends and the nation of Israel. We will continue to challenge and educate Canadians who hold beliefs and take actions that are antsemitic in nature. As families mourn the loss and injury of loved ones, I recall the words of the Psalmist:

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! (Psalm 31:14, 15, 24)

Antisemitic words and actions are on the rise in Canada. Most of this evil is perpetrated by far Left or far Right groups, organizations, and individuals, and by radical Islamists. Political, religious, business, academic, and social leaders are bombarded by lobbyists who are biased against or in outright opposition to Israel and the Jewish people. Many Canadian colleges and universities welcome incendiary speakers and educators who spew hate for Israel and Jews, yet refuse to permit pro-Israel speakers and educators to be heard. Some so-called Christian denominations have consciously decided to join the Israel hate-fest and are a discredit to their Christian faith and the Bible that informs it. This hypocrisy fuels antisemites, Holocaust deniers, and radicals. Actions like the Tree of Life Synagogue tragedy are in large part rooted in these and other related factors. I appeal to Canadian lawmakers, interpreters, and enforcers to take decisive action before it’s too late.

Members of Parliament and other political leaders have the responsibility to address these evils, to legislate against them, and to enforce that legislation. In many cases, simply enforcing the existing legislation would help stem the tide. Those who participate in BDS and hate need a wake-up call. Clear-minded Canadians will not tolerate it. Those who falsely claim “human rights” abuses need to be confronted and have their “story” debunked. Canadian politicians need to sift through the rhetoric and stand firm on truth and true justice — not the injustice falsely peddled as justice. Prime Minister Trudeau needs to take a principled lead on this, to do what is right because it is right, to reject voices that support antisemitic or anti-Israel libels and violence, and to be on the right side of history.

MPs who are being lobbied need to fact-check. They need to be informed by reliable sources and to be reminded of self-evident, easily confirmed facts. Those who promote libels need to be identified and exposed for their lies. Those who falsely accuse Israel of apartheid need to observe the obvious: Israel is a free and liberal democracy, and it is many of her neighbours that actually practice racial segregation — against Jews. This is vividly evident with the Palestinian Authority who wants their version of “history” and national aspiration to be respected while denying the Jews theirs. Worse yet, many seemingly intelligent Canadian and world leaders act as if this is acceptable. Those who protest by boycotting Israel in Canadian institutions and society need to reconsider the whether there is any wisdom in boycotting the source of vast breakthroughs in technology, medicine, education, agriculture, defense, emergency response, and human aid, not to mention giving medical treatment to victims of civil conflicts in Syria and Lebanon.

Supporting Israel does not mean demonstrating hate for other nations and people-groups in the region. It’s time for people and organizations to get off the Israel hate-wagon and dialogue in a civil manner. Then maybe some of the fuel for these barbaric incidents would be gone. That sounds like a fair request.

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