No external threat worries Canadian Jewry more than the rising tide of antisemitism. For years, in grassroots consultations hosted by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), community members have unanimously and consistently said antisemitism is their primary concern.
Pay attention to any conversation on the steps of your nearest synagogue or community centre and you’ll likely hear concerned community members say that Jewish organizations of all stripes should be doing more to combat the scourge of Jew-hatred. To paraphrase the words of an emphatic member of the community in Montreal: “Get together already! Enough is enough! Maspik!”
That passionate individual faithfully represented the perspectives of many in our community. To combat antisemitism, we must work together. We are stronger when we are united, and we must unite on this issue now.
No country in 2019 is free of antisemitism, no political orientation is insulated against Jew-hatred and no movement is entirely immune from discrimination against our people.
Contemporary antisemitism wears many faces and threatens our community on multiple fronts – from the extreme right to the extreme left and, increasingly, from segments within the Muslim community. Some antisemites operate in broad daylight in the public square and on social media. Others lurk in the obscurest corners of the dark web. What unites them is their hatred of Jews. And that should unite us.
Canada may be the best place in the world in which to be Jewish but, make no mistake, this country is not immune from antisemitism and the threat it poses to our safety and well-being.
For years, CIJA has worked to keep antisemitism at the margins. In recent months, these efforts have resulted in two important developments: Canada’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism as part of the government’s anti-racism strategy and, secondly, the incorporation of many of CIJA’s policy positions in the study by the House of Commons Justice Committee, including our call for the creation of a national strategy to combat online hate and radicalization.
While these are important steps, in these challenging times, they are not enough. The enormity of the danger demands a unified approach. This is why we are calling on other organizations and individuals to join CIJA and a broad alliance of Jewish and non-Jewish groups in Canada from all sectors in establishing Maspik! A Coalition to Combat Antisemitism.
Thanks to support drawn from the proceeds of the recent Jewish National Fund Negev Dinner in Toronto, honouring Wendy Eisen and Carole Zucker, we now have the initial seed funds to launch this coalition, which we will expand and sustain over the longer term by establishing a fundraising program to ensure sufficient resources to create real impact.
In the coming weeks, CIJA and our federation partners across the country will establish an independent committee of lay leaders to oversee the grants and applications process. Once established, coalition members will be invited to apply for funding for action-oriented initiatives that advance our overarching objective of confronting and combating antisemitism in Canada.
It is time to act together. With your help, this coalition will provide support for individual organizational efforts, diminish the distracting noise of institutional egos, and give expression to a resounding sense of unity, as we join forces to combat a blight that is as old as the Jewish people.
Join CIJA, your local federation and other organizations representing tens of thousands of Jewish Canadians in saying enough is enough. Maspik!
Shimon Koffler Fogel is president and chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). To learn more about Maspik! A Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, visit maspik.ca.