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March 07, 2003

Canada's Liberal Government and anti-Semitism

Mark Dubowitz writes to Dr. Bennett, his MP

It is with a heavy heart that I write this message. I live in your riding of St. Paul's and I have been a supporter of the Liberal party for a number of years including doing volunteer work for the provincial Liberal Party in the 1980's and 1990's. I am an immigrant from South Africa, a proud Canadian for the past 26 years, with a degree in law and an MBA from the University of Toronto, and a career today in high technology and venture capital. I speak English, French, and Hebrew, I've lived in France and Israel, and traveled extensively in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. I am also Jewish.

I never thought it would come to this. This past weekend, my wife and I had a long and painful discussion about whether there was a future in Canada for the Jewish community and for us and our children and grandchildren.

I don't want to lay out in great detail the foundation for our fears because I'm sure you're familiar with the general areas of concern as we watch the rising anti-Semitism in this country: the vitriol and violence on university campuses and in the public discourse, the threats against Jewish targets necessitating police and security guards at synagogues and other Jewish institutions, and the stridently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic positions emanating from different and sometimes surprising quarters.

Dr. Bennett, to be clear, I feel that the Liberal Party and this government has let down the Jewish community. Examples abound: the government attempt to legitimize the "political wing" of Hezbollah which, despite its self-admitted record of intentionally murdering Jewish and non-Jewish civilians for years, was being praised by our government recently for the great work it does in Lebanon; the reluctance of senior government officials to speak out forcefully and clearly against suicide bombings and other terrorist acts against Israelis and Jews worldwide; a reticence to condemn in clear and unambiguous language the violence and intolerance towards Jews and pro-Israel supporters on Canadian campuses and in the public domain; the government supported and tax-funded CBC's significantly biased reporting on all issues relating to Israel and the Jewish world; and the government's tolerance of the Lebanese ambassador to Canada's recent anti-Semitic rantings. As if an apology for hatred should ever suffice! Today, Ernst Zundel is trying to get back into our country and, last I heard, David Ahenakew still has his Order of Canada. (What a laundry list.)

I could go on with other examples and I know that, in response, you and your party have answers to all of these concerns and criticisms. Nevertheless, the point remains clear. Amongst many of my Jewish friends and family members, there is a strong feeling that Canada is becoming a more dangerous place for Jews.

Our fear is that Canada is not dangerous today but that it is heading in that direction. Many will say I'm being too paranoid or too sensitive but unfortunately, through painful historical experience, we are conditioned as Jews to try and read the signs and the trend lines before it's too late. And we've been wrong or waited too long or remained silent too many times before. Today, when we look at the experience of our friends and family in countries like France, we wonder whether their experience there does not portend frightening developments for us here.

Let me be clear. I am not someone who sees an anti-Semite behind every tree. I have friends from all backgrounds and love the cultural and religious diversity of this country. I always had hoped that Canada would be a safe haven for the Jews and that my grandchildren and great grandchildren would live here as proud and safe Canadians. I never ever thought that I would actually be thinking of one day leaving my home in Canada because I was a Jew.

I thank you for being the representative for our riding and for the hard work you do. I ask only that you consider this one voice along with the thousands you hear everyday. It is a voice of fear and anguish that someday the Jews may have to leave this great country to seek refuge elsewhere yet again.