This coming Saturday, November 11th, we will once again pause to remember, as we have for over a century, those men and women who gave their lives, or had their lives irrevocably changed, defending freedom and democracy and opposing tyranny and hate. It is of course fitting that we do that, perhaps even more so this year, as our present world is rife with conflict.
We haven’t heard much of the war in Ukraine lately because the conflict in the Middle East has captured most of the headlines. But that war is still ongoing. Ukraine is fighting an uphill battle and thousands of its citizens have died defending its sovereignty against Russian aggression. Although the focus now is elsewhere, they must not be forgotten.
Nor should we forget the thousands of people, of all ages, dying in the Middle East right now in the war between Israel and Hamas. Every human life is precious, whether Jewish or Palestinian. But Hamas, who controls Palestinian governance, must be held accountable for their unprovoked acts of terrorism against Israel.
They must also be held accountable for using innocent Palestinians as human shields. They use the basements of hospitals as their headquarters. They shuttle their leaders around in ambulances and gather them in refugee camps. They promote spilling the blood of their own people in order to ignite the “Revolution.”
As I mentioned in a previous article, it would take a very hard heart not to empathize with the horror many innocent Palestinians are enduring during this present conflict. It would be wrong, however, in my view, to place all of the blame for that on Israel.
A terrifying consequence of the current war in the Middle East is the re-emerging of global antisemitism. We might have expected to see it in Russia, and we did, but it has also raised its ugly head in many Western countries, including France, Great Britain, and Canada.
In France, a Jewish woman was murdered on her doorstep and a swastika was painted on her door. In Canada alone, there have been demonstrations and protests in at least two dozen cities. Thousands have blocked traffic in Toronto for days running, in support of Hamas.
Quite often, these are labeled as Pro-Palestinian protests but that is a misnomer. They are in the main, pro-Hamas rallies supporting their intent to destroy Israel and its Jewish population. In Toronto, there were signs encouraging Hamas to kill Zionists. One sign read, “Smash the Zionists head”. Once again, there was a swastika on Parliament Hill. Hamas Flags are everywhere.
In Toronto, there has been a call for a boycott of Jewish businesses. I have heard from a number of individuals who are Jewish, fearing for their personal safety, here in Muskoka.
All of this speaks to a resurgence of antisemitism in a manner that we have not seen since the Second World War.
So, the hard question is, are we going to tolerate this in Canada?
In responding to the demonstrations across the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “When we see or hear hateful language and imagery, we must condemn it. The display of a swastika by an individual on Parliament Hill is unacceptable. Canadians have a right to assemble peacefully – but we cannot tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind.” That, of course, is true, and Trudeau is covering his political bases here. But these demonstrations are clearly about antisemitism, not Islamophobia and it is a fair question to ask who is promoting these attacks against Jewish people.
Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the Official Opposition said this. “All Canadians should condemn the displays of hate and antisemitism that we continue to see across the country, including the targeting of Jewish businesses and the open display of swastikas on Parliament Hill.”
Anthony Housefather, a Liberal member of Parliament also spoke out about the protests in Canada. “Demonstrations in Canada are a protected right. Free Speech is precious. Even hate speech, though reprehensible, is not criminal. (I strongly disagree with him there) But glorifying terrorism, extolling violence against an identifiable group, that crosses the line and police need to step in when that line is crossed.”
I find it difficult to believe that hate speech is not against the law in Canada. But section 319(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada does outlaw “anyone who by communicating statements in any public place incites hatred against any identifiable group.”
That should be enough in my view, to shut these demonstrations down They are antisemitic in nature and target both Israel and Jewish people. So, where are the police and where are the politicians that will not only say, “STOP” but also actually DO something about it? And where is the mainstream media on this? Pretty quiet on most fronts, in my estimation. I wonder why?
There can, in my view, be no excuse for antisemitism. It is wrong, it is cruel, it is racist, and it is dangerous. That it is now creeping into so much of our society should be very concerning. There may be a cost to shutting it down but nevertheless, that is what must happen.
As I also mentioned in a previous article, I was in Normandy a month ago and visited the Canadian War Cemetery. It is an image and a moment I will never forget; well-kept graves of thousands of Canadians who gave up their lives in the pursuit of freedom and justice.
Much of that freedom and justice is at risk today. Tyranny and antisemitism have often been precursors to war. We owe it not only to ourselves but also to those who have gone before, especially to those who have fallen, to see that it never happens again.
Lest We Forget.
Hugh Mackenzie has held elected office as a trustee on the Muskoka Board of Education, a Huntsville councillor, a District councillor, and mayor of Huntsville. He has also served as chairman of the District of Muskoka and as chief of staff to former premier of Ontario, Frank Miller.
Hugh has also served on a number of provincial, federal and local boards, including chair of the Ontario Health Disciplines Board, vice-chair of the Ontario Family Health Network, vice-chair of the Ontario Election Finance Commission, and board member of Roy Thomson Hall, the National Theatre School of Canada, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Locally, he has served as president of the Huntsville Rotary Club, chair of Huntsville District Memorial Hospital, chair of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, president of Huntsville Festival of the Arts, and board member of Community Living Huntsville.
In business, Hugh Mackenzie has a background in radio and newspaper publishing. He was also a founding partner and CEO of Enterprise Canada, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm established in 1986.
Currently, Hugh is president of C3 Digital Media Inc., the parent company of Doppler Online, and he enjoys writing commentary for Huntsville Doppler.
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