Since the Hamas-perpetrated slaughter of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7, Jews worldwide have faced an unprecedented wave of antisemitism and violence.
In Canada, synagogues have been firebombed and Jewish schools fired upon with bullets. Lists of Jewish-owned businesses in Montreal and Toronto are circulating online, resulting in calls for boycott, vandalism and intimidation. The anti-Zionist movement grows stronger as supporters rally in the open.
Zionism is the belief in Jewish statehood in the Jewish people’s historic homeland. Anti-Zionism, meanwhile, is the movement for Israel’s destruction. It cloaks itself in the language of social justice and human rights, falsely characterizing Israel as an oppressive colonizing state, to make it more palatable to western audiences.
However, the events of Oct. 7 demonstrated the reality of applying anti-Zionism: the massacre of 1,200 Israelis, accompanied by brutal rape, mutilation and torture, as well as the kidnapping of more than 200 men, women and children to Gaza. Calls for Israel’s dissolution translate into the violent elimination of its citizens.
Despite this, Jewish fears of the anti-Zionist movement are brushed off with the dismissive mantra of “anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.” This is taken as sacred truth in the largely progressive world of academia, media and human rights activism. However, it’s hard to imagine a more antisemitic movement given the torrent of hatred experienced by Jews worldwide since October.
Hamas’s atrocities were motivated by a primeval hatred of Jews, repeatedly reaffirmed by its leaders. Last summer, on Hamas’s official TV station, Islamic cleric Hussein Qasem preached, “The Jews are not the enemies of the Palestinians alone — they are the enemies of humanity as a whole … Why shouldn’t we burn the ground under the Jews’ feet?”
In another hate-filled sermon in a Gaza mosque in April this year, Hamas official Sheikh Hamad al-Regeb prayed: “Oh Allah, bring annihilation upon the Jews.… Oh Allah, enable us to get to the necks of the Jews.” In Canada, hatemongers such as Imam Adil Charkaoui echo these genocidal calls against Jews here on the streets of Montreal by calling for the extermination of “Zionist aggressors.” This is the true face of anti-Zionism exposed.
Following the massacre on Oct. 7, the initial glee and cries of “glory to our martyrs” by anti-Zionists quickly gave way to denial of Hamas’s war crimes, despite the terrorists themselves guaranteeing that this was one of the most well-documented massacres in history. If Hamas had murdered 10,000 or 100,000 Jews on Oct. 7, the anti-Zionist reaction would have been the same.
Jews worldwide who are not prepared to accept with equanimity the slaughter of Jews face verbal and physical abuse. At Concordia University, Jewish students standing in solidarity with the Israeli captives drew the ire of an angry mob. A University of Montreal professor yelled at a student to “go back to Poland, sharmuta” (Arabic for wh–e) distilling into more colloquial terms the antisemitism usually expressed in academic jargon. This is anti-Zionism’s antisemitic playbook: kill Jews, celebrate, deny, vilify Jewish self-defense, retaliate against Jews who refuse passivity.
The retaliatory campaign against the Canadian Jewry by Hamas supporters and their useful idiot allies should come as no surprise to any student of history. Anti-Zionist incitement has led to the destruction of Jewish communities in the former Soviet sphere, as well as in the Arab and Islamic world.
In the aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967, the tiny Jewish community in Poland that had survived the Holocaust was branded a Zionist fifth column. The result was the purging of Jews from positions of influence and the emigration of tens of thousands of Polish Jews from Poland between 1967 and 1970.
Similarly, Jews in Arab and Muslim countries faced waves of persecution, harassment and discrimination due to their supposed ties to Israel. Anti-Zionist antisemitism has made Jewish life impossible in these countries, with over 95 per cent of Jews fleeing to Israel, North America or Europe. This dynamic is now playing out in Canada.
In order to protect Canada’s Jewish citizens, the government must take some potentially unpopular but morally necessary steps. First, Canada must stand unequivocally with Israel in its war against Hamas and other Islamic terrorist organizations. Second, it must recognize that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, pure and simple, and give it no place in Canadian public life. That means that universities must protect the rights of Jewish students to identify with Israel, while disbanding student groups that explicitly glorify terror and harass or marginalize Jews.
Calls for violence against “Zionists” or for Israel’s dissolution (“from the river to the sea”) need to be recognized, based on context, as public incitements of hatred under the Criminal Code. Organizations and foreign citizens that incite against Jews, even under euphemisms such as Zionism and Israel, must have their charitable status revoked and be deported, respectively.
Citizens of good faith must demand that the Canadian government find the will to fight antisemitism, even when it hides under the guise of anti-Zionism.
First published in National Post