My heart hurts today.
On the night before the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, I spent the day in court with some friends watching the sentencing of a 17-year-old who attacked a Jewish family this summer at a pro-Hamas Gaza rally.
The day before the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Jews who were marked for death for the crime of being Jewish, and we haven’t learned a goddamn thing. I am sitting here with my head in my hands wondering how we ended up here, in a country I love but do not like very much right now.
During World War II, our Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King famously stated “None is too many” when requested to allow for the immigration of Jews escaping the Holocaust. Several notable Canadians spoke up on behalf of the Jews, but to no avail because in the end, the people in power hated Jews and refused to help them. The Jew hatred in Canada was subtle; the Prime minister had bought up all the land near his home so that no Jews could move in close to him. When begged to allow 1000 Jewish orphans to immigrate to Canada, Mackenzie King refused. They died.
Now in 2015, I sat in court and watched as a 17-year-old was given probation and 30-hours community service after assaulting a young Jewish girl and her family, WHILE ON PROBATION FOR AN ILLEGAL WEAPONS CHARGE. There is no possible way that this is justice; a group of over 30 people crossed the street and attacked a family of 6 and a young man that was with them. This was no “escalation of violence between groups” as the “agreed statement of facts” between the prosecution and defense suggested. It was a lynching – a mob attacking a family, a Jewish family. But today in Canada, we would not see justice, we would see that same attitude towards Jews that Mackenzie King displayed, indifference to their suffering and outright bigotry.
I am sitting here dwelling on this, because it doesn’t seem real. During the attack, people were screaming “Kill the Jews” as my good friend’s nephew was dragged around by an Israeli flag tied around his neck. His daughter, my beautiful little friend who I see like a little sister, was punched in the face, thrown to ground, kicked repeatedly and had one scumbag run and try to jump on her head with both feet while she lay on the ground. My friends son was punched kicked and BITTEN, and his wife who had just had surgery, was punched in the stomach, all while my friend was held back and unable to help them. The hatred must have been incredible for people to act in such an inhuman manner towards other human beings.
Yet somehow this wasn’t called a hate crime, supposedly because it wasn’t planned. But lets be honest, this sort of hate doesn’t just spontaneously pop up. They were not screaming “Kill the white Canadian family” but rather “Kill the Jews.” 70 years after the Holocaust, in Calgary – a city filled with people who fought the evil of the genocidal Nazi regime – in a country filled with those who fought and died, first this attack and then a week later we saw these same Arab kids chanting ” All hail Hitler” (because they were too stupid to know the difference between hail and heil.). We saw those same Arab kids follow several Jewish and non Jewish people after we counter protested to take back our city, and the kid who was found guilty today was one of the ones who followed us to our cars and ran across the street to try to attack a few of us. I told the cop who stopped him to “Let him go, I will take care of this quickly for everyone,” and the cop looked tempted.
I am sort of known for fighting fights that look un-winnable, I have a reputation for winning because losing is simply not an option. When people told me that Native Canadians supported the Arabs , I didn’t accept that. Instead, I found an argument that is unassailable and shows native people that in fact our commonalities are with the indigenous Jewish people and not the Arabs who attempted to colonize them. And while its been slow, it’s also been effective because its the truth. Groups like SPHR (Students for Palestinian Human Rights) and CJPME (Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East) should be paying attention. People like Saima Jamal (the “peace activist” who organised the rally where my friends were attacked and then laughed about it on Facebook) better be paying attention because you may see this kid’s ridiculously light sentence and think you have won something, but you are on the list now and CUWI’s list is a bad place to be.
We won’t stop fighting back. We understand that it’s a legal system not a justice system, so we started a Group called One Nation Society for Democracy and it’s specifically to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening in Canada again. We are fundraising now to help us fight this battle on the offensive, because we do not believe that Canada should accept the attitude that led to “None is too many” ever again.