The incredibly lenient sentence for blatantly antisemitic, Holocaust-denying B.C. grandfather Arthur Topham – the first Canadian in recent memory to be charged with wilfully promoting hatred against Jewish people – personifies, to many, why there’s no point to strive for justice at all when all the perpetrator gets is a slap on the wrist (or, in this case, six months curfew and a ban on online activity).
But in taking this stance, you’d be closing your eyes to the good that’s come out of this, and to the good that can be achieved if we continue to take an active approach in shutting down promoters of hate speech and intolerance.
Yes, it’s frustrating that a man who ran a website only to further age-old antisemitic blood libels and other egregiously racist tropes will not at least be placed under house arrest. But on the other hand (to quote Tevye the Milkman), even if the punishment is light, we can take solace in the fact that Topham was convicted and will indeed be punished. Given that hate crime convictions are extraordinarily rare in Canada, we will take this as a win.
With every new case we take on, B’nai Brith Canada is actively leading the way and changing the discourse. With every new antisemitic influencer we expose masquerading under the guise of “anti-Zionism,” with every new professor preaching cultural boycotts, with every student group marginalizing and alienating Jewish students on campus, we are helping to change the paradigm and finally see justice being served. We are the voice of the grassroots Jewish community, and we literally could not do any of this without your support.
If you’d like to join us in our fight, I urge you to consider becoming a member. It does have its privileges.
Under the leadership of our CEO Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith Canada has returned to its roots; we started as a human rights advocacy organization, and today we actively serve our community as one. Of course, this doesn’t detract from our vital community programming and services that assist seniors and our community’s most vulnerable. It is our goal to represent and uphold these two mandates to the fullest.
An effective CEO is someone who assembles a strong team and works alongside them to produce the most effective results, and that is exactly what we have here, with communications professionals determined to establish new relationships with each and every member of our community, a seniors programmer who comes up with different activities and classes every day, a sports director whose passion for health and community is unparalleled, and, of course, an office administrator who holds it all together. And that’s just a glimpse of the staff at our headquarters in Toronto. We also have a presence in Quebec, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Calgary.
And then, of course, we have the League for Human Rights, B’nai Brith’s advocacy arm where I and countless volunteers work under the direction of one Amanda Hohmann. Despite our, at times, limited resources, the League has seen several monumental accomplishments over the last year, despite Canada’s failure to indict hate crimes abusers, from having anti-Israel conspiracy theorist Anthony Hall suspended from the University of Lethbridge to having Rogers TV remove an Arabic-language program that supported Palestinian terrorists.
The League has also launched B’nai Brith on Campus in the past year, a bid to provide our students with the tools and the know-how to protect themselves against the wave of anti-Israel and antisemitic hatred that’s permeated our college and university campuses.
These victories prove that we are on the right path toward exposing promoters of hatred in Canada for what they are, and that such bigotry and racism shall not be tolerated in our society. When we say we’re committed to defending the human rights of all Canadians, we mean that literally.
As proponents of this fight against racism and antisemitism, we no longer have the luxury nor the time to argue amongst ourselves about who should take credit or who should participate in what initiative. As supporters of Israel, Judaism, and of what is morally just, we must band together and unite against the existential threats targeting our community. We must focus on the real threats against us, not the nebulous ones. We can no longer worry about the colour of the drapes while the house is on fire.
As Canada’s premier grassroots human rights organization, we have made the commitment to you – the members of our community, whether you live in Israel or the Diaspora – to speak up and stand up against prejudice. We will not work “behind the scenes” but rather stand on the frontlines in our battle against those who seek to delegitimize the Jewish people and our connection to the State of Israel.
If you believe in what we are doing and if you want to be part of this movement, then I urge you to join Bnai Brith Canada, support us, and add your voice to ours. Your involvement is greatly needed and appreciated.
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