Rabbi Allan’s Message – Friday, May 12
Sometimes, these messages come together easily, and other times – like now – I am staring at separate threads and wonder what will come out of them.
Here are the threads:
- Israel has an annual Remembrance Day (Yom Ha’zikaron) for its soldiers who have fallen over so many wars fighting for their independence and sovereignty. A few years ago, I attended a ceremony in the small settlement where my relatives live, and I realized how truly hard it is to be an Israeli. Too many of their friends and neighbours, fathers, mothers, and children were on that list.
- This past week, the Israeli government decided that non-Israeli Jewish victims of antisemitic terror attacks outside Israel should also be honoured on their national Remembrance Day.
- By coincidence, on that very day, a gunman attacked a synagogue in Tunisia, killing five people.
- And by coincidence, the next day, I found myself attending a Bnai Brith cross-Canada symposium explaining how important it was that Canada and five provinces (including Manitoba) have adopted a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism, as part of their overall anti-racism efforts. (And let me be clear, the numbers of antisemitic incidents in Canada are startling and growing).
- As they put it, you can battle against hate if you can define hate.
- Yet, in campuses all across our country, attempts to adopt these definitions are shouted down, and challenging Israel’s very right to exist is the common currency of the day.
What a mess. But I am reminded of how hard it was to establish civil rights in our countries in the 60s and beyond (against the language of hate in those times), and I am comforted by the fact that Canada and Manitoba, and others have taken clear and unequivocal steps in the right direction when it comes to racism of any sort.