What does the Hair know about anti-Semitism?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was born too late. There was little left of the anti-Semitism of the 1930’s and 40s in Toronto when he was born in 1959. He lacked the opportunity to learn first hand what it means. He had no understanding of the images he was using when his talk to the Knesset turned to what he called the new anti-Semitism.

There are few Torontonians left who would be able to recount what happened at that fateful baseball game in Christie Pits in August 1933. It was wrapped in the arguments over Hitler’s successes in Germany at the time and the emergence of some foolish Swastika clubs in Toronto’s Beach area. The event at Christie Pits was not the finest hour for the city but afterwards few of the bully-boys were foolish enough to take on the city’s Jewish youth.

The signs warning off Jewish patronage disappeared by the early 1940s but it was Toronto’s heroes in the Jewish community that really turned the tide. People such as politician David Croll with his famous “I would rather walk with the workers than ride with General Motors” and the many war heroes who put an end to overt anti-Semitism.

Toronto has become one of the more cosmopolitan cities of the world since that time. It is home now to peoples from all countries, religions, ethnic origins and colors and shades of colors. It is too bad that Stephen Harper left this mix for the more Americanized Calgary. Living in Toronto might have given him a much broader understanding of the world and its peoples.

His unfettered loyalty to Israel and his zeal for Zionism are friendly and nice but it is not Canadian. Canada is not part of the Middle East. We are a long way from the reality that Israel has to live with every day. It is obvious that there will be no lasting peace for that part of the world until everyone comes to the table to make it happen. Canada cannot be a surrogate. Nor can we be a barrier to peace. We can only be a supplicant—and a neutral arbitrator and resource.

For Harper to label those who want to question his position and that of the Israelis as anti-Semitism is to build walls to dialogue.

We Canadians know that walls do not work. The wall did not work in Berlin. The wall will not work on the American-Mexican border. Only the foolish build walls; the wise build bridges.

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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