Raheel Raza: Battle against anti-Semitism has barely begun

Author of the article:Raheel Raza,

Special to National Post Publishing date:May 23, 2021  

A person gestures ahead of a rally in solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, May 20, 2021.
A person gestures ahead of a rally in solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, May 20, 2021. PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN MANG /Reuters

On May 15 two young people who are like children to me, were viciously assaulted on the streets of Toronto. Tiphaera Ziner-Cohen and her brother Jon Jaden Ziner-Cohen were walking near Nathan Phillips Square when they were swarmed by pro-Hamas supporters and Jon was punched in the head thrice (leading to a concussion) while Tiphaera was hit and pushed to the ground. The police could not control the 6,000 strong crowd. They said “people need to leave because we can’t protect them.”

This incident has shaken me to my core and brought me to tears. This was the norm in Nazi Germany in the 1940’s. It’s now 2021. Its not comprehensible that an incident like this would take place here. It brings shame upon the prime minister of Canada; it brings shame on the premier of Ontario and it brings shame upon the mayor of Toronto.

As a Pakistani born Canadian Muslim, I am truly concerned about the turn that the Israel -Gaza conflict is taking. It’s a tragedy with many lives being taken. Each side may have compelling reasons why they need to be at war. However even war comes with some basic rules of engagement.

And anti-Semitism is not one of them.

What is the reason that this conflict is spilling out into the streets of democratic countries? Because anti-Semitism is a uniquely pervasive, enduring, and lethal form of hatred which has insinuated itself into multiple cultural, religious, and political frameworks across the globe. It’s meteoric rise in the 21st century represents an unprecedented amalgam of the more familiar strains of anti-Semitism promoted in extremist right-wing, left-wing and Islamist ideologies. Often genocidal in intent or expression, it is far more toxic than the sum of its parts. The recent global surge of this most ancient and pervasive of hatreds represents a threat not only to Jewish communities but to democracies and to global stability.

Also, because leaders of certain Muslim countries like Iran, Turkey and Pakistan which have dismal human rights records on how they treat their own minorities and have historical genocide on their hands, are fanning the flames of hatred. This is whipping up youth into a frenzy as they want to come out on the streets and create mob violence in peace-loving countries.

Pakistan is of special concern to me as it’s my land of birth and over time I’ve seen the rise of anti-Semitism there. Recently a member of the National Assembly, Kanwal Shauzab glorified Adolf Hitler in her speech and said he left some Jews alive during the Holocaust as a lesson. A video of her speech was posted on twitter but has since been removed.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on a CNN interview that Israel has “deep pockets” and “they control media” prompting strong pushback from the anchor.

This conflict was never about religion but an agenda for the Muslim Brotherhood, led by Iran and its proxies who are using anti-Semitism as a tool to dehumanise a people.

Now that there is a ceasefire, hopefully there will be peace. But the battle against anti-Semitism has barely begun.

Raheel Raza chairs the steering committee for the Council of Muslims Against Antisemitism

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