Protect Our Future. Defend Our Past.
Shabbat Shalom and thank you for reading this edition of AGPI’s The Friday Report. We are bringing you the latest news and information about critical issues concerning Jewish affairs, Israel, and the global community. As the world around us slows down for the holiday season and many families are turning attention to spending quality time with their loved ones, everyone at AGPI wishes you a wonderful and safe holiday.
At the same time, we are continuing to monitor, respond, educate, and advocate, while carrying out our mission of promoting safety, security, freedom, and universal human rights. Our voice is heard from coast to coast and around the world. This week, we are pleased to advise the Global Imam’s Council will be joining us for our “From Darkness to Light” International Holocaust Commemoration at Auschwitz this April. Based in Iraq, the council represents over 1,000 Imams, and with our involvement has adopted the IHRA working definition of Antisemitism. This is a big step in supporting The Abraham Accords and strengthening universal peace.
While we continue to advance interfaith dialogue and friendship locally and globally, others are working to tip the scales toward war and possibly genocide. This week, we spoke out forcefully about Iran’s renewed threat to destroy Israel. Writing in the Tehran Times, the Islamic regime ruling Iran posted a map of Israel with dozens of sites it would hit with its missiles should it feel necessary. It threatened that it would attack if Israel made “just one wrong move”! In today’s National Post, AGPI is encouraging the international community, and particularly the Biden administration, to act decisively against Iran by returning to stiff sanctions and freezing Iran’s ability to mobilize.
The nuclear clock is closing in on midnight. Iran has blatantly threatened America’s ally, Israel. The time for action is now!
Sadly, friction with Poland and the Jewish world continues, despite the fact Poland has been one of Israel’s staunchest natural allies over the last two decades. This week, AGPI voiced its condemnation of anti-vaccination demonstrators in Poland for referencing the infamous Auschwitz sign that reads “work makes you free” by saying “vaccination makes you free”. Comparing vaccination policies to the places and events of the Holocaust is extremely offensive and disrespects the memory of its victims. Nearly 3 million Polish Jews were murdered by the Nazis.
On the international front, we commended King Mohammed VI of Morocco for announcing an initiative to restore hundreds of historical Jewish sites. The Jewish community of Morocco is centuries old and the country is steeped in Jewish history, including some 13,000 graves in the City of Fez alone. This is part of a strengthening of relations between Israel and Morocco due to the Abraham Accords. We were equally pleased this week to note a meeting took place between Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the UAE to reinforce and reaffirm the peace agreement between both nations.
We also moved to commend and support British Parliament member Rober Jenrick on his announcement this week that he believes the British government will soon pass legislation to ban the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement in the United Kingdom. AGPI has long condemned the campaign as being Antisemitic in nature and drawing gross parallels with historic boycotts levelled against Jewish communities throughout the ages, including by Nazi Germany. Jenrick correctly stated that, “There is no political party in the U.K. that would support BDS today and [supporting BDS] is becoming much more of a fringe activity."
As we continue to plan and advance into the new year, we are proud of the many community leaders who are stepping up to support AGPI. This week, we are welcoming iconic Canadian developer Murray Goldman who was appointed to AGPI’s National Advisory Board. Mr. Goldman is joining one of our top advisory boards that also includes leaders such as The Hon. Bill Blair; The Hon. Peter MacKay and The Hon. Stockwell Day – among others. We continue to invite the community to participate and support us as we work to build a solid foundation.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and a wonderful weekend,
Shabbat Shalom and thank you for reading this latest edition of AGPI’s The Friday Report. It has been another intensive week as leaders like you are joining us daily to protect our future and defend our past. You can help us continue to grow this incredible movement by asking your friends to sign up at here.
We are proud of the fact that our organization is academic and action-oriented. Our objective is to move the needle here at home and around the world through strong policy advice, education, and advocacy. This week for example, we visited with, and presented to,executive leaders at Toronto’s Police College. We discussed critical issues such as the rising tide of Antisemitism and how together we could institute education programs for new police recruits. Plans are now underway for increased collaboration between our respective institutions.
We also partnered with the American March of the Living organization to launch our forthcoming From Darkness to Light executive program for professional development. This is part of our Holocaust research and studies program that our expertise of nearly over three decades allows in this arena. We are expanding our reach beyond our borders as we work to globalize our voice, as well as our education and advocacy.
Our think-tank centre and analysis this week published a brutal report on the growth of Antisemitism around the world. Our international correspondent Gil Hoffman carefully documented the rising incidents that are both shocking and disconcerting. You can find his full report in our Global Monitoring Centre here and including below.
Our section on human rights analysis is continuously expanding as we work to change policy on international remedies concerning human rights. While the UN General Assembly and the International Human Rights Council continues its bias against Israel, it is obvious they have forgotten the very roots and precursor of modern human rights – based in Judaic tradition. The Universal Declaration for Human Rights arose from the ashes of the Holocaust itself and therefore, as we mark International Human Rights Day today, our published piece in today’s National Post once more challenges the world to re-think its basic understanding of human rights. You can read the full analysis here.
This week, in response to a report released by the University of Toronto in which the university and its working group on Antisemitism rejected adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of Antisemitism, AGPI released a report which found that contrary to the university’s opinion, over 230 universities, colleges, and places of higher learning have adopted the IHRA definition. AGPI’s Professor Aurel Braun, who sits on our National Board of Advisors and is faculty at the University of Toronto, expressed his disappointment in the university’s position. AGPI’s response to the university can be found here.
Our job as an organization is to stand for all human rights. We have repeatedly called attention to the plight of the Uyghur Muslim minority persecuted by China. Detailed accounts indicate that some 1 million Uyghur have been held in labour camps. For this reason, this week, AGPI announced it was supporting the decision made by the Canadian, American, British and Australian governments dispensing with the sending of official delegations to the Winter Olympic Games. Our statement can be found here.
In all of this, we are emboldened and strengthened by the number of people who are answering our call to join this movement. Recently, we were honoured to welcome Mark Weisbarth to our Board of Governors. Today, AGPI also announced that Michael Kalles, who is the President of Harvey Kalles Real Estate, has also been appointed to its Board of Governors. Our organization is open to everyone. We invite you to spread the word around the planet and help protect our future and defend our past. It is up to each one of us to speak out now!
Founder and Chairman
“Now in my 90s, I worry for the future of our children and grandchildren. For me, to see this poison, it brings back painful memories. The lies become the truth. This is exactly what happened in Europe. Knowing today what is happening and doing nothing about it, this is a million times worse”
Max Eisen, Holocaust Survivor, AGPI Honourary Board Member
By Avi Benlolo
From Antisemitism in the United Nations this week, to hate at the University of Toronto – we fought back by continuing to educate and advocate at Toronto Police Service Headquarters and beyond.
Shabbat Shalom and welcome to the latest Friday Report from The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI). We strive to provide the public with thoughtful analysis, updates, and a global vantage-point from our team of academics, advocates, and educators. We are here to protect our future and defend our past.
The campaign against historical truth continues. The lies and distortions about the Jewish people are nothing new. By now, one would think we should be used to the libels and slanders thrown at us for generations. We have been accused from everything to anything under the sun: from trying to dominate the world (The Protocols of the Elders of Zion) to murdering Christian children for the making Matzah (Blood Libel) to spreading of the Black Plague (and now the Coronavirus) and of course, deicide.
That attempt to rewrite our history happened again at the United Nations this week. While we applauded Canada and a number of allies for supporting Israel, we strongly condemned a General Assembly resolution which effectively omitted reference to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount’s connection to the Jewish people. The GA overwhelmingly carried forward the big lie by referring to the ancient Jewish temple by its Muslim name, al-Haram al-Sharif. Denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is not only an act of Antisemitism, but a denial and distortion of history itself.
Nevertheless, as hard as they might try, it is indisputable that Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel and the heart of the Jewish people. Our organization will continue pressing the United Nations and its policy-makers to be honest, truthful and stop the Antisemitic distortions and lies.
This week, we ran a strong petition advocating for the rights and freedoms of students at the University of Toronto to practice their faith and beliefs. Our community was outraged by the discriminatory position of the university’s Scarborough Student Union who not only reaffirmed its position in support of boycotting Israel, but moved to encourage students not to use pro-Israel Kosher vendors. While our community pressure resulted in a strong condemnation by the university’s president, Meric Gertler, we continue to call for immediate action including the suspension of all funds allocated to the union until sanctions against Jewish students are removed.
We brought the fight for historical truth to our own community as keynote speakers at a Shabbaton at Toronto’s Village Shul where we advocated for a relearning of our own history with respect to the Sephardi community’s experience in Arab Lands and Iran. We called for community unity as the single most important factor in combating Antisemitism and the scourge of Antisemitism.
This week, we also took our fight against Antisemitism, hate, and intolerance and for community unity and collaboration, to Toronto’s Police Headquarters to launch our new exhibit, The Power of One. Our work with police is particularly critical given the rise of Antisemitism. In May, our leaders helped bring community groups together with police to discuss the outrageous assaults against Jewish demonstrators on Toronto’s streets. At our launch, Chief James Ramer pleged to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community, while Toronto Police Services Board Executive Director and Chief of Staff, Ryan Teschner praised AGPI and spoke about his “own personal lived experience as the grandson of Holocaust survivors”.
Our board members are actively involved in the fight. This week, Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua of Vaughan signed a memorandum of understanding with the mayor of Ramla in Israel joining hands in solidarity and reaffirming the relationship between the “twinned cities”. The week prior, one of our founding directors, Chief Stephen Tanner, hosted our exhibit at his own headquarters in Halton Region. We are proud of this leadership and advocacy.
The re-writing of history is one of the most substantive threats to modern civilization. Whereas in the past, word of mouth took generations to spread across continents, the internet is spreading lies and distortions within seconds. Undoubtedly, the rising levels of Antisemitism on university campuses, at the United Nations, and beyond are correlated with the increasing usage and development of social media. This is what makes it easier for lies and distortions to filter into a larger audience.
This week, Max Eisen, Holocaust Survivor, sent out a message calling for our community to support AGPI on Giving Tuesday week he said, “Now in my 90s, I worry for the future of our children and grandchildren. For me, to see this poison, it brings back painful memories. The lies become the truth. This is exactly what happened in Europe. Knowing today what is happening and doing nothing about it, this is a million times worse. I am counting on you to support AGPI."
This is why we will continue advocating and educating and advancing the fight against Antisemitism and the promotion of human rights. We are proud of our diverse boards with over 100 leaders situated here at home and around the world. We invite you to join us first as a member and then as an advocate and leader.
Wishing you and yours a continued Chag Sameach and a Shabbat Shalom,
Founder and Chairman
Get this report directly to your website by subscribing to our news alert on home page.
As we head into what otherwise should be a peaceful Shabbat, and celebratory holidays of Chanukah and American Thanksgiving weekend, we continue to fight against campus Antisemitism and relentless attacks against Israel.
Enough! Yesterday, AGPI has been in communication with University of Toronto’s President, Meric Gertler, demanding immediate action against the Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU)'s continued attack against Israel and, by extension, Jewish students. The SCSU motion shockingly outlines the methods in which BDS will be implemented throughout the campus. This includes refraining from engaging with organizations, services, or participating in events that further normalize relations with Israel, falsely referring to it as an “apartheid” state.
Worse, the university’s students union went as far as discouraging if possible the sourcing of Kosher food from pro-Israel vendors – an outrageous form of religious and ethical discrimination. Even while the union claims to be against Antisemitism, its very action and language contravenes the internationally accepted working definition of Antisemitism in tone and spirit as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
To pressure the university and support the students, AGPI is encouraging the public to sign its petition and Campus Declaration which acts like a “Bill of Rights” for Jewish students who are feeling harassed on university campuses around the world. If you have not already done so, please sign the petition and more importantly, circulate it as widely as possible. You can find it here: https://agpi.ca/campus-declaration
Shockingly, we are equally disappointed that the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) announced that they are opposing the IHRA working definition against Antisemitism, despite the fact the definition has been adopted by Canada and over 34 nations. The definition is an important tool in the international effort to combat Antisemitism. On the flip side, we commend the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) for rejecting the Antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS).
On other fronts, we are looking forward to providing a keynote address this Shabbat at the Village Shul to bring attention to, and call for action about, the expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands. In this week’s National Post column, we express that given one more year, the Nazis would have sent Jews from the Middle East to their deaths as well. November 30thwill mark the commemoration of expulsion of Jews from their homes. The end of their rich tapestry of history came with over 1 million Sephardic Jews being uprooted from their homes, their synagogues, schools, and communities. You can read the full article here: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/avi-benlolo-remembering-the-troubled-yet-rich-history-of-jews-from-arab-lands
The AGPI team has been hard at work this week hosting a series of successful workshops including an informative conversation with Judie Oron and this week’s discussion on the Contours and Consequences of Antisemitism – as part of a new national study that is being released. Given the rising concern of Antisemitism in the school system and following the “Free Palestine” walkout at Marc Garneau Collegiate, AGPI has been coordinating with school leaders and providing tools and workshops to counter what has become an atmosphere of hostility.
On the heels of our launch of the Power of One exhibit at Halton Regional Police, the exhibit is booked all the way into the spring of 2022. Next week, Toronto’s Chief of Police James Ramer will be hosting AGPI and the exhibit in the lobby of Toronto police headquarters, and in the following week, our exhibit will be available to new police recruits at Toronto’s police college. Our education and advocacy is increasing week to week and our partnership with both police and schools is increasing daily as we work to confront Antisemitism, hate, and intolerance.
On the diplomatic front, while last week we met with the Ukrainian Consul General to discuss shared interests, this week we had a long conversation with Colombia’s Ambassador to Canada about the recent Antisemitic incident in his country. In that incident, Colombian police dressed like Nazis for an event they hosted. The Ambassador assured AGPI that this incident would not be tolerated and has been condemned. “Colombia observes human rights,” said the Ambassador.
Following its meetings in Europe, AGPI further connected this week with the office of the European Commission Against Antisemitism to begin dialogue, information sharing, and possible mutual projects of interest. The struggle against Antisemitism is not unique to any particular country, but is understood more so at a transnational level that crosses borders, which is why we are addressing this issue on a global level.
Finally, we are thankful to the many donors who have signed onto becoming members of AGPI this week in response to a letter sent by our Honourary Chairman, Mr. Paul Godfrey. It is truly a wonderful testament to the importance of our work. If you have not done so already, but want to help strengthen our work, please donate today. Any amount helps and connects you to us. It is time to jump into the ring and fight this important fight to make the world a better place. We are counting on you!
On behalf of all of us at AGPI and our board members, we wish you and your family a Chag Chanukah Sameach and to our American friends and supporters, a happy Thanksgiving.
Shabbat Shalom and happy Friday! Its been another busy week for The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI). As we continue building our capacity from week to week, we continue to be thankful to many supporters who are coming aboard to contribute and lead. CRA recognized the importance of our voice and thankfully has granted us our charitable status rapidly so that we can become more accessible to all Canadians who want to help counter Antisemitism, hate, and discrimination, and who wish to defend Israel, freedom, and democracy and promote human rights. If you have not yet done so, I hope you will join our effort today by donating through our website at https://agpi.ca/donate.
This week, we were pleased to welcome Leslie L. Dan onto our National Board of Advisors. One of the nation’s most iconic business leaders and philanthropists, Mr. Dan becomes the newest Order of Canada recipient added to our extensive of board members. We thank him for recognizing AGPI by lending his name and support to this incredible cause.
Our opinion and advocacy work was once again featured on the front page of today’s National Post. In that article, we responded to the Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) false assertion that there are 'multiple meanings' to the infamous Palestinian slogan, “from the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free." The slogan is blatantly Antisemitic and calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.
Here is the blatant truth we said in the article: “The Palestinians should be freed from their subjugation and oppression by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. They are the ones holding Palestinians captive, not Israel. They are the ones running terror-sponsoring organizations, not Israel. They are the ones allegedly using money from foreign donors to build terror tunnels and purchase rockets to launch against Israel, instead of spending it on hospitals, roads, and schools. The Palestinian Authority recently cancelled its supposed fourth 'democratic' election in nearly two decades of dictatorship. So, the slogan is missing a few more words: 'Free Palestine from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.'” Read more here: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/avi-benlolo-if-schools-are-serious-about-inclusivity-they-must-take-a-firm-stand-against-anti-semitism
Unfortunately, there is a vigorous campaign against Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people and their friends. But more significantly, this campaign is against Canadian and Western values of inclusivity and pluralism. The divisiveness it is causing within the school system is victimizing Jewish teachers, administrators, and students themselves, who are feeling that while all vulnerable groups are defended and protected, the Jewish and pro-Israel perspective is the only one being attacked. We have repeatedly called on the TDSB to take immediate steps to rectify this toxic climate within its system.
This week, we also expressed concern about a series of Antisemitic incidents around North America and the world. In his weekly comprehensive report on Antisemitism, Gil Hoffman, AGPI’s International Correspondent, wrote about the outrageous burning by Polish nationalists of a 757- year-old book documenting an historic agreement protecting Jewish rights in Poland. Shockingly, in Brazil, a journalist apologized after saying on TV on Tuesday that Brazil could match Germany’s wealth by killing the country’s Jews. In the United States, a man was sentenced to federal court on Tuesday for conspiring with a white supremacist group to vandalize synagogues. Hoffman’s full global report is included below or on our website at https://agpi.ca/the-antisemitism-report
As we all know, the way to confront Antisemitism is through education and civic engagement. This week, AGPI’s new exhibit, The Power of One, was launched in Halton Region’s Police headquarters to a community of human rights activists from various communities including First Nations, the black community, and the Muslim and Jewish community. We thank Chief Stephen Tanner for welcoming us into his community with open arms and for displaying the exhibit in the lobby of his police department over the next couple of weeks. We are equally thrilled that the launch of the exhibit was covered by local print and television media, giving the occasion a large and substantive profile.
Finally, we are excited about our spring gala which is starting to come together through the formation of leadership and now a new website! The May 26th evening at Casa Loma is going to be spectacular for our supporters and we simply cannot wait. You are invited! Please visit our website today to learn more and start your registration process at www.crystalballbenefit.com
Wishing you and yours a Shabbat Shalom,
On behalf of everyone at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI), we wish you a Shabbat Shalom and a wonderful weekend. As our organization continues to pick up momentum, Canadians and advocates of Israel and human rights finally have a strong voice representing them at home and around the world. We have been proudly representing our international constituents in recent months. Whether in Israel, New York, or most recently in Austria, we have hit the ground running.
In the next few days, the organization will be making two very big announcements, one of which includes the launching of our new Board of Governors. The board’s Co-Chairs, Dr. Mark Korman and Dr. Phil Solomon, will be hosting a high-level event this coming Sunday, with former BMP President and CEO, Tony Comper, as our feature speaker, along with remarks by former Senator Jerry Grafstein.
Many community leaders are joining our movement on a continuous basis. This week, we are proud to welcome Stephen Green to our Canadian National Advisory Board. Mr. Green is a Senior Partner at Green and Spiegel and a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law by the Law Society of Ontario. He has served in multiple prestigious roles, including that of past Chair of Citizenship and Immigration Section with the Canadian Bar Association. Mr. Green will be joining a prestigious advisory board at AGPI comprised of leading current and former political leaders, academia, and officials in law enforcement, business, and philanthropy.
This past week began with our first annual State of Antisemitism – Global Conference on Antisemitism. With participants spread around the world from 10 nations and speakers representing France, the U.K., Argentina, America, Israel, and Canada, the full-day virtual event provided a substantive window into varioius perspectives on Antisemitism. Feature speakers included Alan Dershowitz, Ellie Cohanim (former Deputy for Combatting Antisemitism at the State Department) and Lord Edward Pickles (UK Envoy for post-Holocaust issues). The organization will be adding video content from the conference to its Learning Centre on the agpi.ca website in the coming days.
Immediately following the conference, I had the honour and privilege to be invited by Austria’s Foreign Ministry and Chancellery to represent our organization at several events marking Kristallnacht. The Jewish community leadership and Austrian parliamentarians were terrific hosts throughout the week. In particular, I wish to thank the President of the Jewish Community, Oscar Deutsch and his team, for weloming me with open arms; the European Jewish Congress for inviting me to its conference on Antisemitism and dinner; and of course Karoline Edtstadler, the Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution at the Federal Chancellery.
The inauguration of the Shoah Wall of Names was the highlight. As I wrote in my column in today’s National Post: "At the inauguration of the Wall of Names held on November 9 — the eve of Kristallnacht, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said, 'We have to protect Jewish life. Our responsibility does not end at Austria's border. We Austrians have a special responsibility to Israel. When Jews all over the world can live in freedom, only then does the meaning of never again become realized.' Indeed, under the previous leadership of Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz, Austria began a U-turn toward Israel — even raising the Israeli flag over the Chancellery during the Hamas aggression against Israel this past May. Austria has been leading the way at the European Union and mostly voting favourably for Israel at the United Nations."
In my meeting with Karoline Edtstadler, the Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution at the Federal Chancellery and one of the architects of Austria’s fight against Antisemitism, she expressed that the former generation of Austrians acted out of bad conscience. “Now we have the feeling that we want to have a flourishing Jewish life for the future of Austria. Monuments like this give meaning to history and how many people were actually murdered. We cannot have a future without reflecting on the past.” Indeed, Edtstadler has been at the forefront of liaising with the Jewish community here in Vienna and implementing a national strategy against Antisemitism — one of three European nations to do so. (Please take a moment to read the full article as it provides a detailed account about how Austria is turning a corner).
Most significantly, AGPI was pleased to attend a conference on Antisemitism held at Vienna's soccer stadium, Fussballklub Austria Wien. We thanked Lord John Mann, Member of UK's House of Lords, for sponsoring the conference and FK Austria Wien's CEO Gerhard Krisch and its Sports Director Manuel Ortlechner. for adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of Antisemitism into their club. Inspired by Chelsea Football Club's "Say No To Antisemitism" campaign and adoption of the IHRA definition, FK Austria Wien's adoption of the campaign against Antisemitism is a major step in combating the pernicious hatred in the sport. Earlier in the morning AGPI also participated in an official ceremony held at Vienna's Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial where the IHRA working definition was also signed and adopted by Austria's National Football Association and the National Football League.
It was a momentous week for Austria as it breaks through its historic past and reconciles with the Jewish world. As an organization that battles Antisemitism daily, including Holocaust remembrance, we were the only North American organization present to help mark these important milestones. We will continue standing with Jewish communities around the world and working with them to advance the fight against Antisemitism, hate and discrimination – while promoting human rights and freedom for all.
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Wishing you and yours a Shabbat Shalom,
On behalf of everyone at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative, we wish you and yours a Shabbat Shalom. There is so much to tell you about this week – but in what order?
It’s been another busy week for the AGPI. as hundreds of people continue to join our movement while we have been busily gearing up for the world’s first major conference on Antisemitism. The State of Antisemitism will be taking place virtually this coming Sunday, November 7th starting at 10.00 am and is being offered for free as part of our organization’s effort to educate and advocate against this pernicious hatred.
With a keynote address by Alan Dershowitz and ten other speakers from around the planet on a myriad of critical issues affecting the Jewish world and beyond, this conference is poised to bring together experts in multiple disciplines affecting our daily lives. Additional feature speakers include, Ellie Cohanim, former Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the United States Department of State; Lord Eric Pickles, United Kingdom Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues; and Lara Logan, award-winning journalist and war correspondent. We will be hearing from speakers and activists of all faiths and backgrounds from around the world. If you have not done so, please see below for registration.
Immediately following the conference, I will be getting on a plane to Vienna at the invitation of the Chancellor and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the inauguration of the Shoah Wall of Names Memorial. For Austria, this is a milestone project of deep reflection on its past. Some 65,000 Jewish children, men and women, from Austria were murdered in the Shoah and this opening is a long-standing effort to reconcile with the past. I look forward to representing our Canadian and international constituents at this meaningful event and more importantly, meeting with Austrian leaders to discuss issues concerning the Shoah and Antisemitism.
The highlight of this week, of course, was the launching of our new education exhibit at Associated Hebrew School. On behalf of our board of directors, we wish to thank the school’s visionary principal Orah Shulman, as well as its incredible teachers for hosting The Power of One this week and next. It was truly exciting to see students already engaging with the exhibit to learn about the role models displayed. The exhibit is already being booked by schools, police departments, and community centres. As an organization, we are excited to be at the forefront of working to make the world a better place.
Our educational programming this week further dealt with understanding of Canada’s First Nations and Indigenous peoples. We proudly hosted a seminar given by Vancouver educator, Kirsten Urdahl-Serr, who recounted the creation story and provided insight into this incredible and wonderful history.
This week, we are equally thrilled to welcome Gil Hoffman to AGPI as its International Correspondent on the subject of Antisemitism. Hoffman is the Chief Political Correspondent and Analyst for the Jerusalem Post and has agreed to be one of AGPI’s writers and analysts. This week’s incidents of Antisemitism have skyrocketed around the world. Hoffman’s global report on Antisemitism this week can be read below.
As a matter of engaging in the fight against Antisemitism, hate, and intolerance, and in defending freedom and democracy, my National Post column this week dealt with bias at the United Nations. In a world turned upside down, where right and wrong are based on whomever has the loudest voice and the strongest propaganda machine, attacks on democracies and fundamental human rights are becoming commonplace. The decline of democracies and the growing power of totalitarian dictatorships means that countries that are antithetical to freedom and human dignity have ever-increasing power in international organizations.
I expressed that despite the atrocities happening all over the planet, the UN has become a political instrument for Israel’s enemies and detractors. And because democracies represent a minority of nations within the organization, their voices have been consistently diminishing. This threatens the very essence of the UN Charter and must be immediately addressed if we are to make the world a better place for everyone. In truth, the world needs a United Nations more than ever that is fair, balanced, and equal, and which adheres to its own charter and mandate. If this can be achieved, we will see a reduction of hostility against the Jewish state and a much more effective effort to promote peace and human rights around the world.
Wishing you and yours a Shabbat Shalom and a wonderful weekend,
- Avi Benlolo
National Post Article: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/avi-benlolo-undemocratic-states-have-hijacked-the-un-agenda
Avi Benlolo: Undemocratic states have hijacked the UN agenda
No other country on earth is put under the magnifying glass as much as Israel is by the United Nations and its affiliate agencies
Shabbat Shalom! Welcome to the latest edition of The Friday Report by The Abraham Global Peace Initiative, bringing you all the latest news and insight about Israel and the Jewish world. Help us build up this network of champions of humanity by inviting others to subscribe or feel free to subscribe your family and friends directly on our website at www.agpi.ca.
If you have not already done so, remember to register for our free Global Conference on Antisemitism featuring high-calibre speakers such as Alan Dershowitz, Lara Logan, Ellie Cohanim, and many others. For a complete roster and to register, please visit https://agpi.ca/antisemitism-conference.
Having returned from high-level meetings in Israel this week, we are thrilled to see a nation that is thriving and striving to prevail. The Ministers of Knesset with whom we met were insightful, passionate, and resolute about the safety and security of Israel and improving its socio-economic infrastructure.
Even with differences of opinion, they hold true to the Judaic manifesto of collective responsibility – Kol Yisrael Arevim Zel Lazeh. Israeli leaders are advocating daily to make Israel and the world around them a better place. They are inspiring others to take responsibility for one another, regardless of faith or background. We saw this in our meetings with ministers who are advocating for improvement of the Arab minority in order to mitigate future uprisings like the one we saw this past May during the war with Gaza. Not surprisingly, efforts to collaborate and co-exist are hardly reported on by international media or groups that defame Israel by calling it an “apartheid state”.
And this is why we must stand up and speak out in defence of the Jewish state every single day. Silence is not golden. A central principle in the Talmud, said Rabbi Lord Sacks, is that: “When bad things are happening in society, when corruption and injustice prevail, it is our duty to register a protest even if it seems likely that it will have no effect. Why? Because that’s what moral integrity demands. Silence may be taken as consent. Morality demands that we ignore probablity and focus on possibility. Perhaps someone will take notice and change his or her ways. That, perhaps, is enough."
If we look to a role model in Judaism, it would be none other than our forefather and the father of the three religions, Abraham. In Rabbi Lord Sacks’s words: “Abraham was not a conventional leader. He did not rule a nation. There was no nation for him to lead. But he was the role model of leadership as Judaism understands it. He took responsibility. He acted. He did not wait for others to act."
The world needs reminding. In the leadup to the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht, this week we commemorated the third anniversary of the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh in which eleven Jewish worshippers were murdered in cold-blood by a white supremacist. Just this week, Neo-Nazis staged an anti-Semitic demonstration outside a Jewish community centre in San Antonio. They held up a banner that said, “Honk if you know the Holocaust is a fake.” In Brooklyn, two men reportedly lobbed anti-Jewish and anti-gay slurs at a 17-year-old boy before pulling a knife on him in an unprovoked confrontation at a local gas station. In Canada, staff working for a business located in Nanaimo, B.C., discovered a large red swastika sprayed on the window of the establishment on the morning of October 15. This incident took place just two days after a swastika was found drawn into cement in the area of Cameron Island, also in British Columbia.
For most of us, it’s hard to fathom what drives a person to enter a synagogue or any place of worship and massacre its congregants. But incitement and propaganda motivates violence. This week a Chilean newspaper drew outrage when it published a tribute to Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering. The Jewish community of Chile called the article, which was timed with the 75th anniversary of Goering’s death, “an apology for Nazism,” while the German embassy in Santiago condemned the piece saying that Goering committed “crimes against humanity.” Nazism should never be venerated.
Not surprisingly this week, two American organizations (Hillel and ADL) released a survey citing that a third of Jewish college students in the U.S. had experienced Antisemitism in the past year. The AJC released an additional survey that found that 3% of American Jewish adults were victims of physical Antisemitic attacks, while 82% of American Jews say Antisemitism has increased over the past years. These findings should surprise no one as we are continuously witnessing a tsunami of Antisemitism, much of it online and behind closed doors – two areas that are often difficult to tabulate and survey.
The only thing standing between the Jewish people and the rising tide of Antisemitism is the State of Israel. While here in the diaspora we must continue to fight against this pernicious scourge, there is no greater assurance than the promise of the promised land for the safety and security of the Jewish people.
Shabbat Shalom - Avi
p.s. please help spread the word by forwarding this newsletter
Shabbat Shalom from Israel. It has been another intensive week as The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) continues to open channels of communication to advance the fight against Antisemitism and Holocaust distortion, and to advocate for the safety and security of Israel internationally. This week, we travelled to Israel’s Foreign Ministry to meet with Ruth Cohen Dar, Israel’s Director of Department for Combating Antisemitism and Holocaust Remembrance. Israel, says Dar, is increasingly concerned about the rising tide of Antisemitism globally and particularly the slanderous attempts to label Israel an “apartheid state” and the sanctions and boycott campaigns. We agreed our work in dispelling these myths must intensify in every arena in the diaspora.
Open dialogue and communication is critical even with some entities that have been perceived to be hostile to Israel. This week, we held a consultive briefing with the highest-ranking UNRWA officials in Israel to discuss Antisemitism and incitement of terror in its school curriculum. In addition to UNRWA’s Coordinator for the West Bank, we also met with its Director of Education and its senior team leader of its protection and neutrality department. The briefing and sometimes open and frank dialogue was productive, especially given the fact that UNRWA rarely hears directly from the organized Jewish community.
AGPI believes that if we are going to fight Antisemitism and strive to build peace in the Middle East, we need to get out into the field. In this way, we can observe, quantify, hold dialogue, and possibly collaborate with agencies to shape policy and reduce tension. This means holding the UN and its affiliates to account about the excessive bias against Israel and its unparalleled permanent placement on the UN Human Rights Council agenda. We can express our distaste through press releases and reports (which are fine too) or we can sit down with our counterparts and educate them about our concerns. Which way can be more productive in fighting Antisemitism and defending Israel?
Extending a hand of friendship, kindness, and understanding can pave the path to peace. In East Jerusalem, AGPI was briefed by the medical personnel at a women’s health clinic that administers care for the community. The staff, including its area chief, eagerly walked me through the clinic explaining every room and care provided at their facility.
Canada’s Ambassador, Lisa Stadelbauer, agreed with more dialogue and that social change can come from the grass-roots level. We need to force our political leaders to open their eyes and begin advocating for remedies that build on the Abraham Accords and facilitate peace throughout the Middle East. Next week, AGPI takes to meeting key ministers and leaders in Israeli society to strengthen Canada’s bond with Israel and ensure Israel remains safe and secure.
Shabbat Shalom from Israel,
- Avi Benlolo
Shabbat Shalom and welcome to the latest edition of TheFridayReport, bringing you everything you need to know about this past week and much more. We had another exceptional week of growth this week with lots more subscribers to agpi.ca and substantial registration to our upcoming virtual Global Conference on Antisemitism – please take a moment to register on our website and share with friends – its Free and sponsored by The Abraham Global Peace Initiative!
On the heels of our fantastic launch in New York and recognition of Ambassador Bob Rae for his excellent work in advancing human rights and championing Canada, we were almost immediately attacked by anti-Israel activists. In an effort to undermine this well intentioned work, one tweet called us out for being “Zionists” (which I proudly am) and even “apartheid apologists”. Another tweet noted that I am a “longtime pro-Israel lobbyist…who was behind initiatives to criminalize BDS”.
Most Canadians are aghast when they hear this type of divisive language. Clearly, it's meant to undermine Canada’s sacred and valued relationship with the Jewish State. As a Canadian-Jewish leader, I stand for the State of Israel because it is the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people. I also advocate for its continued existence because it is the only free and democratic nation in the Middle East and shares our values as Canadians.
As I wrote in this week’s Front Page editorial in the National Post, It's true that democracy dies in darkness. When we stop intellectual pursuits through ideological or political boycotts, we diminish the very essence of freedom. Tyrannical regimes are notorious for engaging in this sort of censorship. The Nazis burned Jewish books. The Soviet Union controlled the media. China controls what its citizens can access on the internet. In the same respect, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is attempting to limit the capacity of Jewish people living in Israel to engage in culture and information, thus hindering intellectual freedom and diminishing democracy.
Novelist Sally Rooney made headlines this week when she announced that she would not sell the rights to her newest book to an Israeli publishing house, which wanted to translate it into Hebrew. Her stance is apparently tied to her support for the BDS movement: Rooney says she is willing to have her book translated into Hebrew, so long as it's not published by an Israeli company.
I wrote that the downside of limiting free expression and the interchange of ideas is that it weakens freedom and democracy. The Berlin Wall came down and Perestroika reformed the Soviet Union because information flowed. The BDS movement, does the very opposite of what social change demands. Its false premise that Israel is an apartheid state is a perversion of truth and reality, given that Most Arab-Israelis prefer to live in Israel because unlike its neighbours, it is free and democratic.
All nations struggle with racism, as well as some degree of ethnic and cultural strife. Israel is no exception. But relentlessly focusing on the Jewish state, while giving a free pass to other countries that have far less respect for human rights and the rule of law than Israel is a double standard that seems to be saved only for the Jews. We see that double standard increase on social media and even in the school system.
Even while a combating Antisemitism took place in Malmo Sweden and both Poland and Australia announced they would be endorsing the IHRA definition of Antisemitism, it came to light that a Texas school leader told his school system that they should balance the books with opposing views when it comes to Holocaust education. Holocaust distortion is very real which is why AGPI makes this area a priority in all of its educational programs.
In the coming days, AGPI will be advancing some critical international fronts that will dive into some of the biggest concerns of the Jewish world and its friends. Our focus is big and substantive and we are working to take a deep dive into some of the most critical areas.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Wow, I am delighted to tell you about our exciting week for The Abraham Global Peace Initiative. Its hard to believe Shabbat is already upon us. But now, we can take a deep breath and say that we were able to move the needle just a little further this week. In launching this new and exciting global movement in New York, we empowered and inspired many Ambassadors and national representatives to focus on the matter of Antisemitism, Israel and the all encompassing matter of human rights.
At our gathering at Canada’s Mission to the United Nations this week, I took a moment to commend the Australian and the Slovak Ambassadors who’s nations drove a 48 nation resolution in Geneva to condemn Antisemitism. Social action also includes positive reinforcement when positive steps are undertaken. Similarly, I thanked the Moroccan Ambassador and the representatives of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates for standing with us and their partnership through the Abraham Accords. For an informative review of some of the statements made by leading Ambassadors at our event, please visit - https://agpi.ca/peace
As reported in a substantive article published about AGPI this week in iPolitics, we are promoting “democracy and Canadian values, ideals and perspectives to other countries”. Now that the election is over, “we need to address how we as a nation can have a better foreign policy that protects democracy and human rights”. That includes holding Iran accountable and doing more on China while standing up against racism and discrimination like the persecution of Uyghurs.
The list is endless, but as we presented Bob Rae, who serves as Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, with our Award for Human Rights, we explained to the international Ambassadors and guests in the room that “our organization aspires to carry Canada’s message to the world, becoming a moral compass for pluralism, justice and human rights for all”.
What we are offering the world is a new and innovative strategy. Instead of walling ourselves off and sending out press releases complaining about this or that, how about working through the issues at the United Nations and global community – or at least attempting to? As I wrote in the National Post today, In the fight against antisemitism, what the world requires is a comprehensive engagement policy that brings together partnerships through open and frank dialogue.
At AGPI’s meeting with Ilze Brands Kehris, the assistant secretary general of the United Nations Human Rights Office, we called for accountability on the matter of Israel being the only country listed on the IHRC’s permanent agenda. Israel in fact is the most condemned nation at the agency and the UN body – how is that fair on account of human rights? Our conversation on Antisemitism and terrorism carried forward with the UN’s senior director of the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) in New York.
Yes, the world should be outraged with UNRWA and the IHRC. But as I wrote in today’s editorial, Over my near 30-year career battling anti-Semitism, confronting hate and discrimination, and educating people about Israel and the importance of Holocaust remembrance, I have realized that we cannot function on our own in accomplishing these lofty goals. That’s why this organization is different. It’s incredible and diverse multi-faith leadership gives it credibility and inclusiveness like no other in Canada and around the world.
If you pay attention, the world around us is changing. The Abraham Accords have given new life to the Middle East. This week the European Union approved a new strategy to combat Antisemitism, recognizing this pernicious hatred. And during our launch in New York this week, the Austrian Ambassador to the United Nations eloquently admitted that his own country is starting to reckon with its past.
Certainly, the world has come together even when we are overseas. Earlier in the week, I spoke to Felix Klein, Germany’s Commissioner on Antisemitism, about the rising tide of Antisemitism in Germany and around the world. There is a clear interest in eradicating Antisemitism from all corners of the world.
At AGPI – we can be the Northern Light unto the world. You can take part in joining us at the next level of building a safe and secure Israel, fighting antisemitism and Holocaust distortion and promoting human rights. Please take a moment to share this newsletter with 10 friends and lets build this new movement together!
As the holiday of Sukkot winds down and we settle into Shabbat mode once again, another busy week comes to a close, but certainly not to an end. The Abraham Global Peace Initiative continues to build up its capacity and its leadership on a daily basis. The world around us demands help urgently as I expressed in my weekly National Post editorial today. As we strategically build this organization nationally and globally, more and more people are joining our movement every single day. It was wonderful to host AGPI leaders and Israel’s new Consul General in my Sukkah – to celebrate this joyous holiday.
Today we welcomed one of the most prominent Canadian business and civil society leaders to our National Advisory Board: Mr. Tony Comper. As the former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Montreal, Mr. Comper has dedicated his time to advancing human rights. Together with his late wife Elizabeth, Mr. Comper is the recipient of the Order of Canada and numerous awards and honourary degrees. He is also recognized widely for co-founding FAST, a coalition of business and community leaders who speak out against discrimination and Antisemitism.
AGPI’s Honourary Chairman, Mr. Paul Godfrey, welcomed Mr. Comper to our National Advisory Board saying, “There is much work to do and Tony is a welcomed addition to our team.” Indeed, AGPI’s National Advisory team is comprised of Canada’s most distinguished leaders in government (current and former), law enforcement, civil society, the law and academia.
Shifting sands globally require a more determined approach. While it was shocking that defending Israel should even be up for debate, 420 legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill to restock Israel’s Iron Dome air missile-defense system. Still, the very fact there was any debate about the matter at all and that 9 opposed and two abstained, is cause for concern. America’s stand with Israel has been ironclad, but many worry that the so-called “squad” of democrats which include Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib may have undue influence on America’s relationship with Israel.
Given the unparalleled level of hate crime we are witnessing, a new dynamic and influential organization is necessary now more than ever. Who could possibly envisage a group of students in North Bay (Ontario) marching on school property yelling “Heil Hitler”? It happened and this week, AGPI began a consultive process with local authorities.
And how can we possibly digest the revelation this week that at a Toronto District School Board workshop for its top staff leaders, the guest speaker appeared to repeat the false narratives in the education system that Israel is a colonial settler state seemingly driven by a white-supremacist ideology! Again, we took action by contacting the TDSB Director of Education and its Superintendents requesting the board issue a correction and offering to provide a workshop to the same staff to break the myth that was propagated.
This week also shattered our belief that justice could be served through our war crimes legislation. Another alleged Nazi-war criminal got away from justice by “dying peacefully” (as his family purported) in his home. This is despite the fact that on four occasions the Supreme Court of Canada denaturalized Helmut Oberlander and asked him to leave the country because he lied about his alleged involvement in war crimes upon entry to Canada.
Over the years, I have led delegations of Holocaust survivors to meet with parliamentarians in Ottawa to encourage them to follow through with investigating and prosecuting alleged Nazi war criminals. I have witnessed Holocaust survivors’ emotional pleas to parliamentarians to follow through on the Deschenes Commission and Canada’s promise to bring Nazi war criminals to justice in this country. While Oberlander is likely the last Nazi war criminal in this country, AGPI will continue to ensure the memory of the Holocaust is never lost.
Despite a number of international Antisemitic incidents and speeches from leaders at the United Nations General Assembly that point to a world often gone mad (read my article in the National Post today), there were some positive wins. Some 38 countries boycotted the Antisemitic UN Durban Conference held this week – the largest ever to acknowledge the Antisemitic nature of the hateful event. AGPI and its members petitioned the UN Secretary General against the conference.
For its part, Ukraine passed a law banning antisemitism in its country while the State of Florida moved to divest from Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream over its discriminatory boycott of the disputed territories. For our part, we are already advancing on building a myriad of incredible bridges. This week, we held our first roundtable discussion with a top-level UN official about critical issues concerning peace in the Middle East. We are only getting started, but already, I am very proud of the passion and commitment shown by our leadership teams. Bravo!
- Avi Benlolo
First and foremost, on behalf of everyone at The Global Peace Initiative, we wish everyone who observed Yom Kippur this week a G’mar Chatima Tova – and renewed strength and good health in the coming year. This weekly report covers the breadth of our efforts to fight Antisemitism and racism in all its forms and stand up for Israel, freedom and democracy everywhere. We encourage you to share this newsletter with as many people as possible and encourage them to subscribe to our list.
This week, we were delighted to welcome Colonel (ret) Richard Kemp to our International Advisory Board. Colonel Kemp played a major role at the highest level of government. He was responsible for international terrorism intelligence at the British prime minister’s office, chaired the intelligence committee supporting the UK national crisis centre, COBRA, and was a founding member of the US-UK government’s International Security Strategy Group in the aftermath of 9/11.
We are also proud of our education department for an incredibly well attended workshop on “Decoding Antisemitism” to confront Antisemitism in the education system. Alongside our Advisory Committee, our Director of Education and Education Chair, Dr. Neil Orlowsky did a powerful job in presenting solutions for Antisemitism in education. This was followed up by a presentation to over 100 teacher candidates at York University’s Faculty of Education about the Abraham Global Peace Initiative.
This past month, we have continued to demand that the United Nations Secretary General stop next week’s disastrous so-called Durban IV Conference 20th anniversary. There is nothing to celebrate here, as the Durban movement was nothing more than an effort to defame and delegitimize the State of Israel. Even while some 16 countries and the European Union have completely abandoned and denounced this conference, the United Nations seems to be going forward with it, encouraged by the Palestinian Authority and its friends.
For this reason, I wrote a scathing article in today’s National Post condemning the PA for its moral deficit. In a statement released by its foreign ministry this week, the Palestinian Authority said that it “strongly objects to inimical statements and tendentious attacks against the upcoming Durban Conference … such iniquitous calls to boycott the conference display an alarming level of deficit in morality.”
In reality, it is the PA and Hamas that suffer from a morality deficit. For nearly two decades, the Durban conferences have been used as forums to demonize and delegitimize Israel — setting off a tsunami of Antisemitism that reverberates to this very day. For this reason, we are calling on the international community, including Canada and the U.S. to hold the PA to account.
It’s the same old story. In recent decades, Palestinian leaders have done everything to keep their people desperate and underdeveloped by turning down numerous peace agreements. But their biggest mistake in recent years was the vicious rejection of the Abraham Peace Accords and the vigorous anti-normalization campaign against the Jewish state.
The PA continues to press on with false allegations of war crimes against Israel at the International Criminal Court and has been using the United Nations’ natural bias against Israel and the massive Arab voting block to undermine the Jewish state.
While a handful of mainly democratic countries (including Canada, the U.S., France, Germany and the United Kingdom) have rejected next week’s Durban IV conference at the UN because of its vehement anti-Semitism, the PA is rallying for it
As we celebrated the one year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords this week, it’s clear that this framework could provide the Palestinians and the international community with a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East. Peace is within our grasp, but as I wrote in my article today, only the self-defeating Palestinian leadership stands in the way. But the PA’s biggest mistake in recent years is the vicious rejection of the Accords and its vigorous anti-normalization campaign against the Jewish state – including advocating for the racist and Antisemitic Durban IV Conference.
My good friend Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie, who is the senior Rabbi in Dubai spoke enthusiastically about the progress of the Abraham Accords and its potential throughout the Middle East and beyond for all people. Included below is a link to our discussion on the anniversary of the Abraham Accords – its worth watching!
Also this week, I visited with a noted Imam in Toronto who leads a substantive mosque in the city. Dr. Hamid Slimi and I discussed the potential of the Abraham Accords and the continued efforts at bridge building between our people.
Similarly, in conversation with Imam Mohamed Tawhidi, who serves on AGPI’s Board of Advisors, we discussed our mutual global interfaith work and mutual working projects around the world. Brothers in arms at peacemaking, Imam Tawhidi invited me to sit on the Interfaith Advisory Committee for the Council of Imams, an organization with over 1,300 Imams that advances peace and co-existence.
There is much work to be done in countering Antisemitism at home and around the world. We need to build bridges of peace and tolerance, while at the same time ferociously fighting antisemitism and the continued attacks on Israel, freedom and democracy. As we renew our strength for the coming year, this is not the time to rest on our laurels. There is much work to be done. Let’s do it.
You can help tell the UN’s Secretary General to stop the conference by signing our international petition now:
Wishing you and yours a wonderful weekend and G’mar Chatimah Tovah,
Elie Wiesel said, “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” We cannot forget the victims of the Holocaust and all those who perished at the hands of the devil. As we observe the Days of Awe, this must be a catalyst for action.
Shanah Tovah and Shabbat Shalom. This New Year brings hope and renewed energy as we counter Antisemitism, hate and intolerance and defend freedom and democracy. Along with our international partners, we are speaking out daily and shaping opinion on matters of importance. If our message inspires you, share his email with your family and friends and help us continue growing our new movement that will change the course of history. This week, we proudly profiled one of our newest Board of Governors additions, Charlotte Salomon, a distinguished lawyer based in Victoria, who brings to the organization a breadth of expertise and leadership.
Leadership grounded in passion and action is what the world requires now more than ever. This is especially the case as we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow. As I wrote in my editorial in the National Post today, “there is no time limit on preserving our freedom and our way of life. This 20th anniversary memorial to the victims will come and go. We will keep taking our freedom for granted – ignoring the signs – until one day its too late. 9/11 must be a catalyst for action not only for memory. We must let our fear drive us to renewed action”.
This renewed action must start today. The antisemitic assaults on our city streets might have subdued, but an impending sense of violence is simmering just below the surface. Its easy to forget. In the days following the horrific 9/11 attack, whom among us felt at ease to fly, let alone see and hear a plane overhead? The nearest exit had to be a heartbeat away and skyscrapers were off limits for weeks, and months following that tragic day. Our feelings of fear and anger fade, but they should not.
This week, as the Immigration and Refugee Board held what might be the final deportation hearing for Helmult Oberlander, The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) called for justice to finally be served. The organizaiton said, “we have been waiting and following this case patiently for many decades. The Jewish community and descendents of Holocaust survivors have been patiently waiting”. Oberlander has been accused of entering Canada fraudulently by failing to disclose his alleged ties with Nazis and membership of a Nazi killing squad in Ukraine and Russia.
We will continue pressing for justice on Nazi war criminals. And we will continue to press about important issues of the day including the Antisemitic so-called Durban IV Conference that will be held at the United Nations in the coming week. The reaction to our petition has been wonderful and overwhelming. This week, AGPI commended New Zealand, Cypris, Italy and Croatia on their announcement that they would not participate. They join 12 other countries including the U.S. Canada, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Hungary, Austria, Australia, Czech Republic, France and Bulgaria.
Given the volume of countries banning the conference, we call on the UN Secretary General to cancel it.
Even while European Jewish communities reported a spate of antisemitic assaults and vandalism this past week, the rejectionism of antisemitism through the Durvan IV boycotts and anti-Divestment campaigns is picking up momentum. This week, Arizona became the first US state reportedly to fully divest from Ben and Jerry’s over its decision to stop selling ice cream in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. Arizona will divest a total of $143 million from the company while Florida is also threatening to divest. Anti-BDS State and provincial laws are among the best solutions to stop false narratives against the Jewish State and economic sanctions.
These are the issues of the day. As we head into Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, we are propelled to push further with principled conviction in our effort to be a global voice of reason. The world needs it now more than ever.
Wishing you and yours and Shanah Tovah and G’mar Chatimah Tovah,
As we head into the New Year, everyone at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative is excited about the year to come. With this in mind, on behalf of our Canadian and international boards, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year – Shanah Tovah!
Its been another busy week as we firmed up our organization’s exciting global launch at the United Nations in early October. Together with Canada’s Permanent Representative to the UN, The Hon. Bob Rae and alongside top Ambassadors and leaders, The Abraham Global Peace Initiative will be holding its launch in the heart of the international community. With this in mind, one of our key objectives is to press the UN community to be fair and balanced – while pushing forward policies that celebrate peace and democracy.
The week, in the National Post, I write about the anticipated “storm of anti-Semitism awaits Jewish and pro-Israel students at colleges and universities this fall. With the Jewish New Year now upon us and students moving into their residences this week, we can expect another year of tension, anxiety and bigotry on campuses. While the Abraham Accords defused and undermined campus extremism last spring, the Hamas war against Israel in May provided renewed imagery with which to bash Israel. We saw this play out on city streets around the world over the summer. Now with an in-person return to campus, extremists will bring their propaganda to the lecture halls”.
With this in mind, hundreds of people are signing onto AGPI launched a new Campus Declaration Against Antisemitism to reaffirm and reinforce the right of Jewish students (and faculty) to go to school without fear of hate and intolerance. Our declaration calls for universities to to act responsibly in protecting and defending Jewish students from harassment on campus. Please take a moment to sign the declaration here:
Despite the fact that Jewish college and university students have a history of rallying behind oppressed groups facing racism and discrimination, the campaign against the Jews manifesting as boycott campaigns and falsehoods like “Israeli Apartheid Week” has been met mostly by silence. Undoubtedly that silence has contributed to the fact that a new Alums for Campus Fairness survey found that nearly 100 per cent of the Jewish American college students polled attested to anti-Semitism and the demonization of Israel on campuses. A whopping 79 per cent of the more than 500 respondents had experienced or heard first-hand about another student making offensive or threatening anti-Semitic comments.
Campus anti-Semitism has undoubtedly contributed to the rising tide of such behaviour throughout society. This week, the FBI revealed that Jews are the target of 58 per cent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the U.S. despite constituting just two per cent of the population. These numbers are consistent with Canadian and international models of hate crime whereby Jewish communities continue to be the most targeted group even while they are relatively few in numbers. In other words, anti-Semitic bigots are nothing more than schoolyard bullies picking on a minority group.
It’s time to put an end to the hate and intimidation on university and college campuses that is pouring onto our city streets. With this in mind, this week The Abraham Global Peace Initiative’s Education Advisory Committee also met to begin building a framework of educational programs that can challenge Antisemitism in the classroom and beyond. On September 13th, for example, we are running a workshop on confronting antisemitic language that is being evoked in educational circles. Please take a look at our upcoming workshops and feel free to register - https://agpi.ca/speaker-series
We are continuing to stand up to hate and intolerance every single day by being your voice both here at home and around the world. Canada is a trusted nation when it comes to promoting human rights and standing up against Antisemitism hate and intolerance. In confronting defamation of Israel internationally, fighting transnational antisemitism that manifests locally and promoting the incredible advancements of The Abraham Accords in the Middle East, our voice is standing shoulder to should with you in strengthening our values.
This is a race against time as the forces of hate and intolerance are gaining momentum. We need all hands on deck. That’s why we are asking for your generous support and involvement. The warning signs are clear and as we approach Rosh Hashanah, we must stand unified and steadfast in our fight. Thank you for keeping our nation strong and for keeping our Jewish community safe.
L’Shanah Tovah! May this New Year be healthy and happy for your and your loved ones. And Shabbat Shalom!
Friday is finally here, wrapping up another intensive week for The Abraham Global Peace Initiative. Welcome to our newest subscribers this week who are joining our international campaign to stop Antisemitism, stand up for Israel and make the world a safe and secure place for all of us who appreciate freedom and democracy.
We started off the week with an impassioned discussion with the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) education team based in Amman. We discussed with them the prolific antisemitism and incitement often found in the curriculum of their host countries. The conversation was intense and impassioned at times, but these are the necessary conversations that must be had in order to stamp out hate and intolerance.
In the shadow of this week’s visit of Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to Washington to meet with the President, global peace was shattered once again with the suicide murder of over 100 people (including 13 U.S. service men and women) at Kabul airport. As I wrote in today’s National Post (see below), Bennett is in Washington to address what is undoubtedly the biggest global threat to the world today – Iran. Biden pledged to Prime minister Bennett that he would never allow Iran to get nukes. Can you possibly imagine the Taliban-like Mullah’s in Iran with a nuclear bomb? It’s the sum of all fears – literally. AGPI will continue raising voice and awareness about this major concern.
In some cases, the world is moving closer to recognizing that the status quo of bashing Israel in the world community is waring thin. This week, Bulgaria was another country that opted out of the so-called Durban IV Conference, citing antisemitism. It joins countries like Canada, the U.S., Australia, Germany, the UK, Hungary, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and France. Logic prevails as our global petition to stop the conference is gaining momentum. If you have not done so already, please take a moment to sign it and forward to family and friends. Here is the link: https://agpi.ca/un-durban-petition.
In our continued interest to educate and advocate and bring awareness to campus related issues, AGPI’s Vice President Leora Shemesh hosted social media influencer, filmmaker and campus advocacy guru, Rudy Rochman. As part of our think-tank forum, Rochman provided an overview of some of his campus activities when he was a Columbia. He also shared with AGPI details concerning his horrific experience while filming in Nigeria. Along with two friends, Rochman was “taken” by Nigerian authorities and held in horrific conditions for three weeks.
This week, AGPI also responded to a number of emerging issues: We contacted police about an Imam in Victoria, British Columbia who gave a sermon at the Muslim Youth of Victoria Islamic Center describing Jews and Christians as “enemies” and disparaged the rights of women. We condemned Antisemitic graffiti spray painted on election signs in Aurora, Ontario and reassured the political candidates. This followed similar incidents in Montreal last week where Jewish politicians
were also targeted. We raised the alarm over the continued growth of Antisemitic attacks around the world including the assault on an 18-year-old Jewish man in Cologne, Germany for wearing a Kippah.
Finally, we were proud to be featured in The Times of Israel in a feature article that aligned our work with Israeli actress and author Noa Tishby: “The Abraham Global Peace Initiative is meant to counteract a glaring and enduring omission in organizations that claim to support human rights while singling out and demonizing Israel”. This of course is the very essence of this new and dynamic organization. I invite you to join us in these lofty pursuits. If not now, then when?
Wishing you and yours a Shabbat Shalom and a great weekend,
- Avi Benlolo
Friday is finally here and what another busy week for the build up at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative. More and more people are subscribing as members each day as we begin accelerating our programs and activities. This Friday Report brings you everything you need to know about critical affairs relating to Antisemitism, Israel and global human rights. And what a week it has been on all those fronts!
We started our week confronting the tsunami of Antisemitism by launching a campaign to stop the UN’s “20th anniversary” Durban Conference. Our petition charges that the birthplace of modern politicized antisemitism was in Durban South Africa in 2001. Since then, Jewish communities have been targeted on university campuses and everywhere else – with Israel being falsely equated to apartheid South Africa and boycotted as a result.
This of course is shameful and the United Nations needs to hear about it. Antisemitism goes against the very principles of the United Nations. AGPI’s petition argues that a body that promotes the combating of racism and racial discrimination should also fight Antisemitism. Its time for the global community to speak up against Antisemitism. If you haven’t signed it yet, please take a moment to do so… but more importantly, share the request widely and let's educate the global community together.
The rawness of Antisemitism was driven home this week as a prominent synagogue in our community was hit by Antisemitic graffiti. Coincidentally, the incident must have taken place at the same time I was giving a speech about Antisemitism at a shul down the street! There are few shortages of Antisemitic incidents to report on – as more graffiti and violent attacks happen everywhere. The shooting death of a Denver Yeshiva student is being called a hate crime by many.
This week saw another abuse of human rights – the debacle over America’s exit from Afghanistan is shameful and frankly unacceptable. America pulled just 2,500 soldiers from the country, but left behind chaos and the Taliban rule. AGPI’s leaders have been vocal and its Global Women’s Initiative Co-Chairs Genevieve Korman and Candice Solomon have issued a strong statement of concern about the preservation of women’s rights and the rights of all civilians (see press release below).
Alerting all Canadians in the National Post today, I raised our concern about the impending human rights violations by the Taliban. I encouraged the world to take immediate action in Afghanistan by returning forces to the country. There is only one way to stop this monster and that is with a military presence. Maybe it's not for America to police the world. But if the free world wants to preserve itself and its democracy, that will often involve boots on the ground. That’s how Hitler was stopped in the end (see article below).
As AGPI continues to build its own “boots on the ground” to confront the scourge of Antisemitism and intolerance, our Quebec regional Chairman, Robert Presser provided a somber report from that province: “with the launch of the federal election campaign, it has not taken long for the first instances of anti-Semitic behaviour to appear. Election signs from Liberal and NDP candidates in areas of Montreal with significant Jewish populations were defaced with Swastikas and had to be removed."
This week, AGPI will be hosting Rudy Rochman in Toronto at a closed event. Rochman was one of three Jewish filmmakers who were held captive in Nigeria several weeks ago, without charge. He was there filming an ancient tribe. We look forward to hearing more about his experience and what transpired. While space is limited due to COVID, if you are interested in participating, please reach out to me at your earliest.
On a final note, as AGPI begins ramping up its educational programs and has communicated with school boards extensively particularly during the War in Gaza, we are all pleased that the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has promised to fight the scourge of Antisemitism. This past Tuesday, the ETFO resolved to “establish a task force of the Annual Meeting to combat Antisemitism in Ontario.
Our fight against Antisemitism and for the promotion of peace has only begun. If our words at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative inspire you, consider joining us by making a gift on our donation page. Along with top leaders, we are building a new strategy that will challenge existing paradigms and fight to make our world more safe and secure.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
- Avi Benlolo
Shabbat Shalom and happy weekend. Welcome to the first edition of AGPI’s TheFridayReport, bringing you everything you need to know about critical affairs about Antisemitism, Israel and Human Rights. Starting a new global organization is exciting! We are blessed to be surrounded by an incredible array of leaders here at home and around the world. They are all featured in our “Leadership” section on our new beautiful website, launched just this week to much fanfare.
In breaking news, I am pleased to advise that Toronto Police has provided me with an investigative update in relation to a number of Antisemitic events that occurred in Downsview Park, North York, where they identified an offender and made an arrest. Sadly, hate graffiti has become the norm as a way to intimidate and victimize the community – and inspire others to join hate groups or act as lone wolves. I commend Toronto Police for its continued vigilance against Antisemitic hate crime. Given my strong relationship with policing, I have offered AGPI’s tolerance training program for anyone arrested on hate crime incidents.
This week, we also held our first official board meeting, with great enthusiasm of our new directors who each bring to the organization impressive skills. The Hon. Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua who had the honour of bringing our website to life at a reception predicted that this organization will become a household name in just a few years from now. We say Amen to that! Amazingly, the world is already converging on our website content and subscribing to the organization.
Even while we are soft-launching the organization and unrolling it strategically, our Global Launch is already scheduled to take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. If we are going to change the world, we need to work with the international community to motivate change. Our OFFICIAL LAUNCH is scheduled for May 26, 2022 at our First Annual Crystal Benefit in Toronto. Add your name to the invite list through our website. Look for our future benefits in New York and Los Angeles where we will be establishing offices in addition to Toronto and Jerusalem.
There is no greater urgency for a Canadian global voice for humanity: Over 60% of Australia’s Queensland Jews have experienced Antisemitism; An 82 year-old Russian scientist was beaten on a bus in Moscow; pig hearts were splattered on a religious shrine in the Ukraine; French police detained a woman over an Antisemitic poster at a COVID rally and in Norway an Imam said Jews should be killed. In AGPI’s Press Room today we commented about the spreading of the Antisemitic COVID Myth in Singapore and wrote a letter to a company profiting from the auction of Nazi-era items in Australia.
Do we remain silent about Antisemitism taking place around the world?
Absolutely not! AGPI will use its Canadian and international influence to partner with and bring a voice to the abhorrent Antisemitic crimes taking place everywhere. We will not be silenced, nor shall we be complicit in turning away while the world needs our voice.
At the same time, we will engage and confront local and national issues with a comprehensive approach. In today’s National Post, I called for more action against the genocidal claims by pro-Palestinian groups to wipe out Israel and the Jewish people. We will not standby as university campuses continue to peddle Antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiment. And we will certainly not stand by while incitement to genocide on our city streets becomes normalized.
But here is the thing, what is happening in Toronto, New York or Paris – is the same face of hate and intolerance. Hate is transnational and must be confronted as such with a Canadian Voice for Humanity. That’s what The Abraham Global Peace Initiative is about.
Join us! – Avi Benlolo
The Abraham Global Peace Initiative
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Contact Us: Phone: 416-646-2196
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Please note, due to security considerations, office visits are by appointment only.