Protect Our Future. Defend Our Past.
Shabbat Shalom and welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Report, bringing you important news and information from the Jewish world. Excitement is building as we are a mere 12 days away from the official launch of this organization at the Crystal Ball Benefit at Casa Loma.
We are thrilled by our blockbuster better-than-projected results that are catapulting The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) into international prominence. As we returned from aiding Ukrainian refugees in Poland, this week we dealt with a number of critical matters and met with Hungary's Consul General to discuss Antisemitism, Israel-Hungary bi-lateral relations and the war in Ukraine. We provided a city wide report on 640 AM radio on the plight of the refugees and extended solidarity with the City of Vaughan where we were honoured to be seated at the Mayor's head as his guests.
This increasing support for AGPI comes from growing anxiety and concern about the threat of Antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and a relentless and uncompromising attack on the Jewish world and its friends. This week, we took immediate action when it came to light that religious Jews boarding a Lufthansa flight in Frankfurt were selected out because they were visibly Jewish. We expressed our outrage and got to work with the German Consulate to investigate the situation and demand an immediate and unequivocal explanation and apology. This came within hours from Lufthansa’s CEO (see our press release here - https://agpiworld.com/news).
The selection of orthodox Jewish men who tried to board the Lufthansa flight is unforgiveable. In a discussion with one of the highest German diplomats in this country, we demanded further explanation and major institutional change within the company and German society in general. The rising tide of Antisemitism in that country is unforgiveable.
But we have problems with Antisemitism in this country too. The Toronto Star this week was reportedly quick to latch onto Arab media reports which blamed Israel for the tragic killing of an Al Jazeera reporter in Jenin. The Star reporter changed the misleading headline when one of our Vice Presidents, Justin Linden, sent a letter demanding the paper correct the title of the article "to accurately reflect the stated information . . . conclusions such as those expressed in the title of your article can inflame Antisemitic hate, more so if it turns out that Israeli forces did not in fact cause the death of the reporter."
It is unlikely Israel shot the journalist and from previous “pali-wood” episodes, the Palestinians look for every opportunity to malign Israel, sow hate and discord, and inflame the Middle East and Arab communities around the world against Israel. The Palestinian Authority has refused a joint investigation with Israel to determine the cause of death and has refused to hand over any evidence of such. Sadly, Western media has once again eagerly misrepresented Israel grotesquely. This avidity to attack Israel before any evidence is available is nothing short of Antisemitism itself – and we are fully aware.
Israel is being made into an international pariah in the media and even in our own school system. This week, AGPI sent a letter to the Director of Education at the Peel District School Board informing her about a book found in the board’s libraries that many educators feel might incite hate and Antisemitism. Entitled “Palestine”, the book is the author’s account of Gaza and the West Bank in the early 1990s. The problem rests, however, in the interchange between characters accusing both Israel and Jewish people of various things. In one caricature, a young boy spits as he says the word “Jewish”.
We have asked for an investigation into the appropriateness of this content and for the pulling of the book from school libraries pending an investigation. Given the rising tide of Antisemitism in school boards – and their stated policy to combat this evil scourge – we have stated that such material can only reinforce hate, intolerance, and Antisemitism. Attacks on any other community would simply not be tolerated – so why are they tolerated only against the Jewish community?
Finally, following our conversation with Conservative Leadership Candidate Patrick Brown, we were disappointed that at this week’s leadership debate, he repeated that he would not move Canada’s embassy to Jerusalem should he become Prime Minister. This would mark an unwelcomed shift in the Conservative Party’s policy since the time of the Harper administration. More significantly, while the United States and other nations recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and do not see their own embassy as an impediment to peace talks, our hope is that Mr. Brown will re-evaluate his position.
Despite these disturbing incidents, we are relentlessly expanding our national and international circle of influence. On the heels of our last week's aid mission to Poland to assist Ukrainian refugees, this week we educated hundreds of students, and next week we will be launching our Power of One exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in partnership with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, a prominent Christian organization. Building a networking of allies, educating and advocating here at home and around the world is our path forward to beating back darkness and mistruth.
It has been another impactful week for The Abraham Global Peace Initiative’s World Action programmes. As we moved from last week’s Yom Hashoah commemoration, to Yom Hazikaron and then to Israel’s 74th Yom Ha’atzmaout, emotions ran high in the Jewish world – especially with last night’s outrageous terrorist attack in which three Israelis were murdered in cold blood. Sadly, three more terror victims now need to be added to Israel’s annual remembrance day tally of 28,284 fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
We transitioned fast from these days and flew to Krakow, Poland where along with Brahm Siegel, AGPI’s Co-Chair of its Lawyers Division, and his son Cai, we are now spending a few days volunteering and providing humanitarian relief to Ukrainian refugees. I can tell you it is truly heartbreaking to see families line up for food and essentials. This morning, we handed out sandwiches in the courtyard and it was emotional to see how hungry were many of the people there.
Thanks to our donors, we brought with us about 200 pounds of toiletries, which were disbursed instantly upon our arrival. AGPI has also established a relief fund and is raising money to help directly and honour the mitzvah of ‘Tikkun Olam’. We are proud to be here on the ground representing our community. To raise awareness about the plight of Ukrainian refugees and how the Jewish community is helping here, please read my article published in The National Post today.
We celebrated Yom Ha’atzmout with intention: to dedicate ourselves to aiding Ukrainians on behalf of Israel. But last night’s terror attack in Israel dampened our mood and only proved that we must double our effort to tip the scale of hate and intolerance toward kindness and compassion. As an organization, we immediately denounced the horrific Palestinian terror attack in which three Israelis were murdered in cold blood in the city of Elad in central Israel. We call upon the Palestinian Authority to condemn the attack and denounce Hamas for having applauded the murders.
At home, AGPI clarified statements made by Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton, and a Conservative leadership candidate. Mayor Brown attested that the media’s portrayal of his comments were inaccurate concerning a comparison between what is happening in Ukraine to the Palestinians. The mayor said that he did not draw such comparisons and said he has always stood up against Antisemitism and in defence of the State of Israel. On the status of Jerusalem, we expressed to the mayor that the Jewish community would be disappointed in a Conservative platform that would not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City by relocating Canada’s embassy there.
It seems politicians say what they want these days with little impunity. We condemned Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, for accusing Israel of backing Nazis and for distorting the Holocaust further by saying that Hitler had Jewish blood. Lavrov even went as far as saying that some of the worst Antisemites are Jewish. Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the comments both unforgivable and outrageous.
If Lavrov made such ludicrous claims, why then should we be surprised when this week it was reported that a Mexican couple got married in a Nazi themed wedding on Hitler's anniversary? We condemn this outrageous conduct.
Even while Israel’s Prime Minister Bennett said President Putin apologized, does this make any difference, all things considered? In Canada, we reinforced comments made in the Senate by Senator Leo Housakos calling for the removal of an alleged PFLP operative who is living in Canada. In all this, there are proud moments. This week, we announced that one of our guest speakers at our upcoming Crystal Ball Benefit is Karoline Edtstadler, the Austrian Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution at the Federal Chancellery. The minister has been outspoken against Antisemitism and has been involved and aligned with Holocaust memorialization.
We are proud of this important connection and relationship and as importantly the community’s exceptional support of our local and global efforts to protect our future and defend our past.
It's been an emotional week. In this week's The Friday Report - we are focusing on Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). Following our commemoration in partnership with Israel's Consulate General, we are pleased to include herein pictures and a short video from the memorial.
We wish to thank the numerous Consul Generals who proudly represented their countries in this important commemoration. Of note in attendance was Ukraine's Consul General, Oleksandr Shevchenko - who received a round of applause from those in attendance.
Whats in a name? At AGPI, we believe that every single person matters and can act upon this world. Our theme for Holocaust remembrance was to remember each victim. That's why we are sharing my full speech at the Holocaust remembrance event that is published in today's National Post - Canada's leading newspaper.
We are pleased to share this article with you.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach. This is a special holiday edition of The Friday Report. Given the profound developments of this week, we wanted to bring to you important national and international updates that affect our communities. We cannot rest on our laurels. AGPI monitors issues 24/7 in its drive to protect our future and defend our past.
In a breaking development, we are disappointed – but hardly surprised -- by Queens University’s faculty for voting to oppose the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of Antisemitism. We stand with more than 1,600 Jewish students and Hillel Kingston who stood up to the Queens University Faculty Association to advocate for the adoption of the definition. We are disappointed that 60% of voting faculty rejected adopting the IHRA definition – representing a failure in recognition of the urgent crisis experienced by Jewish students on university campuses.
In contrast to Canadian universities that have flat-out rejected adopting the definition -- thus making Jewish students vulnerable -- in the UK, 216 universities, colleges, and other higher education providers have signed on to the IHRA in support of Jewish students. Given the fact that Canadian academia is rooted in a British and European framework, we ponder just what is wrong with Canadian universities? Have the twenty years of anti-Israel campaigning and propaganda events such as the infamous “Israeli Apartheid Week” and BDS radicalized its faculty to an extent whereby it has become blinded to Antisemitism?
In other breaking news this week, we issued a stern letter to Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford and Toronto’s Mayor John Tory asking them to take action against the now infamous “Al Quds Day” march of hate. In today’s National Post, we called for less condemnation and more action. Exposing Iran’s damaging influence, we called on Canadians to “pay closer attention to foreign-driven threats to peace upon our soil . . . Al Quds Day was invented by the Iranian regime as a way to incite hatred and violence – and it is time for all Canadians to recognize that this is a threat to us all. Hundreds of people have already signed onto our petition to condemn this annual festival of hate.
Just last week, former Canadian Cabinet Ministers Peter MacKay, John Baird, Stockwell Day, and many other prominent Canadians and world leaders joined me in calling on U.S. President Joe Biden not to delist Iran’s IRGC from the terror-designated list. “Canadians know Iran’s terrorism well. On January 8th, 2020, the IRGC allegedly shot down Ukrainian International Airlines killing 167 people on board, including 55 Canadian citizens. In other words, Iranian-backed support on our streets should be a concern to every single Canadian. The Jewish community cannot carry this burden alone.
On the heels of NDP’s “town hall to talk about ways to fight against hate” that was held yesterday in Burnaby, we asked the organizers if Antisemitism was specifically addressed, when and if it emerges within political parties. We asked if the party specifically denounces Antisemitic campaigns such as BDS and most significantly, given the rise of Antisemitism, we asked what the NDP can do to address systemic Antisemitism – other than banning Swastikas and Nazi emblems. Antisemitism today needs to be fought institutionally, rather than symbolically.
This week, we also stood with Israel against the international media misrepresentation concerning the Temple Mount. To keep the Old City safe for people of all faiths to come and pray, Israeli police were forced to quell a minority of Palestinians who initiated violence by throwing rocks and firecrackers at worshippers.
Disappointingly, Arab media fuelled anger against Israel, while Israel’s friends in the region issued condemnations, without recognizing that Israel was maintaining the safety and security of the area for all parishioners. Hamas once again initiated a rocket attack against Israel – attempting to ignite a regional war and internal strife. Naturally, a closed-door Security Council meeting was speedily arranged to condemn Israel (interesting to note how quickly the UN turns the focus on Israel).
Internationally, we have expressed concern over a reported 35% rise in Antisemitism in Australia, recognizing that in nearly every nation around the world, this pernicious hatred has increased. Similarly, this week, a German intelligence report noted the “normalization” of Antisemitism in that country and citing that the known cases of Antisemitism are only the tip of the iceberg in that country. We welcomed the arrest of a New Jersey man who went on a spree of violent assaults against the Orthodox Jewish community.
Beverley Hills Mayor Lili Bosse acknowledged AGPI’s condemnation of Antisemitic flyers distributed over Pesach, while in Florida, similar pro-Hitler flyers were also distributed to Jewish homes. We further expressed outrage about consumer products that use Holocaust imagery after it became known that one seller was distributing “Schindler’s List” leggings on social media – OY!
There are rays of hope however. In Tennessee, lawmakers this week passed a bill prohibiting schools from teaching “Antisemitic ideas”. In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order that sets a clear definition for Antisemitic acts and ordered state agencies, departments, boards, public colleges, and universities to adhere to it. In Wisconsin-Madison University, the student government unanimously passed a resolution condemning Antisemitism while AGPI wrote a letter to UBC’s President Santa J. Ono commending him on rejecting demands that his university endorse BDS. Finally, we welcomed Arizona’s adoption of the IHRA working definition of Antisemitism.
As we head into another important week, we recognize this work will never stop and must be relentless. We appreciate the incredible support we are garnering and our “angel members” who are generously donating to support this important cause. Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, a Chag Sameach and a pleasant weekend, Avi p.s. If you like our work and what you see, help us reach more people by forwarding this newsletter to your contact list.
Shabbat Shalom and welcome to this Passover edition of The Friday Report. We at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) wish you a Happy Passover; and to our friends celebrating, a Happy Easter.
Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel expressed that he loves Passover because for him, “it is a cry against indifference, a cry for compassion." Truer words could not have been said in this broken world
. What we need is more kindness and compassion. Passover is a story that reminds us that we, too, were refugees more than once throughout the generations; that from time immemorial, on many occasions, we sought asylum, safety and most significantly, freedom. This is why Israel was the first country to set up a field hospital for Ukrainian refugees and why Jewish philanthropists have poured billions of dollars to ease their horrific burden. We are the torchbearers of the ancient past, taught never to turn away, nor to close our eyes to the plight of others.
That is our burden and we should never relinquish the commandments that have made us a light unto the nations. To truly free ourselves from bondage, our lives must include the age-old tradition of Tikkun Olam – repair of the world.
If we are to remain safe and secure, we must reach out and invite others into our tent. This week, after two years of COVID-lockdown, I had the pleasure of reunited with “my brother from another mother”, Imam Mohammed Tawhidi, “the Imam of Peace” and Vice President of the Global Imams Council. Together we will continue to advance our mutual global strategy to make the world a better place.
This brings to mind one of my favourite quotes about Passover comes from Yaacov Cohen who said that the best way to teach your children about freedom is to teach them “not to look at reality as defining their acts but to looked at their acts as defining reality." Rabbi Nachman of Beslov argued that the “exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year and in every day." It is our universal metaphysical path to rise above the physical bondage that often incapacitates us. We must understand our universal obligation to remember our oppression and strive to make the world around us better. As Maya Angelou surmised, “none of us can be free unless all of us are free."
We are commanded to remember to never “oppress the stranger for we were once strangers in the land of Egypt." Despite the fact that throughout the ages (and even now) our neighbours weaponized Antisemitism to treat us like “strangers” – we are obligated to rise above this hatred and extend a compassionate hand to those in need around us. The truest method of turning our “afliction into freedom,” said Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, is to share our food by inviting others to join our Seder table.
Repair of the world obligates us to take action and bring light into darkness. The story of Exodus demonstrates how after centuries of enslavement, the Jewish people rose up and took action to defeat their oppression. Sometimes, when there is no other way, the battle for freedom from tyranny requires a direct-confrontation. To this vital lesson, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Freedom is not given voluntarily from the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed."
Passover is not only our test of faith, it is our test of action. It requires us to educate our children and advocate for freedom. It demands that we understand that Antisemitism and hatred of the “other,” or of the “stranger,” is the root cause of our historical trials and tribulations. It forces us to speak out and take action for those who are oppressed and cannot act for themselves. It commands us to feed the hungry, give a place at our table to the needy and elderly.
Most significantly, Passover calls for us to become righteous, compassionate and kind. These are big asks. But it is up to each one of us to protect our past and defend our future because freedom is never guaranteed.
Wishing you and yours a Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach Pesach, Avi
Shabbat Shalom and welcome to this week’s The Friday Report, a comprehensive newsletter from the Abraham Global Peace Initiative. Israel is once again in mourning this week as two young Jewish men, aged 27, were murdered in cold blood in a terror attack on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street. A third 35 year-old victim was announced this morning – a father of three and former Olympian. Israeli media headlines blared, “Instead of a wedding, a funeral” as one of the terror victims was recently engaged. Scores of others were seriously wounded in the shooting rampage, as condemnations from around the world poured in.
Italy said it was “appalled by yet another terror attack . . . we firmly stand by Israel and its people." The Czech Republic stated: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this act of blind hatred.” Germany announced: “We stand by your side,” reaffirming its “solidarity with the Jewish people”. Additional condemnations poured in from the United States, the European Union, Austria, and the United Kingdom.
But are these condemnations enough? Reports of candies being distributed in Ramallah over this terror attack showcase that incitement to terror is emanating from the Palestinian Authority itself. In the last three weeks, 14 Israelis have been murdered at the hands of Palestinians. In recent weeks, AGPI has been calling on the European Union to suspend all aid programs to Gaza and the Palestinian Authority, until incitement against Israel and Jewish people ends.
We have called for an end to the Palestinian “pay for slay” program that awards Palestinian terrorists’ families with funding. More significantly, we have met with United Nations officials connected with UNRWA to curtail Palestinian curriculum that incites Antisemitism and terrorism. The continued flow of aid from countries such as Canada, the United States and those in the European Union without impunity or accountability must be suspended immediately, until change is evident on the ground and terrorism against Jews stops.
This week, we also stepped up our international advocacy effort to encourage the International Criminal Court to focus away from its false allegations against Israel and turn its attention and resources to investigating atrocities in Ukraine.
Our leaders called for more action: AGPI’s Lawyers Cabinet Chairs, Leora Shemesh and Brahm Siegel, along with the organization’s National Board Members, the former Lt. Governor of Ontario, David Onley CM O. Ont. the The Hon. Stockwell Day, PC, ICD.D and Raheel Raza, President of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, along with the Hon. Jerry Grafstein all called for the ICC to put the Ukrainian situation on the fast track.
Meanwhile, we joined numerous international Jewish organizations in applauding the UN’s expulsion of Russia from the Human Rights Council. Still, as a human rights organization that is seeking fairness and truth toward Israel, we believe the HRC cannot cleanse its reputation so easily. It must also remove Israel from its permanent agenda that has led to bigoted and false accusations against the Jewish State. In truth, the Council should be expelling many countries (that happen to also be aligned with Russia) and are committing violent atrocities on a continuous basis. We condemn the vicious Russian attack today at a Ukrainian train station killing some 50 people.
This week, we were proud and privileged to provide a comprehensive workshop on Antisemitism and hate crime to over 100 leaders from the Canadian Association of Police Governance.
We provided six comprehensive recommendations to counter and combat Antisemitism and hate. They included: first, more education to understand hate is not often in plain sight; second, evaluating the cost of free speech to victimized groups, while maintaining it; third, improving hate crime data collection and establishing an international framework to collect data. fourth, providing more resources to hate crime units and particularly to smaller police services; and finally, more sensitivity training.
At the same time, we note greater investment in Holocaust education by the Canadian government. This week, its 2022 Budget proposal included $20 million in 2022-23 to the Department of Canadian Heritage to support the construction of the new Holocaust Museum in Montreal among other investments to combat “both historical distortions and Holocaust denial”.
In the wake of this week’s violent attack in New York whereby three unidentified males approached Jewish victims and according to NYPD – “made anti-Jewish statements, and menaced the victims with a sword” – it is incumbent upon us all to fight Antisemitism relentlessly. We need to empower the police and authorities, but we also need to empower our communities to respond effectively. We continue to work diligently day and night to build a tent of allies that speak out and build consensus in the fight against evil at home and around the world.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom - Avi p.s. If you like our work and what you see, help us reach more people by forwarding this newsletter to your contact list.
This week, AGPI strongly condemned the heinous murder of Doris Yahbas, Menachem Yechezkel, Moshe Kravitzky and Laura Yitzhak. They were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist who stabbed them to death in Be'ersheva, Israel. At least three other incidents of Palestinian terrorism were reported in Israel this week. In The Friday Report, we condemn the incitement against Israel by the UN and so-called human rights organizations.
Shabbat Shalom and welcome to our latest edition of The Friday Report, bringing you the latest in critical developments about Israel, the Jewish world, and universal human rights. There is much to discuss this week from here at home to around the world. Help us keep the right side of history by forwarding this report to your family and friends.
We strongly condemned the horrific murder of four innocent Israelis who were killed by a Palestinian terrorist in the town of Be'ersheba this week. Among them were two young mothers, each of whom had of three children, a Rabbi who had dedicated his life to helping others, and an older resident from the town. We are holding responsible those who incite hatred and contempt for Israel, including organizations who have been relentlessly focused on attacking Israel.
In fact, even as we write this report, the wheels of hate against Israel are in motion, inciting yet more violence. Today, instead of being focused on helping Ukraine (as Israel is), the UN’s “Special Rapporteur” said: “Apartheid is being practised by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory." Despite the fact that most Palestinian territories are not occupied, and are completely run by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and by Hamas in Gaza, once again the UN is joining the Antisemitic campaign against Israel. Yes, Natan Sharansky’s 3D qualifier for Antisemitism is fully applicable here as the UN continues to demonize, delegitimize, and commit double standards against the Jewish State. We ask the Rapporteur, where are you in the case of Afghanistan? This week we spoke up against the Taliban's banning of girls and women from going to school, visiting a doctor, catching a taxi, or entering government buildings - did you?
And here is another important fact for anti-Israel campaigners: In its Global Democracy Index, The Economist recently ranked Israel 23rd out of 165 countries! In other words, Israel is more democratic and free than 142 other countries! So, Mr. UN Rapporteur, what will you be accusing Israel of next?
Even while Israel is being attacked by the United Nations, it is the only country that is establishing major field hospitals in Ukraine, Moldova, and other parts of the region to assist Ukrainian refugees. This morning, Jonathan Ornstein, the Executive Director of Krakow's JCC, briefed AGPI on continued aid developments and thanked its leadership for generously supporting his organization’s assistance programs.
When we returned from our incredible week in Argentina standing with the Jewish community to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Iranian bombing of Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires, we hit the ground running.
On Monday, we stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) – the province’s largest police force – to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. We were honoured that our presentation will be impacting some 10,000 members both on the front lines and in civil service. Given the critical importance of combating hate crime, our presentation at the OPP headquarters was made more significant on the heels of a shocking new report released by Statistics Canada just a few days prior. While hate against every other religious community declined in 2020, it increased by 5% against the Jewish community – which found itself once again as the leading target of hate crime in this country.
In this week’s column in the National Post, we critiqued our national media for burying this statistical fact beneath the headlines. We commented: “A report from the Canadian Press published in this very paper three paragraphs from the bottom stated: 'The Jewish and Muslim populations continue to be the most common targets of religion-based hate crimes.' The same article and statement also appeared on the same date in at least four other mainstream publications, including the CBC.
“For failing to adequately report about Antisemitism, the media is hiding the truth from Canadians. How then can we improve public policy and legislation to combat Jew-hate, if the story is buried? Why then are we surprised when students perform the 'Heil Hitler' salute against a Jewish teacher? Recent Antisemitic incidents have shaken our community to the core. Burying critical statistics at the bottom of stories is not the correct path to countering hate and discrimination."
Still, there are many who are standing up for Israel and against Antisemitism. This week, our organization applauded Iowa Governor Reynolds for signing into law two significant bills meant to restrict companies that boycott Israel from doing business with the state and to combating Antisemitism. Jerusalem's Marathon, which took place today saw an unlikely winner - Valentyna Veretska, a Ukrainian refugee fled to Israel. She competed in the marathon and won first place! As someone who has run the Jerusalem half, this hill run is no cakewalk! What a great way to end the week.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, - Avi Get this newsletter direct to your inbox. Subscribe now directly on our website at www.agpiworld.com
Shabbat Shalom and welcome to this special edition of The Friday Report. Its been an intense week here in Argentina for The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI). There is much here to discuss for your Shabbat table tonight.
First and foremost, we wish to thank our community host, DAIA which is Argentina’s umbrella Jewish organization. We are here to stand with Argentina’s Jewish community, to learn about priority issues and meet with high level officials in what we term – international human rights diplomacy.
As a prominent Canadian NGO, we were received with the utmost warmth and respect particularly by Argentinian government officials. Given developments concerning the so-called nuclear-negotiations now taking place in Vienna with Iran, we believe the 30th anniversary of the bombing of the Israeli Embassy right here in Buenos Aires points to a dangerous world should Iran go nuclear.
In my editorial today in the National Post, I demanded holding Iran to account. There is little question that Iran is responsible, as expressed by Israel’s Minister of Justice Gideon Sa’ar yesterday at the memorial on the hallowed grounds of the blast. The ceremony was solemn as hundreds of people, including local youth, gathered to remember the 29 people killed. But one thing was clear at the memorial and through the week, all Argentinians want justice. But what does this have to do with Russia's assault on Ukraine you ask? Everything.
Russia is destroying Ukraine with impunity and killing innocent civilians because it has nuclear weapons. No one dare come to its rescue and Putin has already warned the world he would use them.
Now just imagine what a nuclear Iran can and will do once it gets the cover of a nuclear umbrella. Iran has been committing and supporting heinous acts of terrorism in the Middle East and around the world for years. It is responsible for war crimes committed in Syria, for supporting Hamas and Hezbollah’s hostility against Israel and for financing the war in Yemen. Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing 167 passengers, including many Canadians.
This year’s anniversary of the bombing attack of the Israeli embassy makes the the point. The Iranians may be sitting in beautifully tailored suits in fancy hotels in Vienna, creating an illusion of civility. But make no mistake, an Iran guided by religious fundamentalism with a nuclear weapon is much more dangerous than even Russia. The regime has grown strident. This is why global diplomacy is critical to right-side-up this world - one of our inner mottos.
I was pleased to meet many leaders this week including Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez. I reminded him directly about how imperative the work of human rights is and the defence of freedom and democracy. Similarly, my meeting with Secretary of Worship, Ambassador Guillermo Oliveri was important in advocating against Antisemitism and for the purpose of religious freedom. We already have a plan!
Even while we are here in Argentina, our heart cries out for the innocent people of Ukraine. While here, we are raising money and have granted the JCC in Krakow assistance for over 300 Ukrainian refugees. We are pleased to note the expansion of this aid infrastructure as food, medicine and housing is being immediately provided through our assistance and that of many other supporters of the agency.
We are wiring 100% of all donations directly to assist Ukrainian refugees. If you want to make a donation to help, please go to our donation page on our website and ensure to put the word “Ukraine” in the comment section.
Our social action work around the globe would not be possible without you. To our donors and supporters, we extend a hand of appreciation for helping us stand against terrorism this week in Argentina. We are here now representing you and ensuring that our voice is heard. Change in the world happens by being present. That’s why we are here in Buenos Aires - to protect our future and defend our past.
Shabbat Shalom, Avi
Shabbat Shalom and welcome to this special edition of The Friday Report. Its been an intense week here in Argentina for The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI). There is much here to discuss for your Shabbat table tonight. First and foremost, we wish to thank our community host, DAIA which is Argentina’s umbrella Jewish organization. We are here to stand with Argentina’s Jewish community, to learn about priority issues and meet with high level officials in what we term – international human rights diplomacy. As a prominent Canadian NGO, we were received with the utmost warmth and respect particularly by Argentinian government officials. Given developments concerning the so-called nuclear-negotiations now taking place in Vienna with Iran, we believe the 30th anniversary of the bombing of the Israeli Embassy right here in Buenos Aires points to a dangerous world should Iran go nuclear. In my editorial today in the National Post, I demanded holding Iran to account. There is little question that Iran is responsible, as expressed by Israel’s Minister of Justice Gideon Sa’ar yesterday at the memorial on the hallowed grounds of the blast. The ceremony was solemn as hundreds of people, including local youth, gathered to remember the 29 people killed. But one thing was clear at the memorial and through the week, all Argentinians want justice. But what does this have to do with Russia's assault on Ukraine you ask? Everything. Russia is destroying Ukraine with impunity and killing innocent civilians because it has nuclear weapons. No one dare come to its rescue and Putin has already warned the world he would use them. Now just imagine what a nuclear Iran can and will do once it gets the cover of a nuclear umbrella. Iran has been committing and supporting heinous acts of terrorism in the Middle East and around the world for years. It is responsible for war crimes committed in Syria, for supporting Hamas and Hezbollah’s hostility against Israel and for financing the war in Yemen. Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing 167 passengers, including many Canadians. This year’s anniversary of the bombing attack of the Israeli embassy makes the the point. The Iranians may be sitting in beautifully tailored suits in fancy hotels in Vienna, creating an illusion of civility. But make no mistake, an Iran guided by religious fundamentalism with a nuclear weapon is much more dangerous than even Russia. The regime has grown strident. This is why global diplomacy is critical to right-side-up this world - one of our inner mottos. I was pleased to meet many leaders this week including Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez. I reminded him directly about how imperative the work of human rights is and the defence of freedom and democracy. Similarly, my meeting with Secretary of Worship, Ambassador Guillermo Oliveri was important in advocating against Antisemitism and for the purpose of religious freedom. We already have a plan! Even while we are here in Argentina, our heart cries out for the innocent people of Ukraine. While here, we are raising money and have granted the JCC in Krakow assistance for over 300 Ukrainian refugees. We are pleased to note the expansion of this aid infrastructure as food, medicine and housing is being immediately provided through our assistance and that of many other supporters of the agency. We are wiring 100% of all donations directly to assist Ukrainian refugees. If you want to make a donation to help, please go to our donation page on our website and ensure to put the word “Ukraine” in the comment section. Our social action work around the globe would not be possible without you. To our donors and supporters, we extend a hand of appreciation for helping us stand against terrorism this week in Argentina. We are here now representing you and ensuring that our voice is heard. Change in the world happens by being present. That’s why we are here in Buenos Aires - to protect our future and defend our past. Shabbat Shalom, Avi
A Lion of Judah is Not A Pin. Its a Call to Action Shabbat Shalom, and welcome to the latest edition of AGPI’s The Friday Report. This week, we published two reports in the National Post and in the Times of Israel. As well, our correspondent was on the ground in Moldova and include a report from the front lines.
As we end the week, there is no greater gratification than receiving this note from a teacher: "We are getting such positive feedback from our school community about the Power of One Exhibit". We are delighted the school will be sharing our resources with Halton Schools, the Board, and the Ontario Association for Catholic Association for Parents in Education. What follows is an excerpt from a speech I gave earlier this week and my article published in Today's Times of Israel.
There are people to whom I often refer in my writings as “Lions of Judah”. These are people who are enveloped by a special aura. They stand up when it counts, speak out when necessary, and show the world that there is nothing to fear – but fear itself. There are people to whom I often refer in my writings as “Lions of Judah”.
These are people who are enveloped by a special aura. They stand up when it counts, speak out when necessary, and show the world that there is nothing to fear – but fear itself. The Lion of Judah is a Jewish national and cultural symbol regarded as part of the tribe of Judah and found in the blessing by Jacob to his son Judah in the Book of Genesis. For me, it has become far more symbolic. It is how I have chosen to identify courage in the face of absolute evil.
For 2,000 years we were oppressed, subjugated, hated, and murdered. We have had to walk the streets with our head bowed to the ground, never ever having eye-contact with the majority population. We never raised a fuss when we were made to pay an extra tax, live in ghettos, and forced to wear the yellow Stars of David. We were then sent to the gas chambers, because we didn’t sufficiently fight. What we need more of today are Lions of Judah. Russia’s assault on Ukraine is sending shockwaves around the world. We speak out on the dangers of declining democracies. Autocracies such as Russia, China, Iran, and Syria are growing bolder, while the free world is growing weaker.
If you listened carefully to Biden’s words at the State of the Union, he essentially said that Russia could have Ukraine in exchange for peace with NATO allied countries. The echoes of the Munich Agreement of 1938 are in full display. In response to Germany’s undeclared war on Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), the United States along with the United Kingdom, France and Italy foolishly appeased Nazi Germany by allowing the annexation of Czech borderland territories in exchange for peace.
Adolph Hitler must have laughed at the West’s naivete as he announced this was his last territorial claim in Europe. Right. We all know what happens when you fail to stand up to a bully. Soon after, France itself was occupied by the Nazis while Italy’s Mussolini aligned with the Nazis.
Kyiv, in other words, is Masada. In 73 C.E. a Jewish tribe fled the Romans to make a last stand on an ancient mountain fortress in the Judean Dessert, adjacent to the Dead Sea. Like the Ukrainians, they were defending their freedom and way of life. The tribe resisted and fought for months, as the Romans encircled and laid siege to the mountain fortress. No one came to their rescue. If Ukraine must stand alone against tyrants, will the U.S. come to Israel’s defence should Iran attack? Clearly, given America’s acquiescence to nearly every Iranian demand during the Vienna nuclear talks, Israel’s interests are not necessarily in the Biden administration’s best interest.
This is bad news not only for Jewish communities, but for anyone who believes in freedom, democracy, and human rights. Democracies are preservers of rights and freedoms. If you want to practise your religion freely, you probably prefer to live in a democracy. This week, I expressed pride in the Jewish Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Like a Lion of Judah, he has arisen to the occasion not only in defence of his country, but in defiance of darkness. When asked by the United States if he wants to escape Kyiv, he responded: “I don’t need a ride. I need weapons.”
The Zalenskys of this world are showing the rest of the world a path toward courage. If he can stare down evil, so can we. We, my friends, will no longer bow our heads. We will not tolerate Nazi salutes in our schools and against Jewish teachers. We will not accept slander and defamation by organizations such as Amnesty International who falsely call Israel an ‘apartheid state’. And we will fight like lions against the rising tide of Antisemitism. Never Again will we be forced to wear a Yellow Star. We shall not accept the denial and distortion of the Holocaust. Most significantly, we will stand like lions and defend the State of Israel, freedom, and democracy, armed with courage and conviction.
A Lion of Judah is not merely a pin. It is a call to action. It is our job to protect our future and defend our past. Social change comes from social action. No matter who we are, we must all cry for freedom. Become a Lion of Judah. Help spread our "Lion of Judah" message. Forward this article to as many people as possible - and lets all stand up and be counted. Shabbat Shalom, - Avi
Shabbat Shalom and welcome to the latest edition of The Friday Report. It has been another dramatic week, to say the least. AGPI’s Canadian and international boards have unequivocally condemned Russia’s vicious and unprovoked assault on Ukraine.
Further to our meeting with Ukraine’s Ambassador Oleksandr Shevchenko, we extended our hand to offer any assistance Ukraine may require. From our perspective, silence in the face of evil is not an option. Given the threat to the Jewish community of Ukraine, we have further reached out to Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Nachman Shai, to offer additional assistance if required and to stand in solidarity with Israel. At our high-level meeting this week with Israel’s new Ambassador to Canada, Dr. Ronen Hoffman, we further offered all and any assistance in this regard.
As Russia presses into Kyiv, we are calling for expanded international sanctions and boycotts, beyond what has been moved by the Nato alliance. These must include an immediate cessation of flights in and out of Russia; an immediate stoppage of the flow of goods and services between the west and Russia, and the issuance of Red Notices for every member of the State Duma.
Make no mistake about it. Russia’s invasion is directly connected to its perceived weakness of the West. As Melanie Phillips puts it, America is sending mixed signals to its foes: “America’s strategy to deter Russian president Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine is to impose sanctions. But its strategy to deter aggression by the Iranian regime is to lift sanctions." In the coming days, we will learn that the United States has reached a nightmarish agreement with the Ayatollahs – worse than the 2015 deal – which will allow the lifting of all constraints on Iran’s manufacture of nuclear weapons within two and a half years.
Russia has been carefully watching all this. America’s perceived weakness with Iran is a green light for any violation to world order. Phillips is right when she observed that “the paradox of peace is that its maintenance depends on the credible threat of war." It is a horrible thought to consider -- particularly in 2022. Humanity should be further ahead. “When it comes to resisting abuses of power, however, diplomacy is the god that fails over and over again. When used as a strategy against implacable aggression, it turns its adherents into accessories to killing."
All this is contributing to a meltdown of social norms around the world. Last week, we wrote an editorial about the disastrous breakdown of our social fabric here in Canada – as our own parliament sunk to name-calling. How then can we be surprised when we hear about students performing the “Heil Hitler” salute in the classroom without shame, or fear? We condemn. We educate (as we have this week) and we work to change policy. Nevertheless, when there is a moral and ethical social breakdown between right and wrong, the world can quickly turn upside down, as we now witness in Ukraine.
The cracks in society are becoming ever more apparent. This week, we expressed outrage about Kentucky legislators who apologized after using the infamous Antisemitic epithet “Jew them down." How is it possible that elected officials freely use such vile language? And if they can, why should we expect anything more from students who download Mein Kampf in their classrooms and run around a soccer field shouting “Heil Hitler”? A surge of Antisemitism hit university campuses across the United States this week: at the University of Illinois, officials said they were investigating Antisemitic flyers; The University of South Florida was forced to release a statement on Antisemitic and racist behaviour by students after it found swastikas and social media posts that minimized the Holocaust; and New York University said it was “disturbed and outraged by the presence of a swastika drawn on the scaffolding outside one of our buildings."
More disconcerting is an Antisemitic trend happening across the United States, whereby hate flyers are being directly delivered to homes. In Parker, Colorado, residents found Antisemitic flyers on their lawns, placed inside baggies of rice to weigh them down. The general message reportedly is that “Jews are controlling the government and possibly created Covid and are controlling Covid,” said one Jewish resident who received the hate material. In light of increasing tumult and the importance of further Holocaust education, we announced this week that AGPI will confer its International Award for Human Rights on Holocaust Survivor, Max Eisen.
The organization is also establishing “The Max Eisen Holocaust Education Fund” to help support Holocaust education and the fight against Antisemitism. The award will be presented at our first annual Crystal Ball Benefit in support of the organization. We look forward to seeing you there! - Shabbat Shalom, Avi Benlolo p.s. Let's educate, advocate and engage. Send this notification to your family and friends and encourage them to subscribe to www.agpiworld.com to receive their own weekly copy.
This week, we proudly thank our donors and leaders including our Campaign Co-Chairs, Frank A. Wilson and Jerry Werger for paving the way to a spectacular Crystal Ball Benefit on May 26th. We are truly humbled by the incredible level of support of our work - thank you!
It has been another turbulent week in Canada and around the world, even while Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease and people are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Our Friday Report brings to you the latest news and insights concerning freedom, democracy, and human rights. Even as organizations such as Amnesty International shamefully slam Israel, the Jewish state keeps moving forward building peace, and advancing the Abraham Accords. A sense of optimism once again enveloped the Middle East with Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to Bahrain. Speaking to Arab media, Bennett said: “We will help our friends in promoting peace, security, and stability, whenever we are asked." Think about this: apart from Syria, Lebanon and Iran, Israel is now engaged with almost every country in the Middle East – even without official diplomatic ties.
Over the last number of weeks, we have been criss-crossing the country speaking to numerous Canadians about being Canadian. From our ‘listening tour’ we attempted to capture the prevailing sentiment in today’s National Post: “As a nation, we need to start looking in the mirror. Do we still recognize ourselves?
We are tearing ourselves apart. From so-called ‘freedom convoys’ to name-calling and accusations of swastikas and the invocation of the Emergencies Act, few Canadians are recognizing their own country. Worse, many Canadians are contemplating leaving (or have left) out of fear of what we are becoming. They see political instability, a changing economy, sky-high racism and intolerance in our schools and communities, and most significantly, a loss of place among leading nations."
We cannot ignore the prevailing frustration which clearly boiled over in Parliament this week. We, as an organization that promotes peace and respect, were disheartened by actions we saw there. We said, “Standing against Nazism should never become a divisive issue. Canadians believe in a united front against hate and intolerance." Even when political parties are at odds, what most Canadians expect is conduct that breeds national unity and pride in our nation. We need to refocus our energy on our shared values and national pride that can bring all Canadians together, even when we might passionately disagree.
This week, we reminded the University of Toronto that its stand against Antisemitism is insufficient without the adoption of the IHRA working definition of Antisemitism. While hundreds of top universities around the world have adopted the definition – a litmus test for a university’s will to counter the vile hatred – U of T continues to claim the definition impacts freedom of speech. Nothing of the sort! Since when does condemnation of any form of racism or intolerance impact anyone’s ability to speak freely? Given that the birthplace of “Israeli Apartheid Week” was at U of T, perhaps we should be less surprised about the hardline approach that university continues to take. In global news, AGPI commended Australia for signaling its intention to designate the entirety of the Hamas movement as a terrorist organization.
This, of course, follows Canadian and American designations of the same; however, it is an important measure initiated by democratic states to curtail this growing threat, even if the measure is only symbolic. What is true is that terrorist organizations in the Middle East are becoming stronger, as they continue to funnel funds and weapons into the Palestinian territories, Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria.
AGPI continues to monitor the ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme. This week, 175 House Republicans wrote to President Biden warning him that any agreement with Iran would be considered non-binding without the approval of Congress. No one wants to see the 2015 debacle in which President Obama sent over $1 billon in cash to the Ayatollahs, which enabled the regime to fund wars, develop ballistic missiles, and support terrorism. Nevertheless, while in Israel today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed “America’s ironclad commitment to Israel and partnership in advancing our mutual security, economic prosperity and democratic values."
In the coming days, we will be launching our Campaign for Humanity to promote human rights and freedoms, in the face of these looming issues. Join us today by making a contribution to AGPI and lending your voice to our momentous effort. May the coming days bring peace upon you and your family and may we enjoy continued freedom and security.
Shabbat Shalom! Thank you for reading the latest edition of AGPI's The Friday Report, bringing you greater insight from around the world. I have to tell you that I was very much moved upon receiving the above picture of new police recruits in front of our Power of One exhibit. It shows an incredible appreciation for the message we are bringing the world.
If you like what you see here, please forward this letter to 10 people and let's expand this circle of courage.
As we prepare to take a substantive delegation to Auschwitz as part of our alliance with the International March of the Living organization, we extended an invitation to Whoopi Goldberg to join us. Over the years, I have extended a hand to others who have gotten themselves into similar controversies. This is an excellent way to turn a negative into a positive.
On the heels of our international action against the shameful Amnesty International report which falsely accused Israel of "apartheid", we continue to update our think-tank with critical information about the issue to ensure the world is given the truth. We also took to the road this week to continue educating and advocating. The way to discourage, and ultimately end, false narratives is to expand our organization from coast to coast and around the world. Given the Anti-Israel stance of many NGOs, we, as a human rights organization, are the counter-voice. We will not stand idly by here at home or around the world when we see unfair assaults on the Jewish State -- while countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, and many others get a free pass.
This week, we travelled to Edmonton to launch our Power of One exhibit at police headquarters and discuss our concern about the rising tide of 'white supremacists in the province. We were greeted warmly by Chief Daryl McFee and his colleagues in leadership. In our remarks to police leaders about the danger of Antisemitism to any society, we explained that sometimes its root is the disregarding of the most basic elements. Before Adolph Hitler rose to prominence, people ignored his comments in a letter in 1919 and then again in 1925 when he published his hate manifesto, Mein Kampf. Even when he was appointed Chancellor, no one could believe that he would enact many of the outrageous things about which he had written.
And yet, this week, who would believe that in one of the most advanced societies in the world, Antisemitism would peak to new levels? The UK's Security Trust which monitors Antisemitism recorded a whopping 2,255 incidents, representing a 34% increase in 2021 from the 1,684 incidents recorded in 2020. Unbelievably, there were 173 violent assaults. In Canada, our organization continued to push school boards against a backdrop of teacher and student-related incidents of Antisemitism. In one school, students performed a Nazi salute in front of classmates. In another, the school board reported that a teacher was removed from a classroom after likening the "forced implementation of the yellow Star of David during the Holocaust to current Covid-19 vaccine passport mandates."
As hate permeates schools, it continues to impact everyone. After meeting last night with a Black community leader discussing unity in the face of racism, it was disheartening to hear about anti-Black racist graffiti at a local school. Our society and communities need to come together against hate. This week, we also welcomed the confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate for top Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt, who is the nominee for Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. We further commend Germany's state broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, for taking action against allegations of Antisemitism by some of its staffers.
AGPI is disappointed, however, in Switzerland's Federal Council for its rejection of a ban of Nazi symbols. Despite having three parliamentary motions to this effect and support of parliamentarians from all parties, we are shocked the resolution was not approved. In Canada, AGPI released a statement in support of MP Kevin Waugh of Saskatoon-Grasswood. Waugh says he introduced a private members bill to prohibit Holocaust denial through an amendment to the Criminal Code. We extended our hand to the Minister to assist in his important effort.
To all of our new donors and subscribers, on behalf of all of us at AGPI, we thank you kindly for your continued support. - Shabbat Shalom, Avi Benlolo p.s. Please help us spread the word and defend Israel by sending this email to 10 people and asking them to sign our amnesty petition. Here is the link: https://agpiworld.com/tell-amnesty-never-again
Shabbat Shalom! Thank you for reading the latest edition of AGPI's TheFridayReport, bringing you greater insight from around the world. This week's report is dedicated to the 73 IDF soldiers killed in action 25 years ago today in the horrific helicopter accident in Northern Israel. Among them was my cousin, Emile Azoulay - A Lion of Judah. May his memory be a blessing.
It's been another acutely distressing week in human rights. Given the fact that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, it came as a shock that Amnesty International would release a report accusing the Jewish State of apartheid, among other fallacies. AGPI's Front Page editorial in the National Post today called the Amnesty report a "shameful assault" on Israel. Together with retired Senator Jerry S. Grafstein, we pointed out that "Israel's detractors never seem to worry about the safety and security of Jewish lives in Israel. They never run to Israel's defence when Israel is attacked".
This week, we issued a letter calling on world leaders and our own prime minister to condemn Amnesty's report. We are pleased that Germany, the UK and the US have issued statements distancing themselves from the document.
As soon as news broke, AGPI issued an immediate statement and report calling on Amnesty to disavow the allegations and pointing out inaccuracies. One of our esteemed board members, retired Department of Justice prosecutor, Hank Kopel authored compelling arguments (which we released) that are now being utilized widely. A copy of our brief alongside our petition can be found at https://agpiworld.com/tell-amnesty-never-again. We are thrilled the Jewish Federation of New Haven has republished our statement on Amnesty and report.
But the more we thought about the issue, the more we realized that the Amnesty report is meaningless. It is a regurgitation of the 2001 Durban conference, highlighting the same double-standard assaults on Israel and the Jewish people that we have seen for decades. This harms the cause of human rights advocacy, which is supposed to equitable, fair and balanced.
This is why we believe that a Canadian global NGO that advocates for human rights, as we continue to grow, we will become a counterweight to this kind of behaviour. Our Think-Tank is publishing dozens of articles to ensure the truth is continuously told.
Also this week, in our interview with Alex Pierson on 640 AM about Whoopi Goldberg, we agreed that more Holocaust education is required. The Holocaust was completely about race whereby the German Nazis created a racial hierarchy, defining themselves as the 'Master Race'. You can listen to my fascinating conversation with Pierson at https://podcasts.apple.com/co/podcast/a-new-blue-leader-whoopi-goldberg-in-hot-water-us/id1318830191?i=1000549864139
Next week, AGPI will be on the road again advancing our human rights advocacy in partnership with agencies. As we close out this week, we also reinforce our education programming particularly as it relates to this Black History Month. Together we are here to advance human rights, protect our future and defend our past. Join us!
- Shabbat Shalom, Avi Benlolo p.s. Please help us spread the word and defend Israel by sending this email to 10 people and asking them to sign our amnesty petition. Here is the link: https://agpiworld.com/tell-amnesty-never-again
As we close out the week in honour and celebration of the Sabbath, we note that is has been another incredible week at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI). It is indeed thrilling to see our exponential growth at home and everywhere around the planet. In the coming months, you will see exciting new developments and announcements as the organization continues to increase capacity in multiple spheres. And by the way, if you read this newsletter prior to 3:50 p.m. today, please tune in to the John Oakley radio show on 640 AM news where we will be speaking about the conspicuous reluctance by authorities to decry the Texas synagogue attack as terrorism.
That was the topic of my column in today’s National Post. It is shameful that the attack by a lone gunman on Jewish worshippers at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, was immediately labelled a “hostage-taking,” instead of a terror attack. It highlights the blind spot that many people in authority and in the media have when it comes to violent Antisemitism. Well, my friends, let me say this: the minute anyone enters a synagogue with a gun and points it at Jewish people, it becomes an issue related to the Jewish community. This was not merely an act of “hostage-taking”; it was a terrorist attack motivated by Antisemitism.
To a large degree, this terrorist attack represents a moral and ethical failing of our society. The Colleyville terrorist thought that Jewish people wielded so much power that they could free an extremist from an American jail with a single call to the White House. How ignorant. Whereas in past decades, Antisemitism was deemed to be reprehensible and forced to the extreme margins of society, today, conspiracy theories such as this one have become normalized. Instead of countering these lies with truth, our education system is propagating them.
Nearly four generations of students have now graduated university falsely believing that Israel practices apartheid and that Jewish people are “colonizers” of their own homeland. Some high schools are also getting in on the action by supporting students organizing “free Palestine” walkouts. Despite being a free and democratic state, left-wing media is refusing to position Israel in a positive light, while “woke” culture refuses to even acknowledge racism against Jewish people. Is it any wonder that violence against Jewish people is increasing?
In fact, former US Prosecutor Henry Kopel, who also sits on AGPI’s Board of Advisors, published a strong piece for discussing a Heritage Foundation study that revealed what he called “highly concerning anti-Israel propaganda being disseminated by Diversity offices across American college campuses." According to Kopel: “Heritage studied the public social media commentary of over 700 Diversity officers from 65 U.S. colleges. It revealed hundreds of social media postings that falsely accused Israel of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid, and that called for Israel’s elimination 'from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.' The study also compared those Diversity officers’ respective public commentaries on Israel and on China – which latter is actually perpetrating a massive genocide of its Uyghur citizens. While 96 percent of the Israel references were highly critical, 62 percent of the China references were favourable – notwithstanding the latter and not the former actively perpetrating a genocide." Mr. Kopel will be presenting on these findings and about his new book, “The War on Hate: How to stop Genocide, Fight Terrorism and Defend Freedom” on February 8th, at 8.00 p.m. by Zoom. You can register now at https://agpiworld.com/speaker-series.
All this points to the importance in our work with police services everywhere around the planet. While we will be making some dramatic announcements on this front soon, this past week AGPI was welcomed graciously by the Vancouver Police Department and many other prominent officials in policing. Together with VPD, AGPI launched its Power of One exhibit to showcase and press upon the message that each one of us has the power to make the world a better place. We also spoke with officials about the rising tide of hate concerning the Asian community, which has increased to nearly 700% by all accounts. As we stated elsewhere, we are thankful for the leadership of Chief Adam Palmer and Deputy Chief Steve Rai – who are both incredible leaders in advancing human rights. To watch remarks made by Chief Palmer – please click here: https://agpiworld.com/our-story
This week was momentous in other ways for AGPI, as multiple events and programmes were held celebrating Raoul Wallenberg Day and more. We were honoured to have nearly 100 people in attendance for our special zoom presentation given by Dr. Ralph Nurenberger about the life and legacy of Mr. Wallenberg. We extend our special appreciation to the attendees and to our Vice President, Leora Shemesh and our Director of Education, Dr. Neil Orlowsky, for heading this important programme and occasion. To have Sweden’s Ambassador to the United Nations in attendance was particularly significant, and a great honour.
We further applaud our Global Co-Chairs of AGPI’s newly forming Lawyers Division, Mr. Brahm Siegel and Ms. Leora Shemesh. for their inaugural lawyers' cabinet meeting which brought together nearly 25 attendees, with many more having expressed an interest in participating. AGPI is delighted to welcome this wide array of incredible professionals who will partake in our advocacy and educational programmes going forward. To participate with this group, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week, our Crystal Ball Benefit, scheduled for May 26th at Casa Loma, also gained incredible momentum as the organization’s leadership secured major corporate sponsors and more and more donors sign on regularly to help build and strengthen this organization. We are proud of the work being done by our Campaign Committee and our Co-Chairs, Jerry Werger and Frank A. Wilson. We are honoured and privileged to have the best of the best in community leadership.
In closing, another international milestone was achieved this week. AGPI pushed for the success of a proposed United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Holocaust. While the UNGA regularly sides against Israel, on this occasion, 114 countries voted with Israel and Germany to reject and condemn without reservation any denial of the Holocaust, in whole or in part. While non-binding, this resolution is certainly one more important step in countering Holocaust distortion and Antisemitism. AGPI will continue to express our voice internationally on behalf of all our members to motivate critical advancements in human rights policy.
Shabbat is upon us and it has been another powerful week at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI). Our campaign-launch meeting was especially exciting! We thank the nearly 50 leaders who joined Campaign Co-Chairs, Frank A. Wilson and Jerry Werger, to kickstart our 2022 fundraising campaign, which will culminate in the organization’s break-out event at Casa Loma on Thursday, May 26th (for details, please visit www.crystalballbenefit.com).
This was another busy week for AGPI as we reacted to the important sentencing of a Syrian war criminal in Germany. In today’s National Post column, we commended Germany for putting human rights first by sentencing a former high-ranking Syrian security service officer to life in prison. Anwar Raslan was found guilty of 27 murders as well as numerous sexual assaults, and the torture of at least 4,000 people held at the infamous Al-Khatib prison, also known as Branch 251, in Damascus. With some 50 survivors coming forward, German authorities arrested Raslan in 2019 after he had the audacity to escape the Assad regime and seek asylum in that country.
As we all are keenly aware in the case of Nazi war criminals, international justice for war crimes is often too little and too late for its victims. In the case of Bashar al-Assad, the UN’s Security Council has repeatedly failed to refer the Syrian president and his collaborators to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Council excuses its selective attention to human rights by saying Syria is not a party to the Rome Statute, which created the court, and therefore it cannot be referred there. For all of us at AGPI, this position is not only unacceptable, it is untenable if the world community is going to stand up and defend human rights.
We also condemned the outrageous display of hate at a funeral in Rome whereby a coffin was draped with a swastika and some of the attendees exhibited the ‘Sieg-Heil’ (Nazi salute). The immediate and outright condemnation and distancing by the Catholic Church was welcomed and proved to showcase our continued strengthening of ties with the Christian community. Indeed, as we wrote today in the National Post, our focus must also include the Christian community which today is possibly the most persecuted of all religious communities in the world. Silence is a form of complicity and for this reason, we will continue to bring attention to this pressing human rights issue as well.
Also this week, we continued to open international channels of communication with mutual organizations that are working to advance The Abraham Accords. Further, we invited Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, to speak about her work championing the Accords and we commended eight House and Senate lawmakers for launching the bipartisan Caucus for The Abraham Accords. Our organization will continue to motivate and advocate for a strengthening of these accords and ties between Israel and its Arab neighbours. There is no greater aspiration than peace.
Our campus monitoring and advocacy initiative appreciates University of Southern California’s (USC) President Carol L. Folt for issuing a lengthy campus-wide letter advocating against what she called “Antisemitic and anti-Zionist posts on social media”. At the same time, we have stated that USC’s measures and denouncements have not gone far enough. AGPI is encouraging the university to adopt the IHRA working definition of Antisemitism as part of its strategy to combat this pernicious hatred. There must be clearly defined boundaries as to what constitutes Antisemitism.
AGPI is further advocating this week for the US Senate to approve funding for the replenishment of Israel’s Iron Dome defence system. It remains unacceptable that Israel remains under severe and serious threat from some 250,000 rockets that are pointed its way from Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran. We call on the US Senate to approve immediate funding, and expedite delivery of Iron Dome rockets and components to ensure Israel’s safety and security.
As we turn attention this coming Monday to Raoul Wallenberg Day, we can draw inspiration from role models who are necessary today more than ever. The Swedish diplomat is recognized widely for saving thousands of Jewish people by issuing passes to them so they could escape the Nazis. Canada set our nation’s moral compass to a new standard when it recognized Wallenberg as an honourary citizen in 1985 and in 2001 designated January 17th as Raoul Wallenberg Day. The Abraham Global Peace Initiative plans to commemorate this important day with the launch of its Power of One exhibit at Vancouver’s police headquarters and with a live telecast to press upon the public the importance of sustaining and furthering the universality of human rights for all people.
As parents and grandparents, it is our responsibility to leave this world a better place for our children. If you agree with our sentiments, we encourage you to forward this message to your family and friends and encourage them to subscribe to these alerts as well. They may do so at www.agpiworld.com
Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year. It's been a fantastic start to 2022 as our organization continues to educate, advocate, and inspire. It’s always a pleasure to begin with positive news about our international friends and associates. We are delighted to congratulate our friend Francis Kalifat, President of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) on being awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s most distinguished honour. Also this week, we congratulated Emilie Moatti on her appointment as Deputy Speaker of the Knesset.
In today’s news, we called upon the United Nations General Assembly to stop undermining its own foundational values by attacking Israel unfairly. As a global organization, we believe the fixation on Israel is diverting attention from critical human rights issues on our planet, thereby placing the future viability of the institution in peril.
In a major editorial in today’s National Post, we expressed concern for the plight of the Uyghur in China, for Afghanistan’s women, and for Christians in Nigeria. Sadly, we said, none of these human rights issues and countless others will be condemned or assigned perpetual commissions of investigation by the UN. They will be forgotten and relegated to the margin of international attention. Why? Because the UN’s relentless obsession with dismantling the Jewish State is designed intentionally to divert attention from legitimate human rights catastrophes on our planet.
As a Canadian NGO that speaks internationally and represents numerous leaders from diverse backgrounds, we are deeply concerned about the direction of the United Nations. While this week many Americans expressed concern about last year’s riot on Capitol Hill and the threat to democracy, the same passions and fears must be held universally, and especially with respect to upholding human rights at the United Nations. The continued targeting of the Jewish State -- which comprises merely 0.11% of the global population and is 455 times smaller than Canada -- is endangering its core principles of fairness, equality, and universality.
For its part, AGPI will continue challenging the growing anti-Israel sentiment at the UN, as well as in other human rights organizations.
This week, we further condemned another heinous, Antisemitic assault on an elderly Jewish woman in France. The attackers were two teenagers, who allegedly targeted the 74-year-old woman because of the mezuzah on her doorpost. It has been reported that the attackers beat her, tied her up, and forced her to reveal where she kept her jewellery. In 2018, 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll was stabbed 11 times in her apartment before being set on fire during a robbery motivated by Antisemitism. One year earlier, another Antisemitism-related robbery took place, in which a 65-year-old Jewish woman named Sarah Halimi was beaten and thrown from a third-floor window.
Let’s be honest. Hate incidents are on the rise nearly everywhere. We spoke out this week about an alarming report by the Calgary police department, saying that in the past year hate-motivated crimes surged a whopping 44%. And why should anyone be surprised? This week, AGPI took action against disturbing hate graffiti on Toronto’s streets, while it consulted on and reported a vicious Antisemitic hate-speech attack against a noted Jewish lawyer.
Even while in most places around the world pro-Palestinian rallies are often imbued with Antisemitic content (eg. “From the River to the Sea…”) we commended a German judge this week for sentencing a woman who chanted Antisemitic slogans at a ‘Free Palestine’ demonstration in that country. In Australia where 20 acts pulled out of the Sydney Festival over the Israeli embassy’s support, we asked them where they were when Assad was murdering hundreds of thousands of his own citizens?
From Jerusalem, AGPI’s representative Gil Hoffman provides a sobering assessment of Antisemitic incidents around the world this week. But while we have to stand up to the torrent of issues, we also need to commend positive steps. This week, The Netherlands stopped funding the Union of Agricultural Work Committees due to its ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist organization.
As always, we invite you to spread the word about The Abraham Global Peace Initiative. No matter where you live, you are welcome to join us by simply subscribing on our website at www.agpiworld.com. Most importantly, help raise awareness by forwarding this report to as many family and friends as possible. We look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming briefings (see below) and together, with your help, will continue striving to make the world a better place.
Avi Abraham Benlolo
Founder and Chairman, AGPI
Shabbat Shalom and thank you for reading The Friday Report. On behalf of The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI), we wish our friends in the Christian community a Merry Christmas. AGPI is one of the few world organizations with a substantive diverse leadership of differing faiths coming together under shared values. We stand with our Jewish, Christian, and Muslim friends and supporters in working together to make the world a better place for everyone.
We were pleased to see signs of hope this week particularly as Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas was quoted as saying, “The State of Israel was born as a Jewish state, and it will remain one." AGPI applauds this perspective and realization by the United Arab List leader and as we meet with Knesset members, we will continue to encourage positive efforts to promote the safety and security of Israel.
We have included herein a wonderful report from AGPI’s Jerusalem-based correspondent, Gil Hoffman, about the festive Christmas events in Jerusalem this week and the incredible archaeological finds off the coast of Caesaria – significant for the Christian community. Most wonderfully, Hoffman observed the following sight in Jerusalem: “A snow machine blanketed the YMCA grounds during its Christmas Market, where vendors sold Christmas treats such as hot chestnuts, mulled wine, and cookies; and handcrafted items such as Santa hats, reindeer statues, candles, and soaps. YMCA’s traditional Christmas Eve concert, including a popular singalong and several different musical groups, was set for Christmas Eve night."
On numerous tours to Israel with Christian friends, I have proudly witnessed a thriving Christian community. That is why it was disappointing to see an article in the Sunday Timesby the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem saying that “Christians are being driven from the Holy Land." They did acknowledge that “in Israel, the overall number of Christians has risen." But that is not far enough. In comparison to everywhere else in the Middle East including Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabi, Libya, and Egypt, we have seen Christians driven out by Islamic terrorists such as ISIS. In Israel, the Christian community is free and flourishing and thriving. Israel is yet again unfairly slammed with double standards – but not everyone is fooled – particularly not on Christmas.
To press this point further, this week Lorena Khateeb, a Druze representative of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, tweeted the following message: “Good evening from my village, Smea, where Druze, Muslims, and Christians live together in coexistence accepting differences to build a sustainable future," -- adding an imoge of Israel’s flag and a Christmas tree.
Conspiracy theories levelled against the Jewish community is nothing new. They are the bedrock of Antisemitism. This week, AGPI acted swiftly by working with both the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP to investigate and remove hateful antisemitic graffiti found by one of our constituents in Surrey, British Columbia. The hateful message called to “indict Jews for 9/11 bombing” – a now-old canard professing that Jewish people were behind the 9/11 attack. In fact, it is well established that 21 Islamic terrorists belonging to Al Qaida were behind the attack planned by Osama Bin Laden et al. AGPI was pleased to receive a report from the RCMP this morning, advising that the hateful graffiti has been removed.
On the other side of Canada (5,300 kilometers away) AGPI strongly condemned an anti-vaccination rally that took place in Fredericton, New Brunwick, because some participants wore and held a yellow Star of David. While everyone is entitled to their views and to protest, they are not entitled to distorting the Holocaust. The Nazis forced Jewish men, women, and children to wear the yellow Star of David as a way to identify them and subject them to ridicule, abuse, and ultimately murder them. This week, AGPI also stood with Gananoque counsellors who suspended one of their own for outrageously linking vaccine mandates to the Holocaust. These growing incidents give rise to Antisemitism and represent serious concern for our organization.
As a global organization, AGPI monitors and responds to international human rights violations. This week, we raised alarm over Chile’s President-elect, Gabriel Boric, for his reported anti-Israel stand, and sent a note of solidarity to the Chilean Jewish community. Boric reportedly accused Israel of “genocide” and has demanded it “return the Palestinian territory it illegally occupies." We have called on Boric and his administration to take a responsible and conciliatory approach in affairs with the Jewish community and with Israel.
A strong stand against freedom and rationality seems to be the order of the day as we also gave voice to our disappointment this week in Hong Kong University’s removal of the memorial to Tiananmen Square victims. China’s encroachment on eradicating any semblance of freedom and democracy must be challenged by the West. Anyone who stands for human rights and civil society must turn attention not only to China, but also to human rights abuse in Myanmar where a Washington Post report this week demonstrated how the military there is targeting civilians and burning villages.
In some positive developments this week, Turkey’s President Erdogan met with a delegation of Rabbis to emphasize a warming of relations between Israel and Turkey. While time will tell with regard to Erdogan’s sincerity in wanting to meet with President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a hand in peace should always be welcomed. Erdogan also said he strongly supports the fight against Antisemitism and said he supports the IHRA working definition of Antisemitism; however we have yet to see if his relationship with Hamas (an entity that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel) will continue.
As we close out another eventful year and position ourselves to address critical issues at home and around the world, we call on you to consider an end of the year donation to AGPI. If you are reading our reports and press releases and you appreciate our activism and education, you support will help us protect your future and defend your past. We are doing this 24/7 each and every day. Your help and support matters. We are asking you to jump into the ring and get into the fight.
Wishing all our brothers and sisters here at home and around the world a Shabbat Shalom and a Merry Christmas,
Founder and Chairman