My latest: Chow has chosen sides

Olivia Chow has made her choice.

For months, she’s bobbed and weaved. For months, she has refused to be crystal clear about the orgy of anti-Semitism and Jew-hating crime that has gripped Toronto.

The mayor of Canada’s largest city will issue an occasional sympathetic tweet, sure, when things get particularly bad. But clearly showing support for Toronto’s Jewish community, when they are feeling under siege? When they are feeling isolated and maligned and scared?

Not Olivia Chow.

On Tuesday morning, Chow finally made a clear choice. On Tuesday morning, a small ceremony took place: the raising of Israel’s flag in a remote corner of City Hall, as has been done for years, without any problem.

Chow refused to attend.

Before the ceremony, someone sent her an email about it. Chow sent back a response, which was circulated online late Monday night. She did a bit of buck-passing, claiming that the city’s protocol office decided to let Israel’s flag be raised, not her. And then she said this:

“The Mayor did not decide to fly the flag, and does not have the authority to approve or deny flag raising requests. The Mayor will not attend the flag raising. She believes raising it is divisive at this time, and understands the deep pain and anguish felt by many in the community.”

That’s pretty clear: “The Mayor will not attend the flag raising.” And, so, she didn’t.

Councillor James Pasternak was there, and some others. A few Israel-haters showed up, too, but they were kept a safe distance away. But no Olivia Chow, who claims to be mayor of all of Toronto.

Well, it turns out she’s mayor of just some of Toronto – a Toronto where some citizens are more equal than others. She’s not mayor anymore to any of Toronto’s many Jews, apparently.

Five problems with that.

1. Fair is fair, Mayor Chow. If Israel’s flag is “divisive,” then Palestinian flags shouldn’t be displayed at protests and rallies anymore, either. Because, you know, that’s “divisive.”
(And by the by: There are Israeli flags on homes all over Toronto, which has a big Jewish population. Does Toronto’s erstwhile mayor want them taken down, too, because they’re “divisive?”)

2. This flag-raising, as noted, has happened for years. But this year – when Jews are under unprecedented assault, and want reassurance that they are welcome in Toronto, where they pay taxes and contribute to the betterment of the city – Olivia Chow wants Jews to be invisible. She wants them erased.

3. By falsely claiming there is a “security” issue, Olivia Chow has made it into one. In previous years, no one had “security” issues. This year, Toronto’s mayor is making it into one – by recklessly pitting one side against the other. Is safety truly an issue? Well, if safety is an issue, then pick up the phone and call the police, Mayor Chow. You’ve got their number, don’t you? I mean, you appoint the Chief and set the Toronto Police Service budget, after all.

4. A few days ago, the logo and propaganda of Hamas’ military wing was projected onto the side of a building at the University of Toronto, which happens to be blocks from where Chow lives. From her, not a peep. But, now, Israel’s flag is “divisive”? Seriously?

5. Final point, about which there can be no mistake: this no-show is a profound insult to Toronto’s Jews, who see this as more than a mere flag-raising. To them, it’s making a choice. To them, it’s expressing a desire that they aren’t here anymore. Erasing them. Removing them.

Which happened in a certain European country in the 1930s, didn’t it?


Not only is wearing that mask an indication that you hate Jews and democracy, it’s also pretty derivative, campus kids.

My latest: the loneliest country in the world

JERUSALEM – One of the first things you notice about this country, when you come here, is the people. Not the beautiful sights, so much, these days. The people.

At your hotel, there aren’t any spare rooms. They’re all full. In the mornings at the included breakfast, you see exhausted parents trying to corral their kids, who are wearing pajamas all the time and look sadder than a child ever should.

Out on the streets, the restaurants and shops are mostly empty. Fewer people than usual can be seen walking around.

And outside the cities like Jerusalem, you see soldiers everywhere – lots and lots of them, so young, carrying around M-16s and Glock and Sig Sauer sidearms. The citizens you meet, meanwhile, don’t smile much. They look sad and anxious. Some of them carry guns, too.

Why so are the hotels so full? Simple. They’re full of refugees. When Hamas attacked in the South and slaughtered 1,200 people and incinerated their homes, the survivors needed somewhere to live. So, they moved to hotel rooms in the cities, where they’ve been trapped for months. Many don’t want to return with their kids to the kibbutzim, so near are they to the border with Gaza.

Same with the ones from the North, the ones within easy rocket and missile range of Hezbollah. They’ll likely never be allowed back – thousands and thousands of them. Families with kids, the elderly.

And why so few people on the streets, in the shops and restaurants? Because the tourists are staying away in droves. Because many Israelis are unenthusiastic to be out somewhere and caught in an attack, that’s why.

All over Old Jerusalem, near the holiest places in Christianity and Judaism and Islam, are bilingual signs recalling who was shot to death or stabbed to death on that spot. There’s a lot of those signs.

And why the sad faces? That, too, is obvious. Because everyone knows someone who was killed or taken hostage. Everyone has a relative in the army, because service is mandatory here. Everyone feels completely and totally abandoned by those they formerly considered friends and allies.

Like, say, us. Canadians. As they live refugee lives in cramped hotel rooms far from their homes, Israelis watch the news carefully. (There’s not much else to do.) They see the hate rallies in our streets. They see the attacks on Canadian synagogues and Jewish community centers and businesses. They see our kids – white, privileged kids hiding behind masks – camping out at universities, mouthing tributes to actual terrorists.

The Israelis see all that, and they feel utterly and completely alone. They feel abandoned by those they considered allies and friends, like Canadians. And they wonder if October 7, 2023 is some new Kristallnacht, a reprise of what followed it. They wonder if Hamas and Iran and their Satanic brethren will finish what the Nazis started.

Over and over, Israelis expressed bewilderment to us, Canadian media. Why do so many in the West regard us as a war-mongering, white supremacist, Islamophobic apartheid regime led by a fascist? Why?

It’s true: lots of people think Israelis fully support the government of Benjamin Netanyahu and the senior leadership of the armed forces and the intelligence agencies. But they don’t. They just don’t.

Every single Israeli I met – every one – expressed barely-controlled rage about Netanyahu and his generals and advisors. They want all of them gone. They want to clean out the stables.

They are livid Netanyahu et al. didn’t foresee October 7 coming. They are shocked, still, that it happened. Some openly detest Netanyahu for it.

Similarly, the notion that Israel is a far-Right theocratic backwater that hates Muslims? It’s absurd. It’s wrong. Almost all of the men, women, children and babies slaughtered on the Seventh were farmers and rural people who live off the land. Mostly socialistic, atheistic people who wouldn’t ever vote for Netanyahu.

Their families are the ones who protest every single day outside Netanyahu’s official residence here, because they don’t think the government has done enough to get back the hostages.

And 20 percent of Israel’s population? It’s Muslim. Muslims were murdered and kidnapped in October 7, too. They are mourned and missed here as much as Jews are.

So, does Israel possess military might? Yes, of course. But Israelis  want peace more than land. Over and over since 1967, they’ve ceded land to hostile Muslim forces, betting that it will foster peace. Every time, they’ve lost the bet. Case in point: a ceasefire existed until October 6. It was broken by Hamas. Not Israel.

Are the Israelis as militaristic as the campus Infant-fada claim? Well, after Iran bombarded Israel with hundreds of missiles, rockets and drones less than a month ago, not one Arab nation (apart from Syria) would’ve objected if Israel had bombed Iran’s regime back to the Stone Age. But Israel didn’t. They fired off a few warnings, and then withdrew. The Allies didn’t do that in Dresden or Hiroshima.

At Nir Oz, a kibbutz where many residents were murdered or kidnapped, we were led around by Rita Lifshitz. She stood in front of the ruined home of her octogenarian father-in-law, a pro-Palestinian Israeli who used to take sick Gazans to hospital. They kidnapped him.

Rita looks like she hasn’t smiled in seven months. She probably hasn’t.

Casting her gaze over the charred ruins of her father-in-law’s home, she whispers just loud enough to be heard:  “It’s like a holocaust.”

Israel doesn’t feel so much like a country, these days. It feels like an open wound.

It needs healing.


From Israel to here

Back home from Israel.

Photo: where Hamas came into Kfar Aza on Oct. 7. I’m on the spot where they killed 20 young people before killing many more.

Jews and Israel feel isolated and afraid. They feel alone.

Well, I’m with them. And I am going to bear witness to the truth.

My latest: the hidden hand

JERUSALEM – Israel’s government is paying close attention to pro-Hamas, anti-Semitic protests and rallies happening in Canada and the West – and is very concerned, says a senior Israeli government spokesman.

Israel believes what is happening abroad isn’t organic or spontaneous, said Alex Gandler, deputy spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“There is definitely a hidden hand,” helping to organize and assist the anti-Israel protests, said Gandler. “This is not organic. This is not a coincidence.”

He adds: “This is this has been going on for years. And the infrastructure for the existence of these protests was set up years ago, pre-Hamas.”

The anti-Israel, pro-Hamas agitation is exceptionally well-organized and well-funded, Gandler said. “State-driven voices have been pushing these messages, and investing a lot of money [in the rallies and protests]. And not just money, but time – and they have been shaping what they want response to be when the day comes.”

And, following October 7, that day has come. As this newspaper has reported for months, foreign interests – Iran and Qatar – are supplying considerable material and rhetorical support to the anti-Israel forces. And, as we have also reported, protestors are even being paid to show up in cities like Victoria and Montreal.

And Israel isn’t their only target, says Gandler.

“This is more than that,” he says. “There has been heavy investing in changing or rearranging the political map of other countries. It is a political push.”

And, as Russia sought to do in the 2016 US presidential election – and as China did in the 2019 and 2021 Canadian federal elections – the anti-Israel “hidden hand” wants to destabilize and ultimately destroy Western-style democracy.

“It is Western liberal democracy that is on the line,” he says. “That is, Western democracy that is represented in Canada and the United States and Western Europe and also in Israel. The aim, at the end of the day,  is to change all that into something else.”

Israel’s main focus at the moment is – understandably – winning its war against Hamas, getting back the hostages, and disarming Gaza. But, when the war is over – hopefully soon, Israelis hope – attention will turn to the other war. The global propaganda war against Israel and her allies.

Concludes Gandler: “We need to protect ourselves from the worst –  by being the better.”

My latest: Israel won’t blink

TEL AVIV – Israel won’t stop its military advance against the Hamas stronghold of Rafah, says a former senior ranking Israeli military commander – whether the United States and Western allies approve or not.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no choice, says retired Israeli Brigadier General Amir Avivi , who spoke to Postmedia the morning after news broke that Hamas is now prepared to sign a ceasefire deal.

Quoting what his close friend and Caesarea neighbor Netanyahu has told him, Avivi said: “Nothing will stop us now from going into Rafah.”

That even includes the Biden administration, says Avivi, who has founded and leads a powerful political and cultural force in Israeli society: the Israel Defence and Security Forum, which is made up of more than 30,000 former IDF soldiers and officers.

“Israel set very clear goals for this war,” said Avivi. “The complete destruction of Hamas as a governmental and military entity; bringing back all the hostages; and making sure that there will be never never again be a terror army in Gaza.”

Those goals simply have not been achieved yet, says Avivi, who has significant contacts within the Netanyahu coalition, and is regularly consulted with by key government ministers.  Says Avivi: “To achieve these goals, you basically need to conquer the whole Gaza Strip – and there is no way to destroy Hamas without taking over the whole Gaza Strip.”

But that’s not what President Joe Biden, Canada and other Israeli allies want. They’ve repeatedly said they strongly oppose any Israeli military action on Rafah, where a million Palestinians have congregated to escape the fighting.

When the news about Hamas’ decision to accept a ceasefire deal broke here late last night, it was immediately greeted with muted hostility in Jerusalem. Israel hadn’t even seen the terms of the deal, Netanyahu government sources said.

Notwithstanding that seeming opposition to a ceasefire deal, Israel announced that it was still willing to send a team to Egypt to look at the details and possibly negotiate. Asked about that apparent contradiction – keep fighting but also re-start negotiations – Avivi said:

“Israel is saying nothing will stop us from going to Rafah – even if the US is against it. Even if the whole world is against it.  In one of their meetings, [Netanyahu] said to Biden that, ‘If we have to conquer Gaza with our fingernails, we are going to do it.’ We’re going to do it even if you don’t give us ammunition, even if you don’t give us weapons – we’re going in and we’re not going to lose the war.”

Participating in the negotiations in Egypt doesn’t change that imperative, says Avivi.

“Israel is saying, if we have a chance to release the women hostages, the elderly hostages, in a deal that will be a ceasefire of a month or 40 days? Fine,” he adds, with a shrug. “And, following that, we will renew the attack on Rafah.”

The U.S., Canada and Europe may get their desired ceasefire, Avivi concludes. But nothing will stop Israel’s coalition government and war cabinet from also finishing the job of wiping out Hamas, he says.

“We have no choice.”