Thursday, 13 January 2011

At long last, Farber forced to denounce JDL


After years of treating the Jewish Defence League as if they were a rogueish but loveable younger brother, Canadian Jewish Congress supremo Bernie Farber has finally said something about the JDL that's stronger than "they're not my cup of tea" or that he's "disappointed" by them.

A shame he and other self-appointed leaders of the Canadian Jewish community have looked the other way or been quietly encouraging of them over the past few years as the JDL has organized and grown and been busy on campuses and even high schools recruiting youth.

The JDL is and always has been a hate group and a violent one at that and Farber et al's insistence that the Canadian JDL is somehow different than its US counterpart has only given them cover and allowed them to work unopposed within the Jewish community. Had any other group said about Jews what the JDL has long said about Muslims the CJC would have been rightly outraged and insisted that the group in question be ostracised.

Instead, Farber has always quietly defended the JDL or, at worst, issued the mildest of rebuke. This is perhaps his greatest failure as a "liberal" who has been too opportunistic and too wary of being outflanked on the right to say anything. Indeed, he has been so reticent to be critical that JDL head Meir Weinstein actually thinks of Farber as a friend and speaks glowingly of him to others.

Now that the JDL's extremism is undeniable will Farber finally do what he should have done years ago and work to ostracise the JDL within the Jewish community and try to deny them the space to organize? Somehow, I doubt it. There would be a political price to pay and Farber lacks the integrity needed to expend the political capital needed to root out the JDL. He'd much rather ostracise and marginalize Independent Jewish Voices for the crime of criticising Israel than to consistently oppose the JDL, an organization rooted in a variety of ultra-nationalism that can only be called fascism.

Still, good that he had this printed in the Toronto Sun, it's a modest step. Let's see if he issues a similar, or hopefully stronger, missive in the Canadian Jewish News. Will he actually meet with the principals of Jewish Day Schools and urge them to ban the JDL from their schools? Will he ask Jewish campus groups to refuse to work with the JDL? Will he ask the UJA to freeze them out? Or can we expect this summer, yet again, the sight of Meir Weinstein walking down the route of the annual Walk With Israel like a conquring hero or some fascist version of the King of Kensington kibbitzing and patting the back of every "community leader" he encounters, including Farber, as if Weinstein is a somebody, a Big Man on the Jewish Campus? Independent Jewish Voices and its predecessor, the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians, have warned about the JDL and urged Farber and others to denounce them. While I'm sure we're gratified that, however late in the day, Farber has finally seen the light let's see if this epiphany will last. Farber's started talking the talk. Will he and the "leadership" of the Jewish community now walk the walk?

Troubling marriage for T.O.’s Jews

The EDL is well-known throughout Europe for its anti-Muslim street protests

By Bernie Farber and Benjamin Shinewald, Guest Columnists
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think Farber was "forced" to do anything. Like Frank Dimant of B'nai Brith he could have just remained silent. I think he chose to make a comment and is probably hearing it from the JDL and their followers no doubt.

admin said...

The point is not that he is being forced against his will but that he is being forced by events and the JDL's outrageous behaviour to chastise them when he has equivocated or minimised their extremism in the past. Of course, even in this latest statement he is treating the JDL as innocents who have blundered rather than extremists who have shown their true colours.

sporangia said...

I disagree admin, Farber is far more ethical than you give him credit. I think that in his position he has to walk a fine line. But when it comes to Nazis he draws a line in the sand.

The Jewish community mainstream is simply not as centrist as it use to be. At least Farber (in compasison to Dimant and and many other leaders) is still seen as a rational and even voice in our community. I know you don't agree with him on much but many I know trust him and respect his views as representative.