Jewish - Muslim Interaction in Canada / Interview with David Goldberg , Part Two

Part Two


Regarding terrorism Goldberg remarks: "One Muslim terrorist group ostensibly affiliated with Al-Qaeda, the so-called Toronto 18, was broken up by Canadian security forces in 2006.[61] Some of its members were devout Muslims and had been traced back to a mosque and a radical imam in suburban Toronto.[62] Their target was primarily Canadian government institutions. There is no indication that they also intended to harm Jewish community institutions. However, since this occurred, there has been a heightened awareness of security in all Jewish institutions in Canada.

"The possibility of terrorist attacks has caused major added expenses to the Jewish community. In May 2009, Canada's minister of public safety announced that a program that provides funds for security enhancements to communities at greater risk of being hate-crime victims would be extended for a third year to Jewish institutions. Rabbi Reuven Bulka, the then copresident of the Canadian Jewish Congress applauded the government for taking this proactive measure: ‘Thankfully we live in a country that understands that hate is incompatible with Canadian values and undermines the very essence of our society.... As we know from experience, underneath the violence and physical damage of hate crimes, there is a deeper psychological damage to the victimized community who feel isolated, vulnerable and unwelcome.'[63]

"There are a number of private Muslim schools in Canada. At the Abraar Islamic School in Ottawa, two teachers were suspended when they were discovered condoning terrorism against Israelis and promoting hatred of Jews in the classroom.[64] Daniel Pipes writes that such schools are a ‘Canadian emulation of the extremist Deobandi madrassas of Pakistan' in that they promote a radical Islamic outlook and ‘are rife with inaccuracies, sweeping condemnations of Jews and Christians, and triumphalist declarations of Islam's supremacy.'[65]

"Government officials explain that because Islamic schools are privately funded, there is no way for them to formally monitor their curricula. Indeed, it is out of concern about outside interference in their curricula that more radical Islamic schools have consistently opposed campaigns to pressure the Ontario government to end faith-based discriminatory school funding. For their part, Jewish self-defense organizations continue to work closely with the appropriate government agencies to ensure that the values being taught in Muslim schools are consistent with Canadian democratic values including gender equality."

School Funding and Civil Rights
"One of the issues where there has been some convergence of interests and activities between Canada's Muslim and Jewish communities is that of public funding for faith-based schools. In Ontario, strangely, there is government funding for both the public school system and the separate Catholic school system, but not for other religious schools.[66]

"The Muslim and Jewish communities have parallel institutions that have worked together to try and persuade the Ontario government to end this discrimination. The Muslim community has learned from the Jewish community how to contest such issues but, in this case, both have been unsuccessful so far.

"Also, as far as civil rights and self-defense are concerned, the Arab and Muslim communities have modeled themselves on organizations such as the Canadian Jewish Congress and the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada. They are articulating positions that are very similar to those the Jewish community espoused two generations ago. At that time the Jews were very proimmigration and in favor of antiracism education. This is still the case today and for the most part Arab and Muslim communities hold similar positions, as they want government services for new Muslim immigrants to continue."

Antisemitism and Islamophobia
"The shared interest of Canada's Muslim and Jewish communities in favor of civil rights collides with the new antiterrorism legislation introduced by Canada after the September 11 attack. Leaders of Canada's Muslim and Arab community claim this legislation promotes Islamophobia.[67] On this subject the Muslim and Jewish communities diverge, though some prominent Jewish Canadians think specific provisions of the legislation may intrude too deeply into individual rights in the name of national security and call for a careful balancing of the two essential values.[68]

"The current Canadian government has taken a very strong position against international antisemitism. Prime Minister Harper has condemned antisemitism as

a pernicious evil that must be exposed, that must be confronted, that must be repudiated, whenever and wherever it appears. Fueled by lies and paranoia we have learned from history it is an evil so profound... that it is ultimately a threat to us all.... Canada will remain an unyielding defender of Jewish religious freedom, a forceful opponent of anti-Semitism in all of its forms....[69]
"Canada is a participant in the Inter-Parliamentary Commission for Combating Antisemitism, and is now one of the twenty-seven members of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF).[70] There is currently an interparty parliamentary committee investigating the issue of antisemitism in the country.[71]

"Canada's Muslim community is seemingly torn on the issue of antisemitism. Some of their leaders understand that it is now politically incorrect to attack Jews directly, but through their words and actions they perpetuate the new form of anti-Jewish hatred that treats the state of Israel as the ‘new Jew.'[72] In reporting on an 11 percent increase in recorded antisemitic incidents in Canada in 2008 and 2009, B'nai Brith Canada called for greater attention to the antisemitic rhetoric in Muslim Canadian circles:

We question why many incidents pass without wider condemnation, for example, the blood libel by an Islamic community newspaper which was also circulated in Canadian mosques, accusing Jews as well as Israelis of mass organ trafficking. Or the language used to verbally attack Jews as vermin or sewer rats or dogs. Or the most vicious calumnies against Jews, such as the claim that they created the swine flu as a way to control the world, disseminated via new social networking technologies.[73]
"Liberal-minded groups such as the Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC) have recently argued that the Muslim community leadership must modify their attitude toward the Jews. The MCC's founder and former president Tarek Fatah has published a book, The Jew Is Not My Enemy,[74] in which he systematically debunks the anti-Jewish writings of the Hadith literature dating back to the seventh century, repudiates the Arab-supremacist doctrines that add fuel to the fire, and reinterprets supposedly anti-Jewish passages in the Koran. Fatah has received death threats from radical Muslims for his efforts,[75] but has continued to maintain that tempering the Muslim attitude toward Jews is necessary for facilitating a broader evolution and adaptation of the Muslim community to Canadian cultural values.

"Other analysts within and outside the Canadian Muslim community have similarly argued that the community's leadership must adapt to Canadian values.[76] Failure to do so, they maintain, will mean the Muslim community will largely be excluded from much of the political dialogue in Canada, even if it continues to grow exponentially thanks to Canada's immigration trends. The Jewish community, on the other hand, despite its limited size, is included automatically in the political dialogue because of its leadership's demonstrated capacity to adapt to evolving economic, social, cultural, and political circumstances - most specifically, their ability to embrace and internalize Canada's multicultural system and the fundamental democratic norms that underlie it.[77] This remains the essential factor that distinguishes the Jewish community from the Muslim community in Canada."

Interview by Manfred Gerstenfeld

* * *


[1] Statistics Canada 2006 census data.

[2] Elizabeth Riddell-Dixon, "Assessing the Impact of Recent Immigration Trends on Canadian Foreign Policy," in The World in Canada: Diaspora, Demography and Domestic Politics, David Carment and David Bercuson, eds. (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2008), 31-49.

[3] Abdul Malik Mujahid and Amerah Egab, "A Profile of Muslims in Canada," Toronto Muslims,

[4] Sami Aoun, "Muslim Communities: The Pitfalls of Decision-Making in Canadian Foreign Policy," in The World in Canada: Diaspora, Demography and Domestic Politics, David Carment and David Bercuson, eds. (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2008), 113-120.

[5] For a contrary perspective on the advocacy effectiveness of the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, see Isi Leibler, "Canadian Israel Advocacy in Turmoil," Jerusalem Post, 20 September 2008.

[6] See Gerald Tulchinsky, Taking Root: The Origins of the Canadian Jewish Community (Toronto: Stoddart, 1997), and Tulchinsky, Branching Out: The Transformation of the Canadian Jewish Community (Toronto: Stoddart, 1998). See also Morton Weinfeld, Like Everyone Else...but Different: The Paradoxical Success of Canadian Jews (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2001).

[7] David Ouellette, "Muslim Power in Canada," Jerusalem Post, 17 August 2004; Michael Valpy, "Canadian Islam Gets Media Savvy," Globe and Mail, 18 February 2006.

[8] Aoun, "Muslim Communities."

[9] The reference here is to David B. Harris, an Ottawa-based lawyer involved in criminal and national security matters, and director of the International and Terrorist Intelligence Program, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc. He is a former chief of strategic planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

[10] David B. Harris, "Front, Dupes and Double Speak: The Strange Case of CAIR-CAN and Its Friends," Press Statement, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc., 15 July 2009.

[11] "Islamic Group's Lawsuit against Former CSIS Official Is Dismissed," INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc., Press Statement, 24 April 2006. See also Andrew Whitehead and Lee Kaplan, "CAIR Beaten in Court Again," Frontpage Magazine, 27 April 2006,

[12] David Frum, "The Truth about Hamas - and Its Followers," National Post, 25 April 2006.

[13] "Mark Steyn, "The Future Belongs to Islam," Maclean's, 26 October 2006.

[14] "Rights Commission Dismisses Complaint against Maclean's," CBC News, 28 June 2008.

[15] Graeme Morton, "Muslim Leader Drops Ezra Levant Cartoon Complaint," National Post, 12 February 2009.

[16] "Ezra Levant's Opening Remarks to the Alberta Human Rights Commission" (excerpts), National Post, 14 January 2008,

[17] See Mark Hemingway, "Mark Steyn on Trial: Idiot's Guide to Completely Idiotic Canadian ‘Human Rights' Tribunals," National Review Online, 5 June 2008,

[18] Michael Coren Show, CTS Television Network, 18 October 2004. For an excerpted transcript, see For media commentary, see Rosie DiManno, "Elmasry Hanged by His Own Words," Toronto Star, 27 October 2004; Marina Jimenez, "Israelis Legitimate Targets, Canadian Muslim Says: Comments by Islamic Leader Anger Major Jewish and Other Muslim Groups," Globe and Mail, 23 October 2004.


[20] See Tarek Fatah, "Canadian Islamic Congress President Plays the Race Card - Badly," National Post, 22 July 2008.

[21] See Jonathan Kay, "Embarrassing Canadian Arabs," National Post, 11 July 2008.

[22] See Khaled Mouammar's remarks at See also Khaled Mouammar, "The Canadian Arab Federation Responds," National Post, 26 February 2009.

[23] Minister Jason Kenney's formal remarks at the Inter-Parliamentary Commission on Combating Antisemitism, London, 17 February 2009,

[24] Ibid.

[25] Kathryn Blaze Carlson, "CAF Chief Alleges ‘Zionist Campaign': E-Mail Message Cites Attempts to ‘Demonize' Canadian Arabs," National Post, 9 March 2009.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Brett Clarkson and Joe Warmington, "Arab Group Exec Quits after Online Tirade," Toronto Sun, 2 July 2009.

[28] Balint Molnar, "In Ottawa, Program Helps Build Ties between Jews and Somalis," Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 9 January 2004.

[29] Carolyn Shaffer, "Arab/Muslim-Jewish Dialogue in Montreal," unpublished MA thesis, McGill University, 2006.

[30] Ibid. See also Michael Posner, "Toronto's Middle East Proxy War," Globe and Mail, 7 November 2009.

[31] "Sharia Law in Canada, Almost," The Guardian, 8 February 2008,

[32] Gary Dimmock, "Firebombing at Jewish School Linked to Killing of Hamas Chief: Imported Mideast Hatred Hits Montreal School," Ottawa Citizen, 6 April 2004.

[33] Graeme Hamilton, "Judge: School Bombing Was Terrorism; Montreal Jewish Facility: Nineteen-Year-Old Sentenced to 40 Months in Jail for April Attack," National Post, 19 January 2005.

[34] "Sentencing of Mother of UTT Bomber Sends Precisely Wrong Signal, Says B'nai Brith Quebec Region," Press Release, B'nai Brith Canada, 25 November 2008.

[35] Sue Montgomery and Paul Cherry, "Pair Denied Bail: The Attacks Included the Firebombing of the Snowdon Y, Which Police Consider a Hate-Related Crime," Montreal Gazette, 14 April 2007.

[36] "Algerian-Born Man Admits to Firebombing of Jewish Targets in Montreal," Associated Press, 12 February 2009.

[37] Michelle Lalonde, "Bombing Prompts Call for Permanent Hate-Crimes Unit," Montreal Gazette, 7 April 2007. See also Mike Boone, "Why Firebombings Make Me Nervous," Montreal Gazette, 6 September 2006; Kevin Doughtery and Philip Authier, "Charest Calls on Quebecers to Denounce Anti-Semitism," National Post, 7 September 2006.

[38] Eran Shayshon, "What Naomi Klein Really Wants," Haaretz (English edition), 28 March 2010.

[39] Sheli Teitelbaum, "Jihad at ‘Gaza U,'" Jerusalem Report, 21 October 2002. The Canadian-born Israeli journalist Martin Himel also produced a forty-seven-minute documentary, Confrontation @ Concordia, that aired on Canadian television.

[40] Daniel Pipes, "The Rot in Our Universities," National Post, 30 January 2003. See also Margaret Wente, "Welcome to York U, where Tolerance Is No Longer Tolerated," Globe and Mail, 11 March 2003.

[41] Avi Weinryb, "The University of Toronto - The Institution Where Israel Apartheid Week Was Born," Jewish Political Studies Review 20: 3-4 (Fall 2008).

[42] Ibid.

[43] See James Cowan, "York Jewish Students Claim Intimidation: Tension on Campus," National Post, 12 February 2009; Jonathan Blake Karoly, "An Eyewitness Account of This Week's Aggressive Intimidation of Jewish Students at York University," National Post, 12 February 2009.

[44] Megan O'Toole, "Two York Students Sanctioned over Confrontation; Jewish Group ‘Intimidated,'" National Post, 23 May 2009.

[45] University statement on building academic communities, by York University president Mamdouh Shoukri, board chair Marshall Cohen, and board chair-designate Paul Cantor, 15 June 2009.

[46] Ian Robertson, "York Accused of Racism," Toronto Sun, 27 May 2009.

[47] See "York University Conference Questioning Israel's Right to Exist an Exercise in Anti-Zionist Propaganda," Press Release, B'nai Brith Canada, 22 May 2009; "Conference Stirs Jewish Community Opposition," Media Advisory, Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto, 22 June 2009.

[48] Martin Lockshin, "You Don't Need Credentials to Bash Israel," National Post, 26 May 2009. See also Barbara Kay, "An Intellectual Infection," National Post, 5 June 2009.

[49] Karen Pinchin, "Israel-Palestine Brouhaha at York Rages On," Maclean's, 16 June 2009.

[50] Elizabeth Church, "Furor Raised over York's Handling of Conference on Israel, Palestine," Globe and Mail, 12 April 2010.

[51] Stewart Bell, "Police Probe Man's Anti-Semitic Posts; York Student Investigated for ‘Filthy Jew' Site," National Post, 3 March 2010.

[52] Stewart Bell, "York Suspends Student for Internet Posts," National Post, 9 March 2010.

[53] David Frum, "Something's Seriously Wrong at York University," National Post, 27 February 2010.

[54] Gil Troy, "Anti-Israel Week Elicits Yawning, Not Yelling," Canadian Jewish News, April 8, 2010.



[57] "CIC Commends the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the Bloc Quebecois for Denouncing Israeli Apartheid Week and Condemns the NDP for Refusing to Do So," Press Statement, Canada-Israel Committee, 11 March 2010.

[58] Bruce Owen, "NDP Draws Flak from Jewish Leader," Winnipeg Free Press, 16 April 2010.

[59] Adam Daifallah, "The Bitter Campus Divide: University Students Fighting about Israel and Palestine Are Getting More Violent," National Post, 8 April 2010.

[60] Cara Stern, "Carleton Students Attacked with Machete," Canadian Jewish News, 15 April 2010. For a comparative perspective, see Leila Beckwith and Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, "Are Jewish Students Safe on California Campuses?," American Thinker, 25 April 2010.

[61] Isabel Teotonio, "Alleged Toronto Terror Plot Detailed in Court," Toronto Star, 26 March 2008.

[62] See Michelle Shephard, "CSIS Angered by Imam's Campaign - Agency Denies Claims of Harassment," Toronto Star, 28 July 2005, and Shephard, "Imam No Stranger to Controversy," Toronto Star, 7 June 2006.

[63] "Canadian Jewish Congress and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto Welcome the Extension of Security Infrastructure Program," Press Release, Canadian Jewish Congress and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, 10 May 2009.

[64] Juliet O'Neill, "Islamic School Suspends Teacher over Student's Hate-Filled Tale: ‘God Bless You, Your Efforts Are Good,' Instructor Wrote on Ottawa Boy's Story Celebrating Violence, Hatred against Jews," Ottawa Citizen, 24 March 2005.

[65] Daniel Pipes, "What Islamic Schools Are Teaching," Jerusalem Post, 29 March 2005.

[66] Jennifer Wilson, "Faith-Based Schools: How Provincial Governments Finance Religious Schools," CBC News, 17 September 2007.

[67] Omar Algahbra, "Canadian Muslims and Arabs Feel Singled Out: Guilt by Association," Montreal Gazette, 15 July 2005.

[68] Tonda Maccharles, "Cotler Not Afraid to Speak His Mind: Lawyer Backed Anti-Terrorism Bill. Says He'll Promote Human Rights," Toronto Star, 13 December 2003.

[69] Meagan Fitzpatrick, "Harper Denounces Anti-Semitism as ‘Pernicious Evil,'" National Post, 12 March 2009.

[70] See also "Canadian Jewish Congress Welcomes Canada's Full Membership on ITF," Press Statement, Canadian Jewish Congress, 24 June 2009.

[71] Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, See also "CJC Applauds Formation of All-Party Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism," Press Statement, Canadian Jewish Congress, 3 June 2009.

[72] Irwin Cotler, "The New Anti-Semitism," National Post, 17 February 2009.

[73] "Rise in Anti-Jewish Hatred Documented in 2009 Audit - Mainstream Jewish Community Concerned about Threats to Security, Campus Agitation, New Study Shows," News Release, B'nai Brith Canada, 24 February 2010.

[74] Tarek Fatah, The Jew Is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths That Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2010).

[75] "Canadian Moderate Muslim Leader Quits, Fearing for His Life," Jihad Watch, 3 August 2006.

[76] See Aoun, "Muslim Communities"; Riddell-Dixon, "Assessing the Impact of Recent Immigration Trends."

[77] See Michael Brown, "From Binationalism to Multiculturalism to the Open Society: The Impact on Canadian Jews," Changing Jewish Communities 10, 16 July 2006, and Brown, "Canadian Jews and Multiculturalism: Myths and Realities," Jewish Political Studies Review 19: 3-4 (Fall 2007). See also Harold Troper and Morton Weinfeld, "Canadian Jews and Canadian Multiculturalism," in Howard Adelman and John H. Simpson, eds., Multiculturalism, Jews, and Identities in Canada (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1996); Weinfeld, Like Everyone Else.

* * *

David Goldberg is a Toronto-based independent policy analyst. He has had a long career in Jewish studies and in Jewish communal work. He was the national executive director of Canadian Professors for Peace in the Middle East (1988-1991) and the director of research and education of the Canada-Israel Committee (1991-2007). His publications -The Domestic Battleground: Canada and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (1989, with David Taras) and Foreign Policy and Ethnic Interest Groups: American and Canadian Jews Lobby for Israel (1990) - were among the first to apply a scholarly perspective to the domestic political dimension of Canada's Middle East foreign policy decision-making process. His recent publications include "Israel as a Source of Identification for Canadian Jewry" (2007), Historical Dictionary of Israel, 2nd ed. (with Bernard Reich, 2008), "Religion and State in the State of Israel" (with B. Reich, 2009), a chapter on Israel (with B. Reich) for Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa, 6th ed. (forthcoming, August 2010), and an entry on Israel for Encyclopedia of Bioterrorism Defense, 2nd ed. (forthcoming).

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