Front Line: July 7, 2023

July 7, 2023


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July 7, 2023

Shabbat Shalom | Candle Lighting: 8:43 PM EDT

A Note from Michael Levitt

How Media Can Reflect and Perpetuate Antisemitism

Like all countries, Israel isn’t – and shouldn’t be – immune to disapproval when it’s grounded in facts and free of double standards. Defenders of the world’s only Jewish state should never denigrate and dismiss legitimate criticism as antisemitic.

Sadly, as is too often seen in the media, depictions of Israel’s actions are wildly accusatory, gratuitously damning, stripped of relevant context and predicated on half-truths or outright lies. Such defamatory coverage, based on criteria and scrutiny not applied to other countries, not only can reflect Jew hatred but also feed it, as was vividly evident, yet again, this week in Canadian and international media.

To be sure, FSWC’s main mandate is not to typically call out one-sided coverage of Israel, except when it engages in and contributes to antisemitism. Fortunately, when it comes to our country’s media, Honest Reporting Canada does excellent work in holding editors and journalists accountable for playing fast and loose with facts in presenting highly distorted, inaccurate coverage of Israel.

As is often the case when Israel takes forceful actions to defend its people against Palestinian terrorism, it’s vilified by many, as if the world’s sole Jewish country shouldn’t be allowed to fight those hell-bent on its destruction. We all recall how two years ago, some of the Canadian media’s depiction of the war between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hamas terror group helped incite a rash of antisemitic incidents targeting the Jewish community.

This week, when Israel’s army conducted a two-day operation in the Palestinian city of Jenin, long notorious as a bastion of Palestinian terrorist groups, many in the media resorted to a type of coverage of Israel that can’t but add to already rising levels of hatred of Jews around the world.

The most inflammatory example took place on the BBC on Tuesday when anchor Anjana Gadgil claimed, during an interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, that “Israeli forces are happy to kill children.” Bennett deftly responded to Gadgil’s preposterous statement, saying, “It’s quite remarkable that you’d say that, because they’re killing us.”

Even by the BBC’s dubious reporting standards concerning Israel, Gadgil’s comments are outrageous, even dangerous given the interview was broadcast to potentially millions of people. It’s all the more disturbing that a BBC journalist felt comfortable making such a vile, false accusation without thinking of the implications and consequences of her words that are evocative of the blood libel that has plagued Jewish communities for centuries. Such a blatant lie flies in the face of the fact that Israel’s military goes to great lengths, far more than most countries, in trying to avoid civilian casualties. That a BBC spokesperson later apologized for Gadgil’s remarks doesn’t lessen the gravity of what happened.

While perhaps not as egregious as the BBC, Canadian media also displayed a highly disturbing bias in some of its coverage of Israel this week. Both the CBC and CTV joined in the false moral equivalencies and symmetry between the Palestinian terrorist attack in Tel Aviv and IDF’s actions in Jenin, as if sometimes almost justifying, if not glorifying, Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians, often referring to it as Palestinian “resistance.”

Jews can and should accept fair, factual, legitimate criticism of Israel. We must reject and strongly denounce all venomous depictions of and accusations against Israel that reflect much more an antisemitic perspective than an accurate, balanced critique of Israeli actions.

Shabbat Shalom,

Community Update. FSWC hosts an inspiring evening with Rabbi Steve Leder from Los Angeles

On Wednesday night, we hosted a special event in Toronto, featuring guest speaker Rabbi Steve Leder, an influential Jewish leader from Los Angeles. FSWC was first introduced to Rabbi Leder last winter during our generationNOW young leadsership trip to Los Angeles. With more than 300 people in attendance, Rabbi Leder shared his insights about Judaism and living a Jewish life with a sense of purpose. With his words of wisdom and engaging manner, he left a lasting impact on the audience, both during his initial presentation and then in a stimulating Q&A conducted by TV and radio host and producer Jesse Rubinoff.

In his latest column in the Toronto Star, FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt pays tribute to his mentor, Irwin Cotler. Levitt writes, "Since first meeting former justice minister Irwin Cotler over 20 years ago, he’s been a cherished mentor to me, central in both my professional and personal journey. On many occasions, he’s shined a light for me as I’ve dealt with difficult issues. I’ve learned and gained so much from “Prof,” as he’s affectionately known to those in his circle, evoking his many years as a McGill law professor."

Read Column

Earlier this week, FSWC spoke out on a recent incident in Peterborough, where antisemitic flyers were distributed. After receiving reports of antisemitic flyers being distributed in Peterborough by the Goyim Defence League, we reached out to the Peterborough Police Service to ensure it was being investigated. The flyers, which were disseminated widely in the Ontario city, promoted antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories, accusing the Jewish community of media control and being behind the “Covid agenda,” the slave trade, abortion, mass immigration and the LGBTQ+ movement.

We spoke to several media outlets about this latest in a series of hate incidents in Peterborough in recent months, which resulted in a number of articles in the press about this disturbing development, which we also condemned strongly in a media release and public statement.

Read Statement

FSWC is, once again, seeking witnesses for an upcoming trial against a former Nazi guard who worked at Sachsenhausen concentration camp between April 1943 and March 1945. In collaboration with Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, Efraim Zuroff, we’ve put out a call for survivors of the camp and relatives of victims. Please share this important request widely with your friends and family. Please share widely and email us at

Yesterday, FSWC issued a statement commending the RCMP for announcing its intention to charge an individual tied to the neo-Nazi network Atomwaffen Division with hate propaganda and terrorism. This is significant as it’s the first time in Canada both charges have been applied simultaneously, showing an understanding of the relationship between propagandizing and acts of terror. The individual in question is a highly influential propagandist in far-right circles who has played a significant role in shaping neo-Nazi aesthetics. Atomwaffen Division is a network of cells linked to at least five murders in the US, including that of gay, Jewish university student Blaze Bernstein.

Read Statement

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Education Update. FSWC Education Department is now actively engaged in planning for the 2023-2024 school year

Following the completion of a very busy school year, the FSWC Education Department is now actively engaged in planning for the 2023-2024 school year. During the summer, the team is focused primarily on creating new student, teacher and parent workshops, updating our current programming, preparing new resources and collecting empirical data to measure the impact of the programs.


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