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“Anti-Zionist” Jews Disgrace Themselves

By HENRY SREBRNIK Is so-called “anti-Zionism” antisemitic? It was not always so. Prior to the Holocaust and the creation of a Jewish state, many Jews did consider Zionism – a return to the Land of Israel — unworkable, unnecessary, even wrong-headed. In the United States, prior to the Holocaust, Reform Jews in the American Council for Judaism were committed to the proposition that Jews are not a national but a religious group. Jewish socialists and others on the political left, including the influential Jewish Labour Bund, were opposed to what they thought was an ideological “bourgeois” error.

But these were internal debates in the Diaspora, and in any case most non-Jewish people had little say about them — if they even bothered to pay any attention to these internal arguments within Jewish circles. Nor, obviously, did those politically against the Zionist movement ally with pogromists who slaughtered Jews.

All of that is history, really part of a vanished Jewish world. Yes, there are remnants of that past, in sectors of the haredi world. The Satmar Hasidim are the most visible. They are theologically committed to a reading of Jewish history that considers that the recreation of a Jewish nation must await the Messiah. They are “anti-Zionists” in the legitimate sense of the word, but no one thinks they want to kill the Jews in Israel or elsewhere.

That’s a different matter than today’s Jewish anti-Zionists, who are largely uninformed about Judaism, Jewish history and culture. They are a fringe group, allied with states and ideologies that want to eliminate the existing Jewish state of Israel and perhaps even murder most of its Jewish population and expel the remainder. Today’s version has more to do with pre-war German Nazi eliminationism than with long-forgotten intra-Jewish disputes.

Assimilated into left-wing movements and doctrines, these Jews are in most cases little more than Jews through genealogy, “Jews in name only,” making political use of that on behalf of those wishing to destroy Israel. Their “anti-Zionism” is part of the larger antisemitic movements arrayed against us, and they serve, to use a well-known term, “useful idiots.” They make use of general slogans, identity politics and symbolic statements like wearing a keffiyeh, with minimal complexity and knowledge. 

They are producing vast amounts of simplistic one-sided literature and media. One example is the film “Israelism,” the story of two young American Jews “raised to defend the state of Israel at all costs” who “join the movement battling the old guard over Israel’s centrality in American Judaism, and demanding freedom for the Palestinian people.” Call them “Jewish shields” for the pro-Palestinian left that is glorifying the post-October 7 pogrom by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

“Antisemitism in Canada and abroad is primarily presenting itself through the prism of anti-Zionism, which, in my opinion, is the most pervasive form of antisemitism, and the most perverse in a number of ways,” remarked Casey Babb, a senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and the Institute for National Security Studies. I guess our Jewish “anti-Zionists,” wilfully blinded by the company they keep,  refuse to see what’s in front of our eyes.

Fortunately, here in Canada, despite the noise they make, such anti-Zionist Jews are a tiny and marginalized group. Professor Robert Brym of the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto and probably Canada’s most eminent Jewish academic, on May 30 released an addition to his lengthy “Jews and Israel Survey 2024” published in the spring 2024 issue of the journal Canadian Jewish Studies.

To his question “Do you believe Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state?” 91 per cent of his Canadian Jewish respondents answered in the affirmative, six per cent said they don’t know, and only three percent said no.

We know the difference between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism. The belief that the Jews, alone among the people of the world, do not have a right to self-determination, or that the Jewish people’s religious and historical connection to Israel is invalid, is inherently bigoted. When Jews are verbally or physically harassed or Jewish institutions and houses of worship are vandalized in response to actions of the State of Israel, it is antisemitism. 

Expressions of anti-Zionism include downplaying or negating the historic and spiritual Jewish connection to the land of Israel, and the insistence on holding Israel to unreasonable standards when viewing its response to threats in comparison to the actions of other members of the international community.

Now many of these Jewish anti-Zionists don’t necessarily agree with everything listed above. But by associating and collaborating with those who do, they are at the very least, to use an old-fashioned phrase, “fellow travellers” allied to these antisemitic movements. And they can be paraded before the media as Jews who have seen the evil that Israel causes. What better evidence?

Some of Canada’s most disruptive actions and blockades have been coordinated by groups with U.S. funding and organizational links. For example, the Tides Foundation, a San Francisco-based “social justice” non-profit has supported Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and IfNotNow, among others, in the United States. Both have been perennial organizers of anti-Israel rallies and blockades.

The Canadian affiliate of JVP, Independent Jewish Voices Canada, calls itself a “grassroots organization in Canada grounded in Jewish tradition that opposes all forms of racism & advocates for justice and peace for all in Palestine-Israel.” It calls Zionism “the political ideology that has provided the basis for Israel’s settler-colonial project and unfolding genocide in Palestine.” 

They are indeed “useful,” and antisemites know it. On May 27, for instance, a representative was on Parliament Hill holding a press conference insisting that the country’s network of pro-intifada campus encampments was not antisemitic.

On June 10 the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), one of Canada’s largest public sector unions, which is actively engaged in Pro-Palestinian activities, held a discussion “Addressing Islamophobia and antisemitism in the Workplace.” Of course no Jew supporting Israel was invited, not even Deborah Lyons, Canada’s Special Envoy on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, and a former ambassador to Israel. 

The panelists were Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, and, on the Jewish side, Avi Lewis, a former Al Jazeera correspondent and now an associate professor of “social and political change” at the University of British Columbia (UBC). 

However, Lewis, scion of a prominent family that has been for decades active in the New Democratic Party – grandfather David led the federal NDP and father Stephen was head of the Ontario party — is an active “anti-Zionist,” a member of the anti-Zionist Independent Jewish Voices Canada, and a co-founder of the UBC chapter of the Jewish Faculty Network.

Richard Marceau, vice president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the union’s efforts at doing something about antisemitism were disappointing.

“Inviting someone like Avi Lewis — who is not an expert on antisemitism, who is a marginal figure in the Jewish community and who is viciously opposed to Israel — to train union members on antisemitism shows how unserious PSAC is about combatting Jew-hatred,” he stated.

Yes, Jews can be Jew-haters too. (The term “self-hating Jew” is silly; they hate other Jews, not themselves.) Such Jews now face anti-Israel sentiment of unprecedented ferocity, often couched in the language of social justice, critical race theory, and so-called intersectionality. It is sustained by the hegemonic hold of a theory of “settler colonialism,” now ubiquitous in Canada’s universities, and one which deems Israel an illegitimate colonial settler state. 

And Palestinian academics known how to use this terminology to make their case. Typical is an article by Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University, New York. In a May 30 oped, “Instead of Recognizing ‘Palestine,’ Countries Should Withdraw Recognition of Israel,” published on the website Middle East Eye, he uses all the correct buzzwords, referring to “Israel’s illegality as an institutionally Jewish supremacist racist state.” He considers the very establishment of this “settler-colonialist” state “an illegal act and in violation of the very UN resolutions that proposed its establishment.” 

Massad therefore advocates the “dismantlement of Israel’s racist structures and laws” in favour of “one decolonised state, from the river to the sea, in which everyone living within it is equal before the law and does not benefit from any racial, ethnic, or religious privileges.” Only the end of the Israeli “settler-colonial state” will lead to a “decolonised anti-racist and democratic outcome.”

Massad’s analysis and prescription is the true bedrock Palestinian position, as presented for western ears. (Hamas’ creed is a different matter.) The theoretical construct behind it is one that fits completely within today’s liberal-progressive ideology espoused by the intellectual elites in western countries now. The “anti-Zionist” Jews reading them usually know far less about what the Jewish people have gone through historically. This makes them easy prey for our enemies. 

Natan Sharansky, currently Chair of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), and McGill University history professor Gil Troy, in a June 16, 2021 Tablet article entitled “The Un-Jews,” asserted that these people “are trying to disentangle Judaism from Jewish nationalism, the sense of Jewish peoplehood.” And the voices of these “inflamed Jewish opponents of Israel and Zionism are in turn amplified by a militant progressive superstructure that now has an ideological lock on the discourse in American academia, publishing, media, and the professions.”

We hear it from progressives like the author Naomi Klein, who is professor of Climate Justice at the University of British Columbia (and married to Avi Lewis). Klein’s Passover message in the April 24 British Guardian newspaper was headlined “We Need an Exodus from Zionism.”  She told readers that “we don’t need or want the false idol of Zionism. We want freedom from the project that commits genocide in our name.”

For Klein, Zionism “takes our most profound biblical stories of justice and emancipation from slavery– the story of Passover itself — and turns them into brutalist weapons of colonial land theft, roadmaps for ethnic cleansing and genocide.”  The creation of the State of Israel, and the entire Zionist movement, was a ghastly mistake and Jewish life is best led in exile. 

“Arguing for the purity of exile and powerlessness, and demanding abandonment of the now-impure Jewish State,” Elliott Abrams, currently a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, observes sadly that “we have indeed been watching the young American Jews who helped build those campus tent cities and joined the denunciations of the Jewish State.” 

In “American Jewish Anti-Zionist Diasporism: A Critique,” in the May 2024 issue of the British periodical Fathom, he sees them following the lead of “the hundreds of Jewish professors who wish to proclaim their virtue by lining up against the Jewish State.”

Finally, there are the many Jews like Rabbi Elchanan Poupko, the president of EITAN–the American Israeli Jewish Network, whose anger at anti-Zionists is palpable. In “Anti-Zionist Jews, Have You Seen the Mirror?” a blog published on the Times of Israel website, May 28, 2024, he points out their hypocrisy. 

“The people who were angry at Birthright for taking them on a free, all-expenses paid trip to Israel without taking them to Gaza, Ramallah, and Sheikh Jarrah were somehow unable to utter the words Kibbutz Be’eri, Sderot, Metula, Kiryat Shmona, or the massacre at Nova music festival. Those who were angry at their teachers for celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut with no mention of the Nakba were suddenly unable to speak about the Hamas charter calling for the killing of Jews worldwide.

“Yet perhaps worst of all, was not what anti-Zionist Jews said — or did not say — but rather the company anti-Zionist Jews have chosen to keep. Over the past few months, anti-Zionist Jews have stood shoulder to shoulder with masked and uniformed individuals in public places, physically blocking off ‘Zionists.’”

 They exclude their fellow Jews from public spaces in universities, side with terrorist organizations that call for the annihilation of all Jews in the world and make partnerships “with what is objectively the most antisemitic movement since the Holocaust,” he writes.

Rabbi Poupko lives in New Haven, Connecticut. The region is home to Yale University, Quinnipiac University, Albertus Magnus College, the University of New Haven, and Southern Connecticut State University, making it a hub of higher education – and, of course, pro-Palestinian protests. “I got to see firsthand what anti-Zionism in Jewish spaces meant. A group of anti-Zionist Jews shared to their social media videos with cheers like ‘there is only one solution – intifada revolution,’ which is a call for deadly violence.”

As Iran began shooting ballistic missiles and drones carrying hundreds of tons of explosives at Israel’s civilian population, “many anti-Zionist Jews were there to explain why Iran was justified in its attacks on Israel. Jewish Voices for Peace posted a photo of Houthis in Yemen praising the pro-terror mobs on campus.”

He concludes by noting the irony of anti-Zionist Jews siding with the mobs behind the greatest push for Diasporic Jews to move to Israel. “Those who want you to believe Jewish safety should not depend on the State of Israel have helped make much of the diaspora unsafe for Jews and Jewish life.” When the people you march with “are the reason countless synagogues, JCCs, and day schools are hiring more security, you probably don’t get credit for making Jewish life in the Diaspora more appealing.”

Such Jews are betting their present and future will be outside the confines of the Jewish people, and they will do anything to gain the acceptance of the antisemitic circles in which they traffic. “When anti-Zionist Jews hold signs that say: ‘this Jew is against genocide,’ besides for defaming other Jews as being for genocide, they also often forget the truly genocidal company they keep, company that would like to eradicate the State of Israel. It is time for anti-Zionist Jews to take a look in the mirror.”

Bottom line: Whatever we call it, and however they can be distinguished, both terms, antisemitism and anti-Zionism, are in today’s context simply manifestations of Jew- hatred.

Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown. 

Local News

First, Do No Harm: How Dr. Newman’s Valedictorian Speech to U of M Graduates Got History So Wrong

Dougald Lamont

Ed. note: This post was originally published in May, but given recent events in which the president of PARIM (the Professional Association of Residents and Interns of Manitoba) was forced to resign his position by the board of PARIM for criticizing remarks made by Dr. Gem Newman during his valedictory address to graduating medical students at the U of M, we thought it appropriate to repost this article to our home page.

By DOUGALD LAMONT I am compelled to respond to Dr. Gem Newman in his delivery of a valedictorian address to the medical graduates of the University of Manitoba medical school, which was shockingly ignorant of history.

Dr. Newman’s understanding is challenged by the facts of history, on every topic he touched on: Canada, Settler-Colonialism, the relationship with Indigenous people, and Israel’s founding.
It was a disservice to his peers, and to informed decision-making around the current crisis.

If we want a more just and peaceful world, we need to press for political solutions. I personally favour an immediate cessation of hostilities and release of Israeli hostages, and humanitarian aid to Gaza with oversight from the International Community. That is why we need a political process to peacefully negotiate a new political arrangement. If it is a two-state solution, I believe it must emerge from this process. It should be self-evident, just from the point of view of practical politics, that a single state that consists of two populations who are in the midst of a horrific war, will likely face insurmountable obstacles in trying to work and govern together.

Reasonable people should be able to agree that Israel should continue to exist, that the Palestinian people should be free, that the fighting should end, and those who have violated the rules of war should be held to account. To be blunt, neither side has a monopoly on virtue.

International Human Rights Law “prohibits attacks directed against civilians, as well as indiscriminate attacks, namely those that strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.”

I also believe it’s reasonable to assert that the current leadership of Israel and Gaza should have no place at that table, given that they are responsible for the current crisis. The intelligence failures alone around October 7 should disqualify the current senior Israeli leadership, just as the attack of October 7 should disqualify Hamas.

Declaring recognition of a Palestinian state, with no defined or agreed-upon leadership or borders, short-circuits any such political process.

That is because while some support a two-state solution, others quite clearly favour a “one-state” solution that would essentially spell the end of the State of Israel. I have never seen the term “Zionist” tossed around as such a slur, as a kind of shorthand for holding an unacceptable view.

A Zionist is basically someone who thinks the State of Israel should exist – and the state of Israel does exist. Before Israel’s founding, debating whether or not it should exist was hypothetical. Now that it does exist, debating whether it should or not can be credibly interpreted as an existential threat.

For Israelis, and for many Jews, that clearly amounts to the destruction of their nation, including by violence. This, too, is exactly what many states and state-supported terror groups have committed to.

That is why the lack of clarity around some slogans seems to be calling for more conflict, not for a peaceful resolution.

When asked about the slogan “From the River to the Sea,” some have shrugged and said that it was Israelis who first came up with the slogan. This is true, but that is because the State of Israel does stretch from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. Palestinian territories do not. It would require Israeli territory for Palestine to reach from the river to the sea, which again, can suggest that Israel will just become Palestine.

Dr Newman should know that for Israelis, and for many Jews, that clearly amounts to the destruction of their nation, including by violence. That is exactly what many states and state-supported terror groups have committed to, and have been promising for decades.
If we want a more peaceful and just world, we should strive to achieve those ends in ways that are peaceful and just, and that requires a political path.

It is not that the history is better than you might expect – it is worse.

The Nazi Holocaust was Modelled on the U.S. Killing of Indigenous People and Seizure of their Lands
There is an important link between the treatment of Indigenous North Americans and the Nazi Holocaust. Hitler believed that he could turn Germany into the a world dominating empire by emulating the way the United States had killed indigenous people and taken their property, except Hitler’s goal was to exterminate every Jew in the world.

“In the Nazi state, Lebensraum became not just a romantic yearning for a return to the East but a vital strategic component of its imperial and racist visions. For the Germans, eastern Europe represented their “Manifest Destiny.” Hitler and other Nazi thinkers drew direct comparisons to American expansion in the West. During one of his famous “table talks,” Hitler decreed that “there’s only one duty: to Germanize this country [Russia] by the immigration of Germans and to look upon the natives as Redskins.”
As Nazi troops moved across Europe and the Soviet Union, Jews were rounded up, their homes, properties and businesses stolen. Some were murdered on the spot, lined up and shot.
Some were stuffed into the backs of trucks with the exhaust piped in, and driven back and forth until everyone inside was dead. Others still were gathered up, put on trains and sent to death camps where they were killed in factories purpose-built for killing human beings. Their stolen belongings were used to finance their own deaths, and the gold was retrieved from their teeth.
Jews were targeted by the Germans for complete extermination wherever the lived in the world, based both on pseudoscientific race theory about the supposed supremacy of the imagined “Aryan” race, and antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish global influence.
Jews were being rounded up and slaughtered in the millions, and as refugees, had no place to go. They were refused entry to country after country, including Canada.

That is one of the very major reasons the creation of the State of Israel cannot be compared to settler colonialism by European or Asian empires colonizing Africa, Oceania, the Americas. The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 occurred with the support of the United Nations, as well as the global left. The historical reason for that is relevant.

Clearly, after the Second World War, it created pressure for Jews to have their homeland, so that they would not always face being a minority in a country when, because of their stateless existence, they had faced pogroms, slaughter and discrimination for millennia.

The Palestinian Cause was Undermined Because its Leader was a Nazi Collaborator

There is no question that the at the time of the creation of Israel, the credibility of the Palestinian cause was undermined because Mufti Amin al-Husseini, the leader of Palestine, was a Nazi Collaborator. Al-Husseini received personal financial aid from the Nazi government, participated in Nazi propaganda broadcasts, and worked to find recruits for the Nazi SS.
In 1941, Al-Husseini travelled to Berlin and on November 28, met with Hitler.
“Al-Husseini began the conversation by declaring that the Germans and the Arabs had the same enemies: “the English, the Jews, and the Communists.” He proposed an Arab revolt all across the Middle East to fight the Jews; the English, who still ruled Palestine and controlled Iraq and Egypt; and even the French, who controlled Syria and Lebanon. 

(The British had secured a mandate for Palestine at the Paris peace conference in 1919, and made halting attempts to create a “Jewish national home” there without prejudicing the rights of the Arab population.) He also wanted to form an Arab legion, using Arab prisoners from the French Empire who were then POWs inside Germany. 

He also asked Hitler to declare publicly, as the German government had privately, that it favored “the elimination of the Jewish national home” in Palestine.
The Fuhrer then made the following statement to the Mufti, enjoining him to “lock it in the uttermost depths of his heart”:

  1. He (the Fuhrer) would carry on the battle to the total destruction of the Judeo-Communist empire in Europe.
    1. At some moment which was impossible to set exactly today but which in any event was not distant, the German armies would in the course of this struggle reach the southern exit from Caucasia.
      1. As soon as this had happened, the Fuhrer would on his own give the Arab world the assurance that its hour of liberation had arrived. Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power. 
In that hour the Mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world. It would then be his task to set off the Arab operations, which he had secretly prepared. When that time had come, Germany could also be indifferent to French reaction to such a declaration.”
        Al Husseini’s work was actively financed by the Nazi government.
        “From spring 1943 to spring 1944, Husseini personally received 50,000 marks monthly and Gailani 65,000 for operational expenses.” [Rashid Ali al-Gaylani was the Prime Minister of Iraq]. 

”In addition, they each received living expenses averaging 80,000 marks per month, an absolute fortune. A German field marshal received a base salary of 26,500 marks per year.”
        Along with other Arab broadcasters, al-Husayni disseminated pro-Axis, anti-British, and anti-Jewish propaganda from Berlin to the Middle East. In radio broadcasts, he called for an Arab revolt against Great Britain and the destruction of the Jewish settlements in Palestine.

        Al-Husayni spoke often of a “worldwide Jewish conspiracy” that controlled the British and US governments and sponsored Soviet Communism. He argued that “world Jewry” aimed to infiltrate and subjugate Palestine, a sacred religious and cultural center of the Arab and Muslim world, as a staging ground for the seizure of all Arab lands. In his vision of the world, the Jews intended to enslave and exploit Arabs, to seize their land, to expropriate their wealth, undermine their Muslim faith and corrupt the moral fabric of their society. He labeled the Jews as the enemy of Islam, and used crude racist terminology to depict Jews and Jewish behavior, particularly as he forged a closer relationship with the SS in 1943 and 1944. He described Jews as having immutable characteristics and behaviors. On occasion, he would compare Jewishness to infectious disease and Jews to microbes or bacilli. In at least one speech attributed to him, he advocated killing Jews wherever Arabs found them. He consistently advocated “removing” the Jewish homeland from Palestine and, on occasion, driving every Jew out of Palestine and other Arab lands.
        Al Husseini was directly involved in recruiting for the SS.
        “When the SS decided in February 1943 to recruit among Bosnian Muslims for a new division of the Waffen-SS, SS Main Office Chief Berger enlisted al-Husayni in a recruiting drive in Bosnia from March 30 and April 11. On April 29, Berger reported that 24,000–27,000 recruits had signed up and noted that the “visit of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem had had an extraordinarily successful impact.” Both al-Husayni and the SS repeatedly referred to the success of the 13th Waffen-SS Mountain Division (also known as “Handschar”).”
        After the Second World War, the 13th Waffen-SS Mountain Division was charged with war crimes and the killing of over 5,000 Jewish and Serbian civilians. In the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war, hundreds of its members fought against Israel.
        All of this is critical historical context for Zionism of the time, and for the creation of the State of Israel. There can be no question that Al Husseini’s collaboration with the Nazis meant that his cause was treated with considerably less sympathy.  
        None of this negates the present-day mistreatment and injustice towards present-day Palestinians, but it does mean that their experience does not mirror that of Indigenous people, nor is the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 comparable to other “settler colonial” states, like South Africa, or Canada.

Tommy Douglas, Eugenics and Provinces’ Role in the Canadian Colonial State
This brings me to my second point about Dr. Newman’s valedictorian speech, which was his citing Tommy Douglas as a moral beacon in a speech where he also mentioned Indigenous health outcomes.

While Douglas enjoys a reputation as a paragon of political virtue, he and his party are responsible for one of the most horrifically damaging colonial systems for Indigenous people in Canada in the last 70 years: provincial child welfare systems. This is in addition to his promotion of eugenics-based sterilization, another aspect of his political career that is minimized and ignored

For all of the claims that the left in Canada is “woke,” the role of progressive politicians and parties in our country’s profoundest tragedies is not just forgotten and unknown, it is buried.
The New Democratic Party was created as a successor to the CCF party. While the NDP is today seen as a party of labour, and the “working man,” the CCF, as social gospelers, were evangelical Christians, often British, who promoted eugenics and forced sterilization as a low-cost solution to poverty, mental illness, and disability, and they did so for years.

In 1933, Tommy Douglas published his Master’s thesis from McMaster University, “The Problems of the Subnormal Family,” based on his time working at the Weyburn Mental Hospital. Weyburn Mental Hospital was not a small-town facility – at the time of its construction, it was the largest building ever built in the British Empire.

In the Making of a Socialist, Douglas passed off his thesis in a later interview as being on the subject of “Christian sociology,” when it endorsed the segregation and forced sterilization of people he deemed to be inferior.

Douglas’s thesis topic, in his own words was that:
“The subnormal family is an ever-increasing menace physically, mentally and morally, to say nothing of a constantly rising expense. Surely the continued policy of allowing the subnormal family to bring in to the world large numbers of individuals to fill our jails and mental institutions and to live upon charity is one of consummate folly.”
Douglas starts his thesis this way:
“The problem of the subnormal family is chiefly one for the State. Since the state has the problem of legislating in the best interests of Society, and since we have seen that the subnormal family is an ever-increasing menace physically, mentally and morally, to say nothing of a constantly rising expense, it is, surely the duty of the State to meet this problem.
The suggested remedies which the state might effect are three in number:
1)    The Improvement of Existing Marriage Laws;
2)    Segregation;
3)    Sterilization of Unfit, and Increased Knowledge of Birth Control.
He elaborates:
“Sterilization of the mentally and physically defective has long been advocated, but only recently has it seeped into the public consciousness. From the day when Plato wrote his Republic to the present, eugenicists have advanced various solutions to the problem of the defective, but sterilization seems to meet the requirements of the situation most aptly.
For while it gives protection to society, yet it deprives the defective of nothing except the privilege of bringing into the world children who would only be a care to themselves and a charge to society.
4.) Another effect of the abnormal family is the cost of maintenance: It may be a mercenary view to take of the problem, yet in view of mounting taxation, it is of importance to the average citizen to know the effect of the subnormal family on his tax bill.”
Douglas did not drop the subject. In 1934, Douglas proposed it with the youth wing of the CCF, and the next year, 1935, Douglas was elected MP for the first time.

The power of Douglas’ carefully cultivated political reputation is so great that for many, it creates a cognitive dissonance so profound that it is dismissed. They puzzle as to how a person they so greatly admire could have advocated for forced sterilization.

The question as to how Douglas and other eugenicists could express such concern and apparent love while also calling for sterilization is because they see people who are poor, mentally ill or who break the law as defective, and subhuman, because of their particular brand of radical Christian ideology. Treating people as subhuman means treating them as animals, where the usual rules of human morality no longer apply. It is a kind of cruel pity – and instead of alleviating suffering, they opt for ending it. 

Douglas was not a young man – He was an adult, in his 30s, calling for forced sterilization and segregation, just as his political mentor and family pastor, J. S. Woodsworth had done.

J. S. Woodsworth, Sterilization and the Bureau of Social Research
In 1909, Woodsworth published “Strangers Within Our Gates,” which was blatantly racist, ranking various groups according to their capacity to integrate into Canadian society.

Woodsworth’s treatment of Blacks is subhuman. He favorably cited U.S. progressive John R Common, who Woodsworth quotes saying, “The very qualities of intelligence and manliness which are essential for citizenship in a democracy were systematically expunged from the negro race through two hundred years of slavery.”
Woodsworth also endorsed Residential Schools as the solution for dealing with First Nations, favourably citing the Methodist Principal of the Brandon Residential School, where dozens of children had died, who said that “Both Church and State should have, as a final goal, the destruction and end of treaty and reservation life.”
Throughout the 1910s, Woodsworth ran the “Bureau of Social Research,” which publicly promoted eugenics and forced sterilization across Canada’s Western Provinces. Woodsworth’s editorials calling for eugenic sterilization were printed on the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press, and were considered as official recommendations to provincial governments.

According to a 2004 article in the Journal of Historical Sociology, Sterilizing the ‘Feeble-Minded’: Eugenics in Alberta, Canada 1929-1972, Woodsworth’s work directly informed the adoption of sterilization policies in Alberta.

“The eugenics platform was championed in western Canada by a number of influential social reformers including J. S. Woodsworth, a Winnipeg-based proponent of the “social gospel.” Woodsworth was concerned with the declining quality of immigrants arriving in the west. He translated his personal fear into a public crisis, spreading the idea that no segment of Canadian society would be left untouched by the influx of thousands of immigrants of inferior stock from central and eastern Europe. In time, his policy recommendations turned to eugenics and sterilization programs” (Chapman 1977: 13).
In 1928, Alberta and BC both passed forced sterilization laws. Researchers have directly attributed Alberta’s decision to adopt forced sterilization to Woodsworth’s advocacy. One of the Alberta MNA’s at the time who supported the bill, William Irvine, was a close friend and colleague of Woodsworth’s. When Irvine was later elected as an MP, it was in his office that the CCF was founded. 
From 1929 to 1972, when the Alberta eugenics board was finally disbanded, the Board saw 4,800 cases of proposed sterilization and approved virtually all (4,739) of these; 2,834 sterilization procedures were eventually performed, the majority on females.

That was not the only questionable judgment that Douglas made in his political career. In 1935, when Douglas won a seat as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons for the first time, he did so with an endorsement from the radical right Social Credit Premier of Alberta, which was considered by some to be fascist. The creator of the “Social Credit” economic philosophy, Major Douglas, was explicitly anti-semitic.  
The endorsement was arranged for Douglas’ by a key member of his campaign team, Daniel C. Grant, who had been the chief organizer for all of Western Canada for the Canadian Ku Klux Klan.
Grant had been a driver for J J Maloney, the head of the Ku Klux Klan, and had worked in Manitoba as a recruiter and organizer. In 1928 in Winnipeg, Grant had delivered a speech saying that
“The Klan strove for ‘racial purity. We fight against intermarrying of Negroes and whites, Japs and White, Chinese and Whites. This intermarriage is a menace to the world. If I am walking down the street and a Negro doesn’t give me half the sidewalk, I know what to do.” He then lashed out at the Jews and said that “The Jews are too powerful … they are the slave masters who are throttling the throats of white persons to enrich themselves.”
A 1974 biography by Doris Shackleton, a former CBC reporter and NDP staffer, entitled “Tommy Douglas” openly acknowledged Grant’s work organizing for the KKK.
In 1929, Grant and the KKK had helped elect the Conservative-Progressive coalition government in Saskatchewan, which had earned him a patronage post in charge of the labour office in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, where Douglas met him. Grant was fired when a new government was elected, because they didn’t want KKK organizers working in the labour office.
There have been various attempts to minimize Douglas’ promotion of eugenics, saying that his views were changed by a trip to Germany in 1936. In fact, Douglas went to Germany because he wanted to see one of Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies.
In a 1956 interview, published in the book “The Making of a Socialist,” Douglas explained – when asked about his 1936 trip to Germany the year after he was elected a Member of Parliament:
“[Interviewer] You were in Europe for how long?
[Douglas] About three months. We went from Switzerland to Nuremberg, because I wanted to see the great annual festivity Hitler put on each year there. It was frightful. I came back and warned my friends about the great German bombers roaring over the parade of self-propelled guns and tanks, Hitler standing there giving his salute, with Göring and the rest of the Nazi bigwigs by his side.
There was no doubt then that Hitler was simply using Spain as a dress rehearsal for an attack on other nations.
[Interviewer] It was with very great difficulty that people were able to appreciate the anti-Semitism that was going on in Germany. Did you yourself see any examples of it?
[Douglas] I didn’t see any. Most of it was over by the time I got there.”
To suggest that in 1936, most of the anti-semitism in Germany was over defies reason and evidence.
“The New Residential Schools” Tommy Douglas and the creation of provincial child welfare

These are just some of the reasons that holding up Tommy Douglas as exemplar of political purity, is “problematic”. It is far from the only example of Douglas’ historic association with damaging policies that has been whitewashed.
The reality of Canada as a colonial state is that provincial governments have played a direct role in the mistreatment of Indigenous people, in areas of jurisdiction that the provinces themselves asked for, and Tommy Douglas is one of the people responsible.
Again, in Shackleton’s biography, Douglas describes how, in 1951, the Federal Government began to shut down residential schools, “after a series of negative reports,” that at the urging of the CCF and Premier Tommy Douglas, the federal government transferred responsibility for First Nations child welfare to provinces.
The result has been 70 years of provincial governments seizing Indigenous children from their families and never returning them, in numbers greater than the total yearly attendance of Residential Schools.

The “60s scoop” meant thousands of children across Canada were taken from their homes and adopted out across North America and around the world.
“The department of Indigenous Affairs indicates that the number of Indigenous children adopted between 1960 and 1990 was 11,132,” though some research suggests it was over 20,000.”
CFS has been described by Cindy Blackstock as “the New Residential Schools” and the scale of it across Canada is colossal.
In the last decade, the number of Indigenous children apprehended and in custody of CFS in Manitoba alone exceeded the total population of every single residential school across Canada. By 2013, the province of Manitoba had 11,000 children in the custody of CFS.

According to the Lancet, it was the highest apprehension rate in the world. That is more, in a single province, than the entire “60s scoop” across Canada over 30 years. If that weren’t bad enough, governments in Manitoba and British Columbia also seized federal child allowances intended for those children.
This horrific policy is the direct cause of Indigenous misery, and shorter life expectancy. Over half of the homeless population in Winnipeg were at one point wards of CFS. Canadian provinces took Indigenous children from their families, took their money, and left them on the street at the age of 18 with no supports. Our jails, our runaways, our gangs, and tragedy after tragedy have the common thread of CFS involvement. Because CFS is not just about looking after the safety children, it has always also been about controlling and threatening parents.
That’s why the top five of 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are all concerned with children in provincial child welfare systems.
This absolute catastrophe of a social policy was conceived of, created and sustained, by provincial governments for decades, and directly contributed to the relentless trauma that provincial governments have inflicted on Indigenous people, and about which there is a deafening silence.
Why are children being seized? Largely because of First Nations and Indigenous poverty and neglect. Why is there Indigenous poverty? Because, for decades, provincial governments across Western Canada have approved megaprojects – dams, mines, oil and gas – much of it on First Nations land.
In Manitoba, there are dams that have destroyed Indigenous communities’ self-sufficiency by destroying the environment. Entire communities flooded out of existence, dammed rivers destroying lakes that were the source of successful commercial fisheries, wiped out by Hydro and the Government of Manitoba, without compensation.
What’s more, provincial governments are funded on a per capita basis – for every person who lives within their borders, including on reserve, yet provincial governments like Manitoba exclude First Nations from receiving that funding.
Indigenous people in Canada consistently face the most discrimination in provincial systems, and when a catastrophe or a tragedy inevitably happens, the response has always been to defend the system. Indigenous deaths in ERs, in jail, in CFS or as victims of crime are blamed on the victims. 
Together, provincial governments’ combined budgets are larger than the federal government, and Indigenous Canadians face terrible discrimination from provincial governments in economic supports, education, health, justice, child and family services and natural development.
Because the federal policies are the same everywhere: it’s the provincial policies that are different, which is why child and family poverty, and Indigenous incarceration in Manitoba are so much worse than any other province.
So, when Dr. Gem Newman lectures his fellow classmates on the injustices of Canada’s treatment of First Nations, he should know that one of the direct causes of homelessness, mental health, and forced poverty in Manitoba and across Canada is the direct result of decades of seizures of Indigenous children, which are a direct consequence of a policy brought in by Tommy Douglas to replace Residential Schools.

Tommy Douglas and provincial governments created some of the most damaging modern policies Indigenous people in Canada have experienced – and are still experiencing, every day.
As a valedictorian and as a doctor, Dr Newman is an authority, and he says a doctor’s advocacy is in a doctor’s job description. Advocates and authorities have a responsibility to work from evidence. That is why it is paramount for an authority, whether they are practicing medicine or politics, to ensure they know what they are talking about. Slogans are not solutions, and Dr. Newman’s facile understanding of history is a disservice to his audience.
It has to be said Dr. Newman’s ignorance about this should not be a surprise, because there is an effective conspiracy of silence which makes it a forbidden topic in Canada, because it is politically inconvenient.
Notably, it highlights the hypocrisy and moral double standards at work among high-profile Canadian progressives, Naomi Klein being the most prominent.

On Freedom of Speech, Civil Disobedience on Campus on Beyond
I write all of this as a strong supporter of freedom of expression, on and off campus including protest, investigative journalism, whistleblowing, satire, parody, speaking truth to power, and calling out corruption. I have personally done all of them. Rights have never been about doing and saying whatever you want, wherever and whenever.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out the circumstances where you are guaranteed rights to free expression. The Charter generally only applies to Government, not universities, except in Alberta, where courts ruled otherwise.

The reason for this is university autonomy. Universities are workplace and a place of research and education, where the goal is to work to an ever greater understanding of the world, and that has always required discernment. It is not a public square or an unmoderated internet forum, and if you don’t abide by the rules, you do not have a right to stay.

A simple example of speech that can get you removed from campus is plagiarism. The university sets out rules around free inquiry and academic freedom, but you can’t plagiarize.

This is important in the context of campus protests and civil disobedience. Protestors are not being silenced because of the content of their speech, nor are they choosing to break unjust laws to show how unjust they are. 

The distinction here is one that was drawn by Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King. He was in favour of direct action and civil disobedience by having people be willing to be arrested and jailed, and face the consequences and punishment, because the unjust law they broke was asking for service at a segregated coffee shop, or sitting at the front of the bus. They actively discouraged and called out anyone who broke other laws as undermining the cause.

The laws that are being broken in this instance are ones that apply to everyone. It is not about the cause or the message, at all. It is about trespassing, or blocking a highway, or ignoring a court order.

There is a basic mistake that many commentators and protestors are making. When protestors say they mean “peaceful,” they think that if it is non-violent, that it must ,by legal definition be peaceful, and legal. You do not have to be violent to be “disturbing the peace.” Blocking highways and spamming 911 lines are not violent, but both are against the law, for obvious reasons, because someone could die. Canadian Supreme Court Precedent makes it clear, there are limits to protest, because other people have the right to be free from disruption.

If protestors are arguing that the injustice is so great, that they must break the law for justice to be done, then this is exactly the motivation behind what is known as “noble cause corruption” in policing. It’s just as unacceptable.

Freedom of expression is protected because it is powerful, and it is powerful for good and for harm. That’s why accuracy – especially at a university – matters. It means weeding out the lies, manipulation, dishonesty and deception. It means recognizing that human beings are contradictory, and flawed. It means working hard not to deceive others, or yourself, while we live in a world where armies of people are paid to deceive us, and recognizing that there may be more than two sides to every story. Two bitter opponents on either side of an issue can both be wrong.

“Resistance” that takes the form of attacks on civilians is just as unacceptable as reckless military actions that result in civilian deaths. Neither are morally or strategically defensible: to the contrary, they only further radicalize and inflame the situation.

 Dougald Lamont (B.A., M.A) is a graduate of the University of Manitoba and a former member of the Board of Governors. He is the past MLA for St. Boniface and the former Leader of the provincial Manitoba Liberal Party from 2017-2023.

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Jewish performers at upcoming Winnipeg Fringe Festival July 17-28

Alli Perlov: One Human Being Potentially Comedic Performance of The Nightmare Before Christmas

By BERNIE BELLAN As has been my long-time custom, I try to find Fringe shows that feature Jewish performers or playwrights – or, as is sometimes the case – plays that have a Jewish theme.
This year will see a very large number of Jewish performers, many of whom are repeat Fringe performers, but we will also have one play to be performed by one of the Fringe Festival’s most popular performers: Jem Rolls who, while he is not Jewish, has chosen for his theme this year a most unusual subject
(For information about venues and show times go to

Alli Perlov: One Human Being Potentially Comedic Performance of The Nightmare Before Christmas
Alli Perlov has been a theatre kid her entire life. Her experiences include training at Manitoba Theatre for Young People, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Winnipeg, and a brief career in film and television in her teens.
For the past 13 years, Perlov has been a performing arts teacher in Winnipeg, teaching courses in musical theatre, improv and drama to students from Grades 6 to 12. In an effort to continue practicing what she teaches, Alli Perlov has mounted three one-person Fringe plays starting in 2017 and brings her fourth to this year’s festival with a new work for her most favourite film, “A One Human Being, Potentially Comedic Performance of The Nightmare Before Christmas”.
Some teachers take the summer off to recharge, while others mount a one-person Fringe festival show. In a similar approach to her 2018/2023 show, Perlov tackles her favourite film of all time in,
“A One Human Being Potentially Comedic Performance of The Nightmare Before Christmas”. Local performing arts teacher Alli Perlov aims to leave the audience in stitches as she performs dozens of creepy characters from the iconic 1993 Tim Burton stop-motion film.  
In a musical parody full of charm and can-do spirit, Perlov tackles the task of making “try-hard” a compliment. Condensing the score to 50 minutes of music, and weaved with narrative, critiques and silly puns, everyone in the theatre is guaranteed a good time and a load of laughs. 

Melanie Gall (3 separate shows): FORBIDDEN CABARET, STITCH IN TIME, ROCKIN’ BLUEBIRD (kids’ show)
Melanie Gall has been a Fringe favourite for years. Last year she performed in 3 separate shows – and she’s back doing 3 shows again!

Hidden in the back alley of a Broadway theatre is the grittiest, most decadent club in New York. The year is 1934. Unlicensed musical entertainment is prohibited and the Dirty Blues are banned. But not at Club Hirondelle – and when the midnight hour strikes, the forbidden cabaret begins with some of the naughtiest songs from (almost) 100 years ago.
Featuring a dozen (real!) banned hits, including: “Boobs,” “What Can You Buy a Nudist on His Birthday?” and the Yiddish Theatre hit, “Mein Butcher.”
Melanie Gall is the award-winning performer of sellout hits Ingenue (5 STARS), American Songbook Experience (5 STARS) and Toast to Prohibition (5 STARS).

Excitement! Drama! Romance! And…knitting? A scintillating cabaret featuring ‘lost’ knitting songs of World War I and World War II.
Bring your knitting (or crochet) and stitch along to these funny, toe-tapping, needle-clicking tunes. Come out and have a ball! Melanie Gall presents over a dozen quirky historic songs, including “More Power to Your Knitting, Nell!” and “The Knitting Itch.”
During the wars, millions of women knit for soldiers and dozens of knitting songs appeared. After the wars, these songs were close to disappearing forever. But now, this music — a clever, sweet and entertaining footnote in history — will live again.
FIVE STARS – Glam Adelaide, Southside Advertiser
“Divine voice, highly recommended” – Fringe Review UK
“Cute, charming and funny” – Plank Magazine

ROCKIN’ BLUEBIRD (kids’ show)
Bluebird Scraps has always wanted to be a rock star. She dreams of bright lights, a cool costume, and thunderous applause. But the other birds just don’t understand! All the robins and sparrows sing together in their trees, but Scraps has a squawk that just doesn’t fit. With your help, she’ll find her voice and rock the show!

We sent an email to a Fringe performer by the name of Louie Lichtenstein, asking him if he was Jewish. The answer was yes. Here’s what Louie sent back:

Hello hard working Manitoba Jewish Media folks,

Leapin’ Louie, the most explosive Lithuanian Jewish Cowboy Comedian to ever come out of Oregon, is on his way to Winnipeg Fringe.
It’s Kids Fringe but awesome for adults too. An environmental theme no less.
Fly Through Time
with Leapin’ Louie Lichtenstein
A cowboy comedy circus show about animals who fly
Kids Fringe Manitoba Theatre For Young People
Pay what you can
Leapin’ Louie uses circus, cowboy tricks, a six-foot unicycle, and lots of comedy to explore all those wild critters, including us, who fly.
In 400 million years five amazing groups of animals developed flight: Insects, pterosaurs, birds, bats and finally humans. Only 66 years after the Wright Brothers invented the airplane, —we landed on the moon. We’re moving so fast! Can we leave enough room for our amazing wild ecosystems as we jet into the future? It’s a biodiversity science education show that’s really fun for adults and kids.
Leapin’ Louie is a master of physical comedy, trick roping, whip cracking, and juggling. He has performed one-person Leapin’ Louie shows in 35 different countries around the world, including many tours of Europe, Japan and Australia. He is considered the most explosive Lithuanian Jewish Cowboy Comedian to ever come out of Oregon, USA. This is his first time at Winnipeg Fringe.

“‘Awesome’ is a terrible word, but there’s no shame using it – in the truest sense – to describe Leapin’ Louie” Broadway Baby ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ (Edinburgh Fringe Festival)

“Joan of Arc is easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.” Mark Twain
A new work, created and performed by Keir Cutler. For his 17th presentation at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, Keir Cutler will perform a captivating world premiere show that invites audiences to rediscover the legendary true story of Joan of Arc. His portrayal defies contemporary doubt and invites wonder, probing Joan’s life through the lens of the miraculous.
The show also features live music by University of Manitoba musicology grad student, Manitoban Kyla Kelsey, and onstage original art work by Michael Cutler, Keir’s brother.

Montrealer Keir Cutler has been called “a masterful entertainer,” (Winnipeg Free Press) “a marvel to watch,” (Toronto Sun) and “a phenomenal performer!” (
Keir has a PhD in theatre from Wayne State University in Detroit, a playwriting diploma from the National Theatre School of Canada, He is the writer/performer of twelve solo works, and the author of multiple plays and books. He is a veteran of more than 100 fringe and theatre festivals.

The true story of Ted Hall.
Brooklyn, October 1944. The youngest physicist in the Manhattan project asks himself a very big question.
Will the world be safer after the war if he gives the bomb to the Russians?
And he does.
• Events take place in the world of OPPENHEIMER
• Jem Rolls has done more Fringes than anyone else on earth … [Except Alex Dallas.]

This show takes the audience from the murky world of spies to the idyll of young love. From teenage friendship to stark treason. From big decision to deep consequence. From high idealism to extreme cynicism. And from pure science to Hiroshima and the electric chair.

The show also brings in the stories of Klaus Fuchs, the greatest atomic spy; and Ethel Rosenberg, executed yet innocent.
THE KID WAS A SPY is the third in Jem Rolls’ series of shows about Jewish Nuclear Physicists no-one has ever heard of.
Which is, to put it mildly, the niche of a niche of a niche.
One only realistically enterable in the unique world of Canadian Fringe.
Which most Canadians do not realize is unique.

The first two shows in the series, THE INVENTOR OF ALL THINGS, about Leo Szilard, and THE WALK IN THE SNOW, about Lise Meitner, have each seen multiple sellouts and five star


Novelist and Fringe veteran Randy Ross provides an unflinching look at world travel and the writing life, while bringing new meaning to suffering for one’s art.
 The Show: Tales of a Reluctant World Traveler is the story of how a Boston homebody turned a rotten, solo trip around the globe into a comedy novel and an acclaimed one-man play. The show is part travelogue, part performance, and part off-kilter author talk. A must-see for book lovers, writers, travelers, whiners, kvetches, and misanthropes. Please note: The show carries content warnings for gooey diseases, heartless publishers, and liquor made from cobras.
 The Performer: Randy Ross is a Boston-area novelist and story-teller. He has performed at more 30 fringe festivals around the U.S., Canada, and in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2007, Ross took a four-month, solo trip around the world and learned to say in three languages: “Speak English?” “Got Pepto-Bismol?” and “Is this the evacuation helicopter?” His shows and novel were inspired by the trip.

Adam Schwartz (producer): NEUROHILARITY EXPOSED
Neuodivergent Cast of Winnipeg Comics Includes Indigenous, 2SLGBTQ+, Asian, and Other Perspectives

About Neurohilarity
Neurohilarity is a non-profit organization created to give neurodivergent artists a stage to share their stories and promote a more positive representation of neurodiversity.
It was started in 2022 by Adam Schwartz.
Award-winning comedy showcase Neurohilarity is back again at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, but this year, it’s taking its mandate of amplifying underrepresented voices one step further with an ultra-diverse cast that highlights the intersectionality of neurodivergence.   
This is the third year that Autistic comedian and producer Adam Schwartz has brought Neurohilarity to the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, and he’s excited to show how neurodivergent and disability-centric comedy can look so many different ways. At the crossroads of disability, race, gender, and sexuality, there is no shortage of weird things to laugh about.

The stellar lineup includes a few familiar faces from last year’s festival run—which earned the Jenny Revue Mind and Body: The Health and Wellness Award. Returning performers include Danielle Kayahara, whom the Winnipeg Free Press called “self-deprecating, sympathetic and downright adorable as she describes her compulsion to ‘overthink everything’ while pausing to second-guess her comments.”
This year’s newcomers to the Neurohilarity stage include up-and-comer Kaitlynn Brightnose (IndigE-Girl Comedy), and comedy veteran Rollin Penner (Yuk Yuk’s, CBC, Winnipeg Comedy Festival). The show will be hosted by ADHD dynamo Carole Cunningham, a regular host at Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club who is often accompanied onstage by her chihuahua, Karen.

From new playwright Willow Rosenberg, comes a deeply personal, funny, and emotional journey through her mom’s Beanie Baby collection. “A Lesbian in a Bear Store” has something for everyone. Including adorable animals, all of the gay, some of the Jewish, and a special appearance by one of the most angsty teenage poems you’
Tickets are $12 in advance, or bring your favourite plushie for discounted $10 tickets at the door.

Jay Stoller: UBUNTU
Visiting musicians from South Africa join local drumming group
Local African drummer Jay Stoller is thrilled to announce the upcoming production of Ubuntu, an interactive performance that brings to life the power of working together as a community.  This exciting show is set to take place at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival from July 18 – 26.
 Ubuntu will be a highly unique production at this year’s Fringe.  Not only is it a collaboration of musicians from Winnipeg and South Africa, the audience will be fully participating in the show:  everyone in attendance will have an African djembe drum to play along with the musicians on stage.  Yes, there will be 200+ drums in the theatre!
 Jay and his local drum group members are excited to welcome drummer extraordinaire Tiny Modise and vocalist Nosipho Mtotoba, both from Soweto, South Africa.
Ubuntu is a Southern African philosophy that says ‘I am because we are’.  Through the interactive show, the power of drumming together will be demonstrated as Winnipeg’s Fringe community makes amazing music together.
(And yes, we asked Jay whether he’s related to any Stollers in Winnipeg, to which he replied, “Yes, we do have some family with the same last name, although probably second cousins.”) 


The Winnipeg Free Press has run amok, reviewing each and every Fringe show for decades, completely unabated and without recourse. Well now, it’s their turn.

In this brand new show, Benji Rothman takes the Winnipeg Free Press to task, diving deep into their history and casting judgement on their performance as Manitoba’s leading news outlet.

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Former Melfort Torah scroll donated to Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada

l-r: Cantor Leslie Emery (Shaarey Zedek), Stan Carbone (JHCWC), Dr. Garry Vickar, Dr. David Vickar

By MYRON LOVE As a result of the closure of the South Shore Jewish Community Congregaton in Montreal in December 2021, an historic Torah scroll which used to grace the ark of the former Beth Israel Synagogue in Melfort, in northeastern  Saskatchewan, has been returned to Western Canada.
On Tuesday, June 25, about 60 former residents and descendants of the Melfort and District Jewish community gathered at the Berney Theatre to celebrate the donation of the Torah scroll  to the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada.
At its peak in the 1950s and early1960s, the Melfort and District Jewish community numbered 40 to 50 Jewish families. The Jewish Heritage Centre’s new Torah scroll possibly arrived in Melfort by way of the Jewish farm colony in nearby Edenbridge  (which was founded in 1906),  where some of the Melfort Jewish families came from.
The gifted Torah was one of three that were at Melfort’s Beth Israel Synagogue, which was opened in 1952.  After the shul closed in 1986, Melfort Jewish community member Anita Levitt Lefevre looked after the Torah scrolls until they could be placed in new homes.  One was placed in a shul in Richmond, B.C. in 1986 and a second made its way to a synagogue in England. The third scroll – which was the one donated to the JHCWC had been given to the Montreal South Shore Congregation.
It was in the early 1990s, according to a story by Janice Arnold in the Canadian Jewish News on December 23, 2021 – reporting on the closing of the South Shore Jewish Community Congregation in the Montreal suburb of the same name –  that the late Walter Lee, the founder of the South Shore community, drove to Saskatoon to pick up the third  Melfort Torah to bring back to his new congregation.
David Vickar, who organized the two-day celebration of – and served as emcee for – the presentation of the Torah to the JHC noted that it was he who first learned about the location of the Torah through the article in the Canadian Jewish News in the course of researching Vickar family history for the family reunion in Melfort and Edenbridge last summer.
“Our Torah scroll was mentioned in the second last paragraph in the article,” noted the Edmonton-based radiologist.  “I took the initiative of travelling to Montreal and arranging for the Torah scroll to be returned to Winnipeg.”
As reported by the Shaarey Zedek’s Cantor Leslie Emery –who is also a  Torah reader – the Torah scroll was most likely written in the late 18th century somewhere in central  Europe – either in southern Germany, Austria or what is now the Czech Republic.
 “I have had a chance to look at this scroll,” she said.  “Rabbi (Yossi) Benarroch (the Adas Yeshurun Herzlia’s spiritual leader) and two sofers (scribes) were shown images of it. The scribes considered the layout and style of script to determine the location in which the scroll was written.  The date was determined by the faded Hebrew dedication written on the disc of the scroll, which included a date.”
She pointed out that this Torah scroll is different from modern Torah scrolls in that it pre-dates the more modern Vavei Ha’amudim style characterized by the letter “Vav”at the beginning of most columns.  She noted some other differences as well.
 “There are very few Torah scrolls like this in North America or the world,” she said.  “So much of our heritage was lost in the Holocaust.”     
David Vickar noted that the JHCWC was the appropriate place for the venerable Torah scroll as the organization was formed in 1998 as an amalgamation of the pre-existing Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada, the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust  Education Centre and the Marion and Ed Vickar Jewish Museum of Western Canada. 
The presentation was made by Marion and Ed’s children, Elaine Sharfe of Saskatoon and Dr. Garry Vickar from St. Louis.
In addition to Leslie Emery, there were presentations by JHC President Harlan Abells  and Stan Carbone, director of Programs and Exhibits. Carbone spoke of the strong relationship between the JHCWC and the Vickar family historically and praised their generosity.   
There were also comments from the Honourable Jacques Saada via zoom from Montreal.  Saada, a former Liberal member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister in the Paul Martin Government, had been the president of the South Shore Congregation since 2013.
While the Torah scroll can no longer be used in synagogue services due to imperfections that have developed over the decades, Leslie Emery  observed that it can still be used for study.
The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada is the repository of our community’s history in Winnipeg and Western Canada.  Its archives contain over 70,000 photos, more than 4000 artifacts and 1,300-plus recordings and oral histories in its archives.  Its mission is to document, preserve and share information on the culture and historical formation of Jewish communities in Western Canada and also serve as an advocate for anti-racism and education on the Holocaust and Antisemitism.

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