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Gray Academy excels at online teaching during pandemic with ‘Gray Away”

Gray Academy students Ethan (Gr. 9)
and Annie (Gr. 6)

By BERNIE BELLAN
It was March 13 when the Province of Manitoba announced that, effective March 23, all schools in Manitoba were going to close for three weeks – with the possibility that the closure might be extended.

While it shouldn’t have come as a major surprise, given the speed with which the novel coronavirus was sweeping across Canada and the United States, still, how do you prepare for something as huge as the closing of all schools?
For staff at Gray Academy, however, adapting to new technology has always been a strong suit. Within a period of days the school informed parents that almost everything that had been done in the bricks and mortar Gray Academy was now going to be carried over into what was titled “Gray Away”.
Now, after over two months of having transitioned to a totally new way of learning, the results are in – and it seems that everyone, from staff to parents to students themselves, are more than satisfied with how Gray Academy has managed to adapt so well to the demands that were thrust upon that school.

Staff forced to pivot to online learning in a very short time
On Friday, May 15 I spoke with three members of Gray Academy: Head of School and Gray Academy CEO Lori Binder, Director of Teaching and Learning Rob Dalgliesh, and Director, Marketing and Communications Andrea Ritter.
We discussed how Gray Academy has responded to the demands of taking an entire curriculum online and what the reactions of parents and students have been.
Lori Binder began the conversation by saying: “We’re phenomenally grateful to all of our staff for being able to pivot so quickly in the middle of March in caring for all of our students.
“No one could ever have imagined that within 48 hours we’d have to figure out an infrastructure to care for all of our students and our learning.
“It’s been going incredibly well. We have been able to solicit feedback along the way in the last eight and a half weeks. Feedback has been immensely helpful to help create “our Gray Away infrastructure.
“We had some things in place in the school before the pandemic hit that allowed us to pivot more successfully – especially in the upper elementary to the high school.
“I think it was caring for our littlest kids – nobody in this world would have fathomed children learning virtually at three, four, or five years of age, but I think the biggest drivers for us were insuring that our students in their isolation had very strong connections with their teachers and with their peers on a daily basis through having a timetable and live classes, also a solid structure.”

How the curriculum was developed
Rob Dalgliesh added: “Although our time line was very short, great care went into the creation of ‘Gray Away’ – our virtual academy. It wasn’t rushed. We spent a lot of extra time in the wee hours of the morning creating the pieces that went into it.
“We started with standard curriculum creation by looking at the principal foundations of what we would then carry forward. We looked at the research that is in the area of online learning.
“We looked at pillars – things that we could build on. We wanted to make sure that our kids felt that they were being cared for and safe, but to do that we wanted things to be somewhat familiar – that connection with their teachers, that connection with their peers.
“We also wanted to include a spiritual element. Being a Jewish school we wanted that to be there, so we have our ‘Kabbalat Shabbat’, we have things for holiday programming. Even during the Pesach break we had educators dedicate time to bring forward programming connected to the holiday.
“Another pillar was physical health. It’s easy for a kid not to get up and get going, so we wanted to make sure that there’s an expectation that we wanted them to continue with their phys ed programming.
(Another pillar was) “Mental health – we wanted to help kids with that; showing kids that there’s more to learning than reading a text book. We looked at calming exercises, at the integration of a variety of techniques that our teachers are great at using that help kids with their mental wellbeing.
“For instance, we had wonderful suggestions for creating art at home, also project based learning.”

Zoom for JK-Grade 2; Google Meets for students in Grade 3 & up
At that point I asked “whether the lessons for the kids are individually tailored or are they done in group Zoom sessions, for instance?”
Lori Binder answered: “We’re using the Zoom platform from junior kindergarten through to Grade 2 and we are using the Google classroom platform – which uses Google Meets, in Grades 3 through 12. There are live classes that occur every day – mornings and afternoons.
“We have also built in one-on-one time in our elementary so that teachers have a chance to connect with kids and do some assessment. In our high school there’s a little bit of one-on-time on a daily basis.
“We’ve also set aside blocks on day 3 for all teachers to have an open meeting.”

School still starts at 9 a.m.
I asked: “Can you give an idea how much time a typical student would be online – either individually or within a group setting?”
Lori Binder: “I’ll paint you a picture of elementary: At 9 a.m. every student comes on to Zoom – JK through elementary. The whole school is welcome, but it’s mostly elementary. There are live announcements and the anthems (both O Canada and Hatikvah), and then they head straight to their live classes. They start with a live class with their general classroom teacher, then they continue on either to a live specialist class, which could be French, guidance, music…and then they’ll continue on live.
“I wanted to clarify that in an hour for instance in the high school, it’s not just live teaching.” (Later Lori explained that there is also time set aside for students to study on their own during the school day – just as if they were in the actual physical school.)

Rob Dalgliesh added: “One of the pillars (upon which the virtual school was built) was having a balanced day so that there is online collaboration, for example, small group work.
“At the high school level, there is a teacher giving a lesson, then there is Q and A time afterward – just like in a bricks and mortar school.
“Sometimes the collaboration with other students is just over the phone – like we are right now, having a conversation. It’s not necessarily in front of a screen.
“There are off line working sessions with students doing homework with paper and pen. There are research and innovation projects – personal passion projects that a student wants to research and carry on by him or herself.”

Lori Binder: “I would say it’s about 41/2-5 hours a day (spent in the virtual classroom), but again – it’s not sitting and staring at a screen.
“We’ve got some incredible things going. For instance, a couple of nights ago, the Grade 9 science teacher invited all the students at 9:30 (p.m.) to hop on to a live meeting to look at Venus. It was a particular night that Venus could be visible in the sky.
“Our younger kids would be spending less time (in the virtual classroom) – more around three hours a day, divided up into smaller chunks.”

Close monitoring of each student’s performance
I asked: “Are you able to monitor individual students to see how much time each student is actually spending online?” (I asked that question because I was skeptical that all students are responding with equal eagerness to adapt to the “virtual classroom”).

Lori Binder: “One of the most amazing ingredients to this has been the very close connection between the teachers, the students, and the families. Every three days there are phone calls home.
“If a child has not arrived in the classroom and we have not heard from the parents, then we’re following up. We have very high engagement. I would say that almost every kid is learning.
“Where there’s a differential is in the junior kindergarten – kindergarten, where it’s a little more challenging to be regimented. But, because of the technology (we’re using) all our classes are recorded (and remain on our password protected website for five days), so that if a child did miss a class the parent could go on at any time (and play that lesson for the child).”

Andrea Ritter explained that the younger children spend about 20 minutes at a time online, then they go off to do something on their own, such as art , music, or gym. The teacher is available live, but the student can go and do their work on the dining room table for instance. All the students may be doing their math work, but the teacher is on their screen if they need help.

I asked whether there is a full slate of classes, including Judaic studies, for all students?

Lori Binder answered: “Every single program is running, including English as an Additional Language, our special education department, our guidance department.”

I wondered whether the curriculum being followed thus far in the virtual classroom is keeping apace with what would have occurred in the actual physical classroom?

Lori Binder: “It’s hard to compare going completely virtual. I would say that we are confident we will have achieved the proper outcomes of the curriculum by year end.”

Rob Dalgliesh added: “We’re carefully mapping what’s being done, what’s completed and what’s not. We will be able to determine what a student hasn’t completed before the next year begins.

Rigorous timetable being followed
Lori Binder: “We made a decision to exceed the provincial requirements. We decided to have a rigorous timetable that was also balanced so that, for instance, the lunch hour is a little bit longer than what students would have had in the actual school because we thought the students would need a ‘quiet hour’ getting off the screen time.
“There’s a break of half an hour in the morning and afternoon for the elementary kids so that they can get up and stretch.
“The schedule ends around 3:15 instead of 3:40. Instead of starting at 10 to 9 we’re starting at 9 o’clock.”

I said: “What I’m getting from this is that the kids are adjusting to a situation that would be as comparable as possible to the actual classroom situation.”

Lori Binder: “Yes, we really felt that our kids needed routine, that in their isolation they needed to be connected to the school, to the school community, and to their classmates.”
She went on to explain how the timing of having to switch to the virtual classroom was quickly interrupted by the Pesach break: “In a normal Peasach break we would be off and relaxing, but we knew that our kids would not have the luxury of a Pesach break where they could go out of town so on the non-Yom Tov days we put together a program (with about 20 volunteer staff) where we went on Zoom and we had everything from a pet parade, story time for the young kids, we had an author (Jon Waldman) read from his Jets book, we had teachers eat lunch with the kids – because we just couldn’t go from 13 days of virtual school to a Pesach that was quiet.
“It was during the Pesach break that our leadership team formulated the next phase of Gray Academy, which was Gray Away 2.0, where we finessed our timetable and we finessed our learning hub, especially with the younger kids, so that we found a way to bring the families into a good structure.

“What about other schools that might not be in as good a situation as Gray Academy?” I wondered.
“Are kids in other schools going to have to repeat the year entirely because they might not have had access to the kinds of technology that Gray Academy kids have?” I noted that in Quebec, for instance, “they’re abandoning the school year for kids who live in Montreal.”
Lori Binder explained that “there is an answer from the province actually.” She asked Rob Dalgliesh to expand upon what the province has asked schools to do.

Rob Dalgliesh picked up: “The province does not want children to be held back based on what’s happening now.” There is a possibility that there may be summer schooling for students who have fallen behind, he noted.

Lori Binder also noted that the province has asked that in report cards at year’s end, for students in Grades 9-12, it will have to be cited whether a student requires recovery learning in the fall or whether they do not require recovery learning. That will help guide students who are moving between schools.

Plans being laid for eventual reopening of the school
“Are you making any plans at all for a possible return to the classroom with social distancing in place?” I asked, or “is that too far ahead to think about yet?”

Lori Binder: “We were just in a town hall meeting with Dr. (Brent) Roussin (Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer) yesterday, along with about another thousand administrators from across the province and they just released a draft guideline called ‘limited facility school use’. It’s incredibly limited; it doesn’t involve plans for the fall. It deals with a child needing to meet with a guidance counsellor one on one, for example, or with a therapist.
“We are anticipating planning for a number of scenarios and, therefore, we’re planning with about five or six different things in mind, such as: ‘Are we going to have fewer students in spaces?’ We’ve been looking at what social distancing might look like in a classroom, whether we’re going to have to look at mixed days.
“We are very, very involved with our Canadian accredited independent schools. We meet with the Department of Education weekly. We’re also very connected to the Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools. (I happen to be vice-chair of that right now.) We’re all working together.”

Post script: Following my conversation with the three administrators from Gray Academy on May 15, the Province of Manitoba announced new guidelines for schools. We received the following note from Andrea Ritter on Friday, May 22:
“As you know, the provincial directives have changed since we spoke. Throughout the entire process of building and delivering Gray Away, we’ve had to be on our toes for ongoing changes!
“Right now we’re exploring possibilities of what we might be able to do in terms of allowing limited groups students into our building (and our outdoor spaces) for occasional group activities, one-one-one guidance, exams, etc. There will be no in-class learning; the Province has re-iterated that in-school classes are still suspended for all Manitoba schools. Gray Away remote learning will continue for the remainder of the year, but it could be wonderful to be able to give students the opportunity to visit their teachers and friends, with strict adherence to physical distancing, etc.
“Even with new directives from the Government of Manitoba, we will only open our doors to students when we are fully confident that we can meet all provincial expectations for protecting the health and safety of our school community – staff, students and families. While we do not have all the answers today regarding what will over the next month or so, we will definitely keep our families informed every step of the way.

Andrea also sent links to three videos that provide good illustrations of how Gray Academy has been adapting to the current situation:
Thank You Teachers –
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnNg-dPmTdg
Gray Academy Grad 2020 Tribute –
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTH9dET_Ig4
Song Festival Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikx858JUxhU&t=1080s

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President of University of Manitoba Michael Benarroch responds to criticisms levelled at university over controversial valedictorian speech

UM President Michael Benarroch

UM president Michael Benarroch issued the following statement on May 24, 2024:
Last week, UM celebrated the convocation of 106 new physicians from the Max Rady College of Medicine. What should have been a joyous occasion for all graduating students was tarnished by the valedictorian’s address. Valedictory addresses should celebrate the accomplishments of the students in the class and provide inspiration to help motivate the graduates in their future careers.  The address should speak to all the students in the class.  Valedictory addresses are not political platforms for one student or a group of students to express their views, no matter how important or relevant the issue.  Universities, including the University of Manitoba, provide many platforms of expression and I believe this is why we have seen so much political activism on our campuses in the past few months.
 
As President, I have felt it important that our university maintains neutrality about the complex geopolitical situation in Israel and Gaza.  Universities are not monolithic institutions made up of groups of people sharing homogeneous perspectives and experiences.  This neutrality however should not be interpreted as inattention, nor should it be mistaken for an acceptance of antisemitism, or any other form of racism.  I have been carefully watching and listening to what has been happening on our campuses – and I am distressed by the escalation in both activity and rhetoric that is causing pain and harm in our community and not moving the world closer to peace in the middle east. 
 
Many universities, including UM, have long and painful histories of systemic antisemitism. You don’t have to look much further than our medical college’s notorious quota system – something our college’s very namesake, Max Rady, had to overcome to gain entry – to find an example. I am saddened to acknowledge that antisemitism continues to exist on our campuses today. I hear far too often from students and colleagues who do not feel UM’s campuses are safe for them.
 
I am and always have been a fierce defender of free speech. As the president of a university, I am keenly aware of my – our – obligation to protect this fundamental freedom.  But with that freedom comes responsibility, and it is critically important for free speech to coexist with the protection of human rights. I fear that the way one perspective is being expressed is resulting in another group experiencing hate.
 
Simply put, UM needs to do better.
 
What I have found shocking in the communications directed at UM in the aftermath of the valedictory speech, is how unaware people are of the systemic antisemitism that exists in the world. Israel is not above criticism, but the insidious nature of antisemitism is such that many cannot even recognize it for what it is.  As a university, we can and will bring our resources to bear to offer much-needed education to our students, faculty and staff.  I commit UM to develop additional anti-racism education resources including antisemitism training for our students, faculty and staff – an effort that is already underway. This training will be made mandatory for students in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.
 
I wish I could guarantee you that this type of occurrence will not happen again at our university Unfortunately, I fear that there will continue to be hard times ahead. 
 
I have heard from many people that they are questioning their association with UM in light of recent events.  While I fully understand why you might feel this way, now, more than ever, UM needs you. As President, I rely on UM alumni and friends to add to the rich diversity of thought and perspective that help us navigate challenging times as an institution. I realize there are many organizations and individuals who are hurt and angry, asking you to back off from your support for universities right now.  I’m asking you to lean in. With your voice at the table, we can be stronger, more inclusive, and more responsive. Your voice and the benefit of your wisdom and experience can help us effectively confront antisemitism and grow understanding.  
 
If you would like to discuss this, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I would welcome hearing from you.
  
Sincerely,
Michael
 
 Michael Benarroch, Ph.D.
President and Vice-Chancellor
202 Administration Building
66 Chancellors Circle
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2
Phone:  204-474-9345
Email:  m.benarroch@umanitoba.ca

To read the remarks by the valedictorian for this year’s graduating class of the UM medical school, along with subsequent reactions from the medical school’s dean, and Ernest Rady, who donated $30 to the UM in 2016, go to https://jewishpostandnews.ca/faqs/rokmicronews-fp-1/valedictory-speech-delivered-to-graduating-medical-students-sets-off-storm-of-controversy/

To read letters from a graduate of this year’s medical school class along with an alumnus of that school, go to https://jewishpostandnews.ca/faqs/rokmicronews-fp-1/reaction-to-the-valedictory-address-at-the-medical-school-convocation-ceremony/

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Jewish physicians in Manitoba form association in response to antisemitism

Doctors Manitoba President Dr. Michael Boroditsky speaking to the Remis Lecture group at the Gwen Secter Centre Thursday, May 23

By BERNIE BELLAN (May 24, 2024) Jewish physicians in Manitoba have been in the process of organizing as an official organization since October 7 and its aftermath, stemming from the huge upsurge in antisemitism.
According to Doctors Manitoba President Dr. Michael Boroditsky, who has also been actively involved in organizing Jewish physicians here into a group, The Jewish Physicians of Manitoba “will be passing bylaws and electing an executive this weekend” (May 25-26).
Dr. Boroditsky spoke about the Jewish Physicians’ Association at the tail end of a question and answer session following a talk he had given to member of the Remis Lecture group at the Gwen Secter Centre on Thursday, May 23.
In response to a question about the controversy surrounding the convocation ceremony at the U of M medical school on Thursday, May 16, Dr. Boroditsky noted that Jewish physicians in cities across Canada and the U.S. have been forming formal associations in response to heightened antisemitism following the Hamas massacre of October 7.

With reference to the policy adopted by so many institutions of higher learning across Canada and the U.S. to promote EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion), Dr. Boroditsky said: “Our belief is that EDI at the University of Manitoba applies to everybody but Jews.”


In an article in the Montreal Gazette on April 1 this year, that paper referred to the formation of “the Association des médecins juifs du Québec” this past November. According to the Gazette article, “Founded in November, the association counts some 400 members across Quebec.”


British Columbia has also seen the recent formation of a Jewish physicians association. According to information on the internet, “The Jewish Medical Association of British Columbia was started by family physician Dr. Larry Barzelai in November 2023 as an attempt to get Jewish physicians together to support one another, especially in the current situation of increased antisemitism. The group has almost 300 members.”

Toronto, in contrast, had had a long history of Jewish physicians forming an association. There has been a Toronto Jewish Medical Association since 1925.

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Reaction to the valedictory address at the medical school convocation ceremony

Ed. note: We have received a number of inquiries, both from students in this year’s graduating U of M medical school class, and from former students (now practising physicians), asking whether we would print responses to what occurred during the convocation ceremony on May 16. In addition to their being published here, they will also be published in the June 5 issue of The Jewish Post.

We will continue to print whatever responses we receive as (and if) we receive them. In the meantime, here’ are the first two responses we received, on May 23:

May 23rd, 2024
Hello,
My name is Gregory Jackson. I am a member of the 2024 graduating class from the
Max Rady College of Medicine.
Our convocation has garnered more publicity than I would have ever thought. The
valedictorian’s address and subsequent aftermath compels me to act beyond my
traditional comfort zone.
A classmate of mine, Dr. Irvine, stated in an interview with the CBC that “from my
perspective, there wasn’t any students that were graduating that were upset with what was
being said”. I happened to be seated beside Dr. Irvine during convocation. Since Thursday, I
have been truly shocked, disheartened and embarrassed by what unfolded and its impacts
on our community. I regret not walking out during the valedictorian’s speech.
Boisterous cheers from emboldened supporters drown out the gasps and stunned
silence during the valedictorian’s address, turning a day that should have been shared joy
into a day of shared embarrassment. While I know that I cannot convince my classmates
on our disagreements in geopolitics, I am dismayed that our convocation was hijacked to
espouse reckless personal and aggressive political views.
I am writing this letter to show support and patience for the Dean, Dr. Nickerson, as
he navigates an appropriate and firm response. Furthermore, I am writing to formally
dissent and dispute the notion that the Class of 2024 is unified when sophistry
masquerades as advocacy. In the current climate of fear and violence, I respect those who
wish to remain anonymous to maintain their safety. Most importantly, I wish to vocalize my
support to my classmates, faculty members, and people living in our community who are
threatened and alienated by such rhetoric; I hope that our community can heal and that we
can re-aYirm an environment in which our Jewish members are safe, respected and loved.
Faithfully yours,

Gregory Jackson

Dr. Peter Nickerson, Dean and Vice-provost, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences
Michael Benarroch, President, University of Manitoba president@umanitoba.ca
Mr. Ernest Rady,  3420 Carmel Mountain Road, Suite 100, San Diego, California, 92121
CBC News, talkback@cbc.ca
Joe Hutchison at Dailymail.com
Roberta Lexier, Associate Professor, Mount Royal University rlexier@mtroyal.ca
Winnipeg Free Press 
letters@freepress.mb.ca

I recall vividly that early morning September 1985 when I sat in my first class of Medical School at the University of Manitoba. The very first words spoken by the professor were ‘Primum non nocere’, which means ‘first do no harm’.

As physicians, we must use every means possible to gather an accurate history, using listening skills in a nonjudgmental fashion, and more often than not, creatively gathering collateral history from many sources. Dr. Gem Newman, to his credit, seems to be a passionate individual who cares about people. Unfortunately, the last few minutes of his speech made it clear that he cares only for some, on the basis of an incorrect history, leading to a disastrously incorrect diagnosis. He failed to take his own advice with respect to acknowledging one’s limitations rather than questioning if his opinion reflects fact. Nor does it seem that he consulted with those with more knowledge of the situation. His valedictorian address last week has caused harm: To the Jewish graduates, their families, as well as the Jewish community in the audience and abroad. To those who choose to believe the distortions of reality pertaining to the history of the region and current conflict. To those of us who know differently. To the truth. 

Sadly, the response by the University and the media did not address specifically why Newman’s speech was so offensive. For that reason I feel compelled to provide the counter arguments, even if the damage has been done by the hundreds of thousands of views of his speech. After all, he’s a doctor. He should know what he’s talking about. Right?

Newman stated: “ I call on you to stand in solidarity with Indigenous people everywhere.” He either does not know or chooses to ignore the undeniable fact that the Jewish people are indigenous to that region of the Middle East for over 3700 years. He insinuated that the Jews are settler-colonizers, ethnically cleansing the Palestinians. Let me be perfectly clear. There have always been Jews living in that area since Abraham moved his family from Mesopotamia. Over the centuries the population had diminished due to invasions of the land resulting in massacres and exile. However, some always remained. Biblical reference, Jewish writings throughout the ages, numerous archaeological findings and even the Qu’ ran support the historical claim of the land of the ‘Israelites’, meaning the Jewish people. Never mind the fact that the term ‘Jew’ comes from ‘Judea’, just as ‘Arab’ from ‘Arabia’. His remark echoes the libelous accusation that the Jewish people are recent ‘colonizers’ who took over land belonging to others.

Prior to control by the British after WWI, the Ottoman Empire had conquered what is now Israel in the 1500’s. By the mid 1800’s the land was desolate and sparsely populated, as numerous published reports of the time have documented. I will provide two examples: In 1881, English cartographer Arthur Penrhyn Stanley wrote: “In Judea it is hardly an exaggeration to say that for miles and miles there was no appearance of life or habitation.” Mark Twain, in the mid 1800’s, wrote that one could walk from one end of Jerusalem to the other in an hour, At this time Jewish people and organizations started buying back the land from absentee Arab landlords at significantly inflated prices. By 1864, the majority population of Jerusalem, where our first and second temples were built dating back over 3,000 years, was Jewish. Following return of the Jews, with the economic, industrial and technological advances brought with them, Arabs began immigrating to the area as well. THAT is how the population increased; both Jews and Arabs began to repopulate the land. Again, written references from that era along with deeds to the land purchased by individuals and the JNF confirm this. 

In 1948, the day after Sovereignty was granted to Israel, five Arab armies invaded Israel with the intent to exterminate all of the Jews and take over the new State. Arabs living there fled of their own volition or left by order of the Arab armies, with assurance that they could return to their homes after the Jews were gone. Lo and behold, Israel won the war against all odds. The 156,000 Arabs that remained became Israeli citizens, whose descendants are now 2 million, with equal rights as the Jews, Christians, Druze and every other citizen. Meanwhile 850,000 Jews were killed or forced to flee from many Arab countries across the Middle East, leaving their property and belongings behind. 

Newman also claims that Israel is waging a genocidal war against Palestinians. The only genocidal attack was perpetrated by Hamas and associated Palestinian terror groups on October 7, 2023. I am not making a false claim. Ghazi Hamad in an interview October 23, 2023, as well as other Hamas leaders have been very clear about their intentions to ‘repeat October 7 again and again and again’. I have collected many interviews and videos from across the globe with calls to Islamist extremists to kill every Jew they encounter, as a religious duty. These calls for ‘Jihad’ and ‘Intifada’ coming from extremist Muslim religious leaders has now spread across the globe, and is even chanted by those who don’t know which River to Sea they want to clear the Jewish people from. Despite these threats of global annihilation of the Jewish people, Israel has sent out 7 million leaflets in Arabic with maps of safe zones, supplementing this with millions of phone calls, text messages and voice mails. The IDF ‘roof knocks’, which is sending a dud bomb as a warning to evacuate the area. Unfortunately, Hamas and UNRWA not only told civilians to ignore these warnings, they stole car keys and even shot civilians trying to leave for safe areas as reported by Palestinians and captured on voice recordings and video. No other military past or present goes to the lengths that Israel does to minimize civilian casualties. 

This war is being fought in an unprecedented extremely complex war zone intentionally designed as such over the past 18 years.  There are over 700 km of tunnels exclusively for Hamas’ use and protection.  These terrorists fight in civilian clothes from hospitals, mosques, schools and civilian infrastructure, all of which lose protective immunity by law if used for such purposes. The referenced doctors, health care workers and journalists Newman insists Israel targets are not all altruistic innocents; many including hospital directors captured are longstanding members of Hamas. Rather than protecting their citizens, Hamas fight from beneath, beside and behind their men, women and children. The billions of dollars in aid funneled into Palestine over the years did not get spent on one single civilian bomb shelter. Despite this, Israel has still managed to achieve the lowest civilian:combatant death toll of ANY urban war hovering at about 1:1. This is even using the original Gaza MoH numbers prior to the exposure of manipulation of data at best, fabrication more likely, which led to the U.N. quietly backtracking and halving the number of women and children casualties. For seven months, those numbers had been broadcast to every news outlet and media source with impunity, and are still being quoted to this day. Not only are the numbers provided by Hamas grossly inflated, there are several analyses of the casualty data churned out by those terrorists that prove the patterns are statistically impossible.

You may also wish to verify the way the IDF conducts military operations with the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies of West Point, Major John W. Spencer. 
Another resource is Colonel Richard Kemp of the British Army. Their opinions regarding whether a genocide is being waged on the Palestinians carry significantly more weight than Dr. Newman’s, I would think. The IDF is not called the ‘most moral army in the world’ for nothing.

On to the ‘famine” in Gaza. As of this writing, Israel has allowed entry of 427,981 tons of food, 59,930 tons of shelter equipment, 541 tanks of cooking gas, 23,260 tons of medical supplies, 34,940 tons of water. COGAT provides daily updates on humanitarian aid that has crossed into Gaza. Plenty of video evidence is available of Hamas confiscating the aid, shooting and killing civilians trying to get aid, and charging up to ten times the value of the aid (intended as donations, not to sell) which many cannot afford. There are estimates that Hamas has made close to $500,000 profit from this despicable abuse. The pier that the US provided has been targeted by Hamas rockets during and after construction. Videos are also posted daily of bustling markets full of produce in Gaza.

Apart from the poor taste the valedictorian displayed by using the last few minutes of his speech to grandstand, the greatest issue I have is that his claims do not contain fact. This is exactly the way the blood libels began, were spread, and continue to be spread. We witnessed the result of this less than a century ago and vowed ‘never again’. Yet here we are on our way to repeating history that apparently was not learned, with the help of people like Dr. Newman. We lost over 1/3 of the world Jewish population in the Holocaust, and 85 years later our census is still lower than it was in 1939; a mere 16 million, whose voice cannot come close to the volume of our adversaries.

I agree with free speech, but there must be accountability. There must be truth.

Annilea Gunn, MD, CCFP, FCFP
University of Manitoba Class of 1989


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