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“The Cure for Hate” – how a former neo-Nazi Skinhead turned his life around

Tony McAleer at Westwood Collegiate Nov. 19

By BERNIE BELLAN On Sunday, November 19, the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, in cooperation with the Jewish Federation, Westwood Collegiate, and an organization called “peace days,” screened a documentary film titled “The Cure for Hate – Bearing Witness to Auschwitz.” The film documents a visit made to Auschwitz by former neo-Nazi Skinhead Tony McAleer, during which he confronts his own violent past and discusses the long and complicated journey he has taken through his life
(As an aside, we also had a story in our January 19, 2022 issue, written by Jon Van Der Veen, in which Jon wrote about an interview he conducted with McAleer when Jon was a student in Atlantic Canada. You can find that story on our website, jewishpostandnews.ca..)
Following the screening of the film Tony McAleer was joined on stage at Westwood Collegiate by Westwood History teacher Kelly Hiebert to discuss the film. Also participating in the discussion was the film’s director, Peter Hutchison, who joined in via Zoom.
Interestingly, this was the second Sunday in a row that Westwood Collegiate, in cooperation with the Jewish Heritage Centre and the Jewish Federation – with particular thanks to Kelly Hiebert, served as the venue for the showing of a film and discussion afterward directly related to the subject of antisemitism. The November 12 event revolved around the screening of “Reckonings,” about which we wrote in our November 22 issue. (If you missed seeing that story you can also find it on our website
“The Cure for Hate” follows McAleer on a tour of Auschwitz, where he is accompanied by a Jewish Polish tour guide.
Here is a summary of the film’s storyline: “In the Jewish tradition, tshuvah means ‘return’, and describes the return to God and our fellow human beings that is made possible through repentance for our wrongs. Tony McAleer is a former Skinhead and Holocaust denier who went on to become a founding member of the anti-hate activist group Life After Hate. Profoundly aware and deeply ashamed of the lineage of hate he’d once promoted, Tony had long-contemplated traveling to Auschwitz in the spirit of tshuvah – to bear witness to the inconceivable ravages of the Holocaust, and deepen his personal work against the rise of extremist politics. This project documents his profoundly personal journey of atonement to Auschwitz/Birkenau – exploring the conditions that allowed for the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe; shedding a unique light upon how men get into, and out of, violent extremist groups; and serving as a cautionary tale for our time that underscores the dangers in allowing hate to be left unchecked.”
The film is fairly long – 74 minutes, and it is somewhat repetitious, as McAleer reiterates the shame he feels for his past over and over again, but it does offer some profound insights into what motivates many young men to be drawn to a violent neo-Nazi lifestyle.
At the beginning of the film, McAleer says he has often been asked: “How did you lose your humanity?”
He responds: “I didn’t lose it. I just kept it down until there was nothing left.”
As he begins his tour of Auschwitz, walking through the gate under the infamous sign that says, “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work will make you free), McAleer notes that when he used to get together with his Skinhead friends they would joke that when they’re done with the Jews the sign would read “Nothing will make you free.”
The film follows a pattern of McAleer walking along with the guide (who is often difficult to understand because of her heavy Polish accent), discussing his life and what led him to have an epiphany moment when he realized that the life he had been living was so wrong.
He observes at one point that “no one becomes a Nazi overnight. It’s a slow progression.”
As Jon Van Der Veen describes in his interview with McAleer, McAleer came from an affluent Vancouver family. According to Jon’s article, and something that is also mentioned in the film – although not to the extent it’s discussed in Jon’s interview, it was McAleer’s discovering that his father was having an affair that shattered his life and led him to descending into a downward spiral that culminated in his becoming a full-blown Neo-Nazi.
At one point, McAleer, who engages in quite a bit of introspection throughout the film, repeats something that was said to him by a psychiatrist who was treating McAleer: “All violence is an attempt to replace shame with self esteem.”
McAleer was influenced by a number of prominent Neo-Nazis, he says, whose names he recounts during the film, including; Richard Butter (who McAleer describes as the “spiritual leader” of the Aryan Nations, and who led the infamous 1978 march through a heavily Jewish neighbourhood in Skokie, Illinois which had a very high proportion of Holocaust survivors living there); Tom Metzger, of the White Aryan Resistance, and someone by the name of Lewis Beeton (although I may not have written that name down correctly since I could find no reference to anyone by that name on the internet).
Something that McAleer says during the film – and which is even more chilling than his description of his own long relationship with neo-Nazi ideology, is how so many neo-Nazi groups have been using the tactic of “mainstreaming,” whereby they educate their members to drop the appearance that is often associated with such groups, including uniform dress, scary tattoos and other such paraphernalia, and blend in with the “mainstream.”
Further, according to McAleer many neo-Nazis have been infiltrating police forces and armies in both Canada and the U.S. (Perhaps the most chilling story of such an infiltration came a few years ago when a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Patrik Matthews, was unmasked as a member of a group known as “The Base,” thanks to the brilliant – and very brave investigative reporting of former Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe.)
As the film progresses, McAleer describes the process through which he realized that his life had been a total waste. He acknowledges the contribution that his therapist, Charles Barron (who, incidentally, is Jewish), made to his coming to terms with what he had done with his life.
But, in treating him, McAleer says, Barron made him realize “This is what you did, it’s not who you are.”
The reason he had been attracted to neo-Nazi Skinhead ideology, McAleer observes, is out of a “search for longing and purpose.”
So, what turned McAleer around? There were two events that proved pivotal, he explains. One was the birth of a child. (He now has two, he noted during the discussion that followed the film, but he is no longer together with his children’s mother.)
The other event, he says in the film, “was receiving compassion from someone he didn’t expect it from.”
As well, he observes, “Allowing one to have compassion for oneself leads to compassion for others.”
Yet, in what comes as a dark warning toward the end of the film, McAleer states that “the inescapable truth is that white supremacist ideology, if left unchecked, always ends in violence.”
Following the film, McAleer and Peter Hutchison engaged in a discussion with Kelly Hiebert, followed by questions from the audience.
Kelly Hiebert asked McAleer whether there was “a transformative moment for you that led you to leave the movement?”
McAleer answered that “it was a process rather than a moment. For me it was the birth of my daughter. (His son was born 15 months later, he said.) Up until then I was a self-absorbed narcissist. I had been cut off from my emotional self.”
Someone in the audience asked Kelly Hiebert: “Why do you what you do?”
(Kelly Hiebert is a Governor General’s Award-winning educator who has made Holocaust education a key component of his teaching.)
Hiebert answered: “I do what I do to create a better world – for myself, my kids, and my students.”
Someone else asked Hiebert what he says to his students about what’s going on in Gaza?
He answered: “A lot of students are very confused. There’s too much information out there. I’m teaching them to develop a critical consciousness about what they’re consuming…to help them understand the difference between free speech and hate speech.”
Tony McAleer added: There’s confusion between identity and politics. It comes from understanding that it’s not the politics that’s wrong; it’s where I am that’s wrong.” But the identification with a certain brand of politics, he suggested, comes from “a thirst for community, a thirst for belonging.”
Peter Hutchison observed that the shift toward identifying with particular political beliefs “was never a defining characteristic when I was growing up…You end up getting ‘siloed’ in a lot of way. As Americans have become less identified with church, we’ve become much more strongly identified with ideology.”
And, as individuals become more immersed in particular ideologies, “it prevents us from seeing the humanity in one another,” he added.
The discussion turned to Holocaust denial. Peter Hutchison suggested that “if you can tear a hole in a little bit of data you can deny everything.” He went on to discuss the argument that there could never have been 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust – that it was Allied propaganda.
“It’s happening in real time,” Hutchison observed: “As information came in about a hospital (El Shifa – which was hit by a stray missile found to have been fired by Islamic Jihad) being bombed in Gaza, ”you can discount it or you can extend it to a much larger truth.”
Kelly Hiebert added: “People will believe the first thing they see.”
Someone asked McAleer: “What can you do to bring students together?”
McAleer answered: “Curiosity, courage, and compassion…What we try to teach young people is that it’s very hard to hate someone you meet.”
He cited as an example a student-led initiative that was put forward by students in an American high school – a program called “No one eats alone.”
The idea was to make sure that no one eating lunch would be left to sit by themselves. It was important to work with “students struggling at the margins,” he said.
In another school, students were asked to whom would they like to talk (among other students in their class) if they were “struggling.”
“We went to those students (the ones who were identified as one to whom the struggling students would like to be able to speak) and asked them if they would serve in that role.”
Hutchison noted that “it’s hard to teach ‘compassion.’ We teach ‘active listening’…how to be curious, how to wait your turn to speak…We also ask kids, ‘How does it feel to be hurt?’ “
Someone in the audience suggested that underlying a large part of the alienation that many young boys feel that, in turn, leads them to be attracted to neo-Nazi type groups, is wondering “How can I get girls to like me?”
McAleer responded that “We have to have better discussions about masculinity with young men…There’s a generation of young boys who feel alienated and there are groups who know how to pull them in.’
Peter Hutchison added: “Young men have heard the expression ‘toxic masculinity’ so often they don’t know what healthy masculinity is.”
And, while Belle Jarniewski made an observation about antisemitism sometime in the middle of the discussion, I thought it was particularly relevant to end this article with what she had said.
Belle explained that when a criminal offense occurs that has an antisemitic component to it, someone in the Crown Attorney’s office will often suggest that they ought “to bring in a Holocaust survivor for that offender to meet.”
“In truth,” Belle observed, “it would be much better if they were to meet someone like Tony.”

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Popularity of Online Casino Games in Canada

In recent years, the popularity of online casino games in Canada has surged, captivating the attention of a diverse audience seeking thrilling entertainment. With the convenience of accessing these games from the comfort of home, Canadians are exploring the vast world of virtual casinos that offer an extensive array of gaming options.

Diverse Selection of Casino Games:

One of the key factors contributing to the widespread appeal of online casino games in Canada is the vast selection available. There are hundreds of top casino games online, covering every genre imaginable. From classic table games like poker and blackjack to immersive slot machines with captivating themes, Canadian players have a plethora of options to choose from.

The Rise of Online Slots:

Among the various casino games, online slots have witnessed a significant surge in popularity. The ease of gameplay and the potential for substantial payouts make slots a preferred choice for both seasoned players and newcomers. With themes ranging from ancient civilisations to popular movies and TV shows, online slots offer a diverse and engaging experience for players of all preferences.

Convenience and Accessibility:

The accessibility of online casino games is a key driver behind their growing popularity in Canada. Players no longer need to travel to a physical casino to experience the thrill of gambling. Instead, they can enjoy their favourite games with just a few clicks on their computer or mobile device. This convenience has opened up the world of online gambling to a broader audience, attracting both seasoned gamblers and those trying their luck for the first time.

Technology Advancements:

Advancements in technology have played a pivotal role in enhancing the online casino gaming experience. High-quality graphics, realistic sound effects, and seamless gameplay contribute to an immersive environment that mirrors the excitement of traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. Additionally, the integration of live dealer games brings an authentic touch to online gaming, allowing players to interact with real dealers in real-time.

Regulatory Environment:

The regulatory environment in Canada has also contributed to the popularity of online casino games. While each province has its own regulations, the overall legal framework allows for a thriving online gambling industry. This has given rise to reputable online casinos that prioritise player safety and adhere to strict industry standards, ensuring a fair and secure gaming environment.

Social Aspect and Community Engagement:

Online casinos in Canada are not just about individual gameplay; they also provide a platform for social interaction. Many online casinos feature chat rooms and community forums where players can connect, share experiences, and discuss strategies. This sense of community adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the gaming experience, making online casinos a social activity beyond the solitary pursuit of winning.

The popularity of online casino games in Canada is undoubtedly on the rise, driven by a combination of diverse gaming options, convenience, technological advancements, and a favourable regulatory environment. With a wide array of top casino games available at their fingertips, Canadians can indulge in the excitement of gambling from the comfort of their homes. As the online casino industry continues to evolve, it’s clear that virtual gaming is here to stay and will likely continue to captivate audiences across the country.

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Features

Life in Israel four months after October seventh

Orly & Solly Dreman

By ORLY DREMAN

(Special to the JP&N) Feb. 1, 2024

In every news broadcast that we hear that “The IDF spokesman is permitted to announce”… then every person in Israel sits down, holds their breath and waits to hear the names of the soldiers fallen in action that day. This causes deep sadness to every family in Israel. For example, I found out the son of my T.V technician was killed and my handyman’s son was seriously injured. Death in Israel is so personal.

Our synagogue recently mourned twenty seven year old Inbar Heiman who was kidnapped by Hamas from the Nova music nature party on October seventh and was murdered in captivity. She was a gifted young woman filled with love and compassion. She was a creative artist that was supposed to enter her senior year at university this academic year. We had prayed and wished that she would return until her family received the tragic news of her death.

When we made personal medical visits to the Hadassah hospital, we often heard helicopters overhead bringing in wounded soldiers from Gaza. In the surgery department we saw a reserve soldier being released after six weeks in the hospital. His wife and newborn baby were with him. The department had a touching farewell gathering with Israeli flags, music and cakes. This is how every soldier who leaves the hospital is treated. More than fourteen thousand civilians and soldiers were hospitalized since October seventh with most of the injuries being in the hands and legs, burns, head and eye injuries.

We seldom are in the mood to go to a restaurant these days, but if we do, such outings are accompanied by guilt feelings. Is it right to go when our people are suffering?- the hostages are starving. We all wear the metal disc that says “Bring Them Home now- Our hearts are captured in Gaza”. They occupy our thoughts pervasively. Some of the hostages have suffered untreated gunshot wounds and the hygiene conditions are poor, many of them not showering for four months, sitting thirty meters under the ground in dark tunnels, with no electricity and suffering from extreme malnutrition. Some of them have diseases like Celiac, Asthma, Colitis, Diabetes, Fibromialgia, heart diseases and allergies. They are getting no medications and time is running out for them. Twenty five of them have already perished. What sort of civil society will we be if we abandon them?

Whole families are recruited for combat duty in different areas of the country. It might be a brother and a sister fighting in Gaza or a father in Judea and Samaria while another brother is fighting on the Lebanese border. If you ask soldiers who have lost their siblings in combat if they wish to go back to fight after the shiva, they do not hesitate, even though it is so hard on the parents. This demonstrates the dedication of Israeli citizens and their wish to complete the task of exterminating the Hamas, while at the same time knowing their family member did not die in vain. The grief is intergenerational and we are even acquainted with grandparents whose grandchildren are in combat and they are given the opportunity to go to workshops that help them with their anxiety.

In a Knesset Committee it was recently reported That many survivors from the Nova party have taken their own lives. Others continue to experience the trauma of the horrific events. They cannot sleep nor eat. Many were sexually abused and even though they were not murdered they continue to experience the pain- the sights, voices- cries for help and the fear. They are in a sense also fighters who awaken to a new existence everyday and continue to fight for their existence.

At the military cemeteries there is one funeral process after another and the families are asked to leave the site to make room to prepare for the next funeral. Wounded soldiers arrive in ambulances, on hospital beds or wheelchairs in order to eulogize their fallen comrades.

The reservists who return home after months of combat are having troubles adjusting because this war, like the War of Independence, is very meaningful. It is the most justified war our homeland has encountered. Upon their return there is a big downfall in physical and mental energy. A stranger cannot understand this. These soldiers were disconnected from normal civilian routine for a long time and they had difficult and intimate experiences with their combat mates. They have lost friends and did not have time to mourn. They must release the stress they were exposed to. They are back in body but not always in spirit. They also might be recruited again in the near future to the southern or the northern front, the war is not over. Many men who were injured worry about their future fertility and sexual functioning.

They entertain such existential thoughts as would it be better that I am killed in action before I have children and leave no descendants, or losing my life and leaving behind orphans. Dozens of children remain orphaned from both parents. They also have witnessed their family members being murdered and their homes burned down. Years ago, Solly treated and did a follow up on a family where both parents were murdered in a terrorist attack. Even though the children were adopted by loving relatives they suffered from survivor guilt and this expressed itself in such phenomena as dropping out of school, turning into juvenile delinquents and having trouble in intimate relations.

The evacuees from the south and the north are dispersed in hundreds of hotels in the center of the country. Hence, they have no permanent home, have no privacy and many have no work, nothing to do for months on end and experience feelings of powerlessness. Some pupils are not capable of returning to their temporary schools because of anxieties, depression and fear. Some teenagers have turned to drugs and alcohol which increases violence and vandalism. For them school is experienced as a waste of time. Their friends were murdered, some still have relatives in captivity and everything is falling apart. They also experience sleep disruptions and are in no mood to study. For them life is a living hell. Some families are moved from city to city several times. The children do not have friends in the new locations and they feel lonely and express a lack of social support.

In the realm of parenting many mothers even those who were NOT directly exposed to the dramatic events reported that their children cry more (eighty three percent). Others say the children have difficulties sleeping (seventy three percent), have concentration problems (fifty four percent) and many children are developing eating disorders. In sixty percent the anxiety of the children is so high it hurts functioning. For example, they are often afraid to leave the house. Other disturbances were reported such as bed-wetting, insisting on sleeping with their parents and acts of anger and aggression.

We, as Israelis are also concerned with our Jewish brethren who are experiencing thousands of antisemitic incidents, higher than the number of all incidents in the last decade. There are many Jews in the diaspora who are considering emigration to Israel after experiencing antisemitic events such as seeing their synagogue, Hebrew school, kosher butcher and other Jewish businesses being stoned and burned. For them Israel is their safest haven.

On a more optimistic note the Jewish people have prevailed over thousands of years despite terrible events. In spite of the uncertainty not everything is lost. We are united and strong. The soldiers are full of motivation and good values. I firmly believe that if we are patient and persist, the Jewish people and the state of Israel will prevail.

Orly Dreman is a 10th generation Israeli. Her cousin, Ruvi Rivlin, was a former president of Israel. Orly’s father was a diplomat who served both in North America and in Europe.
By profession Orly is an English teacher. She has dealt with children suffering from ADD.
Since childhood, Orly has been involved in voluntary work with the disabled, the challenged, new immigrants, the elderly and others. 

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Features

The Critical Job Roles in Online Business

More companies than ever are embracing remote working. As of 2023, around 16% of businesses have a fully remote working model, with many more adopting a hybrid one. All of this should come as welcome news to anyone looking for a better work-life balance. As well as saying goodbye to grueling commutes, remote employees can embrace lucrative salary packages, generous benefits, and more. Ready to reap the benefits of online work yourself? Below are just a handful of remote working opportunities to consider.

Video Game and Casino Platform Development

Whether it’s creating Canadian online slots for real money casinos or an open-world epic, great games need talented developers. Thankfully, this is one sector where the typical rules of the 9-5 don’t apply. In the US, an experienced game developer can expect to take home around $103,000 annually. For a midweight casino games developer, a starting salary of around $65,000 is fairly respectable.

Software Engineering

If you have a background in software engineering, you’re in luck. Currently, it’s one of the highest-paid online roles around, with an average salary of $108,000. There’s no one size-fits-all remit for a software engineer, but typical roles include designing applications, testing, and creating system upgrades.

UX Design

User experience is becoming increasingly important as companies strive to make their digital products more accessible. Unsurprisingly, there’s a high demand for user experience designers, with many positions now advertised as remote-first roles. You’ll need to have sufficient software and development experience to excel here. What’s more, you’ll need to work closely with clients to meet the needs of the consumer. If you think you could do well in a role like this, expect an annual salary in the region of $97,000.

Web Design

One role you’ll never struggle to find is that of a web designer. It’s a pretty broad field, so expect a lot of disparity when it comes to job remits and starting salaries. At a minimum, a web designer worth their salt should be able to create accessible websites for a wide range of clients. You’ll also need to be familiar with coding languages and testing. Less experienced web designers can expect to command a starting salary of around $43,000. If you’ve been working professionally for more than a few years and have a solid portfolio to back you up, you can easily negotiate twice that amount.

Entry-Level Online Roles

For digital natives, remote working will come as second nature. Don’t have the skills to land a web designer or developer job? Not to worry. There are an increasing number of entry-level remote roles out there.

Customer service roles are readily available, with positions to cater to all experience levels. At the bottom rung of the ladder, you might be tasked with making sales calls or resolving complaints from customers. A customer service agent can comfortably make around $40-50,000 a year. If you operate on a commission basis or can take advantage of a generous bonus scheme, you could easily double this annually.

Is Remote Working Here To Stay?

Even as many businesses encourage workers back to the office, there’s an deniable upward trend in the number of remote and hybrid-only roles on the job market. Video conferencing technology and collaboration tools are making it easier than ever for remote teams to remain connected. Meanwhile, company executives are finding it hard to argue with significantly reduced overheads and increased productivity.

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