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TEDDY BEAR WITH SWASTIKAS AT ASPER CAMPUS: FAINTUCH TESTIFIES BEFORE PARLIAMENTARY CO-ALITION IN OTTAWA

By Rhonda Spivak

A teddy bear was left at the door of the Asper Jewish Community Campus in a gift box with the words “Zig Heil” reminiscent of the Nazi salute and the teddy bear’s tags were covered in Swastikas. The teddy bear was wearing a kippa p) and a talit (prayer shawl). This “hate” incident which occured on July 13, 2009 was reported to the police at the time, but the Winnipeg Jewish Review, is the first local Jewish newspaper to report on this event to the public.
 

The "teddy bear " incident was one of a number of anti-Semitic incidents that Shelley Faintuch, director of Community Relations of the Jewish Federation here spoke about in testimony she gave on November 30th in Ottawa, before the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism in Canada [CPCCA].

The CPCCA is a coalition of
parliamentarians aiming to confront and combat the global resurgence of anti-Semitism.
According to its website, the CPCCA “harnesses the goodwill of parliamentarians in all parties…in the struggle against this oldest and most enduring of hatreds.”

The CPCCA is independent of the government, NGOs or Advocacy Groups. It is conducting an inquiry into Canadian anti-Semitism and
after reviewing evidence, it will present a report with its findings to the Government of Canada for response.

The CPCCA emerged from the London Conference to Combating Anti-Semitism organized by the Interparliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, and the UK based Parliamentary Coalition Against Antisemitism.
The extent and severity of antisemitism is widely regarded as at its worst level since the end of the Second World War.

FAINTUCH’S REPORT

In her comprehensive 25 page report Faintuch wrote that in Winnipeg “during the past decade or so, we have experienced increasing and ever more audacious forms of anti-Semitism.”

She referred to an incident on January 8, 2009, at the University of Manitoba on the day announced for a rally to support Israel’s right to defend herself during“Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza. Faintuch wrote:

“The Muslim Student Association had a series of tables set up in UMSU (the Student Union Building) near the university bookstore. While information and anti-Israel protest is an acceptable part of public discourse, a number of posters set up on display boards
behind the tables were anything but acceptable.”

Faintuch included in her report several images of what she termed as“ unacceptable", and "hate promoting" posters, "those using stereotypes that promulgate old [anti-Semetic] canards." She wrote that “[t]hese political caricatures crossed the line between political satire and the propagation of hate through virulent antisemitic imagery that is common in the Middle East media( such as AlHayat, one of the leading daily pan-Arab newspapers...)."

One image Faintuch
referred to is of a hooked nose hassidic Jew pointing a missile at a Palestinian [see photo of this image on the left hand side of this page].

This very image has been on the homepage of the Winnipeg Jewish Review for the last three weeks, as part of our “poll”, and a majority of our readers have consistently found it to be illegitimate speech that ought not be allowed to be on a university campus.

 

Another image is of a swastika-bladed IDF helicopter bombing a baby bottle.

Faintuch wrote that “While the Muslim Student Association removed the posters, and could not identify the student who had displayed them, there was never an official apology by them to the Jewish StudentsAssociation.”

In another incident, Faintuch also referred to
speakers on Winnipeg campuses, whose talk undermined Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish homeland.She also pointed to anti-Semetic comments in reference to the Canadian Human Rigths Museum.

She noted, for example, that after media reported that the museum would need an additional $45 million in grants,a blogger wrote: “…Who is this museum for, a group of people who have done nothing but whine and cry since the WW11” – Alecfed, on CBC blog, posted May 29)
On July 28, 2009, on a CJOB radio call in show with Geoff Currier, a caller
said, he bets the museum,“ has more to do about the Holocaust; …is there a person there [on the Board of Directors] whose last name isn’t Weinstein….but they’ll build a freakin $200 million museum mostly for the Jews…”

Faintuch’s report outlined many other anti- Semetic incidents that occurred prior to 2009.
To read the entire report, go to:
www.jewishwinnipeg.org/local_includes/downloads/36120.pdf

“All witnesses were limited to 10 minutes when they testified. I did my presentation in both official languages- I am thoroughly bilingual- in order to actively involve both francophone and anglophone members in the discussion,” Faintuch told the Winnipeg Jewish Review in an interview.

FAINTUCH’S RECOMMENDATIONS

In her testimony, Faintuch recommended federal educational initiatives in combating anti-Semitism, including diversity programming. She called for federal funding to develop material for television, film, and music video. She also recommended grants to promote the Asper Human Rights and Holocaust Program that would promote encourage more public schools to participate, as well "as promotion of literary and arts prizes on appropriate themes."

Faintuch proposed the development of Israel Awareness Programs for teachers and students, outlining the democratic underpinning of Israeli society. She further suggested the development of a civics program, teaching “Canadian values to recent immigrants and their families,” including “ the study of government, individual rights and responsibilities, and rules and laws necessary for maintaining a safe society for diverse individuals and groups (perhaps through citizenship preparedness courses).”

Faintuch also recommended that adequate funding be provided for “a proper, stand-alone hate crimes unit in the Winnipeg Police Service." (the hate crimes unit is currently part of the Major Crimes unit).

“There is not sufficient manpower to do proper investigation when warranted and in a timely fashion. Furthermore, cities with populations less diverse have stand-alone units, "she wrote in her report.

Faintuch also favoured the review of criminal and human rights legislation to
ensure the hate provisions are effective and enforceable. She further proposed the development “of an international board of inquiry into hate on the internet”, and “the development of legislation that would curtail the ability of service providers to host hate sites and provide remedies.”

She told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that “I also commented at end of my testimony,
that increased anti Semitism, particularly in France and
Venezuela would certainly have an impact on immigration to Canada [as Jews will want to immigrate here].”

The committee members of the CCPCA present for Fainuch’s presentation, included Irwin Cotler, (ex-officio member of the committee), Co-Chairs of the Committee
Mario Silva and Scott Reid, as well as Ken Dryden, Hedy Fry, Raymonde Folco,
and Eve-Mari Thi-La

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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