Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Bill Narvey

Elliot Leven

Bill Narvey : Response to Elliot Leven- Justin Trudeau Was Wrong to Speak at Reviving The Islamic Spirit Convention

April 8, 2013

This responds to the Editor's inviting comments regarding David B. Harris’ article Justin Trudeau's Islamist Revival and Elliot Leven’s response, Trudeau was right to speak at Islamic convention published in your April 7-13, 2013 edition.

Leven agrees with Harris’ documented characterization of the tenor and purpose of much of the recent Montreal and past RIS [ Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention], which is to preach and teach pro-Islamist intolerant bigoted anti-Israel, antisemitic and anti-Western messages, antithetical to Canada’s ways and values. It is hardly a trite matter, but Leven strangely sums up that aspect of the views promoted at RIS Conventions in his trite word, “nasty”.

In spite of that agreement, Leven disagrees with Harris’ evidence based conclusion that Trudeau’s appearance at the RIS Convention to speak on Canadian tolerance and diversity, does little if anything to promote those Canadian tolerance values and ways, but rather it does a lot to give legitimacy to the RIS Convention and the “nasty” views promoted there.

Many Jews and non-Jews including various Jewish, Christian and Muslim organizations such as Muslim Canadian Congress and Muslims Facing Tomorrow, reached the same alarming conclusion Harris did.

Leven thus contends that Trudeau’s appearance at the RIS convention to promote values of tolerance and mutual respect in our diverse society, is a good thing for some present may heed his kumbaya words and come away rejecting the “nasty” views being promoted at that convention.

Leven’s strained reasoning is naïve, misguided and/or willfully blind in the following respects:

1. His reasoning is bound up in mere hope, ascribing to Trudeau, a noble intent to turn minds from intolerant to tolerant;

2. Trudeau is a political animal, not some noble multicultural messiah. As a politician on the rise, it is only common sense to believe Trudeau was moved by crass political motives to use the RIS Convention as an opportunity to reach out to the Muslim community with a view to gaining support for himself and his Liberal party amongst the Canadian Muslim community, which exceeds the Jewish community;

3. Those Muslims who attend RIS Conventions do so precisely because they share the “nasty” views promoted there. Those Muslims who reject pro-Islamist intolerant views, stay away;

4. Leven equates Trudeau’s attendance at the RIS Convention which in part at least is geared to disseminating intolerant “nasty” views to his own appearance before a Commons Committee that disseminated no views, but sought opinions on the issue of marriage, including same sex marriage. The two forums and their respective purposes, could not be more different;

5. Leven has shown disrespect for the good people of Steinbach by implying that their likely disapproval of same sex marriage derived only from religious belief, when many of those against same sex marriage do so because they value traditional definitions of marriage, irrespective of religion, a point of view as legitimate as the pro-same sex marriage views that Leven advocates;

6. Leven further shows disrespect to the people of Steinbach by implying that they are against same sex marriage because they are against gays altogether and thus he expressly or implicitly equates the good people of Steinbach as being intolerant, just as those at the RIS convention who promote and heed intolerant pro-Islamist anti-Israel, antisemitic and anti-Western “nasty” views.

It is a premise that is fundamentally flawed in fact and further draws a false moral equivalence;

Leven is not however, a naïve person. So why does Leven resort to naivety and willful blindness in justifying his support for Trudeau addressing the RIS Convention?

Could it be that being a dyed in the wool Liberal party supporter, a fawning fan of Trudeau and a dreamer for the day the Liberals again govern Canada, he is compelled, even at the cost of his own credibility, to defend Trudeau’s address to the RIS Convention, even when Trudeau’s appearance, is objectively speaking by all the evidence Harris brings to the fore, indefensible?

[Editor's note : In point of fact, Elliot Leven is not a dyed in the wool Liberal party supporter, rather a dyed in the wool NDP supporter. Below is Elliot Leven's aritcle to which Bill Narvey is responding and also the article by David Harris that originated this  robust exchange of views.]


Trudeau was right to speak at Islamic convention

By Elliot Leven

I agree with almost everything which David Harris says about the December, 2012 Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) convention in Toronto, but I disagree with his ultimate conclusion. The convention garnered media attention when prominent federal Liberal Justin Trudeau agreed to speak at it. Reports about his speech suggest that it was a fairly bland call for tolerance and diversity.

Writing before the convention began, Harris argued that Trudeau should never have agreed to attend the convention at all. Stripped of the hyperbole, Harris’ argument is that some of the speakers at some past RIS conventions have been extremely nasty people, with very nasty views about Jews, gays, women and Western values. I agree on this point.

However, sometimes it is useful to speak reason even to what might be a nasty crowd. The poet John Milton wrote: “"I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race...Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength... Let her and Falsehood grapple. Whoever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?"

Milton was defending freedom of speech, but his wisdom can be applied to the RIS convention. If Trudeau or any invited speaker believed that other speakers at the 2012 RIS convention might spew prejudice and bigotry, boycotting the conference would not be the optimal response. A far better response would be to attend, and to make a strong, forceful speech against bigotry.

Perhaps some of the people attending the 2012 convention were hard-line fanatics, who were so closed-minded that no rational speech could ever

<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Imperial Soap
  • GTP
  • Laurie Rubin - A Salon
  • Nick's Inn
  • John Orlikow
  • james bezan
  • Roseman Corp.
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • Fair Service
  • Thovaldson Care
  • Maric Homes
  • Artista Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Fetching Style
  • Cascade Financial Group Inc.
  • Dakota Chiropractic Office
  • ClearCare Periodontal & Implant Centre
  • Cavalier Candies
  • erickson motors
  • HUB International
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Chochy's
  • Superlite
  • John Wishnowski
  • Ingrid Bennet
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Kristina's
  • TD Canada Trust
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
  • Maric Homes
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.