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Lawrence Pinsky

Lawrence Pinsky K.C. : OP-ED: Holocaust Remembrance and October 7: How Do You Fix a Problem Like Zoratti ?

by Lawrence Pinsky K. C., Lawyer and Former Human Rights Adjudcator, February 3, 2024


From the moment that I heard that a demonstration was planned to take place in front of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, arising from and thus perceived to be in support of Hamas terror, I confess I was appalled.  Although one can argue that it was not to support Hamas, but rather to end a war, or support Palestinians, the circumstantial evidence tells a different story.

There were few or no marches to end the war in Syria for the hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed by the Syrian government.  There were few if any demonstrations (I can recall none) about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, their disregard for civilian life, and their murder of many thousands of women and children.  No one that I can recall was on the streets of Winnipeg protesting to stop the war in Yemin where hundreds of thousands of Yeminis, including women and children, were killed by Yeminis.  I don’t recall seeing many marchers or demonstrators about the treatment of Muslims by China.  I can't recall many demonstrators outside of our small Kurdish community  demonstrating for the Kurds massacred by Turkey.  And the list goes on.

Perhaps most importantly, on October 6, there was a ceasefire and no one was marching.  It was only after the massacre in Israel that the marches and demonstrations began, celebrating the atrocities committed by Hamas and their "civilian" supporters, before Israel even entered Gaza.

Is it really the case that these demonstrators were ignorant of the fact that last Saturday, January 27, 2024, was International Holocaust Remembrance Day? It stretches credulity to believe that these largely ill-informed demonstrators were unaware that their actions could easily be perceived as showing disrespect towards victims of the Holocaust and their descendants.

The demonstration may well have prevented some members of the Jewish community, including aging Holocaust survivors, from feeling safe attending the Museum on that emotionally charged day.  It is likely that some in the community perceived this demonstration, which could have occurred on any other day, or even at any other place, as deliberately designed to diminish from the unique solemnity of the Holocaust.

I was going to write about the loss of decency in our society as evidenced by the choices those demonstrators made.  I had intended to focus on the imperative that we begin to concentrate on how we can live together safely and respectfully as Canadians, no matter our national origins, religion, lack of religion, gender, orientation, culture, or creed (not intended as an exhaustive list).  Unfortunately, I was upended by another shameful occurrence. 

Coincident with learning of the outrageous demonstration planned at the Museum, came Jen Zoratti's hypocritically vile column in the Winnipeg Free Press entitled, "The Battlefield Between Feminism and Rapes of War". 

Ms. Zoratti, who usually is held out in the paper as an entertainment columnist, breached the very principles she previously wrote that she held dear. In so doing she denigrated the survivors and victims of the mass sexual assaults and other crimes committed by Hamas and their co-conspirators against Israeli women and men.

Let there be no mistake.  Hamas and the co-conspirator "civilians" who followed them into Israel on October 7, including so called "journalists", and participating United Nations employees, committed numerous crimes against humanity with genocidal intent.  They variously raped, tortured, mutilated, burned children and adults, and decapitated some of their victims.  Forgive the description, but their actions included mass gang rapes, shooting men and women in their genetalia, cutting off a woman's breast and "playing" with it, murdering children in front of their parents and parents in front of their children, raping women then shooting them and continuing to rape them thereafter.   The barbarism was at a level beyond a normal person's ability to comprehend.

As you read this, Israeli women and men and children are still being held hostage by Hamas and their co-conspirators in crimes against humanity.  There is little doubt that there continue to be assaults, torture and rapes of these innocent victims being committed by these evil doers. Meanwhile, Hamas leadership has vowed to commit the same crimes over and over again, many times, if given the chance.

In the face of this barbarism, a lived reality still being experienced by Israelis and most Jewish people and their supporters, we see so called supporters of Palestine attempt to trample the memory of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, and Ms. Zoratti, attempt to weaponize the horrors committed against the very victims of those crimes, Israelis.

Ms. Zoratti paid lip service to believing that these vile crimes were committed, using the word "ostensibly" to describe the truth "…at the heart of Hear Our Voices…", namely that women "…pay the price of war with their bodies, their lives, and their children."

For those who do not know, "ostensibly" means purportedly, or to all outward appearances, but perhaps not actually.  It is a word that diminishes the tragedy and demeans the victims, both women, predominantly women, but men too, a category of person that Ms. Zoratti seems incapable or unwilling to see or hear.

Ms. Zoratti later claims that the violence of rape "…rarely falls neatly on the sides of 'good' guys and 'bad' guys…".  When discussing October 7, and its aftermath, the war in Gaza, one must be crystal clear.  Hamas and its supporters used rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.  The Israelis did no such thing. There plainly is only one set of bad guys here, Hamas, and their enablers and supporters.   

Ms. Zoratti did not stop there however.   Out of one side of her pen she agreed that it is terrible that Israeli and Jewish women (once again evidencing an inability to hear that men were sexually targeted as well) feel abandoned and ignored, but out of the other, worse than ignoring them, she denigrated them.

At a time when pro Hamas agitators, many (but by no means all) of whom can be found on university campuses have, in a fit of revisionism that would have made Joseph Goebbels (the Nazi's chief propagandist) proud, denied that Hamas and their supporters committed these crimes, Ms. Zoratti takes aim at the solemn presentation of the proof of Hamas's crimes. 

Ms. Zoratti then went even further, taking it upon herself to speak for these Israeli and Jewish victims and survivors, asserting that it is less believable that they would want their stories told with proof, given the horrendous nature of the proof.  Ms. Zoratti, in a revealing moment provided the very reason such proof is required.  She said that the solemn evening veered into "agitprop". 

 Agitprop was originally a word coined by the Marxists and employed by the Soviets to reference propaganda often in art, theater, or literature, used as a political strategy to engender a certain reaction.  The goal was to agitate the people with propaganda, (hence "agitprop"), intended to lead to an emotional reaction of outrage based upon half-truths, sophistry, and lies.

While Ms. Zoratti might have a political agenda, and while she might want to gas light in the tradition of her Marxist forbearers, the facts are the facts.  Hamas and their supporters proudly and without inhibition filmed the atrocities they committed.

To top off this tripe, Ms. Zoratti, abused her presence at this earnest evening to accuse Israel of apartheid.  In this, Ms. Zoratti wrongly conflated the presence of discrimination in some segments of Israeli society, with apartheid. 

Of course discrimination in all societies is abhorrent, but as minorities in Israel are protected under Israeli law, much as minorities in Canada who also experience discrimination are protected under Canadian law, and given the presence of minority members at every echelon of Israeli society, including, without restriction, the judiciary and the army, there is no systemic endorsement of discrimination in Israel, and therefore no apartheid.  Ms. Zoratti used her erroneous accusation to launch into a demand that Israel, not Hamas, enter into a ceasefire, and have the West embargo arms to Israel which by obvious implication, would allow Hamas to rearm. 

Perhaps most audaciously, she then purported to correct the feminism of keynote speaker, Israeli lawyer and women's rights advocate, Ms. Razin Bet Or's, by scolding her for showing photos and slides of the Hamas atrocities, and  telling her how she should interpret and act on the crimes committed by Hamas on October 7.

Ms. Zoratti has previously written that non indigenous people should not purport to speak for indigenous people.  She has written previously that men should not speak for women.  When it comes to Israeli and Jewish women and men however, Ms. Zoratti seems to believe that there is an exception for her.  In this, as in so much else, she is wrong. 



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