NEVER AGAIN - A Global Voice for Humanity -
Shabbat Shalom from Israel. It has been another intensive week as The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) continues to open channels of communication to advance the fight against Antisemitism and Holocaust distortion, and to advocate for the safety and security of Israel internationally. This week, we travelled to Israel’s Foreign Ministry to meet with Ruth Cohen Dar, Israel’s Director of Department for Combating Antisemitism and Holocaust Remembrance. Israel, says Dar, is increasingly concerned about the rising tide of Antisemitism globally and particularly the slanderous attempts to label Israel an “apartheid state” and the sanctions and boycott campaigns. We agreed our work in dispelling these myths must intensify in every arena in the diaspora.
Open dialogue and communication is critical even with some entities that have been perceived to be hostile to Israel. This week, we held a consultive briefing with the highest-ranking UNRWA officials in Israel to discuss Antisemitism and incitement of terror in its school curriculum. In addition to UNRWA’s Coordinator for the West Bank, we also met with its Director of Education and its senior team leader of its protection and neutrality department. The briefing and sometimes open and frank dialogue was productive, especially given the fact that UNRWA rarely hears directly from the organized Jewish community.
AGPI believes that if we are going to fight Antisemitism and strive to build peace in the Middle East, we need to get out into the field. In this way, we can observe, quantify, hold dialogue, and possibly collaborate with agencies to shape policy and reduce tension. This means holding the UN and its affiliates to account about the excessive bias against Israel and its unparalleled permanent placement on the UN Human Rights Council agenda. We can express our distaste through press releases and reports (which are fine too) or we can sit down with our counterparts and educate them about our concerns. Which way can be more productive in fighting Antisemitism and defending Israel?
Extending a hand of friendship, kindness, and understanding can pave the path to peace. In East Jerusalem, AGPI was briefed by the medical personnel at a women’s health clinic that administers care for the community. The staff, including its area chief, eagerly walked me through the clinic explaining every room and care provided at their facility.
Canada’s Ambassador, Lisa Stadelbauer, agreed with more dialogue and that social change can come from the grass-roots level. We need to force our political leaders to open their eyes and begin advocating for remedies that build on the Abraham Accords and facilitate peace throughout the Middle East. Next week, AGPI takes to meeting key ministers and leaders in Israeli society to strengthen Canada’s bond with Israel and ensure Israel remains safe and secure.
Shabbat Shalom from Israel,
- Avi Benlolo
Shabbat Shalom and welcome to the latest edition of TheFridayReport, bringing you everything you need to know about this past week and much more. We had another exceptional week of growth this week with lots more subscribers to agpi.ca and substantial registration to our upcoming virtual Global Conference on Antisemitism – please take a moment to register on our website and share with friends – its Free and sponsored by The Abraham Global Peace Initiative!
On the heels of our fantastic launch in New York and recognition of Ambassador Bob Rae for his excellent work in advancing human rights and championing Canada, we were almost immediately attacked by anti-Israel activists. In an effort to undermine this well intentioned work, one tweet called us out for being “Zionists” (which I proudly am) and even “apartheid apologists”. Another tweet noted that I am a “longtime pro-Israel lobbyist…who was behind initiatives to criminalize BDS”.
Most Canadians are aghast when they hear this type of divisive language. Clearly, it's meant to undermine Canada’s sacred and valued relationship with the Jewish State. As a Canadian-Jewish leader, I stand for the State of Israel because it is the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people. I also advocate for its continued existence because it is the only free and democratic nation in the Middle East and shares our values as Canadians.
As I wrote in this week’s Front Page editorial in the National Post, It's true that democracy dies in darkness. When we stop intellectual pursuits through ideological or political boycotts, we diminish the very essence of freedom. Tyrannical regimes are notorious for engaging in this sort of censorship. The Nazis burned Jewish books. The Soviet Union controlled the media. China controls what its citizens can access on the internet. In the same respect, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is attempting to limit the capacity of Jewish people living in Israel to engage in culture and information, thus hindering intellectual freedom and diminishing democracy.
Novelist Sally Rooney made headlines this week when she announced that she would not sell the rights to her newest book to an Israeli publishing house, which wanted to translate it into Hebrew. Her stance is apparently tied to her support for the BDS movement: Rooney says she is willing to have her book translated into Hebrew, so long as it's not published by an Israeli company.
I wrote that the downside of limiting free expression and the interchange of ideas is that it weakens freedom and democracy. The Berlin Wall came down and Perestroika reformed the Soviet Union because information flowed. The BDS movement, does the very opposite of what social change demands. Its false premise that Israel is an apartheid state is a perversion of truth and reality, given that Most Arab-Israelis prefer to live in Israel because unlike its neighbours, it is free and democratic.
All nations struggle with racism, as well as some degree of ethnic and cultural strife. Israel is no exception. But relentlessly focusing on the Jewish state, while giving a free pass to other countries that have far less respect for human rights and the rule of law than Israel is a double standard that seems to be saved only for the Jews. We see that double standard increase on social media and even in the school system.
Even while a combating Antisemitism took place in Malmo Sweden and both Poland and Australia announced they would be endorsing the IHRA definition of Antisemitism, it came to light that a Texas school leader told his school system that they should balance the books with opposing views when it comes to Holocaust education. Holocaust distortion is very real which is why AGPI makes this area a priority in all of its educational programs.
In the coming days, AGPI will be advancing some critical international fronts that will dive into some of the biggest concerns of the Jewish world and its friends. Our focus is big and substantive and we are working to take a deep dive into some of the most critical areas.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Wow, I am delighted to tell you about our exciting week for The Abraham Global Peace Initiative. Its hard to believe Shabbat is already upon us. But now, we can take a deep breath and say that we were able to move the needle just a little further this week. In launching this new and exciting global movement in New York, we empowered and inspired many Ambassadors and national representatives to focus on the matter of Antisemitism, Israel and the all encompassing matter of human rights.
At our gathering at Canada’s Mission to the United Nations this week, I took a moment to commend the Australian and the Slovak Ambassadors who’s nations drove a 48 nation resolution in Geneva to condemn Antisemitism. Social action also includes positive reinforcement when positive steps are undertaken. Similarly, I thanked the Moroccan Ambassador and the representatives of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates for standing with us and their partnership through the Abraham Accords. For an informative review of some of the statements made by leading Ambassadors at our event, please visit - https://agpi.ca/peace
As reported in a substantive article published about AGPI this week in iPolitics, we are promoting “democracy and Canadian values, ideals and perspectives to other countries”. Now that the election is over, “we need to address how we as a nation can have a better foreign policy that protects democracy and human rights”. That includes holding Iran accountable and doing more on China while standing up against racism and discrimination like the persecution of Uyghurs.
The list is endless, but as we presented Bob Rae, who serves as Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, with our Award for Human Rights, we explained to the international Ambassadors and guests in the room that “our organization aspires to carry Canada’s message to the world, becoming a moral compass for pluralism, justice and human rights for all”.
What we are offering the world is a new and innovative strategy. Instead of walling ourselves off and sending out press releases complaining about this or that, how about working through the issues at the United Nations and global community – or at least attempting to? As I wrote in the National Post today, In the fight against antisemitism, what the world requires is a comprehensive engagement policy that brings together partnerships through open and frank dialogue.
At AGPI’s meeting with Ilze Brands Kehris, the assistant secretary general of the United Nations Human Rights Office, we called for accountability on the matter of Israel being the only country listed on the IHRC’s permanent agenda. Israel in fact is the most condemned nation at the agency and the UN body – how is that fair on account of human rights? Our conversation on Antisemitism and terrorism carried forward with the UN’s senior director of the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) in New York.
Yes, the world should be outraged with UNRWA and the IHRC. But as I wrote in today’s editorial, Over my near 30-year career battling anti-Semitism, confronting hate and discrimination, and educating people about Israel and the importance of Holocaust remembrance, I have realized that we cannot function on our own in accomplishing these lofty goals. That’s why this organization is different. It’s incredible and diverse multi-faith leadership gives it credibility and inclusiveness like no other in Canada and around the world.
If you pay attention, the world around us is changing. The Abraham Accords have given new life to the Middle East. This week the European Union approved a new strategy to combat Antisemitism, recognizing this pernicious hatred. And during our launch in New York this week, the Austrian Ambassador to the United Nations eloquently admitted that his own country is starting to reckon with its past.
Certainly, the world has come together even when we are overseas. Earlier in the week, I spoke to Felix Klein, Germany’s Commissioner on Antisemitism, about the rising tide of Antisemitism in Germany and around the world. There is a clear interest in eradicating Antisemitism from all corners of the world.
At AGPI – we can be the Northern Light unto the world. You can take part in joining us at the next level of building a safe and secure Israel, fighting antisemitism and Holocaust distortion and promoting human rights. Please take a moment to share this newsletter with 10 friends and lets build this new movement together!
As the holiday of Sukkot winds down and we settle into Shabbat mode once again, another busy week comes to a close, but certainly not to an end. The Abraham Global Peace Initiative continues to build up its capacity and its leadership on a daily basis. The world around us demands help urgently as I expressed in my weekly National Post editorial today. As we strategically build this organization nationally and globally, more and more people are joining our movement every single day. It was wonderful to host AGPI leaders and Israel’s new Consul General in my Sukkah – to celebrate this joyous holiday.
Today we welcomed one of the most prominent Canadian business and civil society leaders to our National Advisory Board: Mr. Tony Comper. As the former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Montreal, Mr. Comper has dedicated his time to advancing human rights. Together with his late wife Elizabeth, Mr. Comper is the recipient of the Order of Canada and numerous awards and honourary degrees. He is also recognized widely for co-founding FAST, a coalition of business and community leaders who speak out against discrimination and Antisemitism.
AGPI’s Honourary Chairman, Mr. Paul Godfrey, welcomed Mr. Comper to our National Advisory Board saying, “There is much work to do and Tony is a welcomed addition to our team.” Indeed, AGPI’s National Advisory team is comprised of Canada’s most distinguished leaders in government (current and former), law enforcement, civil society, the law and academia.
Shifting sands globally require a more determined approach. While it was shocking that defending Israel should even be up for debate, 420 legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill to restock Israel’s Iron Dome air missile-defense system. Still, the very fact there was any debate about the matter at all and that 9 opposed and two abstained, is cause for concern. America’s stand with Israel has been ironclad, but many worry that the so-called “squad” of democrats which include Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib may have undue influence on America’s relationship with Israel.
Given the unparalleled level of hate crime we are witnessing, a new dynamic and influential organization is necessary now more than ever. Who could possibly envisage a group of students in North Bay (Ontario) marching on school property yelling “Heil Hitler”? It happened and this week, AGPI began a consultive process with local authorities.
And how can we possibly digest the revelation this week that at a Toronto District School Board workshop for its top staff leaders, the guest speaker appeared to repeat the false narratives in the education system that Israel is a colonial settler state seemingly driven by a white-supremacist ideology! Again, we took action by contacting the TDSB Director of Education and its Superintendents requesting the board issue a correction and offering to provide a workshop to the same staff to break the myth that was propagated.
This week also shattered our belief that justice could be served through our war crimes legislation. Another alleged Nazi-war criminal got away from justice by “dying peacefully” (as his family purported) in his home. This is despite the fact that on four occasions the Supreme Court of Canada denaturalized Helmut Oberlander and asked him to leave the country because he lied about his alleged involvement in war crimes upon entry to Canada.
Over the years, I have led delegations of Holocaust survivors to meet with parliamentarians in Ottawa to encourage them to follow through with investigating and prosecuting alleged Nazi war criminals. I have witnessed Holocaust survivors’ emotional pleas to parliamentarians to follow through on the Deschenes Commission and Canada’s promise to bring Nazi war criminals to justice in this country. While Oberlander is likely the last Nazi war criminal in this country, AGPI will continue to ensure the memory of the Holocaust is never lost.
Despite a number of international Antisemitic incidents and speeches from leaders at the United Nations General Assembly that point to a world often gone mad (read my article in the National Post today), there were some positive wins. Some 38 countries boycotted the Antisemitic UN Durban Conference held this week – the largest ever to acknowledge the Antisemitic nature of the hateful event. AGPI and its members petitioned the UN Secretary General against the conference.
For its part, Ukraine passed a law banning antisemitism in its country while the State of Florida moved to divest from Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream over its discriminatory boycott of the disputed territories. For our part, we are already advancing on building a myriad of incredible bridges. This week, we held our first roundtable discussion with a top-level UN official about critical issues concerning peace in the Middle East. We are only getting started, but already, I am very proud of the passion and commitment shown by our leadership teams. Bravo!
- Avi Benlolo
First and foremost, on behalf of everyone at The Global Peace Initiative, we wish everyone who observed Yom Kippur this week a G’mar Chatima Tova – and renewed strength and good health in the coming year. This weekly report covers the breadth of our efforts to fight Antisemitism and racism in all its forms and stand up for Israel, freedom and democracy everywhere. We encourage you to share this newsletter with as many people as possible and encourage them to subscribe to our list.
This week, we were delighted to welcome Colonel (ret) Richard Kemp to our International Advisory Board. Colonel Kemp played a major role at the highest level of government. He was responsible for international terrorism intelligence at the British prime minister’s office, chaired the intelligence committee supporting the UK national crisis centre, COBRA, and was a founding member of the US-UK government’s International Security Strategy Group in the aftermath of 9/11.
We are also proud of our education department for an incredibly well attended workshop on “Decoding Antisemitism” to confront Antisemitism in the education system. Alongside our Advisory Committee, our Director of Education and Education Chair, Dr. Neil Orlowsky did a powerful job in presenting solutions for Antisemitism in education. This was followed up by a presentation to over 100 teacher candidates at York University’s Faculty of Education about the Abraham Global Peace Initiative.
This past month, we have continued to demand that the United Nations Secretary General stop next week’s disastrous so-called Durban IV Conference 20th anniversary. There is nothing to celebrate here, as the Durban movement was nothing more than an effort to defame and delegitimize the State of Israel. Even while some 16 countries and the European Union have completely abandoned and denounced this conference, the United Nations seems to be going forward with it, encouraged by the Palestinian Authority and its friends.
For this reason, I wrote a scathing article in today’s National Post condemning the PA for its moral deficit. In a statement released by its foreign ministry this week, the Palestinian Authority said that it “strongly objects to inimical statements and tendentious attacks against the upcoming Durban Conference … such iniquitous calls to boycott the conference display an alarming level of deficit in morality.”
In reality, it is the PA and Hamas that suffer from a morality deficit. For nearly two decades, the Durban conferences have been used as forums to demonize and delegitimize Israel — setting off a tsunami of Antisemitism that reverberates to this very day. For this reason, we are calling on the international community, including Canada and the U.S. to hold the PA to account.
It’s the same old story. In recent decades, Palestinian leaders have done everything to keep their people desperate and underdeveloped by turning down numerous peace agreements. But their biggest mistake in recent years was the vicious rejection of the Abraham Peace Accords and the vigorous anti-normalization campaign against the Jewish state.
The PA continues to press on with false allegations of war crimes against Israel at the International Criminal Court and has been using the United Nations’ natural bias against Israel and the massive Arab voting block to undermine the Jewish state.
While a handful of mainly democratic countries (including Canada, the U.S., France, Germany and the United Kingdom) have rejected next week’s Durban IV conference at the UN because of its vehement anti-Semitism, the PA is rallying for it
As we celebrated the one year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords this week, it’s clear that this framework could provide the Palestinians and the international community with a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East. Peace is within our grasp, but as I wrote in my article today, only the self-defeating Palestinian leadership stands in the way. But the PA’s biggest mistake in recent years is the vicious rejection of the Accords and its vigorous anti-normalization campaign against the Jewish state – including advocating for the racist and Antisemitic Durban IV Conference.
My good friend Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie, who is the senior Rabbi in Dubai spoke enthusiastically about the progress of the Abraham Accords and its potential throughout the Middle East and beyond for all people. Included below is a link to our discussion on the anniversary of the Abraham Accords – its worth watching!
Also this week, I visited with a noted Imam in Toronto who leads a substantive mosque in the city. Dr. Hamid Slimi and I discussed the potential of the Abraham Accords and the continued efforts at bridge building between our people.
Similarly, in conversation with Imam Mohamed Tawhidi, who serves on AGPI’s Board of Advisors, we discussed our mutual global interfaith work and mutual working projects around the world. Brothers in arms at peacemaking, Imam Tawhidi invited me to sit on the Interfaith Advisory Committee for the Council of Imams, an organization with over 1,300 Imams that advances peace and co-existence.
There is much work to be done in countering Antisemitism at home and around the world. We need to build bridges of peace and tolerance, while at the same time ferociously fighting antisemitism and the continued attacks on Israel, freedom and democracy. As we renew our strength for the coming year, this is not the time to rest on our laurels. There is much work to be done. Let’s do it.
You can help tell the UN’s Secretary General to stop the conference by signing our international petition now:
Wishing you and yours a wonderful weekend and G’mar Chatimah Tovah,
Elie Wiesel said, “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” We cannot forget the victims of the Holocaust and all those who perished at the hands of the devil. As we observe the Days of Awe, this must be a catalyst for action.
Shanah Tovah and Shabbat Shalom. This New Year brings hope and renewed energy as we counter Antisemitism, hate and intolerance and defend freedom and democracy. Along with our international partners, we are speaking out daily and shaping opinion on matters of importance. If our message inspires you, share his email with your family and friends and help us continue growing our new movement that will change the course of history. This week, we proudly profiled one of our newest Board of Governors additions, Charlotte Salomon, a distinguished lawyer based in Victoria, who brings to the organization a breadth of expertise and leadership.
Leadership grounded in passion and action is what the world requires now more than ever. This is especially the case as we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow. As I wrote in my editorial in the National Post today, “there is no time limit on preserving our freedom and our way of life. This 20th anniversary memorial to the victims will come and go. We will keep taking our freedom for granted – ignoring the signs – until one day its too late. 9/11 must be a catalyst for action not only for memory. We must let our fear drive us to renewed action”.
This renewed action must start today. The antisemitic assaults on our city streets might have subdued, but an impending sense of violence is simmering just below the surface. Its easy to forget. In the days following the horrific 9/11 attack, whom among us felt at ease to fly, let alone see and hear a plane overhead? The nearest exit had to be a heartbeat away and skyscrapers were off limits for weeks, and months following that tragic day. Our feelings of fear and anger fade, but they should not.
This week, as the Immigration and Refugee Board held what might be the final deportation hearing for Helmult Oberlander, The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) called for justice to finally be served. The organizaiton said, “we have been waiting and following this case patiently for many decades. The Jewish community and descendents of Holocaust survivors have been patiently waiting”. Oberlander has been accused of entering Canada fraudulently by failing to disclose his alleged ties with Nazis and membership of a Nazi killing squad in Ukraine and Russia.
We will continue pressing for justice on Nazi war criminals. And we will continue to press about important issues of the day including the Antisemitic so-called Durban IV Conference that will be held at the United Nations in the coming week. The reaction to our petition has been wonderful and overwhelming. This week, AGPI commended New Zealand, Cypris, Italy and Croatia on their announcement that they would not participate. They join 12 other countries including the U.S. Canada, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Hungary, Austria, Australia, Czech Republic, France and Bulgaria.
Given the volume of countries banning the conference, we call on the UN Secretary General to cancel it.
Even while European Jewish communities reported a spate of antisemitic assaults and vandalism this past week, the rejectionism of antisemitism through the Durvan IV boycotts and anti-Divestment campaigns is picking up momentum. This week, Arizona became the first US state reportedly to fully divest from Ben and Jerry’s over its decision to stop selling ice cream in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. Arizona will divest a total of $143 million from the company while Florida is also threatening to divest. Anti-BDS State and provincial laws are among the best solutions to stop false narratives against the Jewish State and economic sanctions.
These are the issues of the day. As we head into Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, we are propelled to push further with principled conviction in our effort to be a global voice of reason. The world needs it now more than ever.
Wishing you and yours and Shanah Tovah and G’mar Chatimah Tovah,
As we head into the New Year, everyone at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative is excited about the year to come. With this in mind, on behalf of our Canadian and international boards, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year – Shanah Tovah!
Its been another busy week as we firmed up our organization’s exciting global launch at the United Nations in early October. Together with Canada’s Permanent Representative to the UN, The Hon. Bob Rae and alongside top Ambassadors and leaders, The Abraham Global Peace Initiative will be holding its launch in the heart of the international community. With this in mind, one of our key objectives is to press the UN community to be fair and balanced – while pushing forward policies that celebrate peace and democracy.
The week, in the National Post, I write about the anticipated “storm of anti-Semitism awaits Jewish and pro-Israel students at colleges and universities this fall. With the Jewish New Year now upon us and students moving into their residences this week, we can expect another year of tension, anxiety and bigotry on campuses. While the Abraham Accords defused and undermined campus extremism last spring, the Hamas war against Israel in May provided renewed imagery with which to bash Israel. We saw this play out on city streets around the world over the summer. Now with an in-person return to campus, extremists will bring their propaganda to the lecture halls”.
With this in mind, hundreds of people are signing onto AGPI launched a new Campus Declaration Against Antisemitism to reaffirm and reinforce the right of Jewish students (and faculty) to go to school without fear of hate and intolerance. Our declaration calls for universities to to act responsibly in protecting and defending Jewish students from harassment on campus. Please take a moment to sign the declaration here:
Despite the fact that Jewish college and university students have a history of rallying behind oppressed groups facing racism and discrimination, the campaign against the Jews manifesting as boycott campaigns and falsehoods like “Israeli Apartheid Week” has been met mostly by silence. Undoubtedly that silence has contributed to the fact that a new Alums for Campus Fairness survey found that nearly 100 per cent of the Jewish American college students polled attested to anti-Semitism and the demonization of Israel on campuses. A whopping 79 per cent of the more than 500 respondents had experienced or heard first-hand about another student making offensive or threatening anti-Semitic comments.
Campus anti-Semitism has undoubtedly contributed to the rising tide of such behaviour throughout society. This week, the FBI revealed that Jews are the target of 58 per cent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the U.S. despite constituting just two per cent of the population. These numbers are consistent with Canadian and international models of hate crime whereby Jewish communities continue to be the most targeted group even while they are relatively few in numbers. In other words, anti-Semitic bigots are nothing more than schoolyard bullies picking on a minority group.
It’s time to put an end to the hate and intimidation on university and college campuses that is pouring onto our city streets. With this in mind, this week The Abraham Global Peace Initiative’s Education Advisory Committee also met to begin building a framework of educational programs that can challenge Antisemitism in the classroom and beyond. On September 13th, for example, we are running a workshop on confronting antisemitic language that is being evoked in educational circles. Please take a look at our upcoming workshops and feel free to register - https://agpi.ca/speaker-series
We are continuing to stand up to hate and intolerance every single day by being your voice both here at home and around the world. Canada is a trusted nation when it comes to promoting human rights and standing up against Antisemitism hate and intolerance. In confronting defamation of Israel internationally, fighting transnational antisemitism that manifests locally and promoting the incredible advancements of The Abraham Accords in the Middle East, our voice is standing shoulder to should with you in strengthening our values.
This is a race against time as the forces of hate and intolerance are gaining momentum. We need all hands on deck. That’s why we are asking for your generous support and involvement. The warning signs are clear and as we approach Rosh Hashanah, we must stand unified and steadfast in our fight. Thank you for keeping our nation strong and for keeping our Jewish community safe.
L’Shanah Tovah! May this New Year be healthy and happy for your and your loved ones. And Shabbat Shalom!
Friday is finally here, wrapping up another intensive week for The Abraham Global Peace Initiative. Welcome to our newest subscribers this week who are joining our international campaign to stop Antisemitism, stand up for Israel and make the world a safe and secure place for all of us who appreciate freedom and democracy.
We started off the week with an impassioned discussion with the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) education team based in Amman. We discussed with them the prolific antisemitism and incitement often found in the curriculum of their host countries. The conversation was intense and impassioned at times, but these are the necessary conversations that must be had in order to stamp out hate and intolerance.
In the shadow of this week’s visit of Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to Washington to meet with the President, global peace was shattered once again with the suicide murder of over 100 people (including 13 U.S. service men and women) at Kabul airport. As I wrote in today’s National Post (see below), Bennett is in Washington to address what is undoubtedly the biggest global threat to the world today – Iran. Biden pledged to Prime minister Bennett that he would never allow Iran to get nukes. Can you possibly imagine the Taliban-like Mullah’s in Iran with a nuclear bomb? It’s the sum of all fears – literally. AGPI will continue raising voice and awareness about this major concern.
In some cases, the world is moving closer to recognizing that the status quo of bashing Israel in the world community is waring thin. This week, Bulgaria was another country that opted out of the so-called Durban IV Conference, citing antisemitism. It joins countries like Canada, the U.S., Australia, Germany, the UK, Hungary, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and France. Logic prevails as our global petition to stop the conference is gaining momentum. If you have not done so already, please take a moment to sign it and forward to family and friends. Here is the link: https://agpi.ca/un-durban-petition.
In our continued interest to educate and advocate and bring awareness to campus related issues, AGPI’s Vice President Leora Shemesh hosted social media influencer, filmmaker and campus advocacy guru, Rudy Rochman. As part of our think-tank forum, Rochman provided an overview of some of his campus activities when he was a Columbia. He also shared with AGPI details concerning his horrific experience while filming in Nigeria. Along with two friends, Rochman was “taken” by Nigerian authorities and held in horrific conditions for three weeks.
This week, AGPI also responded to a number of emerging issues: We contacted police about an Imam in Victoria, British Columbia who gave a sermon at the Muslim Youth of Victoria Islamic Center describing Jews and Christians as “enemies” and disparaged the rights of women. We condemned Antisemitic graffiti spray painted on election signs in Aurora, Ontario and reassured the political candidates. This followed similar incidents in Montreal last week where Jewish politicians
were also targeted. We raised the alarm over the continued growth of Antisemitic attacks around the world including the assault on an 18-year-old Jewish man in Cologne, Germany for wearing a Kippah.
Finally, we were proud to be featured in The Times of Israel in a feature article that aligned our work with Israeli actress and author Noa Tishby: “The Abraham Global Peace Initiative is meant to counteract a glaring and enduring omission in organizations that claim to support human rights while singling out and demonizing Israel”. This of course is the very essence of this new and dynamic organization. I invite you to join us in these lofty pursuits. If not now, then when?
Wishing you and yours a Shabbat Shalom and a great weekend,
- Avi Benlolo
Friday is finally here and what another busy week for the build up at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative. More and more people are subscribing as members each day as we begin accelerating our programs and activities. This Friday Report brings you everything you need to know about critical affairs relating to Antisemitism, Israel and global human rights. And what a week it has been on all those fronts!
We started our week confronting the tsunami of Antisemitism by launching a campaign to stop the UN’s “20th anniversary” Durban Conference. Our petition charges that the birthplace of modern politicized antisemitism was in Durban South Africa in 2001. Since then, Jewish communities have been targeted on university campuses and everywhere else – with Israel being falsely equated to apartheid South Africa and boycotted as a result.
This of course is shameful and the United Nations needs to hear about it. Antisemitism goes against the very principles of the United Nations. AGPI’s petition argues that a body that promotes the combating of racism and racial discrimination should also fight Antisemitism. Its time for the global community to speak up against Antisemitism. If you haven’t signed it yet, please take a moment to do so… but more importantly, share the request widely and let's educate the global community together.
The rawness of Antisemitism was driven home this week as a prominent synagogue in our community was hit by Antisemitic graffiti. Coincidentally, the incident must have taken place at the same time I was giving a speech about Antisemitism at a shul down the street! There are few shortages of Antisemitic incidents to report on – as more graffiti and violent attacks happen everywhere. The shooting death of a Denver Yeshiva student is being called a hate crime by many.
This week saw another abuse of human rights – the debacle over America’s exit from Afghanistan is shameful and frankly unacceptable. America pulled just 2,500 soldiers from the country, but left behind chaos and the Taliban rule. AGPI’s leaders have been vocal and its Global Women’s Initiative Co-Chairs Genevieve Korman and Candice Solomon have issued a strong statement of concern about the preservation of women’s rights and the rights of all civilians (see press release below).
Alerting all Canadians in the National Post today, I raised our concern about the impending human rights violations by the Taliban. I encouraged the world to take immediate action in Afghanistan by returning forces to the country. There is only one way to stop this monster and that is with a military presence. Maybe it's not for America to police the world. But if the free world wants to preserve itself and its democracy, that will often involve boots on the ground. That’s how Hitler was stopped in the end (see article below).
As AGPI continues to build its own “boots on the ground” to confront the scourge of Antisemitism and intolerance, our Quebec regional Chairman, Robert Presser provided a somber report from that province: “with the launch of the federal election campaign, it has not taken long for the first instances of anti-Semitic behaviour to appear. Election signs from Liberal and NDP candidates in areas of Montreal with significant Jewish populations were defaced with Swastikas and had to be removed."
This week, AGPI will be hosting Rudy Rochman in Toronto at a closed event. Rochman was one of three Jewish filmmakers who were held captive in Nigeria several weeks ago, without charge. He was there filming an ancient tribe. We look forward to hearing more about his experience and what transpired. While space is limited due to COVID, if you are interested in participating, please reach out to me at your earliest.
On a final note, as AGPI begins ramping up its educational programs and has communicated with school boards extensively particularly during the War in Gaza, we are all pleased that the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has promised to fight the scourge of Antisemitism. This past Tuesday, the ETFO resolved to “establish a task force of the Annual Meeting to combat Antisemitism in Ontario.
Our fight against Antisemitism and for the promotion of peace has only begun. If our words at The Abraham Global Peace Initiative inspire you, consider joining us by making a gift on our donation page. Along with top leaders, we are building a new strategy that will challenge existing paradigms and fight to make our world more safe and secure.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
- Avi Benlolo
Shabbat Shalom and happy weekend. Welcome to the first edition of AGPI’s TheFridayReport, bringing you everything you need to know about critical affairs about Antisemitism, Israel and Human Rights. Starting a new global organization is exciting! We are blessed to be surrounded by an incredible array of leaders here at home and around the world. They are all featured in our “Leadership” section on our new beautiful website, launched just this week to much fanfare.
In breaking news, I am pleased to advise that Toronto Police has provided me with an investigative update in relation to a number of Antisemitic events that occurred in Downsview Park, North York, where they identified an offender and made an arrest. Sadly, hate graffiti has become the norm as a way to intimidate and victimize the community – and inspire others to join hate groups or act as lone wolves. I commend Toronto Police for its continued vigilance against Antisemitic hate crime. Given my strong relationship with policing, I have offered AGPI’s tolerance training program for anyone arrested on hate crime incidents.
This week, we also held our first official board meeting, with great enthusiasm of our new directors who each bring to the organization impressive skills. The Hon. Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua who had the honour of bringing our website to life at a reception predicted that this organization will become a household name in just a few years from now. We say Amen to that! Amazingly, the world is already converging on our website content and subscribing to the organization.
Even while we are soft-launching the organization and unrolling it strategically, our Global Launch is already scheduled to take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. If we are going to change the world, we need to work with the international community to motivate change. Our OFFICIAL LAUNCH is scheduled for May 26, 2022 at our First Annual Crystal Benefit in Toronto. Add your name to the invite list through our website. Look for our future benefits in New York and Los Angeles where we will be establishing offices in addition to Toronto and Jerusalem.
There is no greater urgency for a Canadian global voice for humanity: Over 60% of Australia’s Queensland Jews have experienced Antisemitism; An 82 year-old Russian scientist was beaten on a bus in Moscow; pig hearts were splattered on a religious shrine in the Ukraine; French police detained a woman over an Antisemitic poster at a COVID rally and in Norway an Imam said Jews should be killed. In AGPI’s Press Room today we commented about the spreading of the Antisemitic COVID Myth in Singapore and wrote a letter to a company profiting from the auction of Nazi-era items in Australia.
Do we remain silent about Antisemitism taking place around the world?
Absolutely not! AGPI will use its Canadian and international influence to partner with and bring a voice to the abhorrent Antisemitic crimes taking place everywhere. We will not be silenced, nor shall we be complicit in turning away while the world needs our voice.
At the same time, we will engage and confront local and national issues with a comprehensive approach. In today’s National Post, I called for more action against the genocidal claims by pro-Palestinian groups to wipe out Israel and the Jewish people. We will not standby as university campuses continue to peddle Antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiment. And we will certainly not stand by while incitement to genocide on our city streets becomes normalized.
But here is the thing, what is happening in Toronto, New York or Paris – is the same face of hate and intolerance. Hate is transnational and must be confronted as such with a Canadian Voice for Humanity. That’s what The Abraham Global Peace Initiative is about.
Join us! – Avi Benlolo
The Abraham Global Peace Initiative
North American Centre
5700 Yonge Street, Suite 200
Toronto Ontario M2M 4K2
Contact Us: Phone: 416-646-2196
Israel Office: 972-251-7050
Please note, due to security considerations, office visits are by appointment only.