Fight club is the jdl now mainstream gas natural fenosa


There’s no denying its presence. The group has been front and centre at several recent high-profile street rallies, such as last month at Palestine House in Mississauga, where stories varied as to which side started a fracas that resulted in two arrests and one JDL member shedding blood, as well as at the annual Al Quds Day event at Queen’s Park July 26, and the next day, when members provided “security” at the Canadians for Israel rally (there were some violent incidents).

In the United States, in an oft-cited 2000-2001 report, the FBI branded the JDL a “right-wing terrorist group,” pointing to a botched plot by its leader to bomb a California mosque, and as “violent” and “extremist.” No such designation has happened in Canada regarding the JDL itself, although in 2005, Canada banned Kach, the far-right Israeli political party founded by Rabbi Kahane, as well as a breakaway, Kahane Chai, established following the rabbi’s assassination in New York in 1990. Ottawa added both to its list of terror organizations (Israel outlawed the groups in the 1980s).

And in 2011, the RCMP launched an investigation into at least nine members of the Canadian JDL following an anonymous tip that they were planning to bomb Palestine House. (The RCMP did not return The CJN’s calls. Meir Weinstein, JDL Canada’s founder and national director, said nothing came of the probe.)

“All of us care about what’s going on in Israel, but [JDL members] don’t do this on a political basis,” Farber said. “Much of their focus is on Canadian Muslims and Islam, and they support known bigots – including [U.S. anti-Islamic activists] Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Anyone who takes an anti-Islam stance of any kind, they embrace.”

“They’ve never been away,” he said. “When groups like CJC spoke out on anti-racism issues, they didn’t really have a voice. Today, [Jewish advocacy] is concentrated on Israel, and a lot of mainstream [Jewish] organizations are seen mostly as being more verbal than active.”

The Canadian JDL was established in 1979 by Meir Halevi (formerly Marvin Weinstein, and now known as Meir Weinstein), who was born and raised in North York’s Jewish Bathurst Manor neighbourhood to Holocaust survivor parents. When neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers were making noise during the 1980s, Weinstein uttered remarks unmistakably calling for violence against them and their sympathizers.

Weinstein acknowledges the JDL took part in in violent incidents in the 1980s involving Holocaust deniers Ernst Zundel and Jim Keegstra. The neo-Nazis came “toe to toe with the JDL [and] were meeting Jews who were not going to allow people to push them around. When we’re dealing with these radical Islamic organizations, it’s the same thing.”

Asked whether the JDL today rejects violence, Weinstein said: “It’s not an issue of rejecting violence. If Islamic radical groups are going to attack Jews and seek [to] harm, we have a firm right to self-defend and try to apprehend the person and throw the guy over to nearest police station. And you’ve got to use force for that.”

As for extremist Islamic groups, “we want these organizations shut down,” he said flatly. “And there’s going to be a reaction from those organizations, because they don’t want to be shut down. You either ignore the problem [or] don’t fully address it, and it’s just going to get bigger, and worse. That’s what we believe.”

Like other community officials, Sampson, “firmly” believes, “based on the many, many conversations I have had with members of our community across the country, that [the JDL] represents a very narrow view that is on the margins. They do not represent the mainstream Jewish community. Their methods are not effective, and I really don’t think that type of shriller message appeals to the vast majority of members of our community.”

Avrum Rosensweig, the socially conscious president and CEO of Ve’ahavta, the Canadian Jewish Humanitarian and Relief Committee, recently posted on his Facebook page: “JDL once again taking the lead in the Toronto Jewish community, ensuring our presence at pro-Hamas rallies. Where are the mainstream Jewish organizations for hasbarah, rallies, defending against anti-Semitism?”

Rosensweig said he posted the message partly to prod community groups “to step up in an area that they need to. If the JDL is responsible for the 185,000 Jews in Toronto by attending rallies and [doing] hasbarah, then there’s something inherently wrong with the motivation of our mainstream Jewish community organizations.”

“There is a growth factor. Their visibility on the street is gaining them support in the community. The community expects a Jewish presence when there are rallies by pro-Hamas forces across the country. And the JDL has been the one to provide a lot of that presence.”

Or perhaps Canadian Jews opt for indoor activism. As one Jewish online commentator, Alan Simons, archly put it, community members “prefer to attend rallies sheltered from public view in their synagogues rather than voice their support in public, open-air locations.”