One nation to be envied

November 24, 2016 23:20

I recently returned from a speaking tour in Canada and the US, talking mainly but not exclusively to Jewish groups. Two things in particular struck me about Canada. The first was the strange experience of being in a country led by a leader who actually leads.

I have long admired Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, for his outspoken support for Israel and moral courage. I remarked as much at a number of my events. Every time, the audience applauded fervently before I finished what I was saying and even leapt to its feet in its emotion.

True, these were mainly conservatively minded audiences. Even so, can you imagine British gatherings displaying such enthusiasm over David Cameron? Quite.

The second thing was the alarm over the twin issues of Islamic terrorism and campus anti-Israel activity. A few days before I arrived, Canada had been horrified by terrorist attacks in Montreal and Ottawa. At the same time, it seems many Canadian universities - like campuses in Britain - are facilitating the intimidation of Jewish students, who run a gauntlet of verbal attacks and threatening behaviour in a relentless campaign of demonisation against Israel.

It's not just students intimidating other students. Many lecturers and professors have turned their Middle East courses into vehicles for Arab propaganda, even marking students down if they tell the truth in their essays about the Middle East conflict.

Campuses facilitate the intimidation of Jewish students

What was notable, however, was the number of non-Jews who were putting all these things together, concluding that Canada was being hijacked by forces of hatred, bigotry and violence and wanting to stop it.

In London, Ontario, I spoke to a meeting of concerned Christians, Jews and Muslims. Its nucleus was a small group who for several years had been getting together every week to swap notes about the alarming rise of Muslim radicalisation and the inroads being made into Canadian and western values. They felt frighteningly isolated.

In Calgary, I spoke at the inaugural meeting of a group called One Nation, which wants Canada to defend its core values of freedom, tolerance and rationality. What galvanised the formation of this group was an incident last July, when a group of 10 Jews was set upon by thugs from a demonstration of several hundred against Israel's military action in Gaza. A young woman and young man from this group were beaten unconscious; another young man was dragged through the streets by the Israeli flag he was holding which had been tied into a noose around his neck.

The point about One Nation, however, is that it is not just Jews who are behind it but also Christians, Muslims, Indians and others. The person who heads it, Ryan Bellerose, is a Native Canadian. He is also a Zionist.

Indeed, he is a doughtier defender of Israel than many Jews. He finds it offensive that the Palestinian cause is tied to the historic suffering of Native Canadians. The Palestinians' plight, he says, is self-inflicted because they have repeatedly refused a state of their own in order to make war on Israel.

Bellerose has helped start a new pro-Israel group at Calgary university - with the family of some of those who were beaten up at July's demonstration. What angered him even more was that the police initially suggested that the victims were somehow at fault for being attacked.

One Nation, he says, is for "Canadians who want to protect our country and make it the place it was meant to be. We will make common cause with groups who share our values and love of freedom, and we will take on those who do not." These Canadians get it. Why can't the Brits?

November 24, 2016 23:20

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