Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Anti-Semitism comes to Richmond Hill in celebration of Iran's Islamic Revolution

Ahmedinejad's Iran

I originally wrote this piece in February 2008 for the Jewish Tribune and for Engage, an anti-racism site published by British academics. It’s amazing how little has changed over the years…

February 14, 2008, I received a startling Valentine the other day: an emailed invitation to a lecture in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill – the topic: “Iran’s President Ahmedinejad: the embodiment of a Sincere Muslim.” 

Well, I know that President Ahmedinejad sincerely hates Jews, that he calls Israel a “filthy Zionist entity,” and that he’d like to “wipe it off the map.” But perhaps Ahmedinejad has a more pleasant side and the talk would concentrate on that – sort of like a lecture on Hitler’s vegetarianism. Or perhaps not. 

The Islamic Society of York Region was presenting the lecture as part of a conference to celebrate the 29th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution. 

Scheduled speakers included Imam Muhammad al-Asi of Washington D.C. Al-Asi is a Jew-hater and a research fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, a pro-Iranian, pro-Hezbollah think tank that publishes the Crescent International magazine. 

In a 
speech at the University of California at Irvine, Al-Asi said:
We have a psychosis in the Jewish community that is unable to co-exist equally and brotherly with other human beings. You can take a Jew out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew. And this has been demonstrated time and time again in Occupied Palestine. And now they have American diplomats and politicians and decision makers and strategists in their pocket because they have the money.
According to al-Asi Jews run the world. In an on-line article, al-Asi refers to the power of “the elders of zion” and claims that Jews “are in virtual command and control of the American and Russian administrations; not to mention their political and foreign policy clout in the European continent." 

But nonetheless al-Asi promises that the power of Allah will destroy “this zionist forgery,” “this Israeli atrocity.” Citing the prophet, al-Asi writes: “The Muslims will deal the deathblow to Yahud [the Jews]. These Yahud will hide behind timber and boulder that will call out on Muslims: 'O Muslim there is a Yahudi in disguise, come and annihilate him.” 

Whoa! It’s not every day you get to hear someone preach genocide. Well, not in Canada. In Ahmedinejad’s Iran, it’s government policy. 

{Now of course in 2013 Iran has a new supposedly more moderate president, but his inauguration featured the traditional chant of “Death to America! Death to England! Death to Israel!” (here). Doesn’t sound moderate to me.}

The Islamic Society of York Region was also sponsoring a panel discussion on Valentine’s Day, featuring one of al-Asi’s colleagues: Iqbal Siddiqui, editor of Crescent International in the UK. 

In January 2006, Siddiqui was one of the featured “experts” on a Holocaust-denial program aired on 
Iranian TV. The other two experts discussed “the myth of the gas chambers,” gave high marks to Hitler’s favourite propaganda tract, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and regarding Israel, stated: “The only solution for this cancerous tumour is surgery.” 

For his part, Siddiqui referred to the “supposed Holocaust,” and claimed: “The attitude of the Jews and the Zionists [is] that as a result of the suffering in Europe under Hitler, for the rest of history, the rest of the world owes them a living, and that they must be treated now as a special people, the chosen people, who are entitled to do whatever they like.” 

And what do the Jews like to do? According to Siddiqui, they like to act like Nazis and to inflict “acts of equal and equivalent evil on their part against the Palestinians." 

Charming fellow. He’s going to be on a panel with Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress. Elmasry once asserted on the Canadian TV program the Michael Coren Show that every adult Israeli is a legitimate target for terrorists. 

Muhammad al-Asi will also be paired with other local talent. A surprise guest was advertised as “a family member of the Toronto 18.” These are 18 people arrested in Toronto on terrorism charges. Until proven guilty, I presume the 18 were hoarding three tonnes of ammonium nitrate to fertilize their house plants, not for making bombs. 

Still, I think it’s odd to have a speaker whose only qualification is that one of his or her relatives was allegedly plotting to bomb public buildings in Canada and to storm Parliament and behead the prime minister. 

James Clark of the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War was also on the speakers’ list. Last year, Clark and other members of the ironically named “Canadian peace movement” went to Cairo, Egypt, for a conference dedicated to “An International Alliance Against Imperialism and Zionism."

At the conference, the self-described “anti-imperialist left,” represented by people like Clark, and a representative of the Canadian Union of Public Employees met with terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Egyptian branch of al-Qaeda, Jamaat al-Islamiya. (See

The Reverend Karin Brothers will also speak in Richmond Hill. Rev. Brothers and a half-dozen other members of the United Church’s World Affairs Committee tried to get the UC to adopt an anti-Israel boycott resolution. Fortunately, though, the Church decided to try to encourage peace between Israel and the Palestinians, rather than taking the side of the terrorists. 

I don’t hold it against the United Church that they have a few fanatics in the fold. But maybe they should take their cue from the Islamic Center in Washington D.C. Al-Asi was once an Iman there, but in 1983 the center barred him from holding any position. Very sensible of them. After all what respectable church or mosque needs extremists like this around? 

As for me, I've declined my invitation to help celebrate the 29th anniversary of fascism in Iran. It’s Valentine’s Day. My wife and I can find something better to do. 

Afternote: In 2013, The Islamic Society of York Region remains as hateful as ever. It sponsors the annual al-Quds Day Rally in Toronto. After last year's hate-filled rally, they were banned from the grounds or the Ontario legislature. But this year, they gathered there anyway, calling for killing Israelis and waving the flag of the favourite terrorist group: Hezbollah. Even though, these days, Hezbollah is busy killing Palestinians. More here.

The one thing that has changed in the years since I wrote this article is that, sadly, in the United Church of Canada, antisemitism has moved from the fringes to become official church policy. More here

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