Canadian prime minister Harper pledges fight against Jew haters
by Salim Mansur
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's speech this week at a global conference in Ottawa on combating anti-Semitism was eloquent, heartfelt, deeply moving, and courageous when courage is sorely needed of our leaders in these scoundrel times.
This is the week of Remembrance, and Harper rightly reminded us the oldest enduring bigotry against Jews still thrives in our midst when Israel is "the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack." And this means "we are morally obligated to take a stand."
As I read Harper's words I recalled the writings of Pierre Van Paassen (1895-1968), a Dutch-Canadian who served with the Canadian infantry in France during the First World War.
He took up journalism after the war with the Toronto Globe, and during the 1930s reported from Europe as an international correspondent for the Toronto Daily Star.
Van Paassen watched the rise of Hitler in Germany, reported how Stalin turned Russia into a gulag, and witnessed the chilling gangsterism of fascists and Bolsheviks across Europe. He spoke to the leaders of Britain and France, and wrote of their spinelessness in the face of the darkness once more engulfing the continent.
Van Paassen, like John Gunther, his American counterpart reporting from Europe, became a widely read journalist and a hugely successful author. His autobiography Days of Our Years (1939) was among the top bestselling non-fiction books in the U.S.
But it was his reporting of the terribly tormented and distressing condition of the Jews of Europe and from Palestine — which he visited several times before and during the Second World War — that was remarkable for truth-telling. His book The Forgotten Ally (1943) should not be forgotten, and from its pages I quote:
"I am convinced that Hitler neither could nor would have done to the Jewish people what he has done — perpetrated the most heinous and gruesome crime of history on a helpless, disarmed, national and religious minority — if we had not psychologically and actively prepared the way for him by our own unfriendly attitude to the Jews, by our selfishness and by the anti-Semitic teachings in our churches and schools.
"For there lies, in my estimation, the crux of the matter, the deepest source of hostility towards the Jews: In the system of dogmas superimposed upon and interwoven with the simple story of the Gospel. Hitler could not have killed the Jews of Europe unless the Church of Christ had first killed them with its fiendish anti-Semitic teachings."
By substituting in Van Paassen's quoted passage Ahmedinejad of Iran for Hitler, and Muslim dogmas for Christian dogmas, we may see how dismally lacking is the West's moral progress in failing — as it failed during the 1930s in stopping Hitler — to confront Islamism.
Instead, the West seeks the easy recourse of appeasing Islamism.
The new anti-Semitism — anti-Zionism, and the unending slurs and existential threats against Jews and Israel — is the rage of the Arab-Muslim world.In these circumstances, those advocating neutrality or balance between Jews and Muslims (I state this regrettably as a Muslim) should recall the past and heed the words of two morally courageous Canadians: Pierre Van Paassen and Stephen Harper.