Doorstep Postings: Victims or victors? Consult your local Jewish riding association for the answer

Brian Mulroney's former chief of staff Norman Spector wades into a social media fight involving MP Melissa Lantsman and political scientist David Moscrop over Pierre Poilievre referencing 'Jewish ridings' as the locations of recent antisemitic incidents.

This is a special edition of Doorstep Postings, the periodic political commentary column written by Josh Lieblein for The CJN.

This week, do your fellow Jews a kindness, and do not ask, “How is this fair? How is this legal?” after reading how protestors came to our neighbourhoods and imposed their will at synagogues, at Jewish homes, at Jewish schools. How they said things and did things that would have gotten Jews arrested—even as Jews ended up being the ones arrested. 

Try, if you can, not to wonder about what kind of “message” will remind our elected officials and police and commentators that the words they mouth about peace, order, and good government are not supposed to be just things we’ve all grown used to saying.

Refrain, if at all possible, from wondering why they hate us, or how they could justify their unspeakable acts in ages past and today. After this week, the time for abstract wondering about whether we really mean it when we say Never Again, whether it can happen here in polite, respectful Canada, is at long last over. 

For at long last, the mask is fully off. A group of moralizers, confident that they will be vindicated by history, have made it as clear as can be that they will act as judge, jury and executioner. They will not wait to consider arguments whether a land sale is illegal or not. They have stopped caring about whether the place being protested is Jewish or just ‘Zionist’.

Indeed, they have begun to ask why we talk about Jewish places or Jewish neighbourhoods at all, because what’s the deal with these Jews acting like they own things? Soon we’ll be hearing about how Bathurst Street was only apportioned to us because of the Balfour Declaration.

They have decided that if our views contradict theirs, then a social cost will be imposed. Violent resistance that supports their cause is to be celebrated, while any attempt to defend against said resistance is to be condemned. And by doing this, they have cowed polite, respectful Canada into embarrassed silence. Again.

When some folks say that Canada is broken, this is precisely what is meant. If Canada were not broken, we wouldn’t quietly accept that a government could say they were restoring funding to UNRWA late on a Friday afternoon, after cancelling a press conference to that effect. (Will funding actually be restored? Who knows! It’s not as if this government hasn’t reversed itself countless times before!)

We wouldn’t consume ourselves with useless pettifogging over what Pierre Poilievre meant when he talked about Jewish ridings, or panic over statues being vandalized and windows being kicked in, signalling to the perpetrators that we will flinch in response to provocation. 

The accusation is that Israel is committing genocide, and therefore—so say the accusers—we cannot play the victim. And as we wait for months for the next election, under the assumption that Pierre Poilievre could fix things if he tried, not playing the victim is actually the best thing we can do. Because in case you weren’t aware, people really, really hate victims.

Victims expect politicians and police to act like schoolyard disciplinarians, making Palestinians sit in the corner when they’re being mean. Victims blame DEI and wokism and TikTok and dream about setting up Safe Space Universities where we can properly educate the young. Victims expect mazel tovs for last-minute organizing and because they convinced themselves that they gave 110 percent. Victims cling to the idea that we are still a nation of laws after a bunch of radicals demonstrated, and have been demonstrating for some years now, that that is not and possibly never has been the case. 

There are many things the Jewish community could do to ensure that we are not perceived as victims, and I’m sure you could think of a few yourselves, but there is one crucial drawback: the optics won’t be that great. We might not be able to say things like “they hate and we dance” anymore. Possibly through no fault of our own, more Jews might end up arrested and we might have to put funds towards their legal defence instead of Shabbat dinners. If you’re not on your fainting couch yet, get ready for the worst one yet: some of us might have to act like Pierre Poilievre and be dickish to people!

After years of fretting, after years of hoping, the post-truth world has arrived. The populist moment is here. Now it is time for the Jewish community to rise to the occasion and establish what the truth is going to be—before it is established for us. 

Josh Lieblein can be reached at [email protected] for your response to Doorstep Postings.