op/ed: Jews in Alberta should take note of what is happening in Washington DC

Riot police push back a crowd of supporters of US President Donald Trump after they stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, 2021. (Roberto Schmidt AFP via Getty Images)

By David Aaron

(AJNews) – The recent events in Washington DC bring to light an ever increasing awareness of just how divided America is and the potential, under the wrong leadership, of what can be brought to bear against our democracy.  I can’t speak to where this will go or its severity, but as a Jew, it is certainly setting off some alarm bells for me.

How safe are Jews in America and in Alberta?  Although I have not heard of any anti-Semitic rhetoric from Republican leaders, we all know that within the grass roots of the party there is strong anti-Semitic sentiment.  As right-wing populist governments gain traction, the threat to Jews becomes ever more apparent as history bears out.

Over the past 75 years we Jews in North America have lived with a level of civility that is unparalleled in modern history (until the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh).  Under a Trump administration this has all changed.  Trump’s Republicans are not the Republican’s of old.  Trump’s motto of, “Make America Great Again” has many meanings including some hidden ones.  Those who marched on the State capitol were not just upset at a supposedly rigged election, but many were also expressing racist feelings and biases.

Under a Trump administration, we have seen many issues arise from both the left and right of the political spectrum.  In some ways, it could be said that Trump has let the genie out of the bottle.  Whether he did it intentionally or not, he has given the “right” a voice in the same way that he sought out power for himself.  I can’t help but think that if the Republican Party had had a leader who was politically astute and organized, he could have created much more damage to America’s democracy to what was an otherwise fair election.  It could be argued that the Republicans are not that far off after hearing the way Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley spoke in the senate last Wednesday.

One thing I and others find disconcerting are the flagrant lies being bantered about and normalized especially by those in positions of power not to mention the right wing media.  Jews should be taking note!   Even though the target has been on the false accusation of a rigged election and the media to name one other, it is not too farfetched to imagine how the cross-hairs could move.

Though we have not heard anti-Jewish sentiment from top leaders, we know from history that right wing leadership usually seek out easy targets to blame to whip up the masses.  At the moment Jewish people are not in the cross-hairs, but that could change as the situation evolves.

Here in Alberta we have our own issues with anti-Semitism and much of it up to now has been hiding beneath a veneer of civility.  How much is the question.   I don’t know, but since the UCP have come to power we have seen an abject use of power to push through an agenda of undemocratic policies and procedures under the veil of Covid-19.  This is extremely disconcerting.  The UCP are not immune from criticism.  We know some of its members hold racist beliefs.  Kenny’s speech writer Paul Bunner’s statements toward Residential schools were troublesome.   Kenny wrote them off stating that Bunner had changed; however as Jews, we should not be so easily convinced or naive.  I, like many Jews would have preferred that Bunner had made a public apology or been removed rather than hearing a statement from the premier that Bunner had changed.  With no apology forthcoming we must retain a healthy level of skepticism towards the UCP especially in light of anti-democratic bills and ill begotten behaviours.   The weight of history regarding right wing politics forces this upon us.  We must not let lessons from the past go unheeded.  It may be time for Jews in Alberta to begin thinking about how we respond to what is going on both internationally and locally.  We need to be proactive and prepared.

Jews should be wary.  Remember the burning of the Edmonton Beth Shalom synagogue in 1980 or the recent spray painting of synagogues?

As Jews, we must be vigilant and mindful of what is happening around us.  We don’t live in a cocoon even though day in day out it may feel that way.  We celebrate Yom HaShoah for good reasons.  We must not only not forget, but recognize that it could occur again in some new form.  There is change going on around us and it is happening fast.  Trump has stirred the pot and where this goes is anyone’s guess.  If it gets legs, we need to be prepared.  Our Jewish leaders in Alberta should be talking to one another regarding these events.  The time has arrived for someone to bring the canary into the coal mine.

5 Comments on "op/ed: Jews in Alberta should take note of what is happening in Washington DC"

  1. Abe Silverman | Jan 15, 2021 at 1:42 pm | Reply

    Antsemitism is an Ideology that is not exclusive to the right or the left. It is however easier to combat on the right. We have lots of experience. Not so on the left who wraps themselves in a cloak of human rights.

  2. Looking For Balance | Jan 15, 2021 at 10:53 pm | Reply

    While I happen to agree with the author on his criticism of Donald Trump, it’s quite the leap bringing the UCP into this argument. Jason Kenney himself was the Federal Conservative point man on minority outreach and his long political career clearly shows that he is a stanch Philo-semite.

    The author’s main argument is that the UCP implemented COVID-19 restrictions, but he overlooks the sharper restrictions that Centre-left governments around the world have implemented. Are those governments anti-democratic as well? Are the governments of Europe who downplay shocking acts of violence against Jews in their countries anti-semites? I can hear crickets…

    If you’re going to take the time to write a piece, at least try to make some arguments that don’t expose your bias so easily.

  3. Carol Collura | Jan 17, 2021 at 10:20 pm | Reply

    Well thought out and well written editorial with “right on” supporting examples.

  4. What a disgusting piece of leftist trash. Trump was demonstrably the most philosophic and pro-Israel President in American history. Where are your criticisms of the Democrat Party and the ostensibly American Jewish organizations long since caturedby Progressives for the embrace of the rabidly anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan and the narcissist BLM movement? AJN is advised to stay clear of politics if it incapable or unwilling to do so with objectivity and intellectual honesty.

  5. Above should read: philosemitic not philosophic. Incidentally, Deborah Lipstadt has seriously damaged her credibility by repeating ad nauseaum the false claim that Trump ever called white supremacists “fine people.” He was referring to those who were in Charlotteville to protest the removal of Civil War monuments.

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