Opinion: Never again is now — The need to denounce antisemitism and hatred

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On Oct. 7, Hamas — an internationally designated terrorist organization — murdered, tortured and raped more than 1,400 Israeli citizens while taking hundreds more hostage. Women, elderly, babies, children, adults — there was no discriminating. The brutality of the act is incomprehensible not only for our own Jewish community, but for anyone with a sense of humanity.

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The level of cruelty demonstrated to the world who Hamas is. Their true face was there for all to see, their goal of murdering Jews and destroying Israel was on full display.

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Within 48 hours, Jews were forced to shift our grief to fear, and that fear continues to grow. Instead of support and allyship for the atrocities endured and instead of a united condemnation for the hatred our community is experiencing, we are witnessing much of the Calgary community sit in silence. This response is baffling — and terrifying.

On Oct. 13, Hamas declared the Day of Jihad. Mere days after the terrors in Israel, our local Jewish community was faced with making an inconceivable decision whether to send our children to daycare or school, whether to attend evening synagogue services for prayer, whether we could safely go to the grocery store.

And every weekend since, our community experiences angry, aggressive, anti-Israel protests that explicitly call for the eradication of Jews.

This should not be Calgary. This is not OK.

Calgary prides itself on its multicultural identity. We have elected officials from all cultures and backgrounds. Yet, few of these individuals have acknowledged the terror attacks, the hostages or the subsequent outright hatred being spewed at us.

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I write this not for sympathy. Our community is strong and resilient and continues to demonstrate this. I write this for those who wrestle with what you can say or do. I write this because silence is complicity. Our community does not need pity, we need support. We need your voice.

To be clear, the hate and fear we are experiencing is not political strife. As Jews, we support Palestinians and recognize they are also victims of the Hamas regime. For decades, Palestinians have been forced by the dictatorship of the Hamas government to live in squalor, their own children used as human shields during war. However, unlike the protests we see weekly against our community, our own gatherings do not call for their pain or murder.

The threats, the signs calling for our extermination, the fear invoked in our community — this is not about Israel. Many Calgarians who have never once protested for any other country are suddenly jumping on the anti-Jewish wagon without second thought. They go to rallies, call for our death and then claim it’s not antisemitism.

If you are questioning if you should denounce the hate, ask yourself — how would you feel if you were scared to send your child to school? How would you feel if you needed to remove cultural symbols from your home to avoid being recognized? How would you feel knowing university students attend campuses where professors and students openly rationalize the vicious murders of children and babies?

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Close to 80 years ago, the world stood by while six million Jews perished in the Holocaust due to antisemitism, and the same world vowed “never again.”

The explosion of antisemitism in our city requires all decent Calgarians — regardless of their political views — to condemn this barrage of plain hatred. If not for our community who lives and works alongside you, then for what is right for humanity.

The idea that Jews are the bad guys when more than 200 people — including 30 children — are being held captive by Hamas after being dragged from their homes is utterly backwards.

We are grateful for the brave Calgarians who have reached out and, more importantly, publicly used their voice in support. Thank you.

However, the majority of members from our city council, our provincial MLAs, federal MPs, other religious and cultural groups and members of broader Calgary have chosen to be quiet.

Never again is now.

Lisa Libin is president of the Calgary Jewish Federation, an umbrella organization dedicated to the safety and vitality of the Jewish community.

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