SAPERIA: The Jews are not alright 

If you have ever wondered how people stood by and let the Nazis murder six million Jews, then now is the time to stand up for Israel and the Jewish people

By Sheryl Saperia

October 14, 2023

To the people of Canada: Jewish Canadians, your fellow citizens, are not alright – they are grieving and scared.

Much has been written in recent years about trigger warnings and microaggressions on university campuses. I find them to perpetuate a culture of fragility and victimhood.

Let’s talk about real triggers.

Reports of 40 Jewish babies being decapitated by a genocidal terrorist organization called Hamas. Hundreds of innocent civilians kidnapped, burned alive and beheaded – Oct. 7 was the deadliest day for Jewish people since the Holocaust.

The Jews are triggered.

Please understand our cultural DNA.

We are a small people. There are approximately 15 million Jews in the world, accounting for 0.19% of the world population. Yet, hundreds of millions of people have subscribed to anti-Semitic beliefs, in the past and today. Anti-Semitism can be found among the political left and right, religious and secular, poor and rich, educated and non-educated. These factors would usually influence a person’s beliefs and prejudices, but anti-Semitism unites them all.

Our history is one of almost constant persecution and discrimination, with intermittent attempts at full-scale genocide.

We are not a proselytizing faith and have never asked for anything other than to live peacefully and enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else. Jews have historically joined social justice movements and advocated for peace and equality for other minority groups. We were forged as a people in slavery in Egypt and are religiously commanded to do our part in making the world a better place.

There is only one Jewish state in the world. Israel is a tiny country in land mass and population. The vast majority of Jews in Canada feel an intensely close emotional connection to Israel. It is a source of pride to see the country thrive in innovation and creation, and it is a source of comfort to know there is one place where our acceptance as Jews is guaranteed.

Approximately 40,000 Holocaust survivors resettled in Canada after the Second World War. Most of their descendants still live in Canada. And we are not okay today. We are not okay to see tiny Israel vulnerable to its multitudes of enemies. We are not okay to see our siblings, parents, grandparents, children and friends murdered or taken hostage by barbarians.

And we are not okay when Hamas leaders post a call to action on social media to mobilize around the world in support of the terrorist organization. One tweet making its way across the Jewish community in Toronto is calling on Hamas supporters to target Jewish institutions with violence and generate a modern-day “Kristallnacht.”

I personally know of educated, well-to-do people who are buying emergency supplies and planning escape routes from their homes. Psychologists in the community are getting calls from those terrified they will be sent to concentration camps. Parents are debating whether to send their children to Jewish schools. Is the threat that great in Canada? No. But the Jews are not okay.

If you are a caring person, if you have a social conscience, if you have ever wondered how people stood by and let the Nazis murder six million Jews, then now is the time to stand up for Israel and the Jewish people. Do not equivocate and chalk down the violence to a longstanding complicated conflict between two sides that are equally right or wrong.

Israel left Gaza in 2005 in the hopes of peace. Hamas, whose explicit mission is to eliminate Jews and the Jewish state, immediately took power. If Canada had as its next-door neighbour a terrorist government committed to its destruction, I assure you the Canadian government would take the strongest possible security measures to protect its population.

Non-Jewish Canadians: your Jewish friends, colleagues, and neighbours are not okay. Reach out to us. Do not be silent.

Make no mistake. The Jews are a most resilient people. We will survive and ultimately succeed, as we always have. But today the Jews are not alright.

Sheryl Saperia is the granddaughter of two Holocaust survivors and the CEO of Secure Canada, an organization dedicated to combating terrorism, extremism, and other threats to Canada’s national security and democracy

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