They may have agreed on little else Tuesday night, but Thornhill’s two top contenders in the provincial election share one thing in common: both agree anti-Semitism at York University is on the decline.
Progressive Conservative Peter Shurman and Liberal Bernie Farber, two high-profile hopefuls in a neck-and-neck race for Thornhill, squared off over many issues at the recent all-candidates meeting but they came to terms when it came to Jews on campus.
Both agreed there have been problems at York; both agreed it’s getting better. Both candidates are Jewish.
“We have made some progress. Is it all fixed? No. Will it ever be fixed? No. That’s a city of 50,000 people,” Mr. Shurman said.
“It’s not perfect; it’s nowhere near perfect. But it’s also not as bad as many inflate it to be,” added Mr. Farber.
The comments followed a question from the audience concerning “the abysmal record of the [York] administration to ensure the safety of our Jewish students”.
The question for Mr. Farber — “given the current Liberal disinterest in addressing the matter, why should any Jew in good conscience vote for you?” — was greeted with cheers and applause from the audience of about 400 at Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto Congregation.
“Some people are just so uninformed on these things,” Mr. Farber responded. “Yes there are issues at York University but there are many parents here who’ve sent their kids to York and you know that some of that sometimes gets a little bit exaggerated,” he said, and was greeted with boos and calls of “shame!” from the audience.
“You know guys, you can yell and scream me down but you know my record you know what I stood for for 25 years and more than anybody in this room I have stood at the forefront of anti-Semitism.”
He warned the crowd to be cautious in their reactions.
“People are quick to boo and hiss and holler and I just ask you this one thing: think before you do that.
“The best way to deal with these issues is to put them on a balance. Understand that there are Jews and people of colour and all kinds of people suffering all kinds of discrimination. It’s not just about us, it’s about everybody.”
These remarks were greeted with polite applause...That's much too polite. They should have been met with jeers and rotten eggs. That's because it most definitely is "just about us." It is "just about us" when they're chasing Jews kids in a campus mini-pogrom. It is "just about us" when the same campus that harbours--engenders--that zesty Zionhass reaffirms its ties to a West Bank university where Palestinian rejectionism is on the syllabus. And it is "just about us" when the Ayatollah's poison seeps into our body politic and manifests itself as a Zion-loathing rally at Queen's Park during which classic blood libels are spewed.
Ironically, the man who has spent the last 25 years on the lookout for non-existent Nazis urges everyone to adopt the same policy of "sha shtill" (Yiddish for "put up and shut up") that was such a disaster when the Official Jews of the pre-Holocaust era urged it upon their followers. The one bright spot here is that Thornhill Jewry--the ones who turned out to hear this debate, at least--don't seem receptive to Farber's weaselly palaver.
Update: Ideally, every Thornhill voter who has yet to cast a ballot should watch this--Ezra Levant rips their Liberal candidate a new one at around the 4:27 point--and ask themselves whether they want to be represented by someone who has arguably done the most (and who has certainly done his utmost) to destroy free speech in Canada (hat tip: BCF).