Sessions

In the trenches fighting anti-Semitism: City Hall behind closed doors

Municipal governments can play a transformative role in fighting anti-Semitism and responding to endless loop of anti-Israel rhetoric. Eighty per cent of Canadians live in cities; cities are centres of commerce, culture and diversity. They are a level of government, until recently played a quiet role in the federation. These days cities are flexing their muscles on the world stage and here domestically. But despite all this growing influence and power, sometimes cities - and the politicians that serve them - have a tough time shutting down events, messaging and discourse that is hateful, hurtful and demonize. Moreover, why are we quite successful in shutting down some of the endless loop of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate on some occasions and on others it is virtually impossible? What is going on behind the scenes that allows success in some fights are bitter frustration in others? Some of the answer rests with the interaction between specific elected officials and the civil service, or in some cases the “deep state.” How is it that in some cases we can stop this hate with a phone call and other times, even after months of work, it is near impossible? What is behind this paradox? What are the roots? Why is it so frustrating when our community watches from a distance and it seems that nothing is being done? Where are the police? Where is the attorney general? Where is the criminal code? Where are the courts? These are tough questions that only a city hall insider can try to answer.

Community

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James Pasternak

City of Toronto

Councillor