A Message and Appeal to the Followers of Never Again Canada
Never Again Canada (NAC) is a Facebook group page set up for those with a common interest in protesting against anti-Semitism and against instances of anti-Jewish incitement from all sources. In our view, this common interest transcends the concerns of the Canadian Jewish community, and should rightly engage the concern and participation of all Canadians, regardless of ethnicity, religion, and politics.
Though the administrators of NAC – a diverse group of Jews, Christians, and Muslims – cannot possibly be expected to speak and to post in one voice, a concern has arisen that NAC is being used as a venue by some of our followers to vent against members of the Muslim community at large.
This is a point of serious concern. The overwhelming majority of Muslim Canadians are peaceful, law-abiding, and concerned about elements of extremism originating from within their ranks. As fellow Canadians concerned with protecting our traditions of diversity and tolerance toward all citizens, we recognize that many Muslim Canadians would like to join NAC in the common fight against anti-Jewish incitement, and particularly so when it arises from within their own ranks.
Toward that end, NAC not only invites the participation of Muslim Canadians in the fight against anti-Semitism, but also views their participation as absolutely crucial in achieving the goal of ending anti-Jewish incitement from those who espouse radical Islamist doctrines.
However, that goal is fundamentally undermined when some of our followers – and, in some cases, some of the postings from our administrators – are seen as disparaging Muslim Canadians and the basic tenets of Islam.
To be clear, the fight against Islamist extremism – particularly where such extremism is wedded to anti-Jewish incitement – should not be conflated with a critique against Islam in general. To conflate the Islam practiced by millions of Canadians with an extremist Islamist ideology, practiced by a few, is to play into the hands of the extremist minority.
NAC has no wish to do so.
NAC would like to sensitize its followers to the fact that anti-Muslim incitement is not only morally wrong (and illegal), but that it strengthens the position of those who would like to undermine the credibility of this Facebook group, particularly by conflating the goals of NAC with the comments of a minority of anti-Muslim bigots among our own base of followers.
Whether some of these comments come from actual bigots or from online “trolls” with the intent to discredit NAC, it is important that NAC followers – and administrators – be proactive in condemning the comments of those who step over the line.
NAC does not – and will not – engage in censorship, as we respect the right to free speech. Moreover, in light of the tens of thousands of comments posted on our page every month, we simply don’t have the capacity – nor is it the responsibility of the administrators – to monitor each and every comment in order to evaluate what is appropriate and what is not.
However, NAC followers should be alert to the fact that, in the fight against Islamist incitement against Jews, we simply cannot afford to alienate our fellow Canadians who practice Islam. In this particular fight, Muslim Canadians should be seen as our most crucial – and, indeed, our most indispensable – allies.
Toward that end, we welcome Muslim Canadians to join the ranks of NAC in common cause in the fight against anti-Jewish incitement. They should know that the extremist minority among NAC’s followers are not representative of those who have similar concerns about bigotry from all quarters, including from those from within our own follower base.
Over the past year, we have seen an increasing tendency of the Canadian media to paint NAC and its followers with a broad brush, as something that it is not, in order to conflate NAC’s goals with those of an unrepresentative extremist minority. It makes for good copy, but they should know better.
By its very nature, a Facebook group page can and will attract comments from a host of cranks, bigots, and trolls. To date, the Canadian media seems disinterested in the fight against anti-Jewish incitement. Unfortunately, some of the most worrisome instances of anti-Jewish incitement these days come from Islamist sources, or from venues in which some might claim an Islamic justification for inciting against Jews.
The Canadian media seems to be uncomfortable with those who point out this fact. Thus, when groups like NAC speak out and protest against anti-Jewish incitement from an extremist Islamist minority, it is all too easy for the media to mischaracterize such groups as being “Islamophobic.”
This mischaracterization, however, is made infinitely easier by those who use NAC as a venue to vent their own bigotry against Muslims in general. Where such comments go unchallenged by our followers, you should be aware that the media can – and likely will – cherry-pick through the comments to paint us all with the broad brush of bigotry.
NAC also exists to alert others to the fact that anti-Jewish incitement is often cloaked under the banner of anti-Zionism. In this context, violence against Jews – whether in Israel or abroad – is justified as violence against “Zionists” and their fellow travelers. For those who seek to defend Israeli Jews against what strikes them as a modern-day blood libel, the media mischaracterizes those concerns as the self-interested ravings of “ultra-Zionists” – or, more predictably, cherry-picks through those comments that may best represent the broad picture the media seeks to present of this group.
The purpose of this message and appeal is to clarify to NAC’s followers that the fight against anti-Jewish incitement will only be undermined by those who think the best response is to counter with anti-Muslim incitement. Quite to the contrary, anti-Muslim incitement plays right into the hands of those who seek to dismiss our message about anti-Jewish incitement from Islamist sources.
And that is why, in the fight against anti-Jewish incitement from Islamist sources, we really do need the assistance of our fellow Muslim Canadians. They, too, need a place to go in order to protest against anti-Jewish incitement from such sources. We hope that place will be NAC.
And though NAC cannot police all the comments that are posted on this page, we want Muslim Canadians to feel that they are welcome here, that they, too, have a place to come and to contribute their voices in the common fight against anti-Jewish incitement.
We have no illusions that this singular post will chase away all the cranks and bigots and trolls that will continue to incite and to undermine our legitimate goals and mission. But it is our hope that, with reference to this message, some of our most passionate and well-intentioned followers will step up and drown out the voices of the minority who are indifferent as to whether their bigoted comments undermine our overall mission.
Over time, we trust that NAC will be seen as the go-to Facebook page for all – whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or atheist – to protest against anti-Jewish incitement. And though many, if not most, of our followers count themselves as supporters of the State of Israel, we welcome all those who count themselves as non-Zionists, particularly those who nevertheless remain concerned about the damage caused by unreasonable and defamatory smears against Jews across the globe, whether in Israel or in the Diaspora.
When we say never again, we mean that we will not remain silent in the face of those who would smear and defame the Jewish people. When we say never again, we are making an appeal to everyone – that this fight against anti-Jewish incitement will be engaged by all, whether Jew or non-Jew, whether Christian or Muslim, whether an Israeli or a citizen of any other nation.
Never again should the world remain silent in the face of anti-Jewish incitement. Never Again Canada seeks to give voice to those who want to lend their support for that statement of principle. To all those of good will, we welcome your support and trust that it will continue.