Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, in the past days, Canadian cities have seen an unprecedented surge of assaults and attacks upon Jewish Canadians. Our elected leaders may say there is no place for hate of any kind in Canada, but, of course, that’s not true.
For people who hate Jews, there’s most certainly a place in Canada. It’s a large place, a growing place and an increasingly comfortable and respectable place. Those who inhabit that comfortable and respectable place might not deface a synagogue themselves or throw a brick at a school, but they create permission for those who do commit those overt acts of hatred. They teach our fellow citizens to think it is perhaps excessive to throw a brick, but those Jews, they brought it on themselves. They deserve it. The real victim is the brick thrower.
I want to talk today about one of those teachers. It is, unfortunately, a taxpayer-funded broadcaster, Radio-Canada. In recent weeks, one reporter at Radio-Canada has embarked on a campaign against a former ambassador of this country to Israel. The trouble is, the reporter has got no facts to support the campaign, so the campaign has to proceed by insinuation.
She wants to tell a story of a sinister Jewish conspiracy. The conspiracy does not exist, but photographs can be placed side by side under a suggestive headline to create a false impression. Then the headline and the photos can be posted to social media to weaponize the false impression on thousands of minds that will never click to the underlying report to read how baseless it all is.
I was one of those side-swiped by this campaign. I was singled out as a member of the conspiracy, illustrated by a photo of me standing beside an Israeli flag. Just in case anyone missed the point: Jew plot, Jew danger, Jew enemy.
Parliamentary rules discourage me from identifying the reporter in question. On reflection anyway, the issue is not one reporter. Reporters do not write their own headlines, select their own photographs or make the placement of those photographs, and many of the most inflammatory social media posts about this were issued from the accounts of the reporter’s colleagues and friends, not the reporter herself. So this is not about a single individual. This is a story about a habit of mind.
Professional news organizations usually have standards to prevent this kind of sly defamation. Public broadcasters might be expected to be more professional than most, but when the topic is Jews, Radio-Canada is less professional than any. It’s not a new problem, and it’s not one person’s failure. It is a deep cultural malformation that starts with ancient paranoid fantasies and culminates in violence on the streets of Montreal.