Books To Read

Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation has curated a list of reading material that we recommend to our members to help them keep informed about antisemitism and human rights around the world.

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The Serpent and the Red Thread: The Definitive Biography of Evil by Diane Bederman

Review: The Avatar of Evil by Andria Spindel

Diane Bederman has developed a new literary genre, surprisingly lyrical for an uncomfortable topic—age old Jew-hatred. In her latest book, author, chaplain and blogger, Bederman develops the theme of antisemitism traversing time, using the imagery of a serpent that wraps its slippery smooth, suffocating body around the Amaleks of history, delivering the red thread of hatred to an evil persona in every era.  Shockingly, there is an evil person, political movement, culture or religion that pervades every era of human history, and turns its wrath on the Jew.

The Serpent and the  Red Thread, in only 98 pages including an Afterword, draws together well researched historical  information, Biblical references, and personal narrative, invoking an ever present avatar of evil. One doesn’t have to ask if the “embodiment of evil” is the idea or the person, as the serpent slithers through history, across continents and through cultures and religions. It has been the same throughout time, since human’s populated the earth and the notion of one eternal God was given to the world by the Jews, along with the concepts of “hope,”  “justice,” “equality.  There is no antecedent to Jew hatred, no identifiable `cause` or rational explanation.  Once the thread is passed to the next avatar, it permeates the place, the people, religion or political movement, and spreads its infectious, deceitful lies.  The result is often deadly.

Jew hatred has many incarnations, from daily thrusts of word daggers, to the denigration and dislocation of a community, to the total dehumanization of the Jewish people. From localized pogroms in Eastern Europe to those in Mesopotamia, from forced conversions to expulsions and  genocides, and the most destructive and terrible tragedy ever perpetrated on a people,  the Holocaust. The `red thread` travelled to Germany and found fertile soil within adolf hitler, whose name is never capitalized by Bederman. Hitler is the persona of evil, who would sacrifice even the economy of Germany in his pursuit of the total destruction of Jewish life. He intended not just to eliminate anyone he deemed had `Jewish blood,`but to also eliminate all of Jewish memory, history and contribution. The disease caught on and the serpent slithered on with the red thread in its mouth, even after the master of fallacious claims of race science, hitler, was dead. The work of the Nazis continued under the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Al-husseini, a confrer of hitler and co-conspirator, who was given the latter`s blanket approval to murder the Jews in Palestine and those coming from Europe to Palestine.

In allegorical style, invoking magical moments that recount Biblical characters, Bederman shines light on a story of darkness. Juxtaposed with what might have been, how much more light the Jews might have shone on the world, had they survived, Bederman, asks the toughest question: Where was God  If the Jews gave the world God, why did God not protect the Jews, and if the sons and daughters of Abraham (Christian and Muslim) accepted one God, then why did they also murder God

In this powerful composite of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, which Diane Bederman has so-well crafted, we see her love for her Jewish heritage; she takes courageous action to name and shame the current avatar of evil. Islam! It is through the Muslim Brotherhood and all of its incarnations, be they associations, charities, mosques, movements, or just political messaging, whether nationalist or localized in nature, in covert operations claiming justice or peace, they are a fraud. They are demonstrably part of a greater plan, to reduce Western civilization to a shell of itself, eliminate democracy, freedom of choice, speech and religion. The choice for freedom lovers, for Jews, and other minorities, is no choice—it’s the age-old battle to right the wrong, crush the hatred with truth, with justice, with laws, and with compassion for humanity.

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How to Fight Anti-Semitism by Bari Weiss | Published 2019

Review: Antisemitism is Coming From All Sides of the Political Spectrum by Andria Spindel

New York Times writer and opinion editor, young, Jewish, Pittsburgh native, Bari Weiss, has achieved considerable celebrity for her recent book that addresses all the contributing ideologies, political isms and absurd claims of antisemites and Jew haters. Her writing is clear, concise, personal, and in only 206 pages of a relatively small sized book, she expresses what so many American and Canadian Jews feel-it most definitely could NOT happen here, BUT it is happening here. And when a massacre takes place in the middle class Jewish neighborhood in which Bari grew up, and at her own family synagogue in Pittsburgh, she must search for an explanation for the rising tide of antisemitism that is now upon the North American continent.

For some of us this is NOT NEW and was clearly portended by rates of antisemitism in Europe, by global jihadism, by mass immigration of people from countries that are traditionally and politically antisemitic, by unfettered political correctness that shunned talk of antisemitism while finding racism and discrimination in every corner of our society and then claimed Jews are white, privileged, colonialists, and not entitled to claimes of oppression and discrimination.

Weiss wakes up to the new world, one in which Jewish lives are treated as less than that of others, where death to Jews is chanted on the streets.  She provides a crisp overview of the millennia of antisemitism that have preceded the current era. It is a good short, overview of the many ways in which such bigotry has taken form across the globe, across the generations, cultures, religions and societies, where Jews lived and even where they did not live. Weiss wakes up to the fact that antisemitism isn’t a phenomenon of only the Alt-right, but is now clearly embedded in and expressed by the so-called Progressive left. (So-called as its hard to understand the use of the word “progressive” in any context in which one addresses hate, discrimination, antisemitism, intolerance by liberals)  The word progressive aptly applies to groups fighting for the equality of people of colour,  LGBTQ people, immigrants, and poor people, but is a misnomer when those same champions blame Jews for the problems of these identified groups, dismiss antisemitism as a non-issue or worse, blame it on the Jews and of course, blame it on Israel.

To the “progressives”,  it is justifiable to attack Israel, and still claim not to be antisemitic and even more absurd, to demand that Jews distance themselves from Israel if they wish to be included in the “progressive” camp. Weiss quotes those in the trenches of documenting and combatting antisemitism, as pointing out that antisemitism is being normalized. That the rate of attacks on Jews has increased dramatically, and that rates of racist/religiously motivated hate crimes are higher against Jews than against any other minority or identified community.

What will be shocking to many in the Jewish community, and thankfully is unmasked by Weiss, is that “antisemitism that originates on the left is far more subtle, and sophisticated (than antisemitism on the right). Its typically camouflaged in language of social justice and antiracism, of equality and liberation.”  It claims to be objective criticism of Israel or “just Anti-Zionism” but it denies the Jewish people, and only theJewish people, the dignity and rights of a national identity that are granted to all other ethno-cultural groups. It denies Jewish history, international law, equates nationalism with racism in the case of Israel, and overlooks a long history of leftist antisemitism which is now stridently supported by the BDS movement that wants only one thing - the total destruction of Israel, the Jewish State.

Communism and Facism can’t be distinguished in their totalitarian hatred of the Jew! Today, the extreme left and extreme right hate Israel but differ in tactics as well as in allies. The Left has made common cause with Islamic antisemites. Weiss quotes many sources that track antisemitism across Europe and have documented the changes in European antisemitism due to the high rates of Muslim immigration. No surprise, that in mosques across Europe antisemitism is regularly preached, that death to Jews is encouraged by some Islamic leaders, that such hatred is more the norm than less.

To quote Weiss who concludes from the evidence: “ it is dangerous to be a Jew in Europe.”

Chapter 6, the last chapter,  is not a panacea for solving the problem of antisemitism but it does provide some well conceived steps, strategies, tools for acting on this vicious, dangerous, anachronistic disease (my words). It offers some easy to follow and some challenging ideas, and it also offers some encouragement. Jews cannot do it alone, but Weiss commands that we remember, that each person can make a difference, and always has; we have a rich tradition of individual action, and now is the time for action.

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Right Here Right Now, Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption by Stephen J. Harper

 
Review: How to Understand Classical Liberalism is Conservatism by Andria Spindel
 
I find myself frequently among friends and colleagues who share my puzzlement about perceived shifts in the philosophy, policies, and actions of our federal political parties. This questioning is not limited to Canadian party politics, but is also reflected in major shifts on a global level, particularly in Europe. The Communists remain the Communists in places like China, North Korea and Cuba, the Dictators remain the Dictators in most Arab countries, many African countries, and in questionable electoral systems such as in Turkey, Russia, Zimbabwe so those don’t rouse questions of subtle shifts in political philosophy. 
 
 
What is raising questions for which the former PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, provides lucid, detailed, meaningful answers is the notable formation or renewal of what many call Populist parties, Daniel Pipes calls Civilizationist parties, and the Left deems “fascist” as they drum beat to suggest an impending danger? Whether these new right-leaning parties can justly be labelled as alt-right, antisemitic, racist, or extreme nationalist is a very important question and must be asked and answered, but not by uninformed rhetoric. To suggest the Canadian Conservative party is extremist, by any measure, would be ludicrous, but I have actually heard that accusation verbalized in an interview on national radio, and I wish I’d written a reference note to myself, for future reflection-right now. 
 
Harper provides historical, economic, political analysis in very understandable language on the shift from Center Left to Leftist and Center Right to Rightist and argues that conscious analysis, decisions, actions, re-analysis, evidence-based policy setting and great flexibility must be the methodology used by Conservative leadership in governance. Discontent with elitist leadership seems to be an almost universal response in Western democracies to the long term left-liberal political institutions including governments. Harper introduces the concept of Anywheres who are Globalists who are comfortable working, living, relating from anywhere to anywhere, and the Somewheres who prefer to work, live, relate locally. Specific skills, education, backgrounds, attitudes, contribute to whether one is an Anywhere or a Somewhere. The latter folks are feeling the former don’t care about them, their well being, job opportunities, life styles and life choices; thus creating a societal divide which is playing out in the political realm.
 
Other dichotomies that Harper enunciates that help elucidate what’s happening globally include that between “walls and doors,” “nationalism” and “alienism,” and importantly, Harper never claims any absolutes. Walls and doors describes the problem of massive human migration occurring worldwide today, and notes the Anywheres want to eliminate “walls”, support open, unlimited immigration for Canada, ignore that which is illegal, unjustly leaving legal migrants to languish waiting for their application to be considered, and willingly accept people who may have little to offer the country, may not wish to assimilate and even abhor our culture and values. The very appeal of a liberal, free, equal opportunity country that’s welcomes all people, may prove the source of the seed of our own destruction, though Harper says it much more softly. He urges rules based, legal processes for immigration, numbers for which we have absorption capacity, requirements of citizenship in terms of terms of residency, oaths of allegiance and condemnation, in law, of “barbaric cultural practices” clearly defined.
 
At the same time, but not in paradox, Harper points out that Conservatives do support immigration, defined doors through which millions have already passed, and over time, millions more will be welcome. It must be orderly, planned, sensitive, supportive, and those persecuted minorities, should be given a degree of priority, while others should come on a merit based economic needs basis, that is what does the Canadian economy need? Immigration should not lead top discrimination against Canadians!
 
Governments have the responsibility, above all else, to protect their citizens, the protect their borders, the support and sustain the culture of its populace. For Anywheres Canada has no specific values or culture.  Saying that is a travesty in my mind, a denial of what most people actually value in this country—and as defined in our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Nationalism used to mean “patriotism,” service to one’s country, being proud of being a Canadian (or citizen of any other country which has given one a culture, history, language, faith, community, customs etc), this does not mean uniformity, does not mean new cultures and customers wont be introduced, but it does mean they old wont be vacated, the new wont be dominant, the intolerant wont be tolerated. If people arrive from a culture that does not respect women, does not tolerate homosexuality, does not know of our Judeo-Christian heritage, it is incumbent on the newcomer to adapt, not the other way around. Accommodation must have its limits. Conservatives understand this. A “Sovereign” nation is not a dirty word to the true conservative, but a point of pride, and must be balanced against Globalization which is also a fact, a necessity for successful economic growth and sustainability, for healthy markets, diverse economies, positive trade.
 

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Unholy Alliance by Jay Sekulow

Unholy Alliance by Jay Sekulow
 
By far, one of the most insightful and comprehensive overviews of the role of Iran as the silent and prime funder of jihadism targeted explicitly towards the absolute and eternal destruction of both America and Israel. The author, Jay Sekulow, is one of the foremost free speech and religious liberties litigators in the United States, and chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice. He engages the complete attention of the reader in addressing his two key themes:
 
(a) How the Jews and other infidels were meant to be perceived in the Qur’an, and 
(b) How a small fraction of Muslims have interpreted its teachings with the ultimate goal of the absolute and final destruction of nonbelievers that include Christians, Jews, and others of non-Muslim faiths.
 
The author makes it clear that Iran is both a perpetrator and the primary funding source for Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Islamist terror groups. Especially fascinating is the author’s explanation of how Iran, a Shiite state, has become a significant source of funding for Sunni terror groups targeting Israel and committed to its final destruction.

 

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The Qur’an Problem and Islamism by Salim Mansur

 
Review: Islamic Roots of Antisemitism by Andria Spindel
 
Mansur, a professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, is an outspoken and courageous  analyst and critic of political Islam, an interpreter of Islam for Westerners, and a Reformer within his own faith community. In this, his second book of what i think of as “a warning,” he clearly and cogently details the history of Islam, including the religion, politics, and perpetual conflicts. In fewer than 200 pages, the professor distinguishes between Islam and Islamism, the roots of antisemitism, the rise of extremism, the domination of Arab culture and its interpretations of Islam in today’s complex, multi-cultural, global world. As the number of Muslims increases, potentially giving demographic dominance to Islam, Mansur shouts warnings of the dangers of an ever-spreading, terrifying, Literalist, supremacist Islam which threatens the West,  rejecting modernity, destroying rival versions of Islam and the Muslims who would interpret the prophet Mohammed’s teachings for the modern world. 
 
The divisions in Islam are at war with one another; the West is often in the middle, but represents for the extremists, all that is tainted, evil, impure, idolatrous.  What is rational, subject to examination and debate, scientific validation  or just curious questioning, is abhorrent to the Islamic fundamentalist. Mansur provides a thoughtful, well documented understanding of how philosophical and scientific exposition gave way to authoritarian doctrinaire theology. 
 
Christendom was awakened and challenged during its Reformation. Judaism in its Orthodoxy went through the Enlightenment and reason prevailed. Islam has balked at the challenges of Reformers, resisted change, or even moved rapidly backwards under dominant theologians who promise their faithful a new World Order, an Islamic Caliphate, and both heavenly rewards and a life on earth lived within the strictures of Sharia Law bringing them closer to Allah, their idea of God.
 

Professor Mansur does not provide answers, does not even sound hopeful in my view, but he clearly and important spells out the the problem, its roots and its trajectory. The people and governments in the West best take note, and step forward to meet this unchecked challenge to life and liberty.

 

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The Tragedy of IslamThe Tragedy of Islam by Imam Mohammed Tawidi

Review: A Personal Testimony of Islam’s Dark History by Andria Spindel

The Imam of Peace who reveals all the atrocities of Islam since its founding. He’s a very learned scholar who studied 8 years in Iran and Iraq and is from a long line of Imams. He talks about the brainwashing he endured and all the secrets that Imams must keep and never reveal to their Muslim adherents. He advises Western governments to be vigilant against Islamism and tyranny and points out that ISIS merely mimicked all the early caliphs.


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