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Who is a Zionist? A Canadian court has been asked to decide

A leading liberal Zionist resigns disillusioned and a hawkish Zionist organisation is sued as Canada's Jewish community fights over how to support Israel.
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People draped in Israeli and Canadian flags

People draped in flags of Canada and Israel during the Canada’s Rally for The Jewish People at Parliament Hill in Ottawa in December (Shawn Goldberg/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Published: 8 February 2024

Last updated: 21 March 2024

A leading liberal Zionist resigns disillusioned; a hawkish Zionist organisation is sued: Canada's Jewish community fights over how to support Israel.

Canada’s Jewish community is facing battles over who gets to be called pro-Israel and whether supporting a two-state solution remains possible in the wake of October 7.

The chairman of Canada's leading liberal Zionist organisation has resigned because he is disillusioned with its agenda of peacebuilding with Palestinians.

JSpaceCanada defines itself as a pro-Israel, pro-peace Zionist advocacy organisation which champions a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine. Chairman Joe Roberts stepped down on Monday, saying that the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 had shaken his political beliefs to the point that he no longer identified with its agenda.

"The response from the left to the October 7 massacre was a turning point for me," he wrote in a post on X.

"The lack of compassion and vitriol I witnessed forced me to question where I stand politically. It's been a painful realization, leading to my resignation from an organization I deeply care about."

Since October 7, Roberts has been sharing his disillusionment with the Palestinians and the peace process with his thousands of followers on social media.

Perhaps most disturbing for JSpace supporters and activists were his recent calls to dismantle UNRWA, following revelations that employees of the Palestinian relief agency had participated in the Hamas terror attack. JSpace Canada has called on the Canadian government to maintain aid to Palestinians.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the Toronto Zionist Council (TZC) is being sued for rejecting a prominent member of the local Jewish community who applied to join its board.

The board ruled that an individual who expresses unconditional support for the establishment of a Palestinian state cannot be deemed a Zionist and, therefore, does not qualify for membership.

David Matlow, a Toronto attorney known for his large collection of Theodor Herzl memorabilia, and Robbie Feldman, an accountant and former chairman of Camp Shalom filed suit against the board members in the Ontario Superior Court in 2022. They claim the TZC was betraying the mission of the Council as an umbrella group for Zionist organisations across the political and religious spectrum.

TZC was once a major hub for Zionist groups in Canada but is now an obscure organisation with only a few members. The suit appears to be far more about defining Zionism than gaining purchase in the organisation.


'A turning point for me': Head of Canada's leading liberal Zionist group quits, saying Oct. 7 pushed him to the right (Haaretz)

Who is a Zionist? What does 'pro-Israel' mean? A Canadian court has been asked to decide (Haaretz)


Unity can be dangerous (Nadav Tamir, Jerusalem Post)
The call for unity expects us to divest ourselves of substantively divided opinions and our own individual values.

Critics slammed Harvard’s antisemitism czar for his new book. He says he’s been misunderstood (Forward)
Derek Penslar’s latest book examines Zionist history through the emotions that shaped the movement.


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