Yesterday I attended the annual CIJR Gala in Toronto, organized to introduce the organization and its activities. The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research has a long history of undertakings in the fields of education and advocacy for the State of Israel and the Jewish diaspora around the world. Unlike some large organizations that receive millions of dollars in funding, but do very little, CIJR depends on modest donations and still does a lot of work.
Many of its members are volunteers and there are very few employees. Although now they have their own offices, the Institute was hosted for years in the basement of its founder, Prof. Frederick Krantz.
Despite that, the organization has significant presence in the field of scholarly research and at the same time it is an active participant in many practical initiatives, which often put it in the middle of fierce battles for the truth about Israel.
Yesterday’s event was dedicated to the history of Israel’s struggle to survive and establish itself as a safe and reliable home for all Jews. The speakers represented three generations of people dedicated to that goal.
One of the great moments of the event was the presence of several veterans, who took part in the defense of the newly established country in 1948. They were called Mahal, a main contributor to the creation of the air forces of Israel. At the time, the tiny country with a population of only 600,000 was facing an imminent destruction planned by its Muslim neighbours. The pilots from Mahal were volunteers, who came from all over the world to help.
The veteran Joe Warner spoke on behalf of those volunteers.
According to his recollections and the short documentary we saw, the situation was desperate – nobody wanted to provide weapons to the Jews, except very few countries like Czechoslovakia. The airplanes had to be assembled from different parts (mostly from German Messerschmitt planes). That’s why they were called “Frankenstein airplanes.” Even the uniforms were often adapted German clothes. Despite all that Israel prevailed. Prof. Krantz talked about his participation in the war effort – as a 7-year old kid in the Bronx, who collected money for the Israeli army.
The keynote speaker General Eitan Ben Eliayahu presented the next generation of fighters – as commander of a squadron of F-4 Phantoms in the Yom Kippur War, he shot down two Egyptian fighters. In l981, he participated in Operation Opera, resulting in the destruction of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. He discussed his experiences and what he learned from them. One of his most important points was that you must not have any preconceived notions about what may happen. For that reason, a country or a person, should have an open mind and be prepared to react quickly to developments that are impossible to predict.
Today all the achievements accomplished through the blood and the enormous efforts of the war veterans are under threat again. This time the enemy doesn’t fight only with guns and rifles – it is well entrenched in the media, different institutions and university campuses. It is difficult to identify it, because sometimes the Jews themselves hold such self-destructive views.
This was the topic of the student activist from Calgary Sarah Bernamoff, which she presented with her friend Samantha Hamilton. She shared disturbing facts and events, which involved not only the classical Muslim anti-Semitism, but also the inability and reluctance of campus Jewish groups to fight Jew-hatred on the basis of ill-conceived “multicultural” inclusion.
The whole event was filmed and the coverage will be presented in full by CIJR. For now, you can see a short trailer, which introduces the speakers and some of their main points:
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