Contrasting the Jewish establishment’s reaction to alleged bigotry from a left-wing Toronto restaurant and unambiguous hatred from a far-right politician is a sad comment on their political priorities.
As I detailed here and here, the anti-Palestinian lobby went into overdrive after Foodbenders owner Kimberly Hawkins posted to Instagram at the start of the month: “Open Now – 8 PM for non-racist shoppers #Bloordale #Bloorstreet, #Toronto, #Open, #ftp [fuck the police] #FreePalestine and #ZionistsNotWelcome.”
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and others claimed the #ZionistsNotWelcome hashtag discriminated against Jews. CIJA tweeted no less than 25 times about a restaurant known for supporting indigenous rights, Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes. As of writing, CIJA’s pinned tweet was a press release from July 8 largely about Foodbendors. CIJA also released a long statement regarding the small left-wing Toronto restaurant and sent an action alert asking its members to complain about Foodbendors’ to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The advocacy arm of Canada’s Jewish federations also called on politicians to denounce the restaurant and pushed a campaign targeting Foodbenders’ delivery services, institutional customers, website host and social media accounts.
As the Foodbendors brouhaha was mostly dying down the head of the Canadian Nationalist Party, Travis Patron, published a flyer and video titled “Beware The Parasitic Tribe”. In the video he described Jews as “inside manipulators” who “infiltrate the media, they hijack the central bank, and they infect the body politic like a parasite.” His conclusion was of an ethnic cleansing variety. “And what we need to do,” Patron exalted, “perhaps more than anything, is remove these people once and for all from our country.”
There is little ambiguity here. Patron is spewing vile anti-Semitic hatred. Additionally, Patron has been accused of violence. He’s currently before the courts on charges of aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm for an incident in November so it’s not implausible that he could commit a violent hate crime against Jews or others he regards as targets.
While CIJA condemned Patron’s comments, they did so with considerably less vigor than Foodbenders. They only tweeted about it twice (versus 25 times for Foodbendors) and I couldn’t find a press release or action alert on the matter.
The contrast between B’nai B’rith’s reaction to Patron and to Foodbendors was similarly striking. While it tweeted about Patron twice, it put out two dozen messages about the restaurant and different ways to bankrupt it, including two tweets three weeks after the kerfuffle began. On July 24 B’nai B’rith tweeted, “Big shout out to @MrCaseDelivery to thank them for severing business ties with Foodbenders in Toronto” and then another stating, “Anti-Zionist Canadian Restaurant Owner Faces Growing Legal Woes.”
From what I can find Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy stayed silent on Patron though she published a half dozen articles on Foodbenders. Even Bernie Farber, Chair of Canadian Anti-Hate Network and former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, tweeted more times about Foodbendors (8) than Patron (2).
The ferociousness of the campaign against Foodbenders has been remarkable. Contrasting it with the Israeli nationalist Canadian establishment’s reaction to unambiguous anti-Semitic hatred from a far-right politician would seem to indicate that destroying a business owned by a left-wing owner is of greater priority than opposing neo-Nazis.