National Post, Nov. 15, 2023
“The response of our leaders has been to always lump the astounding increase of Jew-hatred with Islamophobia. Apparently, the optimal way to combat Jew-hatred is to remind the populace that we must all redouble our collective efforts to eradicate Islamophobia.”
I was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. We were part of a dwindling population of Lebanese Jews who had remained in our homeland despite the growing tension facing our community. Growing up, I faced countless instances of Jew-hatred (see chapter 1 of my 2020 book The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense). When the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser died in 1970, I vividly remember, as a five-year-old child, the procession of protesters walking by our home screaming with great zeal “Death to Jews.” I suppose that the mourning is rendered less painful if accompanied by a call for the extermination of Jews.
A few years later, I sat in class as the teacher asked each student to stand up and explain what they wished to become when they grew up. One of my classmates stood up and proudly declared that he wished to become a “Jew killer” to thunderous approval. But perhaps the most telling moment of the plight of Jews in the Middle East was on that fateful day when we flew out of Beirut to our new home in Montreal. As soon as the pilot announced that we had cleared Lebanese air space, my mother took out a Jewish pendant (Star of David or possibly a chai) and advised me that I could henceforth wear this proudly without having to hide my Jewish identity.
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