Indigo vandalism

Asymmetric Antisemitism

Just as Hamas hides within the general population of Gaza, so do Canada’s antisemites walk among us. And since October 7th both these groups have come out from under cover to show their lethal true colours.

I’m not talking about protesters here. Plenty of people of every belief think Israel is practising a form of apartheid against Palestinians, and that its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants no Arabs, none, in Israel where 1.5 million live now.

Nor am I talking about “soft” antisemites who may still say quietly to a friend: “I got Jewed out of that deal.”

No, I’m talking about people who don’t just dislike Jews, but who hate them. In fact, they want Jews wiped from the face of the earth simply because they’re Jews.

This venomous hatred is both ancient and volcanic. It is also changing fast.

In Toronto it began two weeks ago when protesters harassed diners at the Jewish-owned Café Landwer above the Bloor-Yonge subway station.

By last week, the entrance to Indigo Books in Toronto’s Manulife Centre was vandalized with red paint and plastered with posters accusing Indigo’s owners of “funding genocide.” The timing and red paint were deliberate, celebrating the 85th anniversary of the very night of Kristallnacht when the Nazis unleashed their pogroms on the Jews simultaneously in many cities across Germany.

The antisemitism soon caught fire in Montreal when, on two different nights last week, synagogues and a Jewish high school and elementary school were sprayed, not with paint, but with bullets.

Then this week, the Montreal Gazette reported: “Jewish-owned businesses … are being targeted and vandalized with antisemitic material…… Lists of such businesses are being circulated on social media…” The Gazette also reported that in the month following October 7th, Montreal police received 73 reports of hate crimes against the Jewish community.

Then yesterday, police evacuated a Jewish school in Toronto after a bomb threat.

Yes, I mean that kind of antisemitism where Jews are singled out as the cause of every malaise and are portrayed as being either superhuman or subhuman.

But since Hamas’ attacks on October 7th, antisemitism’s traditional form has metastasized into a new, more virulent and faster-acting pox.

Think back to when the Nazis undertook the largest extermination of people in human history. At least they didn’t want that fact known. They went to great lengths to hide the Holocaust that killed 6 million European Jews.

Not any more.

On November 1st, a senior Hamas leader, Ghazi Hamad, speaking on Lebanese television, spelled it out with shocking clarity.

I’m not sure that Hitler, were he given a slot on the nightly news, would have been this frank about the Nazis’ end game.

In 1933, when the Nazis’s extermination of the Jews began, it was cloaked in muffled language as “the final solution.”

Not any more.

When we hear the phrase “from the river to the sea,” everyone knows what that means: Hamas is talking not of the containment nor the de-fanging of Israel, but its total eradication and the extermination of all 7 million Jews living in Israel.

And how does “everyone” know this?

Because Hamas is a master of social media, relentlessly proclaiming that Israel isn’t really a nation. Yet far from hiding its slaughter of 1,400 Israeli civilians, and the kidnapping of 240 more who are citizens of 30 countries, Hamas was quick to send social media clips of their murders and other atrocities.

Indeed, the new antisemitic narrative is that Jews don’t deserve to live in Israel, even though no Jews are living today in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco and Syria. None.

The antisemites also claim that Israelis are colonizers and usurpers. This also is belied by the facts, as Simon Sebag Montefiore spelled out last month in The Atlantic.

It seems that antisemitism today has become asymmetric the way asymmetrical warfare has, where a weaker power uses non-traditional tactics to try to conquer a stronger one.

So when even the old truths around hate begin to change, can the old ways of controlling it work any more?

I hope so, but I fear not.

Because what really scares me is the utter silence from so many people I know– not on the incendiary subject of Hamas and Israel, but on the antisemitism here in Canada that this silence fuels.


1. What do you mean: “He has a British accent?” There are so many of them; in fact, 37.

2. If you call something art, is it? These days you need academic verification, and even better, the stamp of a great university. Hence, The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America. It’s been called “a sly masterpiece.”

As for attracting us to art, the Art Canada Institute has a quick, easy and gorgeous way to learn all about it.

3. Trevor Noah is funny. Here are three ways: Immigration, and Food, and America.

Speaking of America, it flew its first nuclear super-stealth bomber last week, the B-21 Raider.

Speaking more of America, The Lincoln Project is an initiative by disaffected Republicans to stop Donald Trump like this.

4. Eating and drinking with caution. The evidence of the deadly link between alcohol and cancer grows daily. Also, ultra-processed foods make up 60% of Americans’ (and likely Canadians’) daily caloric intake. Their links to cancer, diabetes and heart disease are long established. But it seems breakfast cereals and other pre-packaged meals are also a factor in depression and dementia.

5. Phil Lind. He was Ted Rogers’ right-hand man for nearly 40 years. When he died in August the tributes poured in for one of the most effective broadcasting and cable executives anywhere. But as Doug Barrett reveals, Lind was also godfather to the burgeoning Canadian independent production industry, which today generates $12 billion in revenues and a quarter of a million jobs.

Another deep diver who died recently was Don Walsh, the American naval captain who, in 1960 in the bathyscaphe Trieste, dived with Jacques Piccard into the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the world’s oceans. Canada’s Dr. Joe MacInnis, also one of the world’s most renowned divers, wrote this tribute to his mentor and friend.

6. Who’s the best non-fiction writer in the English language? This year, it’s Canadian John Vaillant. On Thursday, he won Britain’s Baillie Gifford Prize for his searing tale of the Ft. McMurray wildfire in 2016. I’ve mentioned Fire Weather before and this podcast with Vaillant tells why.

7. “I’d like to thank…….” Award speeches rank low in the calculus of compelling oratory. Except, of course, if you win a Gairdner Award (and $100,000) for your breakthrough discovery in medical research. Last month, these 8 brilliant scientists lit up the sold-out Gairdner Gala with their chronicles of brilliance and perseverance.

8. There are two New Yorks. The New York Times catalogues the rapid social distancing between ultra-rich and everyone else in a chronicle of conciergeness. Some examples: Full-time private chefs @$120,000 a year to prepare lunch and dinner. Mornings are for foraging. Chiefs of Staff (think Carson in Downton Abbey) up to $350,000 a year. On-demand Emergency care,, and for $2,750 a month unlimited access to a “hyperbaric oxygen chamber, lymphatic compression suit, ice bath breathwork classes, cryotherapy” and a red light bed. Or you can bid on reservations at sold-out restaurants (including in Toronto).

9. Stop thinking. Benedict Cumberbatch explains how to conquer creative block.

Start loving. Judi Dench, now 88, explains what love isn’t.

10. Best covers, worst fears. Here are the 25 best cover songs of all time, and the 25 worst covers too. Plus more performance anxiety, this time from Kent Nagano who once stared down a shark. Said Nagano, the director of the Hamburg State Opera: “If that terror ever goes away, that will be a moment to consider retirement.’

11. What I’m liking. Payback, a 6-part series on Britbox (Prime). A Scottish crime thriller about accountants and rich, ruthless men.



 — Gandalf, Lord of the Rings.

On Monday, Dec. 4th from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. ET Jean and I are hosting an online webinar about two deeply fascinating trips to hidden places and magnetic people.

With us on the webinar will be the ‘expert’ on these trips, Andrea Mandel Campbell whose karibu adventures is leading them.

On Monday, Dec. 4th from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Jean and I are hosting an online webinar about two deeply fascinating trips to hidden places and magnetic people.

With us on the webinar will be the ‘expert’ on these trips, Andrea Mandel Campbell whose karibu adventures is leading them.

The first adventure is hiking in a hidden mountain valley and UNESCO Geopark and World Heritage Site in the Italian Alps from June 7 to 13, 2024.

The second adventure is kayaking and Indigenous exploration off North Vancouver Island from Aug. 23 to 29, 2024.

This past summer, Jean and I took 10 friends for a week in karibu’s wild, sublime North Vancouver Island. As I note in my 5-star TripAdvisor review: We signed on for a kayak trip; we got so much more.” Here’s what it was like.

Now, you can take this trip next August and bring your family and friends.

You can also join us in June in Italy’s Alta Valsesia, as close as you can come to your own private mountain valley. As the Globe and Mail raved: “…it’s so picture-perfect, I feel as if I’ve walked into a living museum filled with startlingly fresh mountain air.” Andrea’s family has lived in the valley for over 500 years, and it shows. We’ll hike high, but we’ll go deep, with a real insider’s exploration into the heart of a unique part of Italy’s rich culture. Speaking of hearts, we’re all of an age, so no points for going fast. Whatever your pace is the best pace of all.

karibu’s mission is clear and enticing: “For the active adventurers and nature-lovers who seek raw and real experiences in some of the world’s most spectacular wild places and hidden gems, and want to keep them that way through responsible and inclusive travel. Our carefully-curated destinations celebrate what makes life truly awesome.”

So if you could do with a heap of awesomeness, join us online on December 4th to learn more about these two transformative trips.

Just let us know we’ll see your shiny face on the Zoom screen by emailing me at We’ll send the link closer to the date.


Bob Ramsay

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