From the Canadian National Post:
Jewish activists say a Toronto-area rabbi has been pressured by an area police force to change plans to host a controversial anti-Islamist speaker, prompting accusations the force is squelching free speech.
Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, of the Chabad @ Flamingo Synagogue, cancelled plans to host a talk by Pamela Geller, an American blogger known for her criticism of Islam.
Meir Weinstein, director of the Jewish Defence League, the hardline group sponsoring the event, told the National Post he was shocked and mystified as to why the police got involved.
Kaplan is a volunteer chaplain with the York Regional Police force. According to Inspector Ricky Veerappan, who heads the York Regional Police force’s diversity, equity and inclusion bureau:
“Our concern is that Rabbi Kaplan is also a representative of the police, he wears a police uniform, and some of the comments that have been attributed to Ms. Geller really posed a conflict situation for us at York Regional Police.”
I can’t see what’s so “mystifying” about that. A Chabad rabbi also hosted Geller last month, following the cancellation of a planned talk at the Great Neck Synagogue, and the Toronto appearance will also now take place elsewhere.
I noted the Toronto Jewish Defence League in early 2011, when the group held a video conference with Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the head of the English Defence League; despite the similarly in the names, the JDL has a separate and unrelated history associated with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane.
Soon after that, the JDL became involved in a protest against a gay pride procession in the city; this was prompted by the possible inclusion in the parade of a group called “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” (QuAIA), but the JDL’s opposition was of a coarsely anti-gay character; Xtra! reported:
By the end of the protest at the offices of Pride Toronto (PT) on April 15, members of the Jewish Defense League of Canada (JDL) were throwing anti-gay slurs like “fag” at a small, mostly silent group of rainbow flag-waving gay people.
…A JDL Facebook posting that circulated on April 12 states, “During the Nazi era, many high-ranking Nazis were gay.”
…At one point a JDL supporter, who identified himself as Naresh Patel from the Canadian Hindu Advocacy group, threatened this reporter in hushed tones, saying, “You’re lucky there’s cops here.”
…The protest lasted about an hour and a half before the JDL group packed up and left. But just before going, one protester yelled, “We’ll be back, fags.”
One JDL demonstrator, yelling into a megaphone, expressed frustration with the anti-gay slurs and told the PT supporters that “Some of us aren’t saying what we’re supposed to be saying.”
Kaplan also became involved in the controversy, after he criticised Jewish groups for supporting the involvement of a Jewish gay advocacy group (Kalunu) in the Gay Pride event as a counter to QuAIA; as he explained to LifeSiteNews:
“God loves all of His children, and I strongly believe in tolerance and respect for everybody in our society,” he told LifeSiteNews Tuesday. But the Jewish groups “cannot endorse things like this, things that are antithetical to the Torah, and expect to still represent the Jewish community in a united way.”
…The Torah is “abundantly straightforward” on the issue of homosexuality, he said. “The question then becomes, can Jewish tradition and the Torah be cast aside for the modern values of secularism and liberalism? And can it be done without injuring, or even destroying, the sanctity of the Jewish values that have been in place for 3,300 years? I believe the answer to that question is no.”
Kaplan’s initial comments were the subject of a six-month review, at the end of which Veerappan confirmed that “the specific allegations of a vile sermon were all unsubstantiated”. Veerappan also described Kaplan as a “great chaplain”.
The review also considered an email exchange between Kaplan and the Canadian Jewish Congress’s chief executive. Xtra! reproduced the full text, which includes the following from Kaplan:
And I am deeply ashamed of you and your cohorts who shamefully publically proclaimed your disconnection from the Torah’s code of sexual morality on Shabbat Kodesh Parshat Pinchas which tells us in glowing terms about the eternal righteousness of Pinchas who fought against the same spirit of public and flagrant violation of same in ancient times (homosexual or heterosexual is irrelevant — both were public displays of immodesty in the extreme!).
Here’s the Biblical story of Pinchas, also transliterated as “Phineas”, from Numbers chapter 25:
While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods… Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand 8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped…
Geller’s alliances with religious conservatives known for expressing anti-gay sentiments have proven problematic in the past, as we saw in relation to the Christian Action Network.
(H/T BigCityLib Strikes Back for some of the links)
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