Meir Weinstein

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Meir Weinstein (also known as Meir Halevi, born Marvin Weinstein[1]) is the national director of the Canadian branch of the Jewish Defense League (JDL).

Background[edit]

Weinstein has been leader of the Canadian JDL since the late 1970s, but formerly went under the pseudonym "Meir Halevi". He joined the JDL, at the age of 20, after reading the book Never Again written by Meir Kahane. Previously an assimilated Jew, Weinstein began attending synagogue regularly, began studying Jewish texts and became more involved in the Jewish community as a result of reading the book. He founded the Toronto JDL branch in 1979.[2] In the 1980s, Weinstein was involved in identifying alleged Nazi war criminals living in Canada.[3]

Weinstein is a trained bodyguard and served in the Israel Defense Forces.[1]

In Alberta[edit]

In the mid-1980s, Weinstein travelled to Alberta on several occasions in an attempt to organize the Jewish community against antisemitic activity in the province - particularly, against the activities of Aryan Nations organizer Terry Long. He received national media attention in 1986 when he picketed "AryanFest" when it was held on Long's Alberta compound.[4] The previous year, Weinstein had held meetings in Edmonton in an attempt to organize a JDL branch there. During one of the meetings he shouted down Rabbi Haim Kemelman, leader of Edmonton's Beth Shalom synagogue, after he criticized the JDL's methods and called Weinstein a "carpetbagger"[5] and alleged he was trumping up a non-existent crisis of antisemitism in an attempt create an Edmonton JDL branch. "Those kinds of rabbis, those kind of Jews, in the end they dig a grave for Jews," said Weinstein who accused the rabbi of being "rude and extremist".[5] "You see, I am silenced," the rabbi was reported as saying to a reporter after the incident, adding, "that is the JDL."[5]

In 1986, an editorial in the Globe and Mail criticized Weinstein (under his pseudonym of Meir Halevi) for claiming that the Alberta government was aiding neo-nazi Terry Long: "to say, as Mr. Halevi does, that this group exists with the assistance of the provincial government is simply a lie. And to advocate, as he does, any means legal or illegal to destroy the Aryan Nations group is irresponsible."[6]

On Baruch Goldstein[edit]

In 1994, in his capacity as Canadian spokesman for the banned Israeli political party Kach, Weinstein, using his pseudonym of Meir Halevi, commented on the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre committed by Kach member Baruch Goldstein in Hebron saying "[o]ur organization does not condemn the attack. It condemns the Israeli government for not providing adequate protection for settlers." He added that Kach does not advocate physical attacks on Palestinians but that it wants all members of terrorist organizations expelled from Israel.[7]

Enrst Zündel[edit]

In May 1995 Meir Weinstein and US JDL leader Irv Rubin were caught and apprehended by police[8] while trying to break into the property of Ernst Zündel, a Holocaust denier. No charges have ever been laid in the incident.[9]

On Meir Kahane[edit]

Weinstein was politicized by Meir Kahane's writings and became one of his followers. In 2008 he told the Jewish Press "I will always be a loyal disciple of Rabbi Kahane. Our ideology is based on the Jewish Idea as taught by Rabbi Kahane."[10] Under his leadership, the Canadian JDL has held annual commemorations honoring Kahane's life and ideas.[1]

Protest at Palestine House[edit]

In 2002, during the Canadian JDL's inactive period, Weinstein organized another group called the United Israel Action Committee which organized two demonstrations outside of Palestine House in Mississauga, Ontario. At the second demonstration the pro-Palestinian counterdemonstrators were joined by 20 children. Palestine House president Rashad Saleh said the demonstrators "should be the ones who should be ashamed. (They) are coming here and terrorizing our little children." [5] Weinstein argued that the children had been brought out as "pawns" by Palestine House and claimed that the organization his group was picketing used its charitable status to fund the Palestine Liberation Organization. "The people standing across the street are those who support the murders of Jews," said Weinstein to a reporter.[5]

2007 Newmarket mosque dispute[edit]

In 2007, Weinstein helped organize a town hall session to raise questions about the Newmarket mosque's connections with Zafar Bangash. The controversial imam has promoted sharia law and vigorously defended Iran's fundamentalist regime and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement. The mosque spokesperson denied that Bangash will have anything to do with the day-to-day running of the mosque.[5]

The meeting was criticized as "one-sided" because no officials from the mosque were invited. John Thompson, president of the Mackenzie Institute, was one of the featured speakers at the town hall. He told the Star that he was invited by Ron Banerjee, one of the organizers, but would have "called in with the flu" had he known Weinstein would be there because of his association with the JDL.[5]

Weinstein found himself on the defensive at the meeting, according to the National Post, after he inferred that a town councillor had accepted a bribe. Newmarket resident Brian Patterson said of Weinstein: "I don't think he has any credibility at all. To suggest at a public meeting that any public official in this town has taken a bribe without any evidence of that is outrageous."[5]

In his arguments against the mosque, Weinstein told the audience of about 30, "[i]f, God forbid, an Islamic state ever came to fruition in this country, we would be doomed. Is that what you want in this country?"[5]

Clash with Paul Fromm[edit]

A 2007 demonstration against Paul Fromm while he was on his way to a disciplinary hearing at the Ontario College of Teachers resulted in the arrest of two JDL activists who were accused of assaulting the controversial far-right figure. Weinstein, himself, was not reported to have been involved in the incident. He told the Globe and Mail that the arrests were "not going to be a setback for us and we're determined to see to it that Nazis will not teach hate in classrooms."[11]

George Galloway[edit]

In 2009, Weinstein's JDL issued an "open letter" to the Canadian government calling on British MP George Galloway to be barred from entering Canada. The government did so and Weinstein appeared on Channel 4 News to debate Galloway over the issue. During the interview, Weinstein accused Galloway of being a "proxy agent" of Hamas and Hezbollah. When Galloway stated that he would be speaking in Canada through "other means", electronic if necessary, Weinstein threatened that "we will see to it that the Canadian government will be monitoring every individual and organization that will have anything to do with it” and that he and the JDL "will be looking into these organizations that invited him… their links to terror groups as well” and that he will “see to it that the Canadian Government will be monitoring every individual and organization that has anything to do with George Galloway”.[12] CBC pointed out, that Meir Weinstein himself was a spokesperson of the Kach Party in 1994 despite the Kach Party being on Canada's branded list of terrorist organizations. Weinstein denied that he ever was a member of the Kach party or Kahane Chai, insisting he was just the spokesman.

"Death to the Arabs"[edit]

On April 3, 2009, CBC Radio's The World Report carried a profile on Weinstein which asserted that a link was discovered on Weinstein's Facebook page to a chat group called "Death to Arabs". Weinstein told CBC the link had been sent to him in Hebrew and he added it not knowing what it said.[13]

English Defence League[edit]

In 2011, Weinstein's Jewish Defence League organized a "support rally" for the controversial English Defence League featuring a live speech, via Skype, by EDL leader Tommy Robinson. The event was denounced by the Canadian Jewish Congress whose leader, Bernie Farber, said he was "disappointed that the JDL would support an organization whose record in the U.K. is one of violence and extremism."[14] "We join with all the leading British Jewish organizations in condemning the intolerance and violence that the EDL represents. It has never been the Canadian way to promote vigilantism," added Farber.[15] In an opinion piece published following the event, Farber and CJC general counsel Benjamin Shinewald castigated the JDL stating that, "By joining forces [with the English Defence League], the JDL condones the indefensible actions of violent extremists."[16]

The rally, held at the Toronto Zionist Centre, attracted a counter-protest organized by Anti-Racist Action resulting in four arrests.[15]

RCMP investigate JDL Canada for alleged bomb plot[edit]

On October 5, 2011 on the Michael Coren show it was revealed that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had launched an investigation against at least nine members of the Canadian JDL in regards to an anonymous tip that the JDL was plotting to bomb Palestine House in Mississauga. [17] Meir Weinstein reported that many members of the JDL were interviewed extensively, at home and at work and suggested that the RCMP was surveilling their activity. Weinstein denied that the plot existed and accused the RCMP of political bias.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Enzo DiMatteo, "Extreme honour T.O Jews mourn Kahane", Now Magazine, January 11, 2001
  2. ^ Ira Basen, "Shock troops of the faith", Globe and Mail, November 28, 1981
  3. ^ Andre Picard, "Jewish group vows to identify suspects", The Globe and Mail, January 14, 1988
  4. ^ Fisher, Matthew, "Jewish group vows to stop Aryan camp", Globe and Mail, August 23, 1986
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Verbal barbs fly at meeting of JDL", Globe and Mail, October 21, 1985
  6. ^ Editorial: Enter the vigilantes, Globe and Mail, August 26, 1986
  7. ^ Canadian, Press (February 26, 1994). "Mosque attack threatens talks Arafat blames Rabin for massacre". Kitchener-Waterloo Record. 
  8. ^ Shermer, Michael. Why People Believe Weird Things. 1997, page 185
  9. ^ Linda Deutsch, "U.S. Jewish militants charged in bomb plot: Los Angeles mosque, congressman's office were intended targets", Ottawa Citizen, December 13, 2001
  10. ^ Sidman, Fern, Jewish defense north of the border, Jewish Press, August 20, 2008
  11. ^ Mahoney, Jill, "Activists confront controversial educator: Demonstrators charged as scuffle erupts over ex-teacher tied to white supremacists", Globe and Mail, April 20, 2007
  12. ^ Turton, Sue. "MP Galloway will fight Canada ban - Channel 4 News". Channel4.com. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  13. ^ YouTube upload of CBC News report, April 3, 2009
  14. ^ "Anti-Islamic group from U.K. to hold rally", National Post, January 6, 2011
  15. ^ a b "'Islamophobic' group draws fierce protests", National Post, January 12, 2011
  16. ^ "Troubling marriage for T.O. Jews", Toronto Sun, January 12, 2011
  17. ^ "Michael Coren's Arena: Meir Weinstein - JDL Had Nothing To Do With Alleged Bomb Plot!". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 

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