There wasn’t a more frustrated person in the world than Harry Cohen. He couldn’t believe what he was reading and seeing on social media. It was making him physically and mentally sick. Truth and fact had been subjugated for propaganda and hate. When he tried to set records straight he received a barrage of non-stop attacks filled with venom and threats.
Harry could for the first time in his life understand the horrible hate his family had felt in Europe caused by the Nazis. The lies about the Jews, the calls for death and destruction, and the non-stop viciousness. There was no question the same mentality that wanted to destroy Jews in Europe had spread in modern times into calls to wipe out the Jews of Israel.
The news on television and in print gave Harry no solace. It was constantly being reported that it was a David and Goliath struggle. The poor Palestinians always being presented as the good guys versus the oppressive Israelis. It was a huge problem for Harry because there was a lack of objectivity and reality in the stories.
When Syria was going through a civil war and thousands of children were being murdered the news seemed very quiet. When Iran hung gay people and imprisoned others who challenged the Government the world seemed quiet, when Hamas dragged people through the street because they wanted to be friends with Israel, the world seemed quiet, but when Hamas a recognized Terrorist organization shot rockets and missiles into a civilian population and Israel responded, Israel was the villains.
When young Arabs in Israel posted videos on Tik Tok challenging other Arabs to attack and beat up Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem, the news outside of Israel ignored the incitement. It was all ludicrous and getting to Harry.
Harry was thinking these thoughts when he received an email from his union. There was to be a Zoom discussion about the situation in Israel and Gaza. The Union President was a Jewish guy and the email that was sent out stressed that it was going to be a constructive sharing of ideas. The last line read that the Union was looking forward to a good turnout and robust discussion.
Even though the premise of the zoom meeting sounded good, Harry felt nervous. He remembered the postings that had gone up in the common lunch room a few months earlier that called Israel all kinds of terrible names. He had complained to the Union Steward and was basically laughed at. He couldn’t get the words of the Steward out of his mind. ‘’You have a lot of nerve complaining Cohen, it’s because of you Jews that all the problems in the world happen.’’ He had sent an email to HR immediately with a complaint that he had faced blatant Anti-Semitism and two hours later, he received an email from the Union Steward who had insulted him saying he was sorry. It was his opinion that Harry had misconstrued his words, and he would be more sensitive in the future. That was the end of the situation and it really bothered Harry as nothing was resolved. There was zero sincerity in the apology.
The Zoom meeting started with the Union President announcing six hundred and seventy-three members were online. He thanked everyone for their participation. He then said he wanted to read a prepared statement. ‘’We of Union 696 condemn Israel for their actions against the Heroic Palestinian fighters in Gaza.’’ He looked out at the camera smiling and said, ‘’Let’s have a discussion regarding your thoughts about the statement, as I plan to release it to the media tomorrow.’’
Harry felt nauseated, he listened in shock as members of his Union wanted a stronger condemnation and a call for a boycott of Israeli products by the union. One of the members seconded it and called for an immediate vote. The President of the Union, tried to explain they would need time to arrange a vote with the full membership, when Harry heard more Anti-Semitic garbage. One of the Union members asked if they could say something. The President said ‘’Of course,’’ he muted everyone and the speaker said ‘’I am Holt Hosking and I think our President is trying to delay the vote cause he’s Jewish and he’s trying to stop us from taking action.’’
The look on the President’s face was one of complete surprise. He muted the speaker and cleared his throat. ‘’Look, I was born Jewish but I’m just a Cultural Jew. I don’t support Israel and I listen to our membership. Being Jewish really has nothing to do with following protocol.
Another person requested permission to speak and the President, put them on. ‘’Yeah, I’m in agreement with the previous caller, I think we are being misled by our Jewish President. He doesn’t seem to want to put out a strong enough condemnation on Israel and he doesn’t want us to vote. He is a Jew and it’s obvious he is not in the corner of the Palestinian people.’’
Harry looked at his computer screen and couldn’t believe the Anti-Semitic messages that were being written in chat. They were outrageous. The President, David Slalo spent ten minutes pleading solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemning Israel, it still didn’t seem to soothe the membership. Harry kept thinking he had never heard such drivel in his entire life.
The overwhelming anti-Israel messages kept coming and it was a one-sided, no discussion, no debate lynching. Harry wanted to scream that this was Canada and having civil discourse was part of the fabric of the country, but he didn’t know how he would ever get a chance to contribute his thoughts. This was a rabid group of haters who didn’t want to hear from anyone who was pro-Israel and then a miracle happened.
A woman he didn’t know managed to grab David Slalo’s attention and he let her share her thoughts. It was obvious he was looking for a way to take the pressure off of himself. ‘’Hello, my name is Marley Leibowitz. I pay my union dues just like the rest of you, and I am offended beyond words. I want my union fees back and I will be hiring a lawyer to sue for them. I pay my dues to better our work environment, not to have it poisoned by hate. I think you are the most ignorant people I have ever encountered. Hamas which controls Gaza by force subjugates women, kills gays, and keeps the people in poverty, and does not allow for democracy. Money sent to them is used to build super mansions for their leadership and for bank accounts in Switzerland. The other money goes for weapons and concrete to build tunnels into Israel to try and carry out terror attacks. You ignoramuses turn your back on democracy, you ignore the people in Israel who are Muslim and hold important positions of power, and you ignore the fact that Israel has made peace with Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Morrocco, and Sudan. Egypt has been a peace partner for a very long time. But you ignore all that. You ignore the violence by ISIS and the Taliban and you focus on the small Jewish country of Israel. Well Fuck you all. David Slalo I am sorry you were born Jewish as its obvious you don’t have any respect for yourself. You just want to pander to these haters to keep your Presidential position. I guess it must be about the money you get paid for holding the job, cause it isn’t for being any kind of fair and decent leader. You suck. Read the comments David, you’re hated because you’re a Jew not because of your political position. This group is no different than the Nazis, they are propagating and believing in the Big Lie. Tell it often enough and it becomes reality. Israel would love to have peace with their neighbours, however, they don’t feel like getting obliterated by their professed enemies, so they have to take decisive action. If someone threatened your life every day you’d do the exact same thing, and if any of you said you wouldn't you know your lying. I know I’m outnumbered, and I don’t care, I will always be proud to be Jewish and proud to defend Israel.’’
The comments being made against Marley Leibowitz in the chat section were more outrageous and ridiculous than the ones made against David Slalo. One of the morons had written that he wanted to rape her. Harry did something he knew would draw ire, but he didn’t care. He wrote in chat. ‘’I expect David Slalo to call the Police and report the rape threat and the other threats against Marly that are being made. Are you going to do that Mr. President? I proudly support Marley Leibowitz one hundred percent. I am going to join her suing the Union to get my fees back and I will also defend Israel at every opportunity. Take your gang mentality and stick it up your asses.’’
David Slalo muted everyone. ‘’I am appalled about the physical threats being made against me, and the rape threat against Marley. I have no choice but to report them to the Police. I have the names of the people on chat who made those hideous comments and you will have to answer for your actions. I will not be releasing my original statement tomorrow. I have to discuss everything with our board. This has been a very disappointing night for me, I expected so much more from you all. Good Night.’’
Harry again watched the message board fill up with vitriolic messages and then the screen went off. It had been a strange meeting. Harry was sure it was not what David Slalo had been expecting.
Two minutes later, Harry received a Zoom call. It was Marley Leibowitz. ‘’Hi Harry, Sorry that we’re meeting under these crappy circumstances, but I would like to talk to you about suing to get our Union dues back. Were you serious about it? Do you think we could meet and find a lawyer together to represent us? I appreciate your support tonight it was scary, but I couldn’t listen to the shit anymore, it was so unfair and wrong.’’
Harry suggested a lunch date for the following Thursday and they chose a time and place. Marley said she was glad she was not alone in the battle for truth, justice, and decency. Harry reminded her that it was not about numbers but spirit. He closed their conversation by saying ‘’Justice, Justice, We Must Pursue.’’ Harry Cohen had never been more serious about anything in his life.