Letter from An Angry Canadian Jew

December 19, 2016

To: Ottawa Citizen Digital

From: Arthur Cogan

The recent events of anti-Semitism displayed in Ottawa by cowardly paint smearers have prompted me to write this letter to two segments of our community. The first is to the cowardly paint smearers and the second is to the community at large.

To the cowardly paint smearers: In the past when cowards desecrated Jewish symbols and structures we, as Jews expressed horror, shock and fear that we were targets again and history was repeating itself. I will tell you my feelings and hopefully that of the modern Jew in our society.

As a Jew, it doesn't bother me in the least and in fact makes me feel good that you cowards are jealous and envious of who we are. It bothers you that as Jews we have contributed so much to society and your only response to that is use of a can of paint spray. You lack the guts to display your jealousy openly, where you can be seen. You are cowards because you cannot face us openly and answer the question 'WHY'.

Let me tell you something that you fail to understand about Jews. There isn't a Jew today, whether it be a family member, relative or friend that has not been affected by the Holocaust. In my own case, my mother's entire family including children, aunts and uncles were taken from their homes, murdered and then cremated in Nazi ovens.

Do you think that use of a can of spray paint can intimidate us? If you do you are sadly mistaken. It makes me feel good that what our race has accomplished on this earth makes you feel uncomfortable, jealous and envious.

Let there be no mistake: paint on any surface can easily be removed, but the cowardice in your genes will remain there forever.

You have desecrated not only Jewish symbols but your very souls, which no paint remover can ever repair. I challenge anyone to come out into the open and meet me face to face and say why you hate me. You can come armed with your cheap spray paint, but I will arm myself with a weapon of my choice, and that is the word ' WHY'.

When you have to explain why you hate Jews who provide medical services that save the lives of your families; who hold more patents per capita than anyone else in the world; whose inventions make the quality of your life better; who educate your children; and who give more money to charitable causes per capita than any other race in the world; perhaps then you will realize that you have no credible excuse for your cowardly actions.

The second group I wish to address is the community at large, who make up the majority of society.

You should say loudly and clearly that it should not be left to the Jews alone to cry foul, and express anger and shock for these senseless cowardly acts of anti-Semitism. Where are your voices of condemnation?

Do you silently think 'glad it's not us' or 'let the Jews fend for themselves'? Perhaps some are also anti-Semitic and are content to let others do the dirty work?

Whichever the case, history has shown that when societies fall into the hands of cowards, first they come for the Jews, and then they come for the rest of you. Let there be no mistake. Next it will be your churches, your gravestones and your schools.

The majority who sit by and do/say nothing, cause far greater harm than any can of paint. Silence, indifference and complacency are much worse acts of desecration than paint on walls.

The majority should speak out loudly and declare that an attack on our Jewish neighbours is an attack upon us all. It is we, and not the Jews alone, who must clean up the mess because we have all been attacked.

Chaplains, priests, reverends and community elders should stand at their pulpits and condemn these acts of anti-Semitism and urge their congregants to stand side by side with us Jews, and as an act of solidarity offer to help clean up the mess that defaced our sites.

It will silence the cowards when they realize they have failed to generate hatred for the Jews, and instead have generated support for them. Let the cowards realize that the most effective paint remover is not a liquid, but society's condemnation.

I ask my Christian friends one simple question: Would Jesus sit idly by and remain silent while observing such cowardly acts? I think NOT.

I am a former Crown prosecutor, defence lawyer, former counsel to the Ottawa Police, former associate law professor and member of the Ottawa Bar for 50 years, as well as a former Chairman of Ottawa Court House, a past President of Youth Services Bureau, and a past President of Ottawa Carleton Bar Association.

I am also an artist and know very well how to remove paint.


Arthur Cogan, QC


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