July 18, 2017
MONTREAL - Nobody ever questions the value of B’nai Brith Canada. Since 1875, this organization has been recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel and global Jewry, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in combatting antisemitism and racism.
In Montreal, I hear people singing B’nai Brith’s praises all the time for a wide variety of reasons. Last week it was at a Volunteer Recognition Evening at B’nai Brith House, a social housing facility that has made a big difference in so many lives. A sister building, Chateau B'nai Brith, will open next summer. When it came to feeding the hungry at Passover, B’nai Brith’s food basket program was there. Combatting antisemitism on university campuses in Montreal? B’nai Brith stepped up to the plate big time.
Now, an investigation has been launched into rapper Jonathan Azaziah, also known as Madd Cold, who is being accused of wilfully promoting hatred against the Jewish community. If you've listened to any of his songs, this is actually an understatement. Azaziah, who spends much of his time in Montreal, is now on the radar screen of the Montreal Police Department’s newly-formed Hate Crimes Unit, which has also issued a warrant for the arrest of a Jordanian imam who was captured on video calling Jews “the most evil of mankind” in a Montreal mosque last December.
Both developments caught the attention of law enforcement officials because of the vigilance of B’nai Brith.
While, following B'nai Brith's investigation, music streaming services like BandCamp and SoundCloud have removed Azaziah's music, some of his songs remain streaming on YouTube, where you can see just how disturbing his material is. As a person who could appeal to younger people through his production and development of rap and hip hop, Azaziah represents a dangerous threat not just to the Jewish community, but to average citizens who promote tolerance and inclusion.
Azaziah's music could particularly do damage to listeners who have no prior knowledge of the Jewish community or the State of Israel, who could be susceptible to believing the propaganda and hateful content he espouses. It could easily send an impressionable listener in the wrong direction.
I must say, I felt physically sick after watching a few of his videos, which include songs like "Death to Israel" and "Overthrow the Saudis." Concert promoters should heed the warning Montreal police and B’nai Brith have sounded. Arresting him is one thing, but refusing to book him anywhere represents an even more powerful message. If there is no venue, there is no show!
"An investigation is under way and findings will be sent to our prosecution," Montreal Police Commander Caroline Cournoyer said. "We will try to find this person. This is really important for us. It is serious."
Steven Slimovitch, National Legal Counsel for B’nai Brith Canada, said while hate speech is illegal in Canada, intent has to be proven and in this case he believes the intent is evident. "When you make it a concerted effort, and I would have to believe that a song which are not composed overnight, time and thought went into this and I would assume, in order to promote it," he said.
Meanwhile, B’nai Brith’s close connection with the Hate Crimes Unit has revealed that a warrant has indeed been issued for Imam Sheikh Muhammad ibn Musa Al Nasr by a Quebec judge.
In a taped sermon, which was delivered in the Dar al-Arkam Mosque last December, Nasr called for the killing of Jews, referring to them as "demons" and "the most evil of mankind." Again, something like this cannot be ignored. Strong action is necessary to send a message to the community at large that words are dangerous!
Bravo again to the Hate Crimes Unit, B'nai Brith and everyone else concerned.