1988 was 43 years after the end of the war. Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel was on trial, President Ronald Reagan announced the intention to build a National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, British Holocaust Denier David Irving was on his first book tour, and 10,000 young Jewish students from 52 countries went to Auschwitz on the first ever March of the Living.

At the time, Holocaust survivors were plentiful and had started telling their stories. The March was a perfect companion trip to authenticate the Holocaust experience, it was the perfect example of authentic learning, disguised as a new educational trend, but practiced all along.

In the spirit of transparency: I attended the trip in 1990 and applied to be a Councillor this year (but backed out of the application process due to the over $10,000 fee Councillors must pay.)

Yesterday, over triple the number of students as the first March went on the 2018 March of the Living. Much has changed:

The trip now goes annually, and the selection process is much looser. It no longer caters to the academic elite and Poland has recently passed a law stating that nobody within that country could blame Poland for the events of the Holocaust on Polish soil. Most Holocaust survivors who experienced the horrors of the camp are too old or no longer among the living to attend the trip and in today’s digital era, with attention spans of a mosquito, young Jews have little or no connection to the horrific events of over 70 years ago.

When the March first went, in 1988, nearly every child had a grandparent who was a Holocaust survivor. Today, most students have a tenuous connection, perhaps a living great grandparent or a story passed down, but no real earthly connection. So, the question is, should the trip still go?

Today, Poland has increasingly joined the European Holocaust denial club, by disassociating themselves and their citizens as perpetrators of the horrors. Spending millions of dollars in their economy on the blood of Jews who mean little to nothing to the Marchers seems ludicrous.

A few years ago, I interviewed a very nice young man upon his return from The March of the Living. I asked him how the trip affected him. He looked at me puzzled by the question. I rephrased the question and asked him how emotionally he felt while walking through a Death Camp knowing that millions of Jews who had walked on those stones faced death minutes later.

He took a deep breath and informed me that I would be disappointed with his answer. He said that the trip “was fun, but I felt nothing in Poland, it was such an ugly country. I had no emotions at all at the concentration camps because I don’t know anyone who survived the Holocaust. I did cry at the Yom Hazikaron (Israel Veteran’s Day) ceremony in Israel.”

Today’s youth has a greater connection with Israel than the Holocaust. Perhaps we, as a community, should recognize that and realize that a week in Poland does not have the same impact 30 years later because the children don’t have the same connection to the event. For these students, Holocaust is a subject in school, not a real, living, breathing event. When I went 28 years ago, my grandfather gave me his number tattooed on his arm and told me to look it up at Auschwitz (I found his bunker and took a picture for him). I doubt that any of the Marchers who left yesterday had anyone to talk to who was there, nor do I think any went with a mission.

Perhaps future March of the Livings should take place exclusively in Israel. Perhaps the students should be exposed to Holocaust material in conjunction with Yad Vashem, an educational trip geared towards 21st Century students, digital, movies, sound bites, followed by a few days on the history of Zionism and then rebirth of the Jewish Nation.

A trip like that won’t be contributing to the economy of a country that denies their involvement and would be much more meaningful to a generation of Jews who relate more to Israeli soldiers than early 20th Century European Jews.

 

 

Ed Note: This essay was written by Howie Silbiger just after the Columbine School Massacre in 1999. It is very sad that in 2018 it is still relevant.

I could have been a school shooter. It’s chilling that I can say that and be serious about it, but it’s true. As a teen, I fit the profile. I was somewhat of a loner, bullied at school and had access to a friend’s father’s hunting rifle. If my psyche was different, if I was a little mentally off, it is very possible that you may have read about me instead of Dylan Kleobold and Eric Harris. I am a Kippah wearing Jew. It is part of my identity, I do not compromise on my religion, I never have and throughout middle and high school I paid the price.

I remember the torture clearly, nearly every instance and all of my tormentor’s names. I’m told that someone bullied a lot does that, remembers it. The beatings started in grade 7. First it started with taunts, but when I heard “Fucking Jew” screamed at me, I braced myself for the fist. It was a daily occurrence, that and being pelted with pennies and on one occasion being set on fire. The school administration really wasn’t interested in dealing with the problem and my very concerned parents spent two years begging me to change schools. I refused. My logic was simple, changing school would let my tormentors win and I was never ever going to allow that.

So, I went to school everyday, knowing I was going to be beaten. My friend Mike tried to help, he spread a rumour that I was a black belt in Karate, but nobody really believed him, and I fought everyday, sometimes winning, most of the time, grossly outnumbered and beaten silly.

I remember one day in grade 9, a polish kid named Alan approached me in the hall and said that he had heard that I insulted his mother. I had no reason to insult his mother, I barely knew him, but he insisted and said I would pay for it after school.

I spent the day trying to get a detention, I was unsuccessful and eventually the final bell rang. I left the school quickly, crossed the street and started heading home when from behind me, I heard Alan’s voice. “Hey Jew” he said. I stopped and turned around. His face was red, he stood with his legs slightly apart, his arms dangling down the sides of his lanky body. His blond hair was neatly combed, and he had a blue knapsack strung over his left shoulder. I looked him straight in the face and said, “I never said anything about your mom.” I had no sooner finished the sentence when I found myself lying in the bushes my nose bleeding. Apparently, he had kicked me in the face, I never even saw it coming.

As I lay there I wanted revenge. I thought hard and long about getting up and ripping off his face. I wanted to kill him, the embarrassment, the pain in my nose. I regretted not listening to my parents, for being stubborn and choosing to stay where I obviously wasn’t wanted. I felt small, useless and most of all I felt alone.

It was then that I realized that I wouldn’t care much if something bad happened to my tormentors. I fantasized about revenge, knowing that I would never do anything to get back at them, I wasn’t psychotic nor was I homicidal.

Life went on and beating after beating made me a stronger Jew. Most would have given up and I think even my parents were surprised I stuck with it, but the more they hated me the more resolve I had to stick with it, to be a better Jew and a better person.

The last beating of high school was when I went to pick up my grad ring. The ring table was setup in the lobby of the school and I chose to go after school thinking that there would be less people there and less risk of a confrontation. As I got to the table I felt a penny slam into the back of my head.  I turned around and four grade 9 boys were standing there. One of them said “Hey Jew, the penny is on the floor, aren’t you going to pick it up?” My calm reply, “fuck you.” The boys approached. I turned around and gave the lady behind the table my name, she started looking for my contract.

Suddenly a fist to the back of my head. I lurch forward and knock the table over, grad rings splatter all over the floor. The ring lady looked at me in horror. The four boys stepped forward and started kicking and punching me. I lay there on top of the knocked over the table as they kicked in two of my ribs.

What’s amazing is that I never felt the victim. I never got depressed, never felt that life was hopeless. The reason, I had a strong family who cared about me, I had a few good friends who loved and cherished me, and I had an attitude that allowed me to turn my anger into productivity. I was the school newspaper editor, the yearbook photographer, I sat on student council and kept myself busy staying late after school and away from my tormentors.

So here we are, a massive school shooting, the largest one in American history. Many are calling for gun reforms, to repeal the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution and banning guns. It’s easy to blame all problems on gun and gun owners, it’s easy to point fingers at the NRA and Charlton Heston, its President. Of course, if we got rid of the NRA, if we destroyed every civilian gun in the US the world would be safe. It’s an illusion and not true.

The NRA is not responsible for Columbine. Gun owners are not responsible. Gun sellers are not responsible. Dylan Kleobold and Eric Harris are responsible. They hatched the plan, built bombs, acquired guns and set out to kill as many as they could. Reports show that there were warning signs that everyone ignored, there were videos and stockpiles of arms and bomb building going on in a house with the family ignoring or not paying attention to what’s going on. Where were the parents? Where were the authorities? Where was anyone?

It’s easy to scapegoat the NRA, it’s easy to scapegoat the gun owners, but not so easy to look at society and say maybe we are all responsible. It’s much harder to look at society and say maybe if the police had gone in and confronted the shooters, maybe if Dylan or Eric’s parents had taken a more active interest in their live, maybe if they had girlfriends or if they weren’t bullied things would be different.

If you want to change the world and avoid another school shooting, do your part. Be nice to the people around you. Be understanding and accepting, love and be loved. Only then, even if guns are available, even if the NRA still exists, these kind of attacks would end. Seek out, understand and be good. That’s how we fight and beat these terrible problems.

 

As critics have taken aim at law enforcement for missing warning signs about South Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz, public records have emerged that conflict with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel’s statements about the number of times deputies were dispatched to the shooter’s home.

Records obtained from the sheriff’s office by CNN show the law enforcement agency received at least 45 calls for service relating to Cruz or his brother from 2008 to 2017, before the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14. The sheriff’s office has insisted it received no more than 23 calls for service regarding Cruz or his family.
CNN has repeatedly asked the sheriff’s office to explain the discrepancy, sending emails and attempting to reach an agency representative by phone. The agency has not responded to those requests with an explanation.
On Feb. 15, CNN received a Broward County Sheriff’s Office log based on a public records request showing 39 calls from Cruz’s house over a six-year period. During CNN’s town hall on the Parkland school shooting last Wednesday, NRA representative Dana Loesch confronted Sheriff Israel about those 39 calls, though she inaccurately described them as being 39 visits from police in one year.
The next day, at a press conference in the wake of growing public criticism, Israel said his agency “has been involved in 23 type calls involving the killer in some way, shape or form — or his brother.”
On Saturday, the sheriff’s office reiterated that lower figure, releasing this public statement: “Since 2008, BSO responded to 23 incidents where previous contact was made with the killer or his family. STOP REPORTING 39; IT’S SIMPLY NOT TRUE.” That day, he made the same claim in a letter to the governor.
However, based on logs of the original calls and additional records since obtained from the agency, CNN has found that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office actually received 45 calls in the past decade related to the Cruz home, Nikolas Cruz or his brother — even more than previously thought.
The documents in question include call logs from the law enforcement agency’s “computer aided dispatch” system. The records list police calls from the home at 6166 Northwest 80th Terrace in Parkland, Florida, which was the home owned by Nikolas Cruz’s mother during that time period, according to property deeds.
Each listed police call has a unique identifying number, dispatch date and time, and description. The descriptions include mentions of a “mentally ill person,” “child/elderly abuse,” “domestic disturbance,” “missing person,” and more. The vast majority of the calls resulted in “no written report.”
A CNN review of the records shows that at least 19 calls relate to Nikolas Cruz, starting when he was as young as 9 years old. An additional 25 calls regarded only his younger brother, Zachary, for behavior ranging from running away to hitting his mother. A final one is ambiguous about which boy it involves.
Several calls involving Nikolas were not cited on an original list of 39 calls related to the Cruz home, but were detailed in a separate document released by the sheriff’s office last week. One of the original calls turned out to involve a neighbor.
Calls relating to Nikolas Cruz include descriptions of fights with his brother, cursing at his mother, and throwing her against the wall for taking away his Xbox. The issues brought to the sheriff’s attention worsen over time. In 2014, someone accused him of shooting a chicken with a BB gun.
Records show that in 2016, a neighbor warned the sheriff’s office of an Instagram post in which Cruz said he “planned to shoot up the school.” This week, Joelle Guarino told CNN she placed the 911 call and had begged the sheriff’s office to intervene. She was told there was nothing deputies could do until Cruz actually did something, she said.
Later that year, an unidentified peer counselor alerted the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s school resource deputy that Cruz “possibly” drank gasoline “in an attempt to commit suicide,” was “cutting himself,” and “wished to purchase a gun.” An investigator with Florida’s Department of Children and Families spoke to Cruz, but his therapist ultimately advised that he was “not currently a threat to himself or others” and did not need to be committed.
On November 1, the day his mother died, Broward Sheriff’s Office received a call from Lynda Cruz’s cousin, who warned deputies that Cruz had rifles and pleaded for them to “recover these weapons.” On November 30, the sheriff’s office received a call from a tipster in Massachusetts who warned them Cruz was “collecting guns and knives,” and “could be a school shooter in the making.” Records show the deputy “referred caller to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office,” which had jurisdiction over Cruz’s temporary home with a family friend. Within days, Cruz was back south in Broward County staying with another friend’s family.
On Sunday morning, Sheriff Israel appeared on CNN’s State of the Union program. Anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper asked Israel if he takes “any responsibility for the multiple red flags” that were brought to the agency’s attention.
“Jake, I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence. I have given amazing leadership to this agency,” Israel replied.
Since the attack, which killed 17, there have been multiple calls for the sheriff, a Democrat, to resign from his elected post. On Saturday, Florida State Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton) urged the governor to relieve Israel for “gross incompetence.” On Sunday, Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran (R-Land O’Lakes), wrote a letter to the governor citing the department’s “failures to intervene” with Nikolas Cruz that are “unacceptable and unforgivable.”

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office is investigating why three of its deputies apparently remained outside the Florida high school where 17 people were killed this month, Sheriff Scott Israel said Sunday.

Two law enforcement sources told NBC News that the deputies didn’t enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland during one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings on Feb. 14. Israel told NBC News on Sunday that the department’s internal affairs division was trying to determine whether they stayed outside when they shouldn’t have.

The acknowledgement came three days after Israel announced the resignation of another deputy, Scot Peterson, who’d been assigned to the high school but remained outside during the shooting, and as the sheriff’s response to the shooting came under increasing scrutiny.

Gov. Rick Scott asked the state’s law enforcement agency to investigate that response on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in a letter signed by 73 state lawmakers and released Sunday, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran asked Scott, a Republican, to suspend Israel, a Democrat, immediately over the department’s alleged failures to appropriately handle “repeated warning signs” from the man who’s been charged with the shooting, Nikolas Cruz, 19.

During one report to the sheriff’s office in 2016, for example, a caller said Cruz planned to shoot up a school and had posted photos on Instagram in which he was holding a gun. Last November, another caller said Cruz was collecting guns and knives and described him as a school shooter in the making.

The sheriff’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Corcoran’s letter. Earlier, Israel dismissed an open letter to Scott from state Rep. Bill Hager, who backed Corcoran and called for the sheriff’s ouster.

In a response to Scott (PDF), Israel disputed Hager’s “reckless letter,” saying it was filled with “factual errors, unsupported gossip and falsehoods.” In an interview, Israel said he believed the effort against him was “politically motivated.”

The FBI has also acknowledged that it didn’t investigate a message left on a tip line about Cruz’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts.”

Israel said investigators were still trying to figure out whether the other deputies who reportedly remained outside Marjory Stoneman on Feb. 14 should have pursued Cruz.

He said Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi told a sheriff’s official that as his officers approached the high school on Feb. 14, they saw two or three deputies outside the school. Investigators plan to take statements from those officers and review possible surveillance video.

“At this point, I have no independent knowledge from video or personal knowledge that any Broward sheriff’s deputy did not go in when they should have,” he said.

Coral Springs police have declined to comment on the reports, saying in a statement: “Any actions or inactions that negatively affected the response will be investigated thoroughly, and the information will be released officially from the proper agency spokesperson.”

Marjory Stoneman held a voluntary orientation on Sunday afternoon as the school prepared for a phased-in reopening this week. Staff members would return Monday and Tuesday, Broward County Public Schools said in a statement, while students would return Wednesday.

By KERRY SANDERS and TIM STELLOH – MSN.com

Palestinian protesters in the West Bank inadvertently burned down a local factory this week while confronting IDF soldiers near the West Bank city of Nablus.

According to Hadashot news, protesters in the Nablus-area village of Beita on Sunday were clashing with IDF soldiers, and rolled burning tires in their direction.

But one flaming tire had other plans and changed direction, rolling directly into a nearby plastics factory.

The building went up in flames and the factory was completely destroyed.

The report said Israeli firefighters arrived at the scene to help Palestinian Authority responders put out the fire.

The Nablus area has seen low-level clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters after an illegally built Jewish settlement outpost in the area sparked tensions.

The makeshift homes in the outpost called Evyatar were dismantled by the army last week.

Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown is under investigation by the province’s integrity watchdog over his financial affairs.

Integrity Commissioner David Wake announced on Monday that he is conducting an inquiry into Mr. Brown in response to a complaint filed by Randy Hillier, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington.

Mr. Hillier says in his complaint that “disconcerting patterns” related to Mr. Brown’s finances require explanation, including whether he has failed to disclose gifts, “lavish” travel and other sources of income in addition to his salary. Mr. Hillier is backing former Tory MPP Christine Elliott for the leadership of the PC Party. Ms. Elliott is one of five candidates, including Mr. Brown, in the race.

Mr. Hillier’s complaints cites, among other issues, a Globe and Mail report that documented a proposed deal whereby Mr. Brown was to sell an interest in a restaurant he partly owns and some Aeroplan miles for $375,000 to Jass Johal, a Brampton paralegal who went on to become a Tory candidate.

According to a copy of an affidavit shown to The Globe, Mr. Johal says he agreed to purchase two million Aeroplan miles and an ownership interest in Hooligans restaurant in Barrie from Mr. Brown. The affidavit is dated June 11, 2016, and signed by Mr. Johal.

Mr. Brown told The Globe in an e-mail that “no deal was ever done.”

Other documents seen by The Globe, including bank statements, show that Mr. Brown deposited $375,000 into his account at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce on July 11, 2016. That same month, property records show he purchased a waterfront house on Lake Simcoe’s Shanty Bay for $2.3-million. He took out a mortgage of $1.72-million from Toronto-Dominion Bank, according to public mortgage documents.

When asked about that, Mr. Brown, who earned $180,886 a year as the leader of the Official Opposition, responded in the e-mail: “Like many people in Ontario, I received help from my family purchasing my home.”

After The Globe published the story, Mr. Brown tweeted out a picture of an affidavit dated June 16, 2016, that he says proves there was no deal. Mr. Johal was acclaimed as the Tory candidate for Brampton North on Nov. 21, 2016.

Mr. Brown posted his response to the Integrity Commissioner on Facebook on Feb. 22. “Mr. Hillier’s complaint was intended solely to distract the public from the discussion I am having with Ontarians about how to make life more affordable,” he says. “It is unfortunate that Mr. Hillier, a legislator who claims to represent hard-working taxpayers, has opted to usurp the resources of a taxpayer-funded institution such as the Office of the Integrity Commissioner to fight an internal Party leadership race.”

Regarding suggestions that the Shanty Bay house was beyond his means, Mr. Brown said in his letter to the Integrity Commissioner that his after-tax income was approximately $120,000, leaving him with $30,000 in annual income after his mortgage payments. His calculations did not include property taxes or utilities.

The Toronto Star has reported that the Integrity Commissioner was also asking Mr. Brown why he had not declared rental income on his Shanty Bay house. Those questions arose before Mr. Hillier filed his complaint.

By Karen Howlett – The Globe and Mail

Claiming he’s faced death threats, that his family members have been harassed and that his mother has been hospitalized because of stress, Patrick Brown intends to pull out of the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race, two senior members of his campaign team said Monday.

The Ontario Conservative’s political maneuvers in the last few weeks have been nothing if not unpredictable. Brown’s apparent decision caps a bizarre, roller-coaster few weeks for the party, beginning with his resignation as leader last month, then a dramatic decision to enter the contest to fill his old job.

A formal announcement was planned for later Monday, the source told the National Post, though earlier Monday a Brown spokeswoman had refuted rumours that he was dropping out.

The campaign’s internal polling, released to the Post, suggested that Brown was doing surprisingly well, showing him tied for the first-ballot lead with former legislative member Christine Elliott and apparently gaining strength.

By Tom Blackwell – The National Post

President Trump on Monday claimed he would have run into a Florida high school to prevent a gunman from carrying out this month’s mass shooting.

“You don’t know until you test it, but I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Trump told a gathering of governors at the White House. “And I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too.”

The president was doubling down on his criticism of an armed sheriff’s deputy who did not confront the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed earlier this month.

“They weren’t exactly Medal of Honor winners, alright?” Trump said. “The way they performed was frankly disgusting.”

Trump also told the governors he ate lunch last weekend with leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

“Don’t worry about the NRA,” Trump told the governors. ”They’re on our side.”

By Jordan Fabian – The Hill

About Us

The Truetalk Radio Network is a diverse media company that specializes in the production and distribution of radio programming. Founded in 1999, by Howie Silbiger, the network has produced various shows that have been syndicated nationally.
Truetalkradio.com merged with The Montreal Jewish News (mjnews.ca) in 2011 and offers blogs, opinion pieces, news stories and archives to some of the shows we produce.
We offer a live radio stream with original programming for your enjoyment.
Some of the shows produced by or for the Truetalk Radio Network:
  • The Howie Silbiger Show (2001 – still playing) A no holds barred call-in talk show that deals with many issues, specifically issues concerning the Montreal Jewish Community.
  • Musicludes (2004-Present) – A top 10 music show dealing highlighting music connected to different themes.
  • Marky Monday’s (2018-) A children’s show produced by Mark Pezzelato, a Toronto based music producer.
  • The Silbiger/Sedaka Hour (2002-2004) – A one hour call-in coast to coast discussion on news and politics. One host was in Montreal, Canada, the other somewhere in the states.
  • The House of Blue Lights (2001-2003) – A one hour music show featuring Jazz and Blues from the 1920s-1950s.
  • The Gumbo Show (2008-2010) – Hosted by Mark Pezzelato, a Toronto based music producer, the Gumbo Show highlighted upcoming Canadian musicians.