March 25, 1999 | Toronto Sun

Pro-life, but not anti-Semitic

So the knives are out for Human Life International or HLI, preparing to hold its 18th annual conference in Toronto in early April.

No surprise there. The pro-life movement has been routinely slandered and smeared in the media for more than 30 years. But the attacks upon this particular organization have taken misinformation to new heights. HLI is being condemned as "dangerous," "virulently anti-Semitic" and "hateful."

A pause while I stop laughing and realize that in fact this is no amusing matter. Let me make it clear this is not about, or should not be about, whether you are pro-life or pro-abortion. It is about the freedom to express your views without fear of violent attack or ugly propaganda.

When HLI met in Montreal in 1995 there were many scenes of violence. Not one came from supporters of HLI. There is video evidence of demonstrators, bused in from all over North America, destroying a police car, throwing used condoms at children, pelting pro-life delegates with prophylactics containing broken glass. Children leaving a church were spat at and attacked by members of various anarchist and extreme homosexual groups, young families were abused and threatened.

One CBC reporter present, hardly a supporter of HLI, told me it was as if "the inhabitants of hell had come up for the day to say hello."

Even now an extremist group known as Anti-Racist Action is organizing a demonstration for the Toronto gathering. "Fascism and neo-Nazis are not an isolated phenomenon" explains the group on its website. "They are supported in many ways by racist police and government policies." It then goes on to say a great deal about the apparently rampant "Nazism" and "homophobia" in Canada and calls for a "sexually diverse society."

Seldom has such a noble term as anti-racism been applied to such an undeserving gang. These naive zealots should also ask black leaders why so many abortuaries in the U.S. are built in areas containing large numbers of people of colour. Abortion has long been a racist tool.

Then we have the big lie: HLI is anti-Semitic. Give me a break. One of its leaders, Father Paul Marx, has been quoted by his opponents as singling out Jewish abortionists and attacking Jewish leaders for supporting abortion.

What these critics conveniently omit from the quotation is where Marx says these people are being "disloyal to the teachings of Judaism" and asks Jewish people "to form specifically Jewish pro-life organizations, and to take back the leadership of the Jewish community from the pro-abortionists. By doing this, you will not only help save millions of non-Jewish babies, you may well help save the Jewish nation from the truly 'final solution' of abortion."

Goodness, the man is worse than Hitler.

Marx has never, for example, said anything as extreme as "even if the butcher of Jewish babies is a Jewish doctor, he's still a butcher." According to Western Report, that was uttered by a national director of the Jewish Defence League of Canada. The JDL, of course, is hardly known for its conciliatory nature. But Rabbis Mayer Schiller, Yehuda Levin, Isaac Levy, Zalman Zell, Eliyahu Scheinberg, Yosef Friedman and Michael Weinberg are. As are doctors Monte Liebman, David Harris, Solomon Rendler, Avrohom Katz, Eliyahu Rothkpf and Melech Gilbert. They are just a handful of the leading Jewish men and women who signed a letter of support for Human Life International.

How odd they all managed to get it so terribly wrong.

The facts. There is a growing split between orthodox and liberal Jews over many issues, and abortion is one of them. A growing alliance has been formed between evangelical Christians, conservative Roman Catholics and orthodox Jews to fight what is seen as an extreme anti-God, anti-family and anti-life agenda. This angers and frightens liberal people of all religious backgrounds. Good. I long for the day when practising Muslims will be fully included in this new coalition as well.

Unfortunately, there may well be violence at the HLI conference but it will not come from the delegates. It will come from people who are truly hateful. And it will have been partly fuelled by those who really should know better and have resorted to name-calling when they have lost the arguments.

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