Thursday night, I attended my first Menorah Lighting ever. Had Jyoti Gondek, the Mayor of Calgary not announced her boycott of the event, I would have not taken the time to go. But I am glad I did. It was a great celebration, a reminder that light always prevails over darkness, and the only political undertones in the evening were those made about the mayor’s unfortunate and ill-timed boycott of the event.
On the eve of the event, the mayor claimed the tricky Jewish leadership deceived her. They allegedly planned to turn the ceremony into a pro-Israel rally or as CTV’s Omar Sachedina said of the pro-Israel rally on Parliament Hill a few days earlier, “in support of the war.” Gondek jumped right away to a pro-war rally. In her mind, “political intentions” are strangely incompatible with “diversity and inclusion. [You can see the CTV clip in an X post here].
But as Rahim Mohammed pointed out, the mayor’s stance shows a profound ignorance of Jewish history. The Hannukah celebration is a commemoration of a battle against oppression. In the context of Israel today as it was with the Maccabees, it is the home of Jewish people and it is inconceivable that the community would not support Israel.
Leaving the mayor’s need to learn some Jewish history aside, her boycott once again reveals two central things. She is not very clear that as the mayor of Calgary Her Worship represents the community, and she is not professional enough to put her personal feelings aside.
She made her feelings known in her long statement posted to X, which several thousands of Calgarians, including yours truly, cannot access. The mayor is known to hit the block button on the app in supersonic reflex at the first hint of disagreement or disapproval with anything she says or does. My particular sin? I wrote a commentary on her doomsday “climate emergency” declaration after she took the oath of office.
And so she put her feelings right at the forefront. The conniving Jewish leadership, she said, “left me feeling let down.” The rest of the release is a justification for the protection of her feelings, including the audacious claim of concern for the poor dupes who might attend only to find “their good intentions compromised.” I went to support the Jewish community that she abandoned. My intentions were good, and at no point did I feel in any way compromised.
Consider the Sean Chu issue. A freshly sworn-in Mayor Gondek refused to give Chu the oath of office. On a whim, based on her personal feelings about Chu. This is not a defence of Chu as a person. I merely wish to point out how from the start Gondek showed an inclination to drop her duties, the duties of the office, as fast as she could as soon as the duties ran against her opinion of something or someone.
On November 2, 2021, one of my readers sent the mayor a note regarding Chu being whimsically sidelined from committee work. The citizen lived in Chu’s riding but had not voted for him. Ideologically, the citizen writing to Gondek (see below) was closer to Gondek than she is to Chu, so this is not an issue of Right or Left. The point here is that Gondek was overriding the representation of the voters in Ward 4 to indulge her feelings against Chu.
Please join our Substack to read the rest of this piece and more of our work here.