These Shoes Were Made for Walking

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Quebec activist Rhéal Mathieu, writing in the Vigile, remembers Del Negro as a staunch fascist, as an ardent admirer of Hitler and a reader of Mein Kampf who “trimbalait son bible nazie sous son bras” (“lugged his Nazi bible under his arm”). After marrying former Liberal Member of Parliament Marlene Jennings, Del Negro perhaps found his tainted past something of an embarrassment and quickly reconditioned himself as a Zionist, becoming Director General in 2006 of the Quebec-Israel Committee. It is, of course, possible that Del Negro experienced a genuine change of heart—such things have been known to happen—but for many observers the odor of opportunism is not so readily dispelled.

In any event, it does seem curious that such a man should become a porte-parole for the Jewish community—or perhaps it is to be expected, given the servile and nebular character of so many Jewish public organizations apparently more interested in defending their privs and perks than in defending Jewish enterprises. But from time to time there is good news too. Enter a new pro-Jewish group, Les Amis Québécois d’Israël (Quebec Friends of Israel), to complement the smattering of other pro-Jewish and pro-Israel groups, such as Amitiés Québec-Israël (Quebec-Israel Friendship Society) directed by former Quebec civil servant Jean-Marie Gélinas, and Concordia University professor Fred Krantz’s Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR). Created in the summer of 2011, the voluntary and unfunded Les Amis Québécois d’Israël is led by the redoubtable Daniel Laprès, formerly political counsellor for two Liberal Foreign Affairs ministers, Lloyd Axworthy and Bill Graham. Laprès eventually quit the Liberal Party in opposition to its laissez-faire multicultural policies and, as he says, “je me suis découvert de plus en plus néo-conservateur” (“I found myself more and more neoconservative”). (Personal communication.)

Like Del Negro, Laprès is not Jewish; but unlike Del Negro (as many believe), he is a stalwart and loyal supporter of the Jewish state, diagnoses antisemitism as a cancer eating away at the entrails of civil society that requires immediate and vigorous intervention, is prepared to act consistently and forcefully upon his ideas, and is convinced that an Israeli or Jewish shop forced to close its doors “à cause d’une campagne haineuse et mensongère serait un désastre moral pour ma propre société, et serait aussi le début d’une intensification de ces campagnes de harcèlement qui, dans les faits, sont directement inspirées des Nazis des années 1930. Je ne veux pas de ça chez moi” (“owing to a hateful and lying campaign would be a moral disaster for my own society, and would also be the beginning of an intensification of these campaigns of harassment which, in effect, are directly inspired by the Nazis during the 1930s. I don’t want any of this in my own home”).

Apart from writing and speaking against antisemitic social bullying and economic intimidation, Laprès, as we have seen, has assembled his own cadre of anti-protestors to support the Jewish shoe store and determine that PAJU and likeminded cabals do not scare off customers. They carry placards contesting the injustice of boycotting small merchants and praising Israel as a haven for gays, for protecting religious freedom and for ensuring gender equality. Some irony-steeped examples (in translation): Israel is a refuge for Arab gays: Death to Israel. Israel guarantees freedom of conscience: Death to Israel. Beating one’s wife is a criminal act in Israel: Death to Israel. Israel does not execute dissidents as in Iran: Death to Israel. On one occasion, they dressed in burkas (ordered from Egypt) to parody the fundamentalist strain of Islam, but the joke was lost on their opponents. Zealots, as has often been remarked, have no sense of humor.

From Laprès’ perspective, Del Negro’s reason for exiting the fray is wholly misguided. The battle is not won, but is perilously close to being lost. Moreover, the anti-protestors cast no aspersions on “traditional Muslims,” as Del Negro had alleged they did with their signs, or even remotely accuse them of malfeasance. This allegation is only a species of misdirection. Laprès is also suspicious of established figures like one David Ouellette, who goes by the title of Associate Director of CIJA and who, Laprès claims, has apparently wielded his authority to discredit independent pro-Israel groups such as the Quebec Friends of Israel. The Del Negros and Ouellettes of the current parochial scene are legion by other names—readers can no doubt supply their own dramatis personae.

For as Laprès argues, the resistance put forward by outfits like CIJA against the activities of truly committed advocacy groups is standard practice among many of the official representatives of the Jewish community. It is the result of a turf war for power, prestige, exclusive rights, jealously hoarded prerogatives and emoluments—their magistère, as the French sayat the expense of more honest and dedicated groups fighting the antisemitic and anti-Zionist pathology. As Sally Zerker astutely writes in The Canadian Jewish News, “the defence is more effective if it comes from a myriad of sources.” The shutting  down or inhibiting of such “myriad sources” and “aggressive voices” is also, most likely, an expression of the desire of these super-agencies to ingratiate themselves with what they perceive as the status quo. Don’t rock the boat, even if the boat is sinking.

This is the sort of thing that takes place along the entire spectrum of Jewish community action. If groups like CIJA were actually doing their jobs, they would patronize Chaussures Naot and purchase Israeli-made shoes from a Jewish proprietor, for that is one of the ways they could reputably walk the walk. As it is, they only talk the talk, and the talk they talk is chiefly disingenuous and self-serving. It is, in short and for the most part, vapid and hypocritical babble.

Regrettably, the Jewish community at large is hobbled by self-doubt, vivisected by partisan politics and riven by competing ideologies, while in too many cases attempting to placate rather than to challenge its multiple assailants. Certainly, it has its own communitarian defenders, Jewish writers, diplomats and bloggers unafraid to take a principled stand. But it can also learn a lesson from those it has designated as “righteous gentiles,” who walk, so to speak, in Naot shoes.

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  • Alexander Gofen

    Through our history many Jews have acted in betraying their God and their own people… If we think rationally why we have survived as a people based on our own collective behavior as a nation, we should not have survived at all. The only conclusion I can come to as a Jew is that we have survived because of God himself and his mercy and compassion. (Keith Davies)

  • StephenD

    I'd like to know the name of the shoe store alluded to earlier in the article so that we can mail order from them despite the "boycott."

    Every little bit helps. Can you imagine if all of us start and the store actually shows an INCREASE in sales?

    Talk about poetic justice….

    • Julia

      The name of the store is NAOT. This is a store who sales shoes made in Israel.

  • Marty

    During the Holocaust such people were referred to as "kapos" and were very useful to the nazis. Not that helping to torment and slaughter their own people helped. Dhimmis are the new kapos and we'll see how much good that does for them. It's remarkable how little it's possible to learn from history, but self-delusion always seems to precede and must be a necessary condition for self-destruction.

    • tarleton

      few jews were kapos in the camps …most were german common criminals or politicals who were top of the pecking order…the correct analogy would be the Judenrat or jewish police from the ghetto who tried to save themselves by sending other jews first to the camps …unfortunately , they never managed to as they were on the last train to Treblinka and the railway track was littered with their police hats as they desperately tried to get rid of the evidence before they arrived and were recognised by the prisoners that they had formerly deported

    • aspacia

      Like Soros!

  • JOE

    This is just Bull s–t..I call this type of jew an " OVEN WALKER'

  • Lisa_H

    One of the most empowering things I've done in recent times is walk into a store here in Vancouver that sells Israeli products, past a rag-tag group of protesters with their disinformation signs. And I bought some of the store's products. It felt really good. I receive email notification from Buycott Israel whenever one of these demonstrations will be held in my area. It's a small gesture of support but it's something concrete.

  •​daniel.lapres Daniel Lapres

    For those who want to support the shoe store (called NAOT) that is targetted by the israelophobe thugs, this is its adress and phone number :

    3941, Saint-Denis St.
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    phone number : 514-845-7463

    To get an idea of the NAOT products, see this site :

  • Maxie

    "Regrettably, the Jewish community at large is hobbled by self-doubt, vivisected by partisan politics and riven by competing ideologies . . ."

    So what's new? The split between Zionists and those who see the world as a borderless collectivist (Communist) entity traces at least to 1840 Russia with its gestating Bolshevism. Communism, or some derivitive of it, has been almost exclusively a Jewish enterprise since the time of Marx with seeds in the French Revolution. It's my belief that it's rooted in patriphobia; i.e.; a psychological issue.

    • tarleton

      well Marx was a self loathing Jew

      • Maxie

        That remains controversial. Marx notoriously lived off the largesse of others – notably his benificent colleague Engels. Marx was always in debt and no doubt borrowed from the Jewish moneylenders of the time. The idea of paying those loans back plus interest no doubt infuriated Marx. If Marx hated the Jews it was for that plus their virtuoso capitalistic abilities. He hated capitalism for its competitive aspects. Marx definitely was not a self-loather. On the contrary he was quite full of himself. Marx, of Jewish heritage was raised as a Lutheran by his apostate Jewish father. Marx renounced all religion and was atheistic in outlook. Communism was his religion.

        • aspacia


          This is part of the problem. Jews were the moneylenders because Christians could not be, because usury is forbidden. This trade, along with jewelry, etc., were the few allowed to Jews.

          The violent expulsions from lands, I am thinking England 1100's, occurred when the Jewish moneylender or lenders asked for payment from a king or noble. Ooops—-bye, bye.

      • PAthena

        Karl Marx was not a Jew, although he was born one. His father converted to Christianity, in order to become a lawyer in Triers, when Marx was a child, and Marx was raised as a Christian. He hated Jews, and, in his essay, The Jewish Question, he says that the religion of Jews is the worship of money. Of course, it was his father who became Christian in order to earn money as a lawyer, not the Jews who remained Jews.

    • aspacia

      Maxie, the "Citizen of the World" ideology is not limited to Jews:-) Frankly, I do understand this mindset.

  • Jean-Francois T.

    Daniel Lapres's group is a Facebook group and the Amitiés Québec-Israel represents about 8 people. They're on the right side but let's not make them what they're not. And the "Vigile" website used to discredit Luciano del Negro is a far-left anti-Zionist anti-American website. You should check your sources and give the other side an opportunity to respond before writing an article like that. Both sides should work together instead of giving in to such childish behavior. Defending Israel is more important than the mindless finger-pointing going on between Lapres and CIJA and other groups. The pro-Israel community in Montreal should grow up. It's a shame.

    •​daniel.lapres Daniel Lapres

      Indeed, the Amis Québécois d'Israël is a Facebook group, which has 166 members to this day. And each Saturday afternoon we're tens to counter-demonstrate against the israelophobe thugs on St-Denis St. in Montreal, But is it not a matter of number, but of commitment, and the fact our group is relatively small is certainly not an handicap to our dedication.

      As for the Amitiés Québec-Israël, why do you slander them by claiming they are only 8 ? How come do you know ? The fact is that they are more than that. But it is true that they are all volunteer people, spending their own money to promote solidarity and friendship between Quebec and Israel, and that they don't have (and don't want) the millions that those you support but who do much less.

    •​daniel.lapres Daniel Lapres

      «Both sides should work together», indeed, but that's very easy to say for someone who does no such "work" at all. What we've experienced so far proves without a doubt that CIJA is more interested in undermining the actual work of those it can't control or instrumentalize rather than doing things that would help the cause of Israël. This is exactly what the author of this article denounces, after he made an investigation (which you obviously have not). Instead of attacking the messenger, why don't you look at the facts that are presented in this article, and if they are wrong you may oppose them with other facts. Why, for instance, CIJA has decided to declare "victory" at the very moment the israelophobe thugs have decided to target a store that sell almost exclusively goods that are made in Israel ?

    • Pascal Fortin

      I'm a resident of Plateau Mont-Royal where the Boycott of Naot shoe store is happening. Ive been implicated in this case with Amitiés Québec-Israel for 8 months to defend small business that sell Israel-made products.

      I met David Ouellet(CIJA) in front of Naot shoe store a few times. The facebook group (Amitiés Québec-Israel) was controled by David Ouellet(CIJA). There were about 200 members without counting the non members of facebook who come and support our group and to manifest against anti-Israel.

      At the end of July 2011, David Ouellet(CIJA) decided to close the facebook group Amitiés Québec-Israel and order us to stop manifesting against PAJU.

      Most people who come to manifest against anti-Israel are neibourhood residents who have had enough of left radicals including my recent neibourhood friend Daniel Lapres.

      Daniel Lapres decided to re-create a facebook group Les Amis Québecois d'Israel and to get all the members from the previous group to join. Its an interesting group that like Israel and exchange very interesting information.

      Pascal Fortin

  •​daniel.lapres Daniel Lapres

    Also, if ever you really want to do something tangible on behalf of Israel and also against the thugs who harass and intimidate stores that sell israeli products, we will be very glad to welcome you each Saturday on St-Denis Street between 1 and 3 PM. By doing this, among other tangible things our small but dedicated group is doing, you would get a chance to experience first hand what the CIJA and the Del Negros of this world are all about. But until then, I invite you to be more careful before preaching lessons to others.

  • Jean-Francois T.

    The article clearly states that CIJA has a rule preventing it from denouncing media bias against Israel. Alas, David Ouellet, who is mentioned in this article as some director of CIJA has a blog on which his sole focus is precisely to denounce anti-Israel bias in the media. So this is clearly a lie and is there for all to see.

    Also, if this organization (CIJA) has undermined your group, you should prove it with concrete facts instead of vague allegations. If it is true, I'll be the first to condemn it.

    •​daniel.lapres Daniel Lapres

      By the way, you're not "Jean-François T." Contrary to you, I operate under my real and full name…

      Yes, the CIJA has a rule preventing itself from denouncing media bias against Israel. But indeed, you don't want to refer, nor look at the link included on this matter in Mr. Solway's article. As for what Ouellette does on an individual basis on his personal website, it has nothing to do with CIJA's own internal rules, and Ouellette himself clearly specifies it on his website. So, again, get your facts right, even though that seems an exercice you seems allergic to.

    •​daniel.lapres Daniel Lapres

      As for the rest, there is a very well documented article signed David Solway here, but it is clear that you're trying to avoid all the facts and charges he makes after conducting his investigation.
      And I don't think I have to respond any longer to a guy who operates under a false name and who seems to carry an obscure agenda, and who also does no work at all on behalf of the cause that is at stake here. I would only reiterate my initial invitation to you : come and join us in the street on each Saturday afternoon, then our discussion could lead us somewhere. Until then, I don't have any more time nor energy to waste in trying to respond your sterile babble.

  • Jean-Francois T.

    Where are the proofs your group was undermined by these people?

    •​daniel.lapres Daniel Lapres

      Again, you're trying the divert the attention from the facts that are contained in Mr. Solway's article. When I will feel the need to recall all the things I (as so many others) witnessed regarding the CIJA's Montreal branch's behaviour, I will write an article myself rather than responding to the injunctions of a guy who hides behind a false name.

      I will sign off this discussion with my own injunction to you : «Walk the walk», "Jean-Françaois T.", then you might be taken seriously. Until then, anything you say or claim worths very little.

  • Julia

    Dear Jean-François. I agree with Daniel Lapres, you have to come on saturday from 1 to 3H in front on the store Naot, on St-Denis street, to judge what we are doing and what you are fighting for.

  • Raymond in DC

    Just a corrective: The Bahai headquarters is in Haifa, not in Tel Aviv.