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'Never be bystanders' to ‘Stop promoting genocide’: Canadians divided over Ontario ministers promoting anti-Semitism ad during Super Bowl LVIII

Canadians welcomed ads challenging anti-Semitism during the Super Bowl, but wondered if politicians should take a more united view

Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce ruffled some feathers by resharing a Super Bowl LVIII commercial encouraging viewers to stand up against Jewish hate while urging Canadians to “never be bystanders.”

The 58th edition of the annual Super Bowl event featured a variety of advertisements with one of the spots taking aim at increasing hate crimes against the Jews in the United States.

The MPP for King-Vaughan reshared the clip via his X, formerly known as Twitter, account with “the silence is deafening” and “#NeverAgain is now” mentioned in the caption that went on to express more of Lecce’s feelings over the issue.

Former Conservative Party member Erin O’Toole was quick to join in, backing Lecce’s call to stand with Jewish Canadians in a time of increasing incidents of anti-Semitism.

Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks Andrea Khanjin also reposted Lecce’s message, urging fellow Canadians to stand up against all kinds of hate.

“#NeverAgainIsNow #StandUpToJewishHate

We must stand up against all kinds of hate and discrimination in the world.

This #Superbowl commercial says it all,” she posted on X.

Viewers chimed in with their support for the ad, as well.

Canadian Jewish support group says words are not enough, 'tangible action' is necessary

Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs President and CEO Shimon Koffler Fogel told Yahoo News Canada while Lecce's words are welcome by the Jewish support group, it cannot be confused as the "end of the job" when fighting antisemitism.

"Hate thrives when society looks away. Words have little meaning without action, and while it’s important for all Canadians to stand up and call out hate, that cannot be confused as the end of the job – it is only just the beginning," Fogel said.

The CIJA believes starting a dialogue is definitely the first step in condemning hatred of all kinds but leaving the initiative there and not following it with more impactful action is where our leaders failed.

"To date, many of our public leaders - within the political sector, universities and civil society have failed to even rise to the beginning of the job by condemning the hate being targeted at the Jewish community in Canada. And for many who have spoken up, they feel that their responsibilities have been satisfied, that their words are enough."

"However, until we see tangible action to address the hate, until we see the consequences moving beyond the victim and towards the perpetrator, the job of tackling antisemitism, and indeed all hate, isn’t finished," Fogel concluded.

Other Canadians wished to see local politicians be equally vocal against Islamophobia

Many Canadians like political activist and writer Yves Engler pointed out the lack of similar messaging by politicians for Palestinian lives lost in Gaza and rising incidents of Islamophobia in Canada amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East.

“Canada's lack of ethical stand in the face of Israel's genocide of women and children in #Gaza is a monumental contradiction to its commitment for #NeverAgain,” replied a social media user to Lecce.

“Never again is happening in Gaza. Right. Now. Your silence is deafening,” posted another.

Voices in the comments section wondered if a more balanced post demanding unity against all sorts of hate would resonate better with Canadians from all walks of life.

The advertisement shared by Lecce was launched last year by the Stand Up To Jewish Hate campaign, which was played again during the Super Bowl LVIII pregame show, according to Humans of Judaism.

Another 30-second commercial by the Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism (FCAS), which works to combat anti semitism, included lawyer and speechwriter Clarence B. Jones, who once counselled Martin Luther King.

The messaging is backed and owned by Robert Kraft – the billionaire owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots – who purchased a $7 million TV ad spot on Super Bowl Sunday to “Stop Jewish Hate.”

Although, Super Bowl ads are typically meant to get the laughs, Kraft aimed to ask people to pause and think about the state of the nation.