It's one thing for one of the shrillest right-wingers in the Israeli media to touch down in Toronto with her dire warnings about the perils of "Islamo-fascism." It's quite another for her to deliver her rant at Holy Blossom Temple, the home of liberal, middle-of-the-road Judaism in Toronto.
Yet that's precisely what happened September 26 when Jerusalem Post deputy managing editor Caroline Glick railed against self-hating Jews, Kofi Annan and the UN, Yasser Arafat, the current Israeli leadership and critics of the occupation.
The adoring crowd of nearly 1,000 that packed this Bathurst Street synagogue offers a troubling gauge of mainstream Jewish opinion following the election of Hamas, the war in Lebanon and the shifting of Canada's foreign policy objectives by the most right-wing government in living memory.
That Holy Blossom Temple, the seat of chief rabbi emeritus Dow Marmur, a peace proponent, was the site for this hard-edged confab shows how profound the community's mood swing has been.
Senior rabbi John Moscowitz shared the stage with members of an organization called the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD), dedicated to standing up for "free societies." By this they mean "sister democracies who share our values, including India, Taiwan, the United States, Israel and others under attack on the front lines of tyranny."
Explained the CCD's Alastair Gordon from the platform, "By speaking not only about Israel, we can be more effective when we do speak about Israel. We cannot be dismissed as representing only tribal loyalties."
There's also a newcomer to the CCD's list of concerns: Afghanistan. "We have to stay the course in that troubled land," Gordon said. Though its website claims the CCD is non-partisan, Gordon also added, "I hope you're all going to be voting for [Stephen Harper's] party."
And then it was time for the evening's big draw. Once a captain in Israel's army, Glick, a former American, served as a negotiator at Oslo when the 1993 accord between Israel and the Palestinians was struck. But according to her, peace is not always worth the price. "What we really want is to survive," she said. "If we get peace as a result of protecting ourselves, that's fine."
The Palestinians, she said, do not want an end to hostilities. She offered a history lesson on the birth of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and how it morphed into groups like Hamas, and the links between militant Islamists and Adolf Hitler.
Details change, she said, but the story stays the same. Now the menace is the Bali, London and Madrid bombers and their fellow terrorists (and alleged would-be attackers in Toronto). "They read the same books, they share the same culture," she said. And they want to destroy Israel and the "free world" of which it is a part, she warned.
She also disclosed those for whom she has fonder feelings. The Pope, in trouble for slights against Islam, is one. "In order to be able to have a conversation with them, you have to be able to criticize them," she said.
Stockwell Day, the former laughing stock and now a senior cabinet minister, is another. "He's a mensch," she said, and the applause indicated that most in the room shared her fond feeling.
"It's about time for Israel and for Jewry to tell the truth," she said. "If the Palestinians are unwilling to coexist with Israel, it doesn't follow that we give them land. What follows is that you fight and you don't adopt surrender as a national security doctrine."
It was a disturbingly belligerent evening, not only because of this message but also because of the warm reception it received. Indeed, NDP Middle East critic Alexa McDonough, who heard Glick give the same speech in Ottawa to the Canada-Israel Inter-Parliamentary Group, tells me she found it "chilling.'
As I made my way to the front later to meet Glick, I waded through throngs of well-wishers. Her analysis, I said to her, suggests a scenario for endless war. Does she see it that way?
"We have to embrace our identities as citizens of the free world, and we will have to pay the price necessary to ensure the continuation of our liberties."
I take that as a yes. Welcome to the new normal of Canadian foreign policy.