His best friends (and wife) are Jewish
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His best friends (and wife) are Jewish

Toronto Mayoral candidate Doug Ford defends crack-smoking brother Rob against accusations of anti-Semitism

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Rob Ford (right) talks to his brother Doug Ford in the Toronto council chamber, November, 2013 (photo credit: AP/The Canadian Press/ Chris Young)
Rob Ford (right) talks to his brother Doug Ford in the Toronto council chamber, November, 2013 (photo credit: AP/The Canadian Press/ Chris Young)

Toronto’s Ford brothers continue to fascinate and offend. Mayoral candidate Doug Ford has announced that not only are his best friends (of course) Jewish, but that his wife is, as well.

Ford resorted to stereotypical comments on Monday during a debate among mayoral candidates hosted by the Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs and the United Jewish Appeal. He was apparently trying to defend his crack-smoking brother Mayor Rob Ford (who has been sidelined from the mayoral race by cancer) against accusations of anti-Semitism.

The Toronto Star reported last may that an inebriated Rob Ford was recorded as saying, “Nobody sticks up for people like I do, every f—ing k–e, n—-r, f—ing w-p, d-go, whatever the race.”

According to the National Post, Doug Ford responded to remarks made by mayoral candidate Ari Goldkind about Rob Ford’s alleged use of the racial slur, “kike,” by rattling off a list of the Jews in his life.

“You know something? My doctor — my Jewish doctor, my Jewish dentist, my Jewish lawyer — Hold on, my Jewish accountant,” he said before being cut off by boos from the audience.

“Our family has the utmost respect for the Jewish community,” he added.

Ford’s spokesman, Jeff Silverstein, called ensuing attacks from mayoral candidate John Tory “opportunistic” in that they led to Ford’s divulging publicly for the first time that his wife Karla is Jewish (on her mother’s side). It would seem that his wife’s background is something he had wanted to keep private.

This latest Ford mess-up has provoked a variety of responses from members of Toronto’s Jewish community.

Pearl Gropper attended the debate with her 14-year-old son and was surprised to see him reacting positively at first to Doug Ford. This changed, however, once Ford responded to Goldkind’s accusation.

“He found Ford dynamic, engaging and personable—in his eyes, more appealing than the other candidates. And then he made the comment about Jews in his life and we were shocked,” she said.

“Doug Ford is not the first politician to say something that has been misinterpreted or taken in another direction. If he has a Jewish lawyer or a Jewish doctor, good for him. As a matter of fact, so do I,” said a Jewish voter who wished to remain anonymous and doesn’t see what the big deal is.

Allan Friedman thinks it is a mistake to zero in exclusively on the Jewish racial slur made by Rob Ford. According to him, the former mayor has a racism problem that is bigger than just being anti-Semitic.

“I don’t believe the remarks made by Rob Ford are specifically anti-Semitic, as they involved a number of different races and peoples. The fact that the issue came up during a debate at a Jewish event doesn’t make this a predominantly Jewish issue, it makes it an issue. Period.”

Many Torontonians are just plain sick and tired of seeing or hearing the name “Ford” in the news.

“They are their own worst enemies,” said Gropper of the brothers, who have brought much unwanted negative attention to Canada’s largest city.

“Just when you think they have exhausted every avenue, they find another way to offend. Bottom line: Toronto wants a strong mayor who can bring some dignity back to this city.”

 

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