The National Post covers the story about York Regional Police taking a firm stand against one of their chaplains hosting a hate-preacher.
Jewish activists say a Toronto-area rabbi has been pressured by an area police force to change plans to host a controversial anti-Islamist speaker, prompting accusations the force is squelching free speech.
By “Jewish activists” what they mean to say is a small cadre of unrepresentative extremists, i.e. Geller-followers who hit the internet and contact media claiming their “free speech” rights have been violated by Islamic extremists.
Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, of the Chabad @ Flamingo Synagogue, cancelled plans to host a talk by Pamela Geller, an American blogger known for her criticism of Islam. She is co-founder of Stop Islamification of America, a group that opposes the proposed building of a mosque at Ground Zero and sponsors anti-Islamic ads in U.S. cities.
Police dispute allegations that there were any threats of intimidation, saying instead that “a discussion” took place Tuesday between Insp. Ricky Veerappan, leader of the York Regional Police force’s diversity, equity and inclusion bureau, and Rabbi Kaplan, who is also a volunteer chaplain with the force. Insp. Veerappan said that during their discussion, the rabbi was presented with more information and a decision.
“If he had not cancelled the event – and again, that was his decision – then we would have had to re-evaluate his relationship with York Regional Police because it would be clearly be in contravention of the values of our organization,” said Insp. Veerappan.
“Our concern is that Rabbi Kaplan is also a representative of the police, he wears a police uniform, and some of the comments that have been attributed to Ms. Geller really posed a conflict situation for us at York Regional Police.”
Here is the full statement of York Police:
York Regional Police wishes to clarify information that has appeared in the media regarding the appearance of Ms. Pamela Geller at a York Region synagogue led by one of the York Regional Police chaplains.
Rabbi Mendel Kaplan is one of eight volunteer chaplains at York Regional Police who serves the needs of our members and their families through religious and spiritual support. He is also the founder and spiritual leader of the Chabad@Flamingo synagogue in Thornhill.
Free speech is the right of every citizen and York Regional Police recognizes that. However, some of Ms. Geller’s previous comments clearly conflict with the values of our organization and our continuous work to enhance relationships in all our diverse communities.
Rabbi Kaplan’s connection to Ms. Geller’s event posed a concern for York Regional Police as it would put our organization in conflict with our long-held position of inclusivity.
As a result, Rabbi Kaplan, a volunteer member of our service, was provided with additional information regarding the proposed guest speaker by Inspector Ricky Veerappan, the officer in charge of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Bureau.
Subsequently, Rabbi Kaplan decided to cancel Ms. Geller’s appearance as it would place him in conflict with the values of our organization which support a safe, welcoming and inclusive community for all.
Reports that Rabbi Kaplan was ‘threatened’ by York Regional Police are a flagrant misrepresentation of the facts.
While York Regional Police supports Ms. Geller’s right to free speech, there is an expectation of all members of our organization to act in accordance with our values and the expectations of our community.