Human Rights Activist Mock Takes Over Helm at Canada’s Answer to J Street

JSpace sees itself as the natural home for those among Canada's nearly 400,000 Jews who favor a two-state solution and oppose the occupation.

Karen Mock, Canadian social activist and member of JSpace.
Karen Mock, Canadian social activist and member of JSpace. Courtesy Karen Mock

Karen Mock, a Canadian human rights activist, was on Tuesday appointed the new president of JSpaceCanada, a self-described progressive Zionist organization.

A relatively new presence on the Canadian-Jewish landscape, JSpace sees itself as the natural home for those among Canada's nearly 400,000 Jews who favor a two-state solution and oppose the occupation. A key objective of the group, as defined in its charter, is “to provide Canadians with an alternative to the pro-Israel right and the anti-Israel left.”

A certified teacher and educational psychologist by training, Mock served for four years as executive director and CEO of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. She then spent 12 years as national director of the League for Human Right of B’nai Brith Canada – that country’s equivalent of the Anti-Defamation League.

Among her volunteer board and advisory positions, Mock was president of the Ontario Multicultural Association, and is an active founding member of the Anti-Racist Multicultural Educators’ Network of Ontario, the Women’s Interfaith Dialogue, Black/Jewish Dialogue, and the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims. She co-founded the Arab/Jewish Leadership Dialogue Group and is past president of Canadian Friends of Haifa University.

Mock has been involved in JSpace since its launch in 2011 and was a founding director of the organization. Along with serving as its program chair for the past two year, she has been its spokesperson from the start.

JSpace is often viewed as the Canadian equivalent of J Street in the United States. Both organizations were created out of a desire to fend off the growing influence of the pro-Israel right in their respective countries. JSpace sits more in the center of the political spectrum, though, and sees a big part of its mandate as helping Jewish students on Canadian campuses counter the anti-Zionist left.  It also categorically rejects any and all forms of boycott against Israel.

The organization was founded by members of the First Narayever Congregation in downtown Toronto, an unaffiliated, egalitarian synagogue. The driving spirit behind the initiative was congregation member Nora Gold, a novelist and former professor of social work.

Mock will be replacing Hart Schwartz, a human right lawyer.