London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism
The London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism
125 MPs from 40 different countries met in London for a unique summitt - the London Conference on Combating Antisemitism. The three day affair starting on Sunday 15 February culminated at Lancaster House on the Tuesday where the London Declaration was thrashed out. The event was addressed by British and Italian Foreign Ministers, Lord Malloch-Brown and Franco Frattini and developed practical strategies on how the oldest hatred can be confronted in this modern age. The Declaration calls for: The EU Council of Ministers to address the issue of combating antisemitism;The exposure and isolation of Governments and individual politicians who engage in hate against the Jews;The establishment of an international taskforce of Internet specialists to measure racism and antisemitism online and propose international responses. Setting the context for the conference former Canadian Attorney-General and counsel to Nelson Mandela, Irwin Cotler MP, said: "There is a new sophisticated, globalising, virulent and even lethal antisemitism, reminiscent of the atmospherics of the 30s, and without parallel or precedent since the end of the Second World War." Speaking as the Declaration was published, UK MP John Mann, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, said: "Antisemitism is a touchstone for other ills within wider society and unless we move to address its spread now, and as a matter of the utmost urgency, we will all pay a heavy price." The London Conference for Combating Antisemitism has been hosted by the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA), the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government. It has been held from 16-17th February in the Houses of Parliament is and at Lancaster House. Parliamentarians' antisemitism summit says "never again" to UN Durban Conference rerun On Tuesday 17 Feburary 2009, Parliamentarians meeting at the first ever Inter-parliamentary summit on antisemitism have called on their respective governments and the UN "never again to allow the institutions of the international community to be abused for the purposes of trying to establish any legitimacy for antisemitism". They declare that the international community must "not be witness or party to another gathering like Durban in 2001", the infamous UN 'anti-racism' conference, where the focus on Israel to the exclusion of all other issues was widely perceived as antisemitic. A successor conference is planned for later this year. The call comes in a Declaration drawn up by a hundred Parliamentarians who have attended the summit, which has been held over 16-17 February, in conjunction with the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Speaking as the Declaration was published, UK MP John Mann, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, said: "The Internet, the globalisation of the media, a resurgence of the extreme right and an anti-Zionist hard left have combined to create a febrile environment, in which the spread of old and new antisemitic theories and attitudes have been able to gain traction with alarming ease. The Durban conference was amongst the manifestations of this trend." Future Agenda The Honorable Jason Kenney, Canadian MP and Minister for Multiculturalism announced that Canada will host the next ICCA meeting during 2010. Conference Participants The conference was hosted by the Steering Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition on Combating Antisemitism: Prof. Irwin Cotler MP, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, CanadaIsaac Herzog MK, Minister for the Disapera and the Fight Against Antisemitism, Israel John Mann MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, UKDr. Fiamma Nirenstein, Vice-President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Chamber of Deputies, ItalyCongressman Chris Smith, House of Representatives, USAProf. Gert Weisskirchen, Member of the Bundestag, Germany Other participants include: Senator Sergio Abreu, Former Foreign Minister, UruguayAndré Azoulay, Counsellor to His Majesty the King Mohammed VI, MoroccoPeter Caruana QC, Chief Minister, Gibraltar Prof. Iulian Fota, National Security Advisor to the President, RomaniaDr Hedy Fry MP, former Minister of Multicutralism, CanadaMike Gapes MP, Chair, Foreign Affairs CommitteeCongressman Alcee Hastings, US House of RepresentativesSadiq Khan MP, Minister for Community Cohesion, UKJason Kenney MP, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, CanadaRt. Hon. Denis MacShane MP, former Minster for Europe, UKLord Malloch-Brown, Minister for the UN, UKRt. Hon Jim Murphy MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, UKDr. Alberto Nisman, State Prosecutor, ArgentinaDr. Solomon Passy, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Former Foreign Minister, BulgariaPetra Pau MP, Vice-President of the Bundestag, GermanyDr. Barbara Prammer, President of the Austrian National CouncilNatan Sharansky, former Deputy Prime Minister, IsraelDr Pavel Svoboda MP, Minister and Chairman of the Legislative Council of the Government, Czech RepublicRt Hon Phil Woolas MP, Minister for Immigration, UK Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) Steering Committee: John Mann MP, UK Parliament • Irwin Cotler MP
Canadian Parliament • Chris Smith, US House of Representatives • Gert Weisskirchen, German Bundestag • Isaac Herzog, Israeli Knesset • Fiamma Nirenstein, Italian Parliament.
We today in London resolve that; Challenging Antisemitism 1. Parliamentarians shall expose, challenge, and isolate political actors who engage in hate against Jews and target the State of Israel as a Jewish collectivity; 2. Parliamentarians should speak out against antisemitism and discrimination directed against any minority, and guard against equivocation, hesitation and justification in the face of expressions of hatred; 3. Governments must challenge any foreign leader, politician or public figure who denies, denigrates or trivialises the Holocaust and must encourage civil society to be vigilant to this phenomenon and to openly condemn it; 4. Parliamentarians should campaign for their Government to uphold international commitments on combating antisemitism - including the OSCE Berlin Declaration and its eight main principles; 5. The UN should reaffirm its call for every member state to commit itself to the principles laid out in the Holocaust Remembrance initiative including specific and targeted policies to eradicate Holocaust denial and trivialisation; 6. Governments and the UN should resolve that never again will the institutions of the international community and the dialogue of nation states be abused to try to establish any legitimacy for antisemitism, including the singling out of Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena, and we will never witness - or be party to - another gathering like Durban in 2001; 7. The OSCE should encourage its member states to fulfil their commitments under the 2004 Berlin Declaration and to fully utilise programmes to combat antisemitism including the Law Enforcement programme LEOP; 8. The European Union, inter-state institutions and multilateral fora and religious communities must make a concerted effort to combat antisemitism and lead their member states to adopt proven and best practice methods of countering antisemitism; 9. Leaders of all religious faiths should be called upon to use all the means possible to combat antisemitism and all types of discriminatory hostilities among believers and society at large; 10. The EU Council of Ministers should convene a session on combating antisemitism relying on the outcomes of the London Conference on Combating Antisemitism and using the London Declaration as a basis. Prohibitions 11. Governments should take appropriate and necessary action to prevent the broadcast of explicitly antisemitic programmes on satellite television channels, and to apply pressure on the host broadcast nation to take action to prevent the transmission of explicitly antisemitic programmes; 12. Governments should fully reaffirm and actively uphold the Genocide Convention, recognising that where there is incitement to genocide signatories automatically have an obligation to act. This may include sanctions against countries involved in or threatening to commit genocide or referral of the matter to the UN Security Council or initiate an interstate complaint at the International Court of Justice; 13. Parliamentarians should legislate effective Hate Crime legislation recognising “hate aggravated crimes” and, where consistent with local legal standards, “incitement to hatred” offences and empower law enforcement agencies to convict; 14. Governments that are signatories to the Hate Speech Protocol of the Council of Europe ‘Convention on Cybercrime’ (and the ‘Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems’) should enact domestic enabling legislation; Identifying the threat 15. Parliamentarians should return to their legislature, Parliament or Assembly and establish inquiry scrutiny panels that are tasked with determining the existing nature and state of antisemitism in their countries and developing recommendations for government and civil society action; 16. Parliamentarians should engage with their governments in order to measure the effectiveness of existing policies and mechanisms in place and to recommend proven and best practice methods of countering antisemitism; 17. Governments should ensure they have publicly accessible incident reporting systems, and that statistics collected on antisemitism should be the subject of regular review and action by government and state prosecutors and that an adequate legislative framework is in place to tackle hate crime. 18. Governments must expand the use of the EUMC ‘working definition’ of antisemitism to inform policy of national and international organisations and as a basis for training material for use by Criminal Justice Agencies; 19. Police services should record allegations of hate crimes and incidents - including antisemitism - as routine part of reporting crimes; 20. The OSCE should work with member states to seek consistent data collection systems for antisemitism and hate crime. Education, awareness and training 21. Governments should train Police, prosecutors and judges comprehensively. The training is essential if perpetrators of antisemitic hate crime are to be successfully apprehended, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced. The OSCE’s Law enforcement Programme LEOP is a model initiative consisting of an international cadre of expert police officers training police in several countries; 22. Governments should develop teaching materials on the subjects of the Holocaust, racism, antisemitism and discrimination which are incorporated into the national school curriculum. All teaching materials ought to be based on values of comprehensiveness, inclusiveness, acceptance and respect and should be designed to assist students to recognise and counter antisemitism and all forms of hate speech; 23. The OSCE should encourage their member states to fulfill their commitments under the 2004 Berlin Declaration and to fully utilise programmes to combat antisemitism including the Law Enforcement programme LEOP; 24. Governments should include a comprehensive training programme across the Criminal Justice System using programmes such as the LEOP programme; 25. Education Authorities should ensure that freedom of speech is upheld within the law and to protect students and staff from illegal antisemitic discourse and a hostile environment in whatever form it takes including calls for boycotts; Community Support 26. The Criminal Justice System should publicly notify local communities when antisemitic hate crimes are prosecuted by the courts to build community confidence in reporting and pursuing convictions through the Criminal Justice system; 27. Parliamentarians should engage with civil society institutions and leading NGOs to create partnerships that bring about change locally, domestically and globally, and support efforts that encourage Holocaust education, inter-religious dialogue and cultural exchange; Media and the Internet 28. Governments should acknowledge the challenge and opportunity of the growing new forms of communication; 29. Media Regulatory Bodies should utilise the EUMC ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’ to inform media standards; 30. Governments should take appropriate and necessary action to prevent the broadcast of antisemitic programmes on satellite television channels, and to apply pressure on the host broadcast nation to take action to prevent the transmission of antisemitic programmes; 31. The OSCE should seek ways to coordinate the response of member states to combat the use of the internet to promote incitement to hatred; 32. Law enforcement authorities should use domestic “hate crime”, “incitement to hatred” and other legislation as well as other means to mitigate and, where permissible, to prosecute “Hate on the Internet” where racist and antisemitic content is hosted, published and written; 33. An international task force of Internet specialists comprised of parliamentarians and experts should be established to create common metrics to measure antisemitism and other manifestations of hate online and to develop policy recommendations and practical instruments for Governments and international frameworks to tackle these problems. Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism 34. Participants will endeavour to maintain contact with fellow delegates through working group framework; communicating successes or requesting further support where required; 35. Delegates should reconvene for the next ICCA Conference in Canada in 2010, become an active member of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition and promote and prioritise the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism. Lancaster House, 17 February 2009 1.Making the world "Judenstaatrein" 23 Febbraio 2009 Riportiamo un pezzo di Irwin Cotler apparso ieri sul "Jerusalem Post". L'autore, parlamentare ed ex ministro della giustizia canadese, è impegnato da anni nella battaglia contro l'antisemitismo. Nel 2005, Cotler è stato il keynote speaker della Lettura annuale presso la Fondazione Magna Carta.Some 125 parliamentarians gathered together last week for the historic founding conference of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA), brought together by a new sophisticated, globalizing, virulent and even lethal anti-Semitism reminiscent of the atmospherics of the 1930s, and without parallel or precedent since the end of World War II. The new anti-Jewishness overlaps with classical anti-Semitism but is distinguishable from it. It found early juridical, and even institutional, expression in the UN's "Zionism is racism" resolution - which the late US senator Daniel Moynihan said "gave the abomination of anti-Semitism the appearance of international legal sanction" - but has gone dramatically beyond it. This new anti-Semitism almost needs a new vocabulary to define it; however, it can best be identified using a rights-based juridical perspective. In a word, classical or traditional anti-Semitism is the discrimination against, denial of or assault upon the rights of Jews to live as equal members of whatever host society they inhabit. The new anti-Semitism involves the discrimination against the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member of the family of nations - the denial of and assault upon the Jewish people's right even to live - with Israel as the "collective Jew among the nations." As the closing "London Declaration" of the ICCA conference affirmed: "We are alarmed at the resurrection of the old language of prejudice and its modern manifestations - in rhetoric and political action - against Jews, Jewish belief and practice and the State of Israel." Observing the complex intersections between the old and the new anti-Semitism, and the impact of the new on the old, Per Ahlmark, former leader of the Swedish Liberal Party and deputy prime minister of Sweden, pithily concluded: "Compared to most previous anti-Jewish outbreaks, this [new anti-Semitism] is often less directed against individual Jews. It attacks primarily the collective Jews, the State of Israel. And then such attacks start a chain reaction of assaults on individual Jews and Jewish institutions... In the past, the most dangerous anti-Semites were those who wanted to make the world Judenrein, 'free of Jews.' Today, the most dangerous anti-Semites might be those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, 'free of a Jewish state.'" Genocidal Anti-Semitism The first modality of the new anti-Semitism - and the most lethal type - is what I would call genocidal anti-Semitism. This is not a term that I use lightly or easily. In particular, I am referring to the Genocide Convention's prohibition against the "direct and public incitement to genocide." If anti-Semitism is the most enduring of hatreds and genocide is the most horrific of crimes, then the convergence of this genocidal intent embedded in anti-Semitic ideology is the most toxic of combinations. There are three manifestations of this genocidal anti-Semitism. The first is the state-sanctioned - indeed state-orchestrated - genocidal anti-Semitism of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, dramatized by the parading in the streets of Teheran of a Shihab-3 missile draped in the emblem "wipe Israel off the Map," while demonizing both the State of Israel as a "cancerous tumor to be excised" and the Jewish people as "evil incarnate." A second manifestation of this genocidal anti-Semitism is in the covenants and charters, platforms and policies of such terrorist movements and militias as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah and al-Qaida, which not only call for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be, but also for the perpetration of acts of terror in furtherance of that objective. The third manifestation of this genocidal anti-Semitism is the religious fatwas or execution writs, where these genocidal calls in mosques and media are held out as religious obligations - where Jews and Judaism are characterized as the perfidious enemy of Islam, and Israel becomes the Salmon Rushdie of the nations. In a word, Israel is the only state in the world - and the Jews the only people in the world - that are the object of a standing set of threats by governmental, religious and terrorist bodies seeking their destruction. The London Declaration - again in a significant clarion call - recognized that "where there is incitement to genocide signatories [to the Genocide Convention] automatically have an obligation to act." This promise must now be acted upon. Ideological Anti-Semitism Ideological anti-Semitism is a much more sophisticated and arguably a more pernicious expression of the new anti-Semitism. It finds expression not in any genocidal incitement against Jews and Israel, or overt racist denial of the Jewish people and Israel's right to be; rather, ideological anti-Semitism disguises itself as part of the struggle against racism. The first manifestation of this ideological anti-Semitism was its institutional and juridical anchorage in the "Zionism is racism" resolution at the UN. Notwithstanding the fact that the there was a formal repeal of this resolution, Zionism as racism remains alive and well in the global arena, particularly in the campus cultures of North America and Europe, as confirmed by the recent British All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism. The second manifestation is the indictment of Israel as an apartheid state. This involves more than the simple indictment; it also involves the call for the dismantling of Israel as an apartheid state as evidenced by the events at the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban. The third manifestation of ideological anti-Semitism involves the characterization of Israel not only as an apartheid state - and one that must be dismantled as part of the struggle against racism - but as a Nazi one. And so it is then that Israel is delegitimized, if not demonized, by the ascription to it of the two most scurrilous indictments of 20th-century racism - Nazism and apartheid - the embodiment of all evil. These very labels of Zionism and Israel as "racist, apartheid and Nazi" supply the criminal indictment. No further debate is required. The conviction that this triple racism warrants the dismantling of Israel as a moral obligation has been secured. For who would deny that a "racist, apartheid, Nazi" state should not have any right to exist today? What is more, this characterization allows for terrorist "resistance" to be deemed justifiable - after all, such a situation is portrayed as nothing other than occupation et résistance, where resistance against a racist, apartheid, Nazi occupying state is legitimate, if not mandatory. Legalized Anti-Semitism If ideological anti-Semitism seeks to mask itself under the banner of anti-racism, legalized anti-Semitism is even more sophisticated and insidious. Here, anti-Semitism simultaneously seeks to mask itself under the banner of human rights, to invoke the authority of international law and to operate under the protective cover of the UN. In a word - and in an inversion of human rights, language and law - the singling out of Israel and the Jewish people for differential and discriminatory treatment in the international arena is "legalized." But one example of legalized anti-Semitism occurred annually for more than 35 years at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. This influential body consistently began its annual session with Israel being the only country singled out for country-specific indictment - even before the deliberations started - the whole in breach of the UN's own procedures and principles. In this Alice in Wonderland situation, the conviction and sentence were pronounced even before the hearings commenced. Some 30 percent of all the resolutions passed at the commission were indictments of Israel. After the commission was replaced in June 2006 by the UN Human Rights Council, the new body proceeded to condemn one member state - Israel - in 80% of its 25 country-specific resolutions, while the major human rights violators of our time enjoyed exculpatory immunity. Indeed, five special sessions, two fact-finding missions and a high level commission of inquiry have been devoted to a single purpose: the singling out of Israel. This week's ICCA conference and London Declaration unequivocally condemned this "legalized" anti-Semitism, calling out that "governments and the UN should resolve that never again will the institutions of the international community and the dialogue of nations states be abused to try to establish any legitimacy for anti-Semitism, including the singling out of Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena, and we will never witness - or be party to - another gathering like Durban in 2001." The Resurgence of Global Anti-Semitism: Evidentiary Data The data unsurprisingly confirm that anti-Semitic incidents are very much on the rise. Still, the available figures only show half the picture - they demonstrate an increase in this old/new anti-Semitism by concentrating on the traditional anti-Semitic paradigm targeting individual Jews and Jewish institutions, while failing to consider the new anti-Semitic paradigm targeting Israel as the Jew among nations and the fallout from it for traditional anti-Semitism. But the rise in traditional anti-Semitism is bound up with the rise in the new anti-Semitism, insidiously buoyed by a climate receptive to attacks on Jews because of the attacks on the Jewish state. Indeed, reports illustrate both an upsurge in violence and related anti-Semitic crimes corresponding with the 2006 Second Lebanon War and the recent Israel-Hamas war, which delegates to the ICCA conference characterized as a "pandemic." Conclusion It is this global escalation and intensification of anti-Semitism that underpins - indeed, necessitates - the establishment of the ICCA to confront and combat this oldest and most enduring of hatreds. Silence is not an option. The time has come not only to sound the alarm - but to act. For as history has taught us only too well: While it may begin with Jews, it does not end with Jews. Anti-Semitism is the canary in the mine shaft of evil, and it threatens us all. The writer is a Canadian MP and former minister of justice and attorney-general. He is professor of law (on leave) at McGill University who has written extensively on matters of hate, racism and human rights. He is a co-founder of the Interparliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism with UK MP John Mann. Tratto da "The Jerusalem Post"2.'A pernicious evil that must be repudiated': Jason Kenney at the anti-Semitism summit Posted: February 18, 2009, 10:47 AM by Kevin Libin Immigration Minister Jason Kenney addressed the international conference aimed at addressing rising anti-Semitism yesterday at London's Lancaster House, on behalf of the government of Canada. In the full text of his speech below, he explains why he his government will cut funding to groups, who, he says, express "hateful sentiments" against Jews—he mentions the Canadian Arab Federation and the Canadian Islamic Congress—and calls on other countries to also take a "zero tolerance approach to expressions of anti-Semitism in the public square." I doubt too many other countries will follow suit: Canada remains the only nation outside Israel to so far announce its boycott of the Durban 2 conference, which, last time around, proved to be a veritable carnival of "anti-Semitism in the public square." Most European states, rather, have demonstrated in recent years that their worry over offending allegedly restive Muslim populations typically outweighs long-held liberal principles. Certainly Mr. Kenney's speech demonstrates that Canadians are either plucky enough and/or demographically fortunate enough, to not have to compromise on standing against hate. Whichever it is, that Canadian politicians can make such unapologetic speeches as the one below, without trepidation, is a rare, and, I suspect, generally under-appreciated, thing.Minister Jason Kenney's remarks:
Mesdames et Messieurs, merci bien pour votre collaboration et j’aimerais commencer en félicitant John et ses collègues pour avoir organisé cet colloque historique et très important.
And I’d like to also commend my Canadian colleague, Irwin Cotler for his important role in organising this conference. I'd also like to note the presence of a substantial number of my Canadian parliamentary colleagues who are here, members of parliament Carolyn Bennet, Raymonde Folco, Hedy Fry, Randy Hoback, James Lunney, Joyce Murray, Anita Neville, Bob Rae and Scott Reid. We almost have a quorum for the House of Commons here assembled. And we came from not a close distance. And I’d also like to acknowledge of course my good friend Senator Jerry Grafstein.
I hope that this forum will be the beginning of an ongoing process of educating and mobilising parliamentarians throughout the world, and through them political formations across the spectrum, and indeed national governments to combat the scourge of anti-Semitism. I also hope that this will be the beginning, not the end, of this important work. And to that end I know that my Canadian colleagues and I would be delighted to host the next conference of the inter-parliamentary commission in Canada. [Applause].
We’ll have to return to Canada, John, and just formalise that, and figure out exactly how it will be done. But you’ve got a good number of Canadians here who would be delighted to see this important work cross the Atlantic.
Ladies and gentlemen, in November during a trip to Kiev I paid my respects at the Babi Yar Holocaust site where more than 33,000 Ukrainian Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis over a two day period in 1941.
For me this brought to mind a new dimension of the unfathomable evil of the Holocaust. Babi Yar was not about the mechanised and perversely discreet killing of the gas chambers. Here men in uniform lined up and shot 33,000 individual human beings one by one non-stop over a period of two days. Even for those who were just following orders there had to be some deep blackness in their hearts, some hatred that allowed them to dehumanise the innocent individual human beings who they shot down one by one.
A few weeks ago I was in Mumbai, India, where I went to visit Chabad’s Nariman House. I was literally sickened walking through the debris, seeing the blood-splattered walls; to stand in the place where Rabbi Gavriel Holzberg and his wife Rivkah were tortured and slaughtered. As I later looked out on Mumbai from the rooftop of Chabad House I marveled to think that in this huge, teeming city of 20 million the killers had meticulously, deliberately sought out to target this one rather obscure, peaceful place, and this particular man and his family.
Why did they do so? Because and only because they were Jews, and as such because they represented all the Jews. 68 years and thousands of miles separate the ravine of Babi Yar from the debris of Nariman House, but these places are connected by the same uniquely durable and pernicious evil of anti-Semitism. Even peaceful and pluralistic Canada sees signs that this evil is newly resurgent. The 2007 audit of anti-Semitic incidents by B’nai Brith, Canada’s league for human rights, recorded over 1,000 reported anti-Semitic incidents, up by 11% from the previous year and also reflecting a doubling of the number of reported incidents over the past five years.
Just a day, Friday, as I was boarding the flight for London, as a simple concrete example of this new environment, one page of one of our national newspapers, two articles. One about Jewish university students at one of our major universities being attacked by a mob shouting anti-Jewish slogans at them. And another article, man sentenced for firebombing Jewish institutions.
We in Canada are beginning to experience the same. Of course we’ve always had the old-school anti-Semitism, and it’s still present. The manifestations from the extreme right and their presence on the internet. In my assessment, it’s marginal, small and a shrinking form of anti-Semitism, but one which we can never forget. We do have robust hate crimes laws to deal with those manifestations of anti-Semitism, but we do see the growth of a new anti-Semitism, the anti-Semitism predicated on the notion that the Jews alone have no right to a homeland, the anti-Zionist version of anti-Semitism.
Now, let me say… je suis totalement d’accord avec mon collègue du Maroc et avec le Rabin en chef de la Royaume-Uni : On ne doit pas être d’accord avec les politiques particulières de l’Israël sur n’importe quelle question, on peut critiquer les politiques des gouvernements de l’Israël sans être antisémite. But the argument is not about criticising the politics of the Israeli government. Lord knows there’s enough of that in the Knesset. The argument is with those whose premise is that Israel itself is an abomination, and that the Jews alone have no right to a homeland. And in that sense anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Our government clearly understands this. Last year at our national Holocaust commemoration ceremony Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, speaking of the Holocaust that, “this genocide was so premeditated and grotesque in design, so monstrous and barbaric in scale and so systematic and efficient in execution that is stands alone in the annals of human evil.”
“Unfortunately in some countries,” he went on, “hatred of the Jews is still preached from religious pulpits and still proclaimed from political podiums. There are still people who would perpetrate another Holocaust if they could.”
“That’s why we must resist the error of viewing the Holocaust as a strictly historical event. It’s not good enough for politicians to stand before you and say they remember and mourn what happened over six decades ago. They must stand up to those who advocate the destruction of Israel and its people today. And they must be unequivocal in their condemnation of anti-Semitic despots, terrorists and fanatics. That is the only way to honour the memory of those who were consumed by the Holocaust.”
Let me briefly tell me some of the things that Canada is doing to respond to this new and growing anti-Semitism. We have recently applied to join and expect to become full members of the international taskforce on commemoration, education and research of the Holocaust. In that respect we have conducted a national baseline study of school curricula on Holocaust education. Our parliament has declared through all-party support - and two of the sponsors are here today - a bill for claiming the National Yom Ha-Shoah Holocaust Memorial Day, which is participated in by all party leaders.
We are addressing for the first time our own history of officially sanctioned anti-Semitism, the most notorious manifestation of which was Canada’s refusal to accept the hundreds of Jewish European refugees aboard the St Louis as it arrived in Halifax harbour in 1938. In fact, one of my predecessors, as that boat arrived in Canadian waters infamously declared with respect to European Jewish refugees that none is too many for Canada to receive. That is why our government has established a $2.5 million commemorative fund to help educate future generations about the St Louis incident and the hatred which underscored it.
We’ve created communities at risk security fund which is providing security, enabling grants for dozens of synagogues, Jewish schools and for other communities who have faced hatred or violence. As minister responsible for our multi-culturalism programme we have adjusted our programme to move away from celebrating our differences to focusing on social cohesion and building bridges between communities, combating radicalisation of youth.
For instance, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to support an exciting new venture launched by the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Canadian Somali Congress, which will provide young Canadians of Somalian origin, typically refugees, with an opportunity to find internships in Jewish-owned businesses and professions so they can meet and de-stigmatise people from other communities.
I follow with great interest your government’s programme to sponsor British high school kids, secondary school children, to be able to go and visit the death camps in Europe and to learn firsthand and report back to their peers the reality of the Holocaust. And I’m hopeful that we can find ways to participate in similar programmes.
Also very importantly, our government takes a zero tolerance approach to expressions of anti-Semitism in the public square. There are organisations in Canada, as in Britain, that receive their share of media attention and public notoriety, but who at the same time as expressing hateful sentiments expect to be treated as respectable interlocutors in the public discourse. I think, for example, of the president of an organisation called the Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohamed Elmasry, who notoriously said three years ago on live television that all Israelis over the age of 18 can legitimately be killed. They are combatants, and therefore legitimate targets for elimination.
I think as well of the leader of the Canadian Arab Federation, who notoriously circulated an e-mail when my colleague, our shadow Foreign Minister, Bob Rae, was running for the leadership of his party, calling on people to vote against Mr. Rae because of Arlene Perly Rae’s involvement in Canada’s Jewish community. The same individual, the same organisation, the Canadian Arab Federation, just last week circulated - including to all parliamentarians - videos which include propaganda, including the inculcation to hatred, of children by organisations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
These and other organisations are free within the confines of our law and consistent with our traditions of freedom of expression, to speak their mind, but they should not expect to receive resources from the state, support from taxpayers or any other form of official respect from the government or the organs of our State. And I would encourage all other governments to take a similar approach to organisations that either excuse violence against Jews or express essentially anti-Semitic sentiments.
I would encourage international organisations to be vigilant in this respect as well. I was disturbed to see at the OSCE high-level conference in Bucharest a representative of one of these organisations brought in by the OSCE to be an expert panelist. Let me conclude by telling you what Canada is doing on the international stage, talking about anti-Semitism. Mentioning Bucharest, I was there to express on behalf of our government a change of policy to call for the maintenance of a personal representative and a specific process to focus on anti-Semitism, not to the exclusion of other forms of hatred, racism and xenophobia, but to recognise the uniquely durable and pernicious form of hatred that is anti-Semitism.
As you know, the government of Canada has consistently voted against resolutions singling out Israel as a scapegoat at international forums such as the Francophonie and the United Nations Human Rights Council. Just two, three weeks ago we were unfortunately typically the only country of the 40 some member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to oppose in this instance a resolution scapegoating Israel in an unbalanced way as being responsible for the violence in Gaza.
And finally, my proudest moment as minister was a year ago this month when I announced on behalf of our government that Canada would withdraw, and has withdrawn, from the Durban 2 process. We did so deliberately. We did so after having participated in the initial preparatory meetings. We did so being fully conscious of Canada’s tradition as an international champion of tolerance, pluralism and mutual respect. And that’s precisely why we withdrew from the Durban process.
We withdrew from a process that sees Iran sitting on the organising committee, a country whose president has repeatedly engaged in inciting genocide against the Jewish nation, a conference in which Libya plays a central role on the organising committee, a conference where many of the key organising meetings were set, no doubt coincidentally, on Jewish high holidays to diminish the participation of Israeli and Jewish delegates, a process which re-invited to participate all of the NGOs that turned the original Durban conference into the notorious hate-fest, including those responsible for circulating copies of the Chronicles of the Elders of Zion and organisations which outside the conference venue held up portraits of Adolf Hitler, and a conference which as well re-invited those NGOs made it difficult or impossible for Jewish NGOs to come as observers, including the Canadian Council on Israeli and Jewish Affairs.
Now, I understand and appreciate the position of some governments to continue to wait and see how this process develops. I think many of us made the wrong decision several years ago to unwittingly legitimise the process. And I understand the position of some European governments that they want to watch and wait and see what Washington does. I find that a bit surprising. I always thought Europe prided itself as having its own independent foreign policy aligned with its own values and interests. That’s certainly the position of the government of Canada. We would encourage our friends elsewhere to remember that the Trans-Atlantic relationship includes Canada, and that we have taken what we believe to be a principled position on the Durban process.
In conclusion, let me close by quoting again the Prime Minster, Stephen Harper, following his visit last summer to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. He said, “I was moved beyond words by what I saw to revulsion, anger and most of all a deep, aching sadness for the millions of innocents who perished. But I also felt hope, hope because of the indomitable spirit and strength of the Jewish people, hope that left behind the horror of the Holocaust and moved forward to build the thriving, modern democratic state of Israel, and also hope because today most people in most civilised countries recognise anti-Semitism for what it is, a pernicious evil that must be exposed, confronted and repudiated whenever and where ever it appears, an evil so profound that it is ultimately a threat to us all.” Thank you very much.