Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Canada becomes first country to sign the Ottawa Protocol

Canada becomes first country to sign the Ottawa Protocol

Ottawa Protocol text at:

Canada Gets Tough on Anti-Semitism

The government of Canada took an historic step

yesterday by signing the Ottawa Protocol to Combat

Anti-Semitism. By doing so, it recognized anti-Semitism as a

Pernicious evil and a global threat against the Jewish

People, the State of Israel and free, democratic countries

everywhere. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper has noted,

"Those who would hate and destroy the Jewish people would

ultimately hate and destroy the rest of us as


The Protocol is a declaration that hatred of

This nature will not be tolerated in this country. It sets

out an action plan for supporting initiatives that combat

anti-Semitism and provides a framework for other nations to


It also sets out a vibrant definition of

anti-Semitism which, for the first time in history, links

anti-Semitism to the denial of the right Jewish people have

to their ancestral home land -- the State of Israel. This,

in fact, is what sets post-World War Two anti-Semitism apart

from its historic roots. Today's anti-Semitism is all about

denial: denial of the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish

movement to reclaim the land of Israel; denial of a Jewish

History in connection to the holy land and, in particular,

the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people; denial of

the Holocaust (while at the same time accusing Jews of

Nazism); and denial of Jews to live free of anti-Semitism,

hate and intolerance.

In announcing the Protocols,

Foreign Minister John Baird has expressed his government's

unequivocal support for the State of Israel. In referring to

this week's turmoil at the United Nations and the

Palestinian threat to unilaterally declare a state, Baird

said, "Canada will not stand behind Israel at the United

Nations; we will stand right beside it. It is never a bad

thing to do the right thing."

According to Baird,

more and more countries are refusing to participate in the

UN conference dubbed "Durban III" -- otherwise known as an

anti-Semitic hate fest which began as a human rights forum

in South Africa in 2001; the forum ultimately degenerated

into an anti-Semitic slinging match in which repressive Arab

and African countries blamed all the problems facing their

own countries and the world on Israel. The governments of

France, New Zealand and Poland (today) joined Canada and 10

other western nations this week by declaring they will not

take part.

Unquestionably, the Government of Canada's

stance on Israel is based on the principle of standing by

your friends -- especially when they are democracies and

advocates for human rights. Most Jewish leaders would agree

that Israel is indeed Canada's greatest ally in the fight

against hate and intolerance.

But the fight against

hatred and anti-Semitism must be won here in Canada as well.

The Ottawa Protocol is mostly the result of a report

published this summer by a Canadian Parliamentary Coalition

To Combat Anti-Semitism which was comprised of leading

Canadian politicians who volunteered their time to probe the

increasing and alarming tide of anti-Semitism in


In a letter accompanying the report, Chairs

of the Inquiry Panel and the Steering Committee, Mario Silva

and Scott Reid, wrote, "The Inquiry Panel's conclusion,

unfortunately, is that the scourge of anti-Semitism is a

growing threat in Canada, especially on the campuses of our

universities." The report cites numerous examples of

Anti-Semitism on various campuses including the infamous

incident in 2009 when Jewish students at York University

were chased and barricaded themselves in the Hillel lounge

while a mob outside taunted them with anti-Semitic slurs.

The list of examples is quite long and disturbing.

Universities should take note of the

report and the signing of the Ottawa Protocols. They should

put an immediate end to hateful and fallacious events like

Israeli Apartheid Week; they should state unequivocally that

freedom of speech should not be abused to provide a cover

for anti-Semitism; they should ensure that Jewish students

feel welcome on campus, and that their learning environment

should be freed from anti-Israel occurrences and finally,

universities must become accountable for allowing their

private property to be venues for hateful conduct among


The Ottawa Protocol to Combat Anti-Semitism

is a template for every Canadian to consider. But it is

especially a document of significance for universities that

have allowed themselves to become vehicles of hatred and

complicit in its promotion. As my friend, Professor Irwin

Cotler said last night at the Ottawa signing ceremony,

?Anti-Semitism is not only the longest known form of hatred

in the history of humanity -- it is the only form of hatred

that is truly global.?

Every person of conscience should take note of the Ottawa Protocols

and never forget the lessons of the Holocaust when the world was silent.


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