|Canada first to sign antisemitism protocol|
|By ANDY LEVY-AJZENKOPF, Staff Reporter|
|Tuesday, 20 September 2011|
|Fittingly, Canada is the first country to sign the Ottawa Protocol on combating antisemitism.The document was drafted in Ottawa at the November 2010 Conference on Combating Antisemitism and was signed last week by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.It represents the outgrowth of a series of conferences by the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (IC-CA), which co-hosted the Ottawa conference along with the government of Canada last year.
The protocol contains a series of measures that seek to end hateful propaganda online and in places such as university campuses and distinguishes valid criticism of Israel from antisemitism.
“Criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic,” the protocol states. “But singling Israel out for selective condemnation and opprobrium – let alone denying its right to exist or seeking its destruction – is discriminatory and hateful, and not saying so is dishonest.”
Jewish community leaders and groups hailed the government’s signing of the document last week.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) commended the signing. In a statement, CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel called the document “groundbreaking” in its findings and recommendations.
The Ottawa Protocol “will serve as the basis of the renewed international effort against antisemitism. The fact that this important document was crafted in Ottawa is further testimony to Canada’s leadership role in this vital global battle,” he said.
Fogel added: “We are hopeful that the recommendations of the Ottawa Protocol will not only be adopted by other countries, but will serve as a model for countering all forms of hatred and discrimination.”
At the signing, Kenney said Canada is fighting anti-Semitism in a number of ways.
“The Ottawa Protocol complements what Canada is already doing to combat hatred and discrimination, including antisemitism,” he said. “We are a member of the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. Here at home, we have launched programs to promote integration and social cohesion of Canadians from all backgrounds.”
The Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre (FSWC) also praised the government for becoming the docu-ment’s first official signatory.
In a statement, Avi Benlolo, president and CEO said his organization applauded the government’s “principled leadership” on the issue.
“With the exceptional and pernicious rise of antisemitism throughout the world, the Ottawa Protocol sets an exam-ple for other nations to follow,” Benlolo said. “This announcement is particularly meaningful as Jews around the world watch in sadness as the racist Durban III conference in New York provides yet one more international forum for attacking the Jewish people, while here in Canada we read about another antisemitic inci-dent in which a swastika was carved on an Edmonton hill.”
To read the full text of the Ottawa Protocol, go to www.antisem.org/archive/ottawa-protocol-on-combating-antisemitism/.