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 marvelled 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.
[quoting Stephen Harper] "...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.”
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.
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.
The recent news that the Obama government will be sending officials to Durban II naturally revolts us. Let's be thankful that some in Canada are not so immersed in ideas of moral and cultural relativism that they would defend the right of hate-mongering groups to receive government monies as if they were just any other special interest ethnic group. The defense of free speech must include a criticism of any government that would fund hate and build a state on top of an exchange among group, and not individual, identities. A multicultural empire where self-appointed elites claim to represent one or another group and to negotiate on behalf of said group in the backrooms of the byzantine state is not compatible with a truly free society where people can be free as individuals to speak their minds. But let us not be quick to write off those who agree with this while still calling themselves, as free individuals, Muslim, even if their idea of Islam, or their own business with the state, is yet somewhat incoherent to us:
The Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC) has welcomed the move by Minister Jason Kenney to cut funding of groups that spread hate and promote division.Rob Breakenridge has a record of the CAF's dirty deeds.
In a statement, Salma Siddiqui, senior vice president of the MCC said, for too long successive Conservative and Liberal governments have been funding groups who, under the guise of multiculturalism, have been promoting an overseas agenda to the detriment of Canada
Earlier this week Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced a review of all federal funding of the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) after Hamas and Hezbollah flags were raised at a CAF backed rally. Reacting to the criticism, the president of CAF labeled Minister Jason Kenney a "professional whore."
Ms. Siddiqui said she was not only shocked at the language used by the CAF president, but was surprised to learn that the Arab federation was being generously funded by the very government it was lashing out at. It was revealed that CAF receives nearly $500,000 from just one government department.
The MCC demands that all future funding of CAF should be made conditional to a guarantee that the Arab organization will not behave as a mouthpiece of Hamas and Hezbollah in Canada and that it will embrace Canadian values, not those of Iran.
She said this condition should apply to all multicultural organizations. “I echo the words of Minister Kenney who said, ‘We should not be rewarding those who express views that are contrary to Canada's best liberal values of tolerance and mutual respect,’ added Ms. Siddiqui.
Last year, the National Post editorial board hosted Mouammar and a CAF colleague for an editorial board meeting. To our collective shock, they laid blame for virtually every problem the world faces on Israel — including the alienation of Arab-Canadian children in Canada's public school system. (One explained that he had sent his daughter for education overseas — because the inclusion of Israel in Canadian textbooks was too traumatic for her to endure.)(HTs: Catfur)
It's a disgrace that this group ever got a cent from Ottawa. I hope Kenney doesn't stop at slashing the CAF's funding — he should eliminate it.