Mr. Chair, I want to commend my colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador for his informed and inspiring remarks. I appreciate his reference to Jack Marshall, who was a great colleague and great contributor to Canada, and also for his reference to the anti-Semitic vandalism and threats in Montreal today. It may not be known to the members in this House that the incident actually occurred on Côte-St-Luc Road, which borders my riding. I have heard many concerned responses from my constituents since this occurred earlier today.
In particular, I am pleased that the member from Newfoundland and Labrador has kindly offered me an opportunity to split the time with him and has invited me to comment on the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism, a central instrument for the purposes of engaging in countering anti-Semitism domestically and internationally. I am pleased to do so, because many colleagues this evening have referenced the protocol. Others have also spoken about the importance of education in combatting anti-Semitism. They both converge with regard to the Ottawa protocol as an educational, policy-making, action-oriented instrument. I just would like to excerpt from it, because I think this could be part of our learning experience this evening.
The Minister of Finance earlier asked, why anti-Semitism? In fact, the Ottawa protocol makes some reference to it. It says:
We are appalled by the resurgence of the classic anti-Jewish libels, including:
The Blood Libel (that Jews use the blood of children for ritual sacrifice)
The Jews as “Poisoners of the Wells”--responsible for all evils in the world
The myth of the “new Protocols of the Elders of Zion”--the tsarist forgery that proclaimed an international Jewish conspiracy bent on world domination--and accuses the Jews of controlling government, the economy, media and public institutions.
The double entendre of denying the Holocaust [on the one hand]...and the nazification of the Jew[s][on the other].
Finally, the Ottawa protocol set forth a working definition for anti-Semitism. It drew on the European Union monitoring centre, now the fundamental rights agency, working definition. For some reason, it has dropped it, but because its definition is referenced in so many educational programs and in parliamentary initiatives, I am going to now reaffirm the definition, as put forth in the Ottawa protocol. I do that in two respects, both in its reference to the definition of traditional “anti-Semitism” and of the new anti-Semitism. It speaks of:
Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
I will just give two examples. It gives about seven.
Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective—such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth [again] about a world Jewish conspiracy, or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
It goes on to a matter of particular importance, and that is examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel. Here it gives specific and express examples:
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
I was reminded, on Martin Luther King Day, that Martin Luther King Jr. used to say that the denial to the Jewish people of the right to self-determination, a right that we affirm for all nations of the globe, including African nations, is in fact, simply put, anti-Semitism.
Another example it gives is the following:
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Let us be clear. Israel, like any other state, is responsible for any violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
The Jewish people are not privileged with respect to equality before the law because of the historical Jewish suffering or that of the Holocaust. The promise is not that anyone would claim that Israel be above the law, but rather that Israel is being systematically denied equality before the law as an example set forth this evening, particularly in the international arena. It is not that human rights standards are being applied to Israel, but that these standards are not being applied equally to everyone else. It is not that Israel must respect human rights, which she must, but that the rights of Israel deserve not more but equal respect.
Another example here is the notion of using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism, including claims of Jews killing Jesus and the like, to characterize Israel or Israelis, or drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, or holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel. But clearly as it states in the protocol, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.
Let me close with a particular statement and declaration that I take responsibility for authoring as part of the Ottawa protocol, which says:
Let it be clear: Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic, and saying so is wrong. 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.
As the Ottawa protocol concludes with a call to parliamentarians in particular to adopt the EUMC working definition of anti-Semitism, which no longer appears to be in place, and to anchor its enforcement in existing law, I call on all members here to reference the Ottawa Protocol to Combat Antisemitism as the framing reference for the definition of anti-Semitism old and new, and to make that the template for our understanding of anti-Semitism, for our policy-making in that regard, and for our actions domestically and internationally.