simon wiesenthal centre | 02.06.2004 11:27
Over the last few months, Canada has experienced the worst antisemitic activity in recent memory. Synagogues have been vandalized, cemetery stones overturned, homes desecrated with Nazi signs, a Jewish school damaged by arson, bomb threats sent to Jewish community centers, Jewish seniors taunted, and the distribution of hate propaganda. At right, Beth Jacob cemetery in Kitchener-Waterloo, where 12 gravestones were knocked over by vandals in April.
While the Canadian Jewish community is still reeling from this unprecedented series of antisemitic hate crimes, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Canada has been active in combating this rise by:
Leo Adler, Friends' National Director,
along with other Jewish leaders, met with Prime Minister Paul Martin (pictured left) resulting in a commitment by the government to speak out more forcefully against antisemitism, both in Canada and in international forums. In addition there was a new commitment to develop a national action plan to combat antisemitism and other forms of racism, to make a principled case against suicide bombings internationally, and to stop sending out mixed messages about Canada's attitude towards Israel.
Mr. Adler officially testified before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee on the campaign to make suicide bombings 'crimes against humanity'. This took place against the backdrop of an all-party resolution to have Canada take a leadership role in this initiative.
Our director publicly protested, and later met with Canadian Member of Parliament Patrick O' Brien, after the Parliamentarian had equated the construction of Israel's security fence with the creation of a concentration camp - comments O'Brien stood by even after meeting with the Friends' delegation.
Leo Adler lobbied for, and then participated in Canada's first National Yom Hashoah-Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration in ceremonies held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (pictured right).
Canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center established a telephone hate line and email address to report any antisemitic incidents (1-866-690-4792 or 1-866-690-4SWC; firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tragically, this "new" antisemitism is often linked directly to events in the Middle East and the war against terrorism. A recent firebombing of a Jewish elementary school in Montreal was linked to Israeli actions in the Holy Land. Pictured left, reporters and school workers inspect the damage at the United Talmud Torah elementary school in Montreal. The school's library was firebombed overnight and antisemitic literature was left at the scene. A number of arrests of Arabs living in Montreal in connection with this hate crime have recently been reported.
Amid the spate of hate crimes and a new sense of concern and activism, the Simon Wiesenthal Center worldwide and Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Canada is asking that you join us in urging Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin to take a leadership role in making suicide bombings 'crimes against humanity', thus making a long range commitment to the fight against hate and terrorism.
This initiative, was presented in recent meetings with Prime Minister Paul Martin, Foreign Minister Bill Graham, (pictured right with SWC officials), Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, Canada's Conservative Party Foreign Affairs Critic and member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Stockwell Day and Bloc Quebecois Member of Parliament Richard Marceau, all with the goal of gaining Canada's leadership in working against suicide bombings and those who sponsor this culture of death worldwide.
As legislation already exists in Canada against acts of terror and terrorism, Canada's lead would set an example to the rest of the world and would ensure that those who sponsor and inspire these heinous acts will be held legally accountable to the victims and their families.
Therefore, join us in reiterating our request to Prime Minister Paul Martin asking that he raise this issue with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and Arab nations attending next week's G8 summit meeting in the United States.
simon wiesenthal centre