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B’nai Brith Canada to Minister Freeland: Promoting Religious Freedom Means Combating Antisemitism

Religious freedom supporters hold up signs during a rally in Chicago

July 23, 2018

By Violet Levin
Government Relations Associate
B’nai Brith Canada

OTTAWA – With the U.S. State Department serving as host of the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom this week, B’nai Brith Canada has penned an open letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland asking Canada to restate its opposition to antisemitism and racism.

B’nai Brith also is encouraging other countries to take specific actions to address this challenge.

This will be the first ministerial conference in history to advance religious freedom globally. It will focus on formulating concrete outcomes to reassert the international community’s commitment to promoting religious freedom. It also offers Canada an opportunity to reaffirm its dedication to an objective shared by both B’nai Brith and the federal government – protecting and promoting the right to freedom of religion or belief.

For B’nai Brith, this includes the need to speak out against anti-Jewish hatred whenever and wherever it arises.

“Canada has long been at the forefront of the international battle against antisemitism, and we will continue to confront such challenges to freedom of religion or belief,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “We wholeheartedly support Canada’s efforts and see this ministerial meeting as an opportunity to showcase our leadership on this issue.”

B’nai Brith’s letter advocates for a number of steps that can be taken to combat the scourge of global antisemitism while also promoting and protecting religious freedom. Many of these are featured in B’nai Brith’s policy paper prepared for the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Que. and in its Eight-Point Plan to Tackle Antisemitism.

They include:

  • A commitment to mobilize all instruments available to confront antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and all forms of hatred and bigotry
  • A commitment to support law enforcement, communities and schools to prevent and respond to antisemitism by implementing effective anti-bias education and hate crimes prevention programs.
  • A commitment, with legislative backing, to support and strengthen anti-bias and hate crimes education programs to help schools and communities address antisemitism and all forms of bigotry.
  • A commitment to using appropriate intergovernmental forums and international organizations to promote legislative, judicial and educational action to fight antisemitism and encourage the improvement of data collection of antisemitic hate crimes.
  • A commitment by law enforcement agencies – including at the international level – to enhance training of personnel to more effectively monitor, assess and respond to antisemitism and hate crimes.
  • A commitment that fighting antisemitism should be incorporated by governments into the full array of human rights and democracy programming, funding and public diplomacy efforts.

B’nai Brith will continue to support Canada’s delegation in Washington, D.C., in the fight against antisemitism and commends its endeavours to support and promote the freedom of belief and religion.

To read B’nai Brith’s letter to Foreign Minister Freeland in full, click here.