NATO headquarters in Belgium (Photo: NATO)
July 4, 2018
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
B’nai Brith Canada has always been a strong supporter of Canada’s membership in the North Atlantic Alliance. We favour a robust Canadian contribution to security of the Euro-Atlantic region, including through our current commitment to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia.
Alliance relationships are strengthened through frank and open dialogue. Given Canada’s highly respected voice in NATO forums, your forthcoming visit to Latvia and participation in the NATO Summit offers you an opportunity to articulate the concerns of Canada’s Jewish community over developments in Europe.
B’nai Brith submitted detailed proposals prior to the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Que. on how the G7 can lead the effort to combat antisemitism. We noted the important work of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), of which Canada is a leading member.
As one facet of its work to combat antisemitism, IHRA is very much focused on the threat to our social fabric from modern-day Holocaust distortion and denial. It is in this context that B’nai Brith has concerns we ask you to consider and convey to other NATO members and, particularly, to Latvian leaders:
- We must condemn all attempts to glorify Nazi sympathizers or collaborators, whether military units, fascist organizations or individuals.
- We are very concerned with the rise of extreme right forces in Europe, which both draws upon and fuels efforts to cast a different historical light on the role of some fascist organizations or military units during World War II.
- We are witness to parades and demonstrations in European cities that glorify or gloss over the role of military units known to have supported or sympathized with the Nazis. This includes worrying signs in the three Baltic countries.
- For example, there has been widespread and credible reporting in Canada and internationally of parades that glorify the Latvian Legion, including the 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS and the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS.
- We must challenge all those who distort the historical record on governments, military units or organizations that fought with, supported or sympathized with the Nazis during World War II. This includes government leaders who acquiesce in, or fail to condemn, a process of Nazi glorification that amounts to Holocaust distortion.
- Those who glorify the record of such organizations or units cannot dismiss criticism as “fake news.” Nor can they justify the actions of such units based on a need to choose between the lesser of two evils.
- The fact is that some organizations and their leaders, now glorified for their fight against the Soviet army, were also involved in atrocities against Jewish civilians or embraced ideologies that were deeply antisemitic and perpetuated social hostility towards their Jewish populations. This is why B’nai Brith rejects any efforts to constrain historians and the media from researching what happened and publicly explaining it in an objective manner.
Respectfully, Prime Minister, we do believe the Canadian government can speak out more forthrightly – both privately and publicly – with its partners and allies when we see troubling instances of Holocaust distortion increasing in intensity in Europe, including efforts to glorify World War II governments, military units, or individuals who sympathized with or supported the Nazis.
Canada should be using its influence to challenge this trend and convince its allies to join in a denunciation of this development. We ask you to use the occasion of your visit to Latvia, and to the NATO Summit, to carry this message on behalf of Canada’s Jewish community.
The key to combatting modern-day Holocaust distortion, denial or obfuscation is education, particularly on the dangers posed by modern day glorification of pro-Nazi sympathizers or supporters. That is why we support IHRA and a vigorous Canadian contribution to IHRA’s work, and why B’nai Brith Canada has its own Holocaust Education Program.
Chief Executive Officer
B'nai Brith Canada