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OSCE Report on Canada Cites B’nai Brith Recommendations on Combating Antisemitism

Rabbi Andrew Baker (left) meets with B'nai Brith's Brian Herman in Ottawa in October 2018

April 19, 2019

OTTAWA – The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization, published a review of work on antisemitism in Canada last week, citing several recommendations from B’nai Brith Canada, and resources such as the Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents.

The report summarizes the findings of Rabbi Andrew Baker, the OSCE Chair’s Personal Representative on Combating Antisemitism, who visited Canada in October 2018, during which he met representatives from our organization in Montreal and Ottawa.

In our consultations with Rabbi Baker, we reiterated the need for a national effort involving all levels of government to implement measures in our Eight-Point Plan to Tackle Antisemitism.

Rabbi Baker speaks to several of these measures in his report, recommending that:

  • Hate crime units should be established in the police departments of major Canadian cities;
  • Increased attention should be given to the collection of hate crime data, including the encouragement of reporting and the measurement of antisemitic hate crimes and hate incidents;
  • Use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism should be encouraged in federal and provincial bodies, including in human rights commissions and law enforcement agencies;
  • Canadian universities should better understand the nature of antisemitism on campus, including problems related to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement and other anti-Israel activities; and
  • Antisemitism should be identified as a specific category as part of Heritage Canada’s cross-country consultations and development of a national anti-racism action plan.

B’nai Brith has consistently called for the adoption of a national action plan to combat antisemitism, as has been implemented in countries such as Norway and France, in recognition that adequate resources must be offered to strategically combat the phenomenon of antisemitism.  We have also called for a focused ‘anti-hate’ strategy in our work with Canadian Heritage to confront racism.

“It was a privilege to consult with Rabbi Baker during his official visit to Canada, compare perceptions, offer suggestions on how to curb the spread of antisemitism here, and communicate our key objectives as an organization,” said Brian Herman, Director of Government Relations for B’nai Brith Canada. “These include emphasizing that antisemitism, hate crimes and hate speech are public safety issues, and that federal, provincial/territorial and municipal action to combat racism requires a focus that captures effective action to combat religious discrimination and antisemitism.”

B’nai Brith Canada provided a written submission to Rabbi Baker with its views. To read it in its entirety, click here. To read our policy paper on the need for a Canadian anti-hate strategy, click here.

The work of the OSCE spans the globe, encompassing three continents – North America, Europe and Asia – and more than a billion people. Canada is one of the OSCE’s 57 member states. Additional information on the OSCE’s purpose and objectives can be found here. A look at Rabbi Baker’s responsibilities can be found here

Published : Apr 19, 2019
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