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B’nai Brith to PM: Throne Speech Should Confront Antisemitism

September 14, 2020
B’nai Brith Canada
OTTAWA – In advance of the Speech from the Throne in nine days, B’nai Brith Canada has written Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterating the importance of confronting antisemitism during this challenging time of COVID-19.

“The Speech from the Throne is a major statement of government direction, setting out an agenda for the future,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “That agenda for Canada must include an acknowledgement of antisemitism as a form of racism, a commitment that anti-Jewish hatred not be excluded from anti-racist narratives, and an affirmation that the Government will take practical steps to address antisemitism.”

B’nai Brith Canada has welcomed the Prime Minister’s Yom HaShoah statement that “acts of antisemitic violence are still frequent today and it is our solemn duty to stand united and vigilant against all forms of antisemitism, hatred, and discrimination. We must be clear: attacks against the Jewish community are attacks against all of us.”

In its latest letter, B’nai Brith has reiterated several long-standing recommendations which can give that commitment true effect, including:

  • Developing and implementing a national action plan to combat antisemitism under federal leadership, with a commitment to pursue standardized and mandatory education curricula on antisemitism and the Holocaust in the provinces and territories.
  • Creating a federal position to coordinate action on antisemitism, domestically and internationally, calling on all programmes and activities of the Government in a holistic manner.
  • As part of the Anti-Racism Strategy, taking practical steps to implement in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, working in full consultation with representative Jewish community organizations such as B’nai Brith.
  • Emphasize that addressing racism, antisemitism, hate speech and hate crimes is a public safety issue, not just a multicultural issue; and that combating these is one element in countering radicalization to violence.
  • Providing resources from government programmes focused on strengthening digital literacy to deal with online hate and, specifically, online antisemitism, in line with Canada’s signature of the ‘Christchurch Call to Action’ and the announcement of a new ‘Digital Charter.’

“Through the Speech from the Throne, the Government can emphasize its goal of mainstreaming antisemitism awareness across all policy areas,” Mostyn said. “Greater awareness about Jewish life, tradition and history as well as a deeper understanding of what constitutes antisemitism is needed for policy-makers, as much as it is needed for Canadian citizens. That includes better training for civil servants, and education programmes that are both standardized and mandatory across the country.”

B’nai Brith informed the Prime Minister that it will continue to work closely with the Government on practical measures that address antisemitism, as well as Holocaust denial and distortion. These efforts carry forward the commitment that has characterized our organization’s basic work for more than a century.

The full text of B’nai Brith Canada’s letter to the Prime Minister is found here.