Wednesday, 17 November 2010

'Ottawa Protocol' draws the line on anti-Semitism, by Norma Greenaway

Most (all ?) European media completely ignored the conference. No wonder, Europeans, while acknowledging that anti-Semitism is a problem in Europe, they never identify any anti-Semites.  In other words, in Europe there is anti-Semitism without anti-Semites.  Quite an achievement. (Drawing: "Happy Hanukka" by Belgian cartoonist Ben Heine)

Full text of the Ottawa Protocol HERE

Source: National Post

Stepped-up efforts within Canada and around the world are needed to combat rising anti-Semitism, says an international declaration designed to stamp out the "most enduring of all hatreds."

The declaration, known as the Ottawa Protocol, was released yesterday after a two-day meeting of parliamentarians and experts from about four dozen countries in Ottawa.

"We are alarmed by the explosion of anti-Semitism and hate on the Internet, a medium crucial for the promotion and protection of freedom of expression, freedom of information and the participation of a civil society," the declaration says.

Irwin Cotler, chairman of the international coalition and a noted human rights activist, told a news conference the protocol breaks new ground. For the first time, it provides detailed definitions of what constitutes anti-Semitism and puts in writing what the group sees as the distinction between anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of the state of Israel, the Liberal MP said.

"Let it be clear: Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is wrong," the protocol says. "But singling Israel out for selective condemnation and opprobrium -- let alone denying its right to exist or seeking is destruction -- is discriminatory and hateful, and not saying so is dishonest."

The Ottawa Protocol builds on one crafted in London in February 2009 at the founding conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who attended the London Conference, said the Ottawa meeting, which attracted hundreds of participants, proves the 2009 gathering was not a one-off.

"We determined [in London] this had to be an ongoing enterprise, that we could not simply meet, have a conference, disperse and go back to business as usual," Mr. Kenney told the conference.

He said the Conservative government is committed to leading the fight through education programs and better record keeping by police of hate crimes.

Reports of anti-Semitic incidents have been increasing worldwide and within Canada, where B'nai Brith reported a total of 1,264 incidents in 2009, the highest number since the group began its annual audit 28 years ago.

As proof of its commitment to zero tolerance for anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic actions and sentiments, the Conservative government often points to its decision last year to boycott the UN-sponsored Durban II conference against racism. It has not yet decided whether to attend Durban III. Speaking to the conference on Monday, however, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the fight against anti-Semitism must be relentless and that he is prepared to do whatever is needed to stand up for Israel. "As long as I am Prime Minister, whether it is at the UN or the francophone or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand," he said.

Among the commitments of the Ottawa Protocol:

- Working with universities to encourage them to fight anti-Semitism with the same seriousness with which they confront other forms of crimes.

- Establishing an international task force of Internet specialists comprising parliamentarians and experts to create ways to identify and monitor anti-Semitism and other hate crimes online and to develop policy recommendations on how governments can address the problems.

- Working to ensure police have one universal and comprehensive recording facility for hate crimes in general, which also breaks out anti-Semitic attacks.

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