Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Parliamentary inquiry finds increasing anti-semitism on Canadian university campuses

An increase in anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attitudes and opinions couldn't have anything to do with an increasing Islamic presence in the country and on university campuses, could it? The University of Alberta is one of those that permits an annual Israeli Apartheid Week. This event has been held at the university only since 2009; there was no such week, needless to say, from 1979-1989, when Myer Horowitz was president of the U of A. As for the coalition's recommendations, an obvious one seems to have been overlooked: a crackdown on the number of Muslims allowed into the country.

As reported by Beatrice Fantoni in the Ottawa Citizen, July 8, 2011:

OTTAWA — Anti-Semitism on Canadian university campuses is a growing threat and the Canadian government needs to do more to tackle hate crimes against Jews, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism released its report on Thursday following two years of hearings.

According to the report, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Canada, especially in universities. The report makes several recommendations to the government, including working with police services across Canada to clearly define what constitutes an anti-Semitic crime and looking at rising international anti-Semitism when designating source countries for immigration...

...The coalition was formed in late 2009, following an international conference on anti-Semitism in the U.K. Its aim was to find out more about how anti-Semitism is playing out in Canada and suggest ways to deal with it.

A total of 74 witnesses testified at 10 hearings, and more than 150 written submissions were made between November 2009 and February 2010.

The coalition was composed of more than 20 MPs and senators, both Jewish and non-Jewish, from all political parties. Bloc Quebecois members dropped out in 2010, claiming the coalition was biased.

Former Liberal MP Mario Silva, who chaired the hearings, said he was especially disturbed to hear how many Jewish university students felt intimidated or unsafe on campus in light of events such as Israeli Apartheid Week, which the coalition considers to be anti-Semitic. The annual event, held across Canada, opposes Israel's treatment of Palestinians and calls for boycotts of and sanctions against Israel.

The coalition's report recommends the federal government sponsor conferences at universities to counter these types of events.

"We can't have a situation of fear and intimidation on our campuses," Silva said. "We agree with free speech — it's not an issue of shutting down free speech — but administrators have a responsibility for the security and safety of their students."

Critics of the coalition said the process did not include dissenting voices. Interest groups, such as the Canadian Islamic Congress and Independent Jewish Voices were not invited to make statements.

On Thursday, Silva responded by saying that those dissenting groups and individuals were not prepared to make a positive contribution.

"They would rather just focus on attacking the work we were doing," he said. "Just speaking for myself, I didn't want to give a platform to individuals who had no time for us, so why should we have time for them?"

Wahida Valiante, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, told Postmedia News on Thursday that the process should have been more inclusive and not focused exclusively on anti-Semitism since any policy outcomes could benefit other groups in Canada who face racism...

...In 2010, the Jewish group B'nai Brith reported 1,306 anti-Semitic incidents in Canada, up from 1,264 in 2009.

Anita Bromberg, national director of legal affairs for B'nai Brith, said the coalition's findings are "bang on" with what her organization has been studying for more than 25 years...

...The report's recommendations will be useful if the government establishes the office of religious freedom, Silva said. The office, which would monitor religious persecution worldwide, was proposed by the Conservative party as part of its election platform in April.

To see the full report, go here.

May 15, 2012 update: As reported by Gabe Kahn of Arutz Sheva, May 14, 2012:

Canada's government may be pro-Israel, but its universities aren't according to the Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (CPCCA) report on anti-Semitism in Canada released last week.

Mario Silva, Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry appointed by the CPCCA, said his two year investigation concluded anti-Semitism is alive and well in Canada, especially in the universities.

The report cited the anti-Semitic atmosphere on campus is reflected both in expressions of traditional anti-Semitism and Israel bashing, which denies the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and a homeland.

Frequently applied tactics by anti-Israel activists, he said, including the use of symbols and tactics employed by the Nazi regime and the Israeli government, and conferring on all Jews culpability in Israel's policy decisions.

The report noted these tactics go far beyond legitimate criticism of Israel and present a new expression of anti-Semitic discourse.

The Commission of Inquiry heard testimony from of students and professors about the pervasive hostile atmosphere in Canada's universities.

Jewish students who expressed open support for Israel were subjected to harassment by both fellow students and lecturers, and offensive slurs.

Lecturers who identified with the Jewish students told the Committee they were afraid to speak out openly for fear of endangering their academic careers.

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