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Friday, July 22, 2011

The Canadian government needs your help in fighting hate

Yesterday at the Toronto offices of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, federal Cabinet Ministers Tim Uppal and Jason Kenney announced the success of a Bill that establishes the creation of a national Holocaust Memorial in Ottawa.

Private Members' Bill rarely become enacted as law, but the Bill for the Memorial, which was introduced by Mr. Uppal, was a rare exception with an unusual back-story.

The idea came from a young university student who first approached Environment Minister Peter Kent with the idea. Kent introduced her to Tim Uppal, who had a personal connection to the issue and made it his own.

Minister for Democratic Renewal Tim Uppal with
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre CEO Avi Benolo
Mr. Uppal spoke about how his wife, a woman of South Asian decent who had attended Catholic schools, was a participant on the March of Remembrance and Hope, a Holocaust Educational Program. She was deeply moved by the experience, which took her to the grounds of Nazi death camps in Europe and later to Israel. These experiences highlighted the need for the importance of a monument that serves as an ever-present reminder of where the horrors that racial hate and discrimination can lead.

It is worth noting that The March of Remembrance and Hope was the subject of an anti-Semitic thesis that achieved international notoriety after it became the basis of a Master's Degree awarded at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. The author of the thesis, one Jenny Peto, who never so much as interviewed a single participant in The March of Remembrance and Hope, claimed it was part of a Zionist conspiracy to "obscure Jewish privilege, deny Jewish racism and promote the interests of the Israeli nation-state."

As a religious Sikh, and someone who has experienced discrimination himself, Uppal spoke of the bond he felt with the Canadian Jewish community, who had undergone great suffering in Europe and discrimination in Canada in the past. It is ironic that Uppal, who is the member of parliament for Edmonton-Sherwood Park in Alberta, where there are very few South Asian or Jewish constituents, would be the person to introduce the Holocaust Memorial Bill. But as he and Jason Kenney reminded the audience, it is a reflection of the current government's commitment to fighting bigotry and anti-Semitism.

The two Ministers reiterated that part of that commitment involves exposing and denying federal funding to Non-Governmental Organizations that engage in hateful activities under  the guise of 'Human Rights' activities. One such group is Alternatives International, which was an organizer of the failed attempt to launch a Canadian boat to break Israel's arms embargo of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Jason Kenney
When asked about the fact that Alternatives continued to receive about one million dollars of tax funds in the last fiscal year, Mr. Kenney responded that he understood that funding would cease to that group for it's mid-east activities. He added that there is $200 Billion dollars dispersed to various programs by the government each year to a huge number of organizations, as that some activities of some of them go unnoticed by the government. But Ministers have been instructed to be watchful to ensure that such groups that engage in acts that conflict with Canada's national, economic and foreign policy goals don't get paid by the government to do so.

Alternatives continues to support activity against Canadian ally Israel and an undemocratic Marxist-Leninist ideology. One of Alternatives' Board Memebers', Ali Mallah, a vice president of the anti-Semitic Canadian Arab Federation, was a featured speaker at a Marxism conference in Toronto this year.

Following the Press Conference, one of the federal ministers spoke to me, very pleased that I had asked about defending Alternatives. The government needs the help of citizens and the media to make sure that these issues are raised publicly. Radical leftist groups and their supporters in the mainstream media, like many writers at the Toronto Star, criticize the government for taking a principled stand against the hatred and extremism that groups like Alternatives represent.

Groups like Faculty for Palestine, go so far as to lie, hoping that no one will check facts, as the media often does not do. In today's National Post, a committee of Faculty for Palestine writers lied about the contents of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism's report, saying it is an attack on free speech that wants to criminalize criticism of Israel and with regard to Israeli Aparthid Week  "calls on government to legislate this new criminalizing definition of anti-Semitism."

Nowhere, in any of the CPCCA's 24 recommendations is any such call made. But Faculty for Palestine is relying on the likelihood that people won't check facts, but will just accept their claims.

The report is available through this link and anyone who bothers to read it can see that the group of intellectually deficient anti-Israel university teachers either didn't understand it or are lying about its contents. But that should be expected from peoplee who , while claiming they are opposed to anti-Semitism, practice a unique, single-minded focus on the only Jewish state’s relatively small transgressions committed in the name of self-defennse, while completely ignoring the comparatively egregious human rights violations of its immediate neighbors. That makes their claim of opposition to anti-Semitism ring as hollow as their other false representations.

The government needs your help to speak out against the use of tax funds to pay for hate. So write the press, write your MP and speak out about this if it maters to you.

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