Avi Abraham Benlolo
Avi Benlolo: Canada's hypocrisy on anti-Semitism
The double standard of voting against the Jewish state on one hand while fighting anti-Semitism and memorializing the Holocaust on the other really misses the mark Avi Benlolo, National Post Dec 03, 2020
Are countries that condemn anti-Semitism hypocritical when they vote unfairly against Israel at the United Nations? That was the question I asked in an informal poll of my followers on Twitter a few days ago. Obviously, being my followers, 94 per cent of them agreed that voting against Israel while condemning anti-Semitism was hypocritical.
These countries pretend to have morals, principles and virtues when it comes to condemning hate against Jews. But on the international stage, where the consequences of a vote could lead to higher oil prices or put a strain on diplomatic relations with some countries, voting against the Jews, whether in the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council, has become second nature. Many of us applauded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent appointment of my friend Irwin Cotler as Canada’s envoy to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Yet, just the week prior, Canada voted for a jaw-dropping resolution that called for Palestinian self-determination, while failing to acknowledge Jewish self-determination.
In reaction, UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer Tweeted, “Shame: Canada’s Justin Trudeau government just joined the jackals at the UN by voting for a one-sided resolution singling out Israel, co-sponsored by Syria, Venezuela and North Korea.” Canada’s vote came as a shock given its longstanding friendship with Israel and, generally speaking, its positive voting record with Israel at the UN.
Still, that resolution, if you subscribe to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism — and Canada says it does — is anti-Semitic. The definition actually gives a precise example: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” falls into the category of anti-Semitism. Thus, excluding the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in the resolution contravened the very nature and spirit of the internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism.
We cannot continue applauding initiatives to condemn anti-Semitism and promote Holocaust education, while the Jewish state — as the embodiment of the Jewish people — continues to be bashed unfairly. This year’s targeting of Israel at the UN included the usual package of some 20 different motions condemning it — and only seven aimed at other countries.
Since 2015, there have been 96 resolutions at the UN condemning Israel and only seven for Syria, five for North Korea, four for Iran and three for Myanmar. Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, commented that, “No other country in the world faces such discrimination in the UN — and it is time for more UN members to join our struggle to challenge the organization’s anti-Israel agenda.”
It’s hard to believe that Canada is joining this parade of hate internationally while telling the Canadian Jewish community that it’s fighting anti-Semitism. Yet Canada is not alone in this double standard. The European Union has been making a point about fighting anti-Semitism and promoting Holocaust remembrance recently, all while joining in on the Israel-bashing at the UN.
More and more European countries, and even municipalities, are endorsing the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. And just this week, the Council of the European Union adopted a declaration that calls for “new ways to remember the Holocaust in a meaningful way.” The declaration even goes as far as demanding a “strong and systematic judicial response” to rising anti-Semitism and online hate.
Something here just doesn’t compute. The European Union’s report says that, “The increase in threats to Jewish persons in Europe including the resurgence of conspiracy myths, public expressions of anti-Semitism, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and an increase in anti-Semitic incidents and hate crime is a cause of great concern.”
But did the EU, and Canada for that matter, ever stop to consider that widespread condemnation of the Jewish state at the UN and affiliate agencies may actually be contributing to the rise in anti-Semitism on the streets? If Israel can be bullied at the UN by our leaders, why would people think it’s wrong to attack Jews elsewhere?
On the heels of this anti-Israel momentum, a counter-attack is brewing against the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism — particularly the sections that protect the right to a Jewish homeland. Just this week in the Guardian, 122 Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists and intellectuals denounced the definition, saying that they “profoundly disagree” with the idea that “Israel in its current reality embodies the self-determination of all Jews.”
So, just as the UN passes a resolution advocating for Palestinian self-determination, the self-determination of the Jews comes into question.
International bodies like UNESCO, the European Union and even the United Nations can continue condemning anti-Semitism and promoting Holocaust education, but it’s all smoke and mirrors as long as they continue condemning the Jewish state at the UN. Canada must return to its principled policy of standing up for a friend, an ally and the only democracy in the Middle East.
The double standard of voting against the Jewish state on one hand while fighting anti-Semitism and memorializing the Holocaust on the other really misses the mark.