International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians Revived; Canada to Play Part

Anthony Housefather

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has announced it is re-establishing the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP) in response to surging anti-Semitism around the world.

It will be headed by U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada “amidst unrelenting waves of global anti-Semitism and attacks on democratic values,” the WJC said in a statement on March 9.

Montreal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, a former vice-chair of the ICJP, says he will get involved again and will urge his fellow Canadian Jewish parliamentarians to do the same.

The revived ICJP will convene this spring in a lead-up to the WJC Plenary Assembly on May 25.

The ICJP is a global network of Jewish legislators, government ministers, and other elected officials. It aims to promote dialogue and collaboration between Jewish parliamentarians; to support the principles of democracy, the cause of human rights, and the rule of law; and to combat racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, terrorism, and Holocaust denial.

Housefather was chosen as vice chair for North America at the ICJP’s last meeting in December 2015.

Eliot Engel, a U.S. Congressman who was chair of the group, was defeated in his Democratic primary and left Congress this January. Housefather told The CJN he had been in conversation with contacts at the WJC and suggested they re-establish the group.

The ICJP is “an important discussion forum for Jewish parliamentarians from around the world to discuss issues of common concern and share lived experiences and legislative experiences in their countries,” he said.

Issues include exchanging best practices in fighting anti-Semitism and online hate; relations with Israel; and the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.

“I will certainly become involved again and I think Canadian participation in the group is crucial,” Housefather said.

“I have found that the relationships I forged in the group when it existed and recently as part of the international task force on anti-Semitism, to be extremely useful.”

Said WJC president Ronald Lauder, “as we now witness an era of unfettered conspiracy myths, pervasive anti-Semitism and xenophobia, a horribly disturbing recurrence of Holocaust denial, and rising authoritarianism, the ICJP has a powerful role to play in serving as an incubator and accelerator of best practices to counter these phenomena.”

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