A national program is needed to defeat anti-Semitism, Jewish groups say

CIJA summit

Canada’s major Jewish lobby groups are calling for an emergency, all-government, summit to draft a national program to combat growing anti-Semitism.

The Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs, B’nai Brith Canada and Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, plan to issue a formal call for the action next week. It was broadly agreed to Thursday during a call with senior leaders of the Prime Minister’s Office and Liberal government.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of CIJA, told an online community briefing Thursday evening that attracted over 1,000 people, that the proposal “holds the potential to make a monumental difference” in efforts to overcome humanity’s oldest hatred.

In meetings Wednesday and Thursday Fogel said the Jewish advocacy groups received the “unqualified support” of Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole and comfort from the government.

The idea has the enthusiastic support for the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, FSWC policy director, said her organization is “100 percent” in support of the summit proposal.

“We believe that dedicated dialogue and problem solving by political leaders, community groups, and policy professionals is absolutely essential in this moment of dramatically increasing anti-Semitism,” she said in an email.

Fogel said the comprehensive national plan sought by the agencies must include mandatory education components on hatred and Jewish history.

“If other lived experiences merit exposure, then ours certainly does as well,” he said.

Without such a program, Fogel added, Canadians will never understand the truth of the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict.

“Our adversaries seek not just to erase our connection to the land and history of Israel, but to erase the presence there of Jews altogether,” he said.

“Their goal is to shrink our thumbprint, and if we fail to understand that agenda, we will fail to thwart their goal,” he said.

The Thursday briefing unveiled a CIJA effort to marshal public involvement in the debate, offering a tool kit of efforts to contact government and media leaders to support the message of support for Israel.

CIJA co-chair Joel Reitman said community unity will be a key element in overcoming spreading anti-Semitism.

“Never has it been more evident that the Jewish people have to stand together,” he said. “What we are seeing now threatens the very fabric of Canadian life.”

The toolkit can be accessed at cija.ca/takeaction.