What are you doing about antisemitism?
This is a question our team receives in virtually every meeting and event we hold across Canada. From small to large communities, Jewish Canadians across the country are rightly concerned about the rise of antisemitism in many parts of the world. One need look no further than recent headlines to confirm a chilling surge in various forms of Jew hatred.
As parents, there is nothing more important than ensuring a secure future for our children – who are the reason we volunteer with CIJA. While Canada remains a relatively safe country, we must be vigilant, proactive, and strategic in combatting antisemitism.
This is a complex challenge requiring a comprehensive strategy. But to fight antisemitism, authorities must be able to identify it. This is why we are calling on all three levels of government to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism.
In this update, we wanted to offer an inside look at CIJA’s strategy for combating antisemitism:
- Prevention. Through proactive outreach, we raise public awareness of antisemitism and build coalitions to speak out against it. We also conduct training for key officials – including public school superintendents and human rights commission staff – to identify and take appropriate action to counter antisemitism, so that small incidents do not snowball into larger trends. Our objective is to ensure fewer Canadians adopt antisemitic attitudes, which is why outreach to media, community leaders, and educators is so vital.
- Protection. Our security team provides free-of-charge services to synagogues, day schools, and JCCs to make their facilities more secure. CIJA also operates the National Community Security Program, providing local Jewish communities with guidance, security training, and incident support. Our team is in constant contact with local and national law enforcement. Through the NCSP, we rapidly share intelligence so that community institutions deploy the right measures in response to threat levels.
- Enforcement. When antisemitic activity is criminal, we are not shy about calling for the full weight of the law to be applied against perpetrators. This is why we work diligently to share evidence and voice our community’s concerns with legal authorities, as we have when Jewish children were threatened in Montreal and antisemitic propagandists spread hate in Toronto – to name just two recent examples.
- Policy Advocacy. When laws are inadequate, we advocate for policy change – and do so in partnership with non-Jewish allies. This is why we mobilized more than twenty organizations from a diverse set of faith and ethnic groups to push Parliament to pass Bill C-305. As a result, hate vandalism targeting day schools and JCCs is now automatically treated with the same level of seriousness under the Criminal Code as similar crimes against houses of worship.
- Exposure and Isolation. When antisemites rear their head, we shine a light on them, expose the danger such hate poses to all Canadians, and ensure those who promote Jew hatred are shunned by broader society. This is why we capture video of antisemitism at anti-Israel rallies, such as the notorious Al-Quds Day protest – which we first exposed in 2011, resulting in its broad condemnation in recent years.
While there is much more to share than space will allow, our hope is that this gives you a sense of our strategy in this vital area. Our community is a source of incredible wisdom and ideas. We encourage you to share your thoughts on how best to counter the world’s oldest hate.
Joel Reitman Jeffrey Rosenthal
Co-Chair CIJA Board Co-Chair CIJA Board