Thursday, December 3, 2009

Staring Anti-Semitism in the Face. Stephen Harper Should be So Ashamed

There was a brief but important piece in the National Post today by Keith Landy, on the horrendous ten per centers distributed by Harper and his Reformers, accusing the Liberal Party of anti-Semitism.

They were vile, disgusting and inhumane.

To call a Jewish leader anti-Semitic was beyond reprehensible, especially one who has been so active in human rights issues. Were they hoping he wouldn't run again? I'm hoping he does.

Why I stayed at Durban 1
National Post
December 03, 2009

Much has been made of late in regards to the Conservative 10-per-center and most specifically the role of the then-Liberal government at Durban 1. According to the handout the Liberals "willingly participated in the overtly anti-Semitic Durban 1."

In August of 2001, I was a delegate to Durban 1 as the then-national-president of Canadian Jewish Congress. Allow me to say what occurred there.

We all were excited by the prospect of Durban 1. It was the early part of the new century, 911 was still nothing more than an emergency phone number and we hoped this international anti-racism conference would sow the seeds for a better world to come. How wrong we turned out to be.

As we came closer to the beginning of this gathering it became increasingly clear that the enemies of Israel were determined to hijack it. Israel was to have attended but the more anti-Semitic activities in and around the Durban site were countenanced the more it became clear that Israel simply could not stay. We too began to wonder if Canada should be there at all. In fact we called for Canada to leave.

However, following a conversation with then-deputy foreign minister of Israel Michael Melchior, we decided otherwise. Rabbi Melchior urged us to remain in Durban to combat the anti-Semitism and hatred that was evident even before the conference began. His reasoning was that since the Oslo accords, Israel had left the international stage, leaving it open for the demonizers to take control. Rabbi Melchior believed that the hate-mongers must be confronted.

In no way can it ever be insinuated that the Canadian government of the day willingly engaged in an anti-Semitic conference. On the contrary, the Canadian delegation --along with representatives from my organization and B'nai Brith Canada -- stared anti-Semitism in the face at Durban 1. By doing so I am convinced we played a significant ameliorating role, and raised the alarm to the rest of the world.

Keith M. Landy, Toronto.

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