Home Page News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Reuse & Permissions Advertising FAQ
Contact UsLog In

Holocaust remembrance critical to confront a lingering hatred

By Avi Benlolo      

Canadian hate crime statistics show that Jews have remained the most targeted group of faith-based hate crimes for more than a decade. In the United States Jews accounted for close to 60 per cent of all religious-based hate crime in 2014, while studies show European Jews, targeted by rising antisemitic hatred, are emigrating in unprecedented numbers.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day takes place on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Pictured here, child survivors of Auschwitz, wearing adult-size prisoner jackets, stand behind a barbed wire fence. Photograph courtesy of Belarusian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography by Alexander Voronzow.
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

As governments, communities, and individuals commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, we do so with the understanding that our efforts must achieve much more than simply honouring those who were murdered in the world’s most meticulously planned and executed genocide. In an era of growing Holocaust denial and outrageous cries that the ‘Holohoax’ is a Zionist plot, the act of commemoration—on the date Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945—has become critically important.

For those who cannot understand why we continue to study the Holocaust, or grasp its continued relevance, I would point out the lessons learned in the aftermath of this inconceivable and prolonged mass murder shape the underpinnings of our contemporary understanding of human rights. These lessons have informed the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court, and led to the creation of Human Rights Tribunals in Western democracies around the world.

And yet, despite these advances, the hatred that resulted in the Holocaust has not been defeated but is, in fact, growing at alarming levels not seen since WWII. Canadian hate crime statistics show that Jews have remained the most targeted group of faith-based hate crimes for more than a decade. In the United States Jews accounted for close to 60 per cent of all religious-based hate crime in 2014, while studies show European Jews, targeted by rising antisemitic hatred, are emigrating in unprecedented numbers.

Jewish communities today are being attacked from two sides: many left wing anti-Israel activists project their anger onto all Jewish people, while right wing supremacists adhere to a sadistic and well-known script. Holocaust denial is the newest weapon shared by both groups to express their venomous hatred. A mere 72 years since the Holocaust ended, this resurgent antisemitism is deeply unsettling, and profoundly sad.

To counter this revisionist trend, to re-assert the primacy of historical fact, and to develop a compassionate appreciation for human rights, Holocaust commemoration has taken on greater significance than ever before. Education is vital in the effort to confront antisemitism and Holocaust denial, and it is in the field of education that current initiatives, including Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s January 27th project, may find their greatest success.

In just two years since the project began, 22 Ontario school boards have signed on to the initiative to recognize this date as International Holocaust Remembrance Day at all schools in their boards. This means more than one million Ontario students in both the public and Catholic school boards will be armed with facts about the Holocaust, before they are confronted with lies and half-truths posted by anti Semites lurking on social media. The project’s web page includes a Teacher’s Resource Guide with age-appropriate activities for students at all levels. The growing number of boards signing on to this initiative every year demonstrates the significant need for this education.

Also included is a link to the site www.neverforgetme.ca, which documents the testimony of survivors sharing their experiences living through the nightmare that was the Holocaust. And, in recognition of the gravity of today’s commemoration, “Reflections on Antisemitism and the Holocaust,” a compilation of essays by 22 Canadians in the fields of politics, religion, journalism, entertainment and literature, was launched to further confront revisionist ideology.

I am hopeful these initiatives will be successful. I am heartened by the words of Martha, a particularly perceptive Grade 11 student in the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (a participant in the January 27th initiative). Following a visit to a Holocaust museum, Martha wrote “The tragedy of the Jews was not the plight of six million people; it was the plight of one person multiplied six million times. . . . These were actual people who suffered and perished by German hand.”

This is the level of understanding and empathy to which all Canadians must aspire if we are to turn the tide of anti Semitism, and truly honour the millions of Jews (and non-Jews) lost to a hatred that lingers still.

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning

Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Liberals push for Bloc MP Lemire to appear before BOIE to answer for naked Amos photo leak

The BOIE is set to return to the Liberal call to invite Bloc MP Sébastien Lemire to appear in camera at its next meeting.

‘Do the right thing’: prison segregation oversight ‘inadequate’ report finds as author, watchdog call for new law

CSC says the external reviewers act as a ‘key safeguard’ to the new ‘structured intervention unit' approach, but the researchers say it's precisely that ‘legitimacy’ the oversight lends that makes its failure a problem.

Budget investments not enough to replace need for new round of COVID student benefits, says Green leader Paul

News|By Alice Chen
Liberal MP Julie Dzerowicz says the market has recovered enough to replace the benefit with actual employment, but students advocates say the jobs aren't there yet.

Planned U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan leaves questions over Canada’s ability to provide international assistance

News|By Neil Moss
The security situation in Afghanistan 'will have the effect of us having to reassess all our programming in Afghanistan,' says Chris Kilford, who served as deputy military attaché in Kabul.

U.S.-backed vaccine waiver should force Canada to support initiative, say politicos

News|By Neil Moss
Pressure is mounting on the Canadian government to back the waiver as it has received support from the U.S. and more than 30 Liberal MPs are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to champion the initiative.

Feds’ appointee to address military sexual misconduct aims to have mandate approval at ‘end of May’

News|By Beatrice Paez
The lieutenant-general says one of her first assignments is to ‘issue guidance’ for military leaders ‘in the next few weeks’ on how to lead with inclusivity in mind.

Rollout of infrastructure money ‘lagging indicator’ of effort to spur economic activity, says deputy minister

News|By Palak Mangat
A ‘real impetus’ in earmarking funds for infrastructure projects is getting it approved, says one bureaucrat, but one MP adds there may still be gaps in how Ottawa allocates such dollars.

Senate, House report at least 30 COVID-19 cases in Parliamentary Precinct since pandemic’s early days

On April 29, PSPC launched a rapid testing program after a 10-case outbreak among Centre Block construction workers, the most reported cases among workers on the Hill, according to new data.

‘You are walking on eggshells’: infectious disease docs say ‘trust in vaccines is fragile,’ NACI guidance unhelpful

News|By Mike Lapointe
The federal government has been urging Canadians to get the first vaccine available.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.