Today is Inauguration Day in the United States. Millions of people around the world are watching as a new American administration assumes the leadership of the White House and of the western world.
In addition to the issues facing American politicians, including the economy, jobs, education, immigration and the environment, the new White House will also have to address an alarming resurgence of antisemitism and hatred directed against Jewish communities across the U.S. at levels not seen for more than half a century.
In fact, the FBI has launched an investigation into two separate incidents in which 27 Jewish community centers in 17 states received telephone bomb threats this week; last week 16 community centers in nine states received similar calls. Although they were fake threats, the anxiety and fear they provoked are certainly real.
Canadians are also confronting racists who feel empowered to share their despicable beliefs - witness the support for suspended University of Lethbridge professor Anthony Hall, who is not alone in his opinion that the Holocaust is a controversial subject of legitimate debate, and that 'Zionists' were responsible for the 9-11 attacks. While a complaint against Hall has been lodged by the university with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, he has many supporters who agree with his twisted view of historical fact.
Holocaust revisionism is a growing trend we cannot afford to ignore, and it's important to take immediate steps to address this incomprehensible perversion of the truth. To that end I delivered a two-hour workshop this week to representatives of the Ontario Provincial Police and the Halton and Niagara Police Services, about the history and impact of antisemitism.
The program began with an exploration of the Jewish Diaspora, including the expulsions from Jerusalem, England, France and Spain, and the consequent experience of the Jews as a persecuted and stateless people. Participants learned about the Dreyfus Affair, Theodor Herzl, the rise of Zionism, and the antisemitism which led to the Holocaust, followed by an examination of modern forms of antisemitism masquerading as anti-Israel hatred.
Judging by the feedback, this session was very successful in explaining the swift and emotional reaction of the Jewish community to antisemitic speech and actions; for these police representatives - many of whom work in schools and communities across the province, this presentation was an important educational opportunity which will help support their efforts to address hate crimes. As noted by a constable with the Niagara Police Service, "Educating all the police services can play a big part as we move forward together as a community and as a country."
This presentation was a small step to address a big problem. But as I deliver this presentation to a growing number of groups across the province, the ripple effect of each successive small step is cumulative; the determination to confront and condemn Holocaust revisionism and denial grows with every educational workshop I present. I invite you to join me in the growing movement to recognize and confront Holocaust distortion. Incontrovertible firsthand testimony by survivors can be found on Friends of Simon Wiesenthal's new website www.neverforgetme.ca.
I encourage you to support our efforts by sharing this website widely. Truth is our best weapon, and we are all obligated to do our part to ensure history is not rewritten by those who hope to erase the Jewish people from its pages.