CIJA’s Policy Proposals for Government Action
The following policies pertain to recent government discussions with the federation-affiliated Jewish community about the current rise in antisemitism and the danger it poses to all Canadians. In presenting these proposals to the political sector, we have urged governments to translate their discussions about combating Jew-hatred into meaningful and effective actions.
Physical Security and Legal Initiatives
Physical Security and Legal Initiatives: One of the obvious components of combatting antisemitism relates to the physical threat posed to the Jewish community. The summit must result in enhanced protections and proactive measures to keep Jewish Canadians safe, and empower the community to assume a greater role in ensuring the safety of its constituency.
The following specific proposals should form part of the overall strategy implemented by governments at all levels:
Complementing the SIP with an initiative giving communities the capacity to enhance deterrence and assume some responsibility for protection of its communal institutions and users and giving local law enforcement support and assistance.
This program, modelled after the CST in the U.K. includes trained volunteers providing non-armed patrols and training on situational awareness and deterrence. It would liaise with and support local law enforcement and provide their point of access with the community. While ultimately, this program should be sustained by the community itself, substantial seed funding will be needed to establish the program and customize it for Canada.
Establishing a uniform definition of antisemitic “hate crimes” that would serve as the standard across the country for what constitutes a hate-motivated crime and therefore directs law enforcement to approach the management of an investigation and any possible laying of charges accordingly.
Training for law enforcement, Crown prosecutors, the offices of the Attorneys General and the judiciary regarding what constitutes antisemitism, how to recognize it, and what appropriate measures should be adopted to respond to incidents of antisemitism – including a firmer approach to the investigation of suspected hate crimes and the laying of hate-crime related criminal charges.
Designating dedicated “point people” within the law enforcement community – at both the local and national levels as well as intelligence services – to serve as liaisons with the organized Jewish community. Dedicated personnel should be granted the ability and mandate to provide timely information on threats, developments and best practices regarding community security, as well as respond to concerns that emerge from within the Jewish community.
Establishing dedicated hate crime units within all law enforcement services across the country, including the required resources and training to effectively address the unique features of hate-inspired crime.
An amendment to the Criminal Code to include Holocaust Denial as a stand-alone, indictable offence – as is the case in multiple European jurisdictions, including: France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland. The existential link between antisemitism and the Holocaust are irrefutable, as are the insidious effects of Holocaust denial as a way to diminish, trivialize, challenge, refute or repudiate historical fact and the Jewish victimization and our lived experience.
Education is vital to addressing hate. Beyond the classroom, with the rise of social media for information-sharing and social engagement, there is an equal imperative to address online antisemitism.
A national, social literacy campaign that seeks to educate and sensitize Canadians to the potency of social media and the role it plays in destructive behavior (bullying, harassment, intimidation, dissemination of hateful content, direct threats and targeting of vulnerable individuals). The sustained campaign would establish a standard of acceptable engagement on social media. It would re-enforce a code of conduct for the use of social media and flag behaviors that constitute inappropriate, dangerous, or hateful uses of social media.
Leveraging the recent CIJA Conference on online hate, the social media literacy campaign would be complemented by legislation governing the responsibilities of social media platforms to monitor hate on their sites and pursue both preventative and corrective actions to ensure platforms are safe and not exploited as instruments of hate.
The development of a standardized component of social studies curriculums across the country that focuses on antisemitism and the Holocaust, and integrates it into the overall IDE (Inclusion, Diversity and Equity) program. The educational unit would be based on the most recent and comprehensive work of recognized subject-matter experts in the area, extending the range of threatened communities beyond the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) model.
The development of a training manual and course for IDE staff at public school boards, including the study of the IHRA definition of antisemitism and its application as a guide to understanding the manifestations of antisemitism.
Advisory Council to the Prime Minister
Recognizing that some aspects of antisemitism find parallels within other risk communities, the summit should also lead to the creation of an advisory body reporting directly to the Prime Minister. The mandate of this body – comprised of leading representatives from various at-risk communities and segments of Canadian society – would be two-fold:
Identify circumstances leading to increased risks for specific communities and steps to mitigate those threats; and,
Establish a constructive protocol for how tension between various communities can be reduced or addressed. There are situations that contribute to antagonism between various communities – such as the Jewish and Muslim communities – the results of which increase the level of intolerance experienced by one group or the other (or both).