In February 2009, parliamentarians from around the world gathered in London for the inaugural conference of the Inter-parliamentary Committee for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). The conference brought together over 125 legislators from over 40 countries for two days of presentations and discussions on the increasing problem of antisemitism.
The conference produced "The London Declaration for Combating Antisemitism,"1 which calls upon:
Parliamentarians [to] return to their legislature, Parliament or Assembly and establish inquiry scrutiny panels that are tasked with determining the existing nature and state of antisemitism in their countries and developing recommendations for government and civil society action.
Under the leadership of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and current International Steering Committee Chair Professor Irwin Cotler, a delegation of 11 Canadian Members of Parliament attended the conference in London. Concerned by the evidence of a global rise in antisemitic incidents and a return to traditional antisemitic themes in international discourse, they returned with the desire to form a Canadian coalition to fight antisemitism at home in Canada.
The CPCCA (Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism) was formed in March of 2009 and brought together 22 parliamentarians from all parties in the House of Commons (subsequently, in 2010, the members of Bloc Quebecois who were part of the CPCCA withdrew. However, Bloc Quebecois members did attend and participate in the ICCA conference in Ottawa in 2010). The CPCCA is not affiliated with the Government of Canada, any NGO, or any advocacy group. It is associated with the Inter-parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (ICCA), the international steering committee which organized the inaugural conference in London in 2009.
The primary goals of this Inquiry were:
- To identify and define the nature of antisemitism in Canada today;
- To analyze, as far as evidence allows, the extent of the problem; and
- To make practical recommendations as to how the problem can be addressed.
In November 2010, the second Conference and Summit of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism was held in Ottawa, Canada at the hosting of the CPCCA. Parliamentarians and experts from over 50 countries gathered in Ottawa from November 7-9th to take part in the follow-up conference.
The Ottawa conference concluded with the unanimous adoption of the "Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism,"2 which reaffirms the London Declaration and states that:
We are concerned that, since the London Conference in February 2009, there continues to be a dramatic increase in recorded antisemitic hate crimes and attacks targeting Jewish persons and property, and Jewish religious, educational and communal institutions.
We remain alarmed by ongoing state-sanctioned genocidal antisemitism and related extremist ideologies. If antisemitism is the most enduring of hatreds, and genocide is the most horrific of crimes, then the convergence of the genocidal intent embodied in antisemitic ideology is the most toxic of combinations.
In particular, the Ottawa Protocol clearly differentiates between antisemitism and legitimate criticism of Israel that is not antisemitic:
However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.
Let it be clear: Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic, and saying so is wrong. But singling Israel out for selective condemnation and opprobrium - let alone denying its right to exist or seeking its destruction - is discriminatory and hateful, and not saying so is dishonest.
The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA) 3 is a multiparty coalition of concerned parliamentarians aiming to confront and combat the Canadian manifestations of the global resurgence of antisemitism. The CPCCA recognizes that antisemitism is, by its very nature, fundamentally opposed to the foundational values of Canada, including its multicultural identity, its Charter guarantees of freedom from discrimination, as well as the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
1 "The London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism," Lancaster House, UK, 17 February 2009
2 "The Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism," Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 9 November 2010.
3 The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism will hereafter be referred to regularly as the CPCCA.