Skinheads attack a 16-year-old Jewish girl in Stockholm, Sweden, shout, “Heil Hitler,” and knife her.
In Florida, an 8th grader pens “Death to the Jews” in German in a yearbook. In Sydney, Australia, stickers reading “Jews are ruining your life” are plastered on homes. In Epinay-sur-Seine, France, a Jewish boy is stabbed near his school. And in Quebec City, 24 Jewish graves are vandalized.
When did this ugly string of hate crimes take place? Last year?
No. In the past three weeks.
“Anti-Semitic acts around the world are occurring at a rate unseen since the end of the Second World War,” warns Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress.
Canadian statistics bear him out. B’nai Brith recorded 584 anti-Semitic acts in 2003, a 27 per cent rise.
Barely two months ago, Prime Minister Paul Martin found himself angrily denouncing the firebombing of Montreal’s United Talmud Torah School saying, “this is not our Canada.” He spoke for an appalled nation.
And just this week United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan added to the chorus of concern, warning of an “alarming resurgence” of anti-Semitism the world over.
He urged the General Assembly to pass a resolution formally deploring anti-Jewish hatred. And he asked the Commission on Human Rights to denounce it with the zeal that it brings to anti-Muslim racism.
“When we seek justice for the Palestinians — as we must — let us firmly disavow anyone who tries to use that cause to incite hatred against Jews, in Israel or elsewhere,” Annan said, invoking the Holocaust and the murder of 6 million.
Annan’s words should inspire the General Assembly to do more than decry anti-Semitism.
The U.N. must change its own institutional culture. Israel is unwelcome on the Security Council and other bodies. And the U.N. has been fiercely critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, while turning a blind eye to genocide in Rwanda and wholesale slaughter in the Balkans.
No country, Canada included, should escape censure when it denies human rights. But the U.N. must be even-handed in its criticism. In Israel’s case, much more even-handed.