World Parliamentary Alliance against Anti-Semitism meets in London

By Beryl Wajsman on February 26, 2009

Over 100 parliamentarians from 35 different countries gathered in in London from February 15-17th for the founding conference of the International Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (ICCA) hosted by the UK Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

The Founding co-chair of the conference, Mount-Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, said that this “would be the first ever international gathering of Parliamentarians to come together to share their experience, expertise and, in particular, to develop action plans for the combating of this oldest and most enduring of hatreds.”

He added: “We are witnessing today a new, escalating, sophisticated, virulent, global and even lethal anti-Semitism. The time has come to not only sound the alarm about this resurgent threat – but to act. For as history has taught us only too well – while it may begin with Jews, it does not end with Jews.”

The conference was attended by a dozen government ministers from around the world, as well as the President of the Austrian Parliament, members of the U.S. Congress, the Vice-President of the Bundestag, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and leaders of the UK government, and leading international scholars and experts on anti-Semitism, such as Professor Robert Wistrich, one of the world’s leading authorities on both European and Islamic anti-Semitism.

The largest Parliamentary delegation of any country in the world came from Canada and included Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and seven members of the Liberal Party including, in addition to Prof. Cotler, former Ontario Premier and Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae, former government ministers Carolyn Bennet and Hedy Fry, and MPs Raymonde Folco, Joyce Murray, Anita Neville and Senator Jerry Grafstein.

The conference was addressed by leading scholars and dignitaries, such as Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel, former head of the Global Forum on Anti-Semitism Natan Sharansky, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, and Attorney-General of Argentina Alberto Nisman.

The conference was organized around five major working groups. They were: State-Sanctioned Anti-Semitism and Anti-Semitism in the International Arena chaired by Prof. Cotler; The New Anti-Semitism chaired by Fiamma Nirenstein, Member of the Italian Parliament; Anti-Semitism and the Media chaired by Professor Gurt Weisskirchen, Member of the German Bundestag; Policing & Prosecution chaired by Representative Chris Smith, Member of the US Congress; and Internet Hate chaired by Isaac Herzog, Israeli Minister of Social Welfare & Diaspora Affairs.

The London Conference took place in the aftermath of a dramatic increase in global anti-Semitism involving, in particular, the delegitimization and demonization of Israel and the Jewish people as well as anti-Semitic attacks accompanying the incitement in different parts of the world. A call to action – entitled The London Declaration – was issued at the conclusion of the conference.



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