Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 10, 2006
Anti-Semitism provokes archbishop
Society has a role to play, says Archbishop Marcel Gervais
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has urged Catholics to "turn in love" to those suffering from anti-Semitism and acts of racial and religious discrimination in Canada.
Gervais made his comments in his annual Easter message in response to B'nai Brith's League of Human Rights annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents in Canada during the year 2005.
The audit reports anti-Semitic incidents have risen threefold since 2001, along with an alarming proliferation of Internet hate sites and a growing persecution of Jews on Canadian university campuses, often by university professors.
Gervais wrote about this threefold rise as well as the recent torture and murder of Ilan Halimi, a young Jewish man who was kidnapped and killed in France, an incident "which horrified all of us."
While Gervais noted the government has the responsibility for ensuring justice in society, the Church "has a role to play."
"The Church has the responsibility of reminding those in government of the moral principles which form the basis of all laws," he said.
"In Canada, we already have laws that prohibit any discrimination against any racial, ethnic or religious groups. But the rise in anti-Semitism reminds us that our society has a long way to go before we can claim a truly just society."
"Our faith calls us to be a leaven in our society, infusing it with the kind of love that Jesus taught us," he said. "In this Easter season I would ask you to turn in love not only to your friends and neighbours but to all of our brothers and sisters who suffer from anti-Semitic acts and any racial or religious discrimination."
Gervais pointed out Jews will celebrate "their Passover from slavery to freedom in the Promised Land" while Catholics celebrate their "most sacred feast of the year."
He quoted from the Second Vatican Council's document Nostra Aetate, which decries anti-Semitism.
At a March 22 news conference releasing the anti-Semitism audit, B'nai Brith Canada executive vice president Frank Dimant warned, "Hate mongers can come directly into your child's computer."
He said hatred spread by Islamist groups mirrors the same anti-Semitic tropes of blood libel, conspiracy and manipulation long employed by neo-Nazis.
Dimant said the proliferation of hatred against Jews resembles that in the years leading to the Second World War and the Holocaust.
"It's like a wildfire at the moment and we need a lot of dedicated people to put out that wildfire," he said.
Most incidents involved harassment (531) or vandalism (273), but violence, which had not been reported prior to 2002, continues to be a problem. There were 25 violent incidents: 16 in Toronto, six in Montreal.
Ruth Klein, who helped prepare the audit, noted elderly Jews and school children were often singled out for attack. While synagogues and Jewish community centres remain the biggest target for vandalism, there's still a frightening incidence of vandalism against Jewish homes.
Dimant also held up a sheaf of virulently racist cartoons of the kind that are rampant in the Muslim world. He asked why the world has been silent, why there has been a double standard.
After the Danish cartoons of Mohammed were widely denounced by Muslim, Jewish and Christian groups, as well as by many in the mainstream news media, there has been little mainstream media attention to constant anti-Semitic propaganda, cartoons and televisions shows that portray Jews dripping in blood or as rats or monkeys in the Muslim world.