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Canadian Jewish Groups Urge Government to Disavow Planned Durban IV Events Marking Anniversary of ‘Anti-Jewish Hatefest’

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The United Nations logo is seen at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Leading Canadian Jewish groups on Wednesday called on the country’s government to “publicly disavow” events planned for September marking the anniversary of the notorious 2001 Durban Conference, which they called an “antisemitic spectacle.”

“Canada must adhere to its own values and offer a principled ‘no’ to Durban IV and its scourge of antisemitism,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, in a joint statement with Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC). “Durban’s legacy is well-known, and Canadians must be certain that our government does not support any commemorations or celebrations of that legacy.”

The United Nations is scheduled to hold a series of Durban events to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, from which the US and Israel withdrew over objections of antisemitic activity and anti-Israel bias.

On Monday, a US State Department spokesperson confirmed that the United States would stick to past policy and not take part in the planned events, citing its continued concerns over the conference’s use as a “forum for antisemitism.”

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“We urge Canada to stand with the United States and set an example for our allies around the world by publicly and unequivocally rejecting Durban and the overt antisemitism that it has always been associated with,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, Director of FSWC, on Wednesday. “In this moment of growing antisemitism, it is more important than ever that Canada stand firm in the face of hateful double standards and the demonization of Jews and of Israel in all international fora.”

In the joint statement, the two groups praised Canada’s “exemplary international leadership” in boycotting the 2009 Durban Review and 2011 Durban III events, two prior sequels to the original conference.

The groups also said they had expressed their concerns in writing to Bob Rae, Canada’s UN Ambassador, and Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, noting that Canada voted against a December 2020 UN resolution to convene Durban IV.

“As a leading voice on the world stage in the fight against all forms of racism and hatred, it is essential for Canada to refrain from validating the antisemitic spectacle that was the Durban Conference,” they continued. “We look forward to Canada’s reaffirmation of the unacceptability of Durban by maintaining its principled stand.”

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