Dangerous self-serving invocation of Holocaust Remembrance to cover up crimes against Palestinians

Pretentious claims of fighting against hate and intolerance, and defending human rights are being used by the Canadian government to cover up the fact that its main priority has been and continues to be the defence of Israeli Zionism | LOUIS LANG

On November 25, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Irwin Cotler Canada’s “Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Anti-Semitism.” The announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office stated: “With a longstanding record of leadership in the fight against racism, anti-Semitism, and hate, and extensive experience in human rights and justice including in cases related to mass atrocities, Mr. Cotler will lead the Government of Canada’s delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).”

Canadians cannot accept the statement from the PMO as it is full of contradictions and not based on facts. The pretentious claims of fighting against hate and intolerance, and defending human rights are being used by the Canadian government to cover up the fact that its main priority has been and continues to be the defence of Israeli Zionism. As far as Mr. Cotler is concerned, the claims of his “extensive experience in human rights and justice” does not stand up to scrutiny either.

Far from fighting racism and anti-Semitism, Trudeau’s appointment of Cotler serves to further promote his activities internationally advocating for the “new anti-Semitism” movement which seeks to label criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. As one of the main backers of the Canadian government’s labelling of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian human rights as anti-Semitic, Cotler has also shown his disregard for human rights.

As head of Canada’s delegation to the IHRA, Cotler has the government’s approval to pursue the campaign to implement the IHRA redefinition of anti-Semitism. The IHRA already has a long track record of suppressing the voices of Palestinian human rights supporters around the world and seeks to extend the definition to silence more voices. 

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is as follows:

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Two of the activities that the IHRA alleges to be anti-Semitic behaviour are:

“Claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour,” and

“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

Cotler attempts to justify the need for this new definition by claiming that a new form of anti-Semitism exists. In a 2010 item for the National Post, Cotler stated:

“In a word, classical anti-Semitism is the discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon the rights of Jews to live as equal members of whatever society they inhabit. The new anti-Semitism involves the discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member of the family of nations, with Israel as the targeted collective Jew among nations.”[1]

On November 30, Trudeau said that Cotler “will support advocacy and outreach efforts with Canadians, civil society and academia to advance the implementation of this definition across the country and its adoption internationally.”

This entire argument is self-serving and dishonest because Zionism, which is a state ideology, is being attributed to Jewish people as a whole. It is doubly dishonest because these so-called defenders of the right to self-determination do not have a word to say about the ongoing violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people other than to label their just struggle as terrorism.

Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) is documenting examples in several countries where the IHRA definition has been used – or attempts have been made – to cancel events or silence Palestine solidarity movements.[2]

As Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, Cotler has further exposed himself as an apologist for imperialist violations of the sovereignty of nations in the quest for world domination. Under the guise of defending human rights and the Chairmanship of Cotler, the Wallenberg Centre is actively promoting the imperialist doctrine of “responsibility to protect” (R2P), which is being used to justify regime change and foreign interference against any country which does not submit to imperialist dictate.

In an article co-authored by Cotler, published by the New York Times on February 28, 2011, titled “Libya and the Responsibility to Protect,” he says:

“The situation in Libya is a test case for the Security Council and its implementation of the [R2P] doctrine. Yet it remains the case that, as the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, put it, ‘loss of time means more loss of lives.’ The Security Council must do more – and fast. It is our collective responsibility to ensure [R2P] is an effective approach to protect people and human rights.’“

It is now well known that many of those “mass atrocities” of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, so vehemently condemned by Cotler, were nothing but fabrications designed to justify military aggression which resulted in the wholesale destruction of Libya by the U.S. and NATO member states including Canada.

Now, Cotler continues to play his nefarious role trying to justify U.S. imperialist ambitions in Venezuela. Foreign Policy magazine carried an article co-authored by Irwin Cotler on February 6, 2019, titled, “Recognizing Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s Leader Isn’t a Coup. It’s an Embrace of Democracy.” Once again Cotler poses as the saviour of the people against what he calls “Maduro’s brutal and criminal assault on the liberal democratic order,” and says U.S. imperialism is justified to use any means necessary to “transition to democratic governance.”

The appointment of Cotler comes as crimes are being committed against the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, especially in Gaza, where for the past 14 years the people have suffered continuous bombing and military attacks against civilians by the Israeli Army. Israel has turned Gaza into the largest open air prison in the world where over 2 million people are under attack and forced to live in inhuman conditions.

These barbaric acts are being condemned by people all over the world and Israel is desperate to divert attention from its responsibilities as an Occupying Power and from its continuous construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. An Occupying Power is required to provide public safety, sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the food and medical care to the population under occupation. Collective punishment, regularly carried out by Israel, is prohibited.

With the passing of the “Nation State Law” Israel has become an officially discriminatory state on the basis of religion and Israel’s policy of systematically destroying Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem while building illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, one of the methods of ethnic cleansing it has used since 1948 to drive Palestinians off their lands.[3] These criminal acts and violations of international law are what Irwin Cotler will continue to try to cover up and he will use his position as Canada’s “Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance” to turn truth on its head to suggest that the Zionist state is the victim of anti-Semitism.

This must not be allowed to pass! The Canadian government brings shame on itself by invoking the memory of the European Holocaust to justify inflicting such suffering on the Palestinian people.

Furthermore, to associate Cotler’s name with Holocaust Remembrance is an insult to Holocaust survivors and their families whose suffering is being used to promote the same unbridled racism and obscurantist mentality of the Zionists which has caused so much oppression and misery in the past.


1. According to its website, “The IHRA (formerly the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, or ITF) was initiated in 1998 by former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. Today the IHRA’s membership consists of 34 member countries, each of whom recognizes that international political coordination is imperative to strengthen the moral commitment of societies and to combat growing Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

“The IHRA’s network of trusted experts share their knowledge on early warning signs of present-day genocide and education on the Holocaust. This knowledge supports policymakers and educational multipliers in their efforts to develop effective curricula, and it informs government officials and NGOs active in global initiatives for genocide prevention.

“The Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust (or “Stockholm Declaration”) is the founding document of the IHRA and it continues to serve as an ongoing affirmation of each IHRA member country’s commitment to shared principles.

“The declaration was the outcome of the International Forum convened in Stockholm between January 27-29, 2000 by former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. The Forum was attended by the representatives of 46 governments including: 23 Heads of State or Prime Ministers and 14 Deputy Prime Ministers or Ministers.

“Their vision has remained intact, unaltered throughout the ensuing years, demonstrating its universal and enduring value.” (www.holocaustremembrance.com/about-us)

2. The IJV document can be found here

3. The National State Law is the main legislation that bases rights on religion. These are the three main points of the law:

i) The “right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people.”

ii) Hebrew is Israel’s official language. Arabic – the language widely spoken by Arab Israelis – is reduced to a “special status.”

iii) It recognizes “Jewish settlement” as a “national value” and mandates that the state “will labour to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”

The most recent application of the Nation State Law was in Karmiel. The newspaper Haaretz carried the following report on December 1, 2020:

“In November 2020, using the law as justification, the Israeli magistrate’s court ruled that Karmiel is ‘Jewish city’ and that Arabic-language schools or funding transport for Arab schoolchildren are liable to alter city’s demographic balance and damage its character, essentially blocking access to schools for Arab children in the northern city of Karmiel. The court implied that facilitating this access would incentivize Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel to move into the city, thus damaging its ‘Jewish character.’“

Haaretz editorial discussing the ruling stated: “The nation-state law has legalized racism and Jewish supremacy, and allows the state to discriminate against Arab citizens in order to keep them from living where they choose under equal conditions, thus deepening ethnic segregation in Israel.”

(Photos: TML, Ralph RH)

TML Weekly, December 5, 2020 – No. 47


Filed under Canada, Palestine

2 responses to “Dangerous self-serving invocation of Holocaust Remembrance to cover up crimes against Palestinians

  1. Tee White

    Excellent article


  2. Let’s just fill up those tunnels, stop placing children in danger, and stop pay for slay. And do stop pretending to be the underdogs.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s