Canada’s government has removed a plaque inaugurating the country’s new Holocaust monument after critics blasted it for failing to mention Jewish people or antisemitism.
During its unveiling last week in Ottawa, Justin Trudeau gave a speech highlighting the national memorial as evidence of the government’s commitment to fighting antisemitism, racism and xenophobia.
But the monument’s plaque simply honoured the “millions of men, women and children murdered during the Holocaust” and commemorated those who persevered through “one of the darkest chapters in history”.
On Tuesday, the Conservative MP David Sweet assailed the federal Liberals for their “profoundly obvious omission”. Speaking during question period, Sweet added: “If we are going to stamp out hatred toward Jews, it is important to get history right.”
His concerns were addressed by Canada’s heritage minister. “The National Holocaust monument commemorates the six million Jews as well as the five million other victims that were murdered during the Holocaust,” said Mélanie Joly, adding, “The plaque has been removed and we will replace it with language that reflects the horrors experienced by the Jewish people.”
Canadian officials spent more than a decade planning and building the monument, which is made up of six triangular structures depicting a star. According to the Canadian Jewish News, explanatory panels located across the monument do include several references to Jewish people, as targets of mass murder, subjects of Canada’s discriminatory war-era immigration policy and resisters of Nazi terror.
The omission echoes another carried out by Trudeau early in his tenure as prime minister – in 2016 he was criticised for failing to mention Jewish people specifically in his statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Instead he described the day as one to “pay tribute to the memory of the millions of victims murdered during the Holocaust”.
He corrected the oversight in a later tweet, unlike the administration of Donald Trump south of the border, who – after taking heat for omitting Jews and antisemitism from a statement remembering the Holocaust earlier this year – said it “took into account all of those who suffered”.
SOURCE: Ashifa Kassam