Avi Benlolo
Avi Abraham Benlolo, Founder & Chairman, The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI)

Can Hate Be Erased?

We have observed an uptick of hate crime and especially hateful graffiti over the last few weeks.  In every case, the messages scrawled on schools, in parks and on highways are painful for everyone who comes into contact with them. Many affected are Holocaust survivors, their children and grandchildren who are re-traumatized at witnessing Swastikas and hateful remarks like “Hitler was Right” which was scrawled on a Highway 400 barrier early this morning in Vaughan, Ontario.

As a social activist and representative of 30,000 Canadian FSWC constituents, I like to observe and document hateful incidents myself – when I can of course. To witness them is to feel the weight of their impact and to assess the environment is critically important to our work. To discuss the situation in the field with police, with media and with government officials is critical to ensuring we fully comprehend the magnitude of the crime.

Hate crime should not be easily scrubbed away or brushed under the carpet. The scrubbing of the hateful graffiti this morning on Highway 400 had already begun by the time the police arrived on scene. By the time I arrived shortly thereafter, it was almost completely washed away. The crime scene evidence was destroyed.

While this matter was addressed with those involved in the washing away of the hateful message, greater attention must be paid to the essence of the matter: scrubbing hate crime graffiti may remove the message from view, but does it solve the problem of hate and absolve the perpetrators?  Hateful graffiti must be removed, but at the same time, it cannot be erased. It exists and we must confront it head on. It must be addressed by a willingness by our Attorney General to prosecute and a greater investment in education and advocacy.

Antisemites seem to have become more emboldened over the last number of months. This is why we are asking Ontario’s Attorney General, the Honourable Yasir Naqvi, to reply to our complaints particularly about Your Ward News and Al Quds Day. We believe that a strengthening of our justice system and avid denunciation of antisemitism from the Ontario Premier, government officials, city councils and mayors will have an impact on the racist and antisemitic movement.

At the same time, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center will continue to provide the solution to hate through our Tour for Humanity program, our tolerance training workshops, Freedom Day and more. We will not rest on our laurels in confronting hate crime and speak out as necessary to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians.

About the Author
Avi Abraham Benlolo is the Founder and Chairman of The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) He has been described as the nation's most prominent and noted expert in Holocaust studies, in countering Antisemitism and promoting human rights.
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