Daily Briefing: HONOURING HUMAN RIGHTS WARRIOR IRWIN COTLER (October 9,2020)

Irwin Cotler (2017) (Wikipedia)

How Did Simchat Torah Get So Popular?:  Shlomo M. Brody, Tablet, Oct. 15, 2014 — Simchat Torah is an anomaly on the Jewish calendar. The festival, which celebrates the completion of the yearly cycle of public Torah reading, doesn’t appear in the Bible or even the Talmud.

Lessons from Kohelet – A Sukkot shiur by Rabbi Sacks Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, YouTube, Oct 13, 2016 — On 26th September 2016, Rabbi Sacks delivered a shiur to officially launch the Koren Sacks Sukkot Mahzor (The Gross Family Edition)
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Table Of Contents:
For Irwin Cotler, Neither a Pandemic Nor Retirement from Politics Can Slow His Fight for Human Rights:  Michelle Carbert, The Globe and Mail, Oct. 3, 2020


Human Rights And The New Anti-Jewishness:  Irwin Cotler, Crif, Aug. 2016

How An Israeli Politician Succeeded In Speaking Canadian In Hebrew:  Gil Troy, The J.Ca, Sept. 9, 2020

______________________________________________________For Irwin Cotler, Neither a Pandemic Nor Retirement From Politics Can Slow His Fight for Human Rights 
Michelle Carbert
The Globe and Mail, Oct. 3, 2020Irwin Cotler wouldn’t be intimidated.

It was 1978, and the young Canadian law professor was living in the Jewish quarter of Damascus as part of his summer travels across the Middle East. He knew he was being followed by Syrian officials, who surveilled the Jewish minority. One morning, a man knocked on his door. “He takes me outside and takes me somewhere,” Mr. Cotler says, “and two people are hung, dead, in this courtyard.”

Mr. Cotler was taken to a jail cell. Hours later, interrogators showed up. “He says to me, ‘Now you will tell us whatever we need to know, or what happened to those people you saw earlier will happen to you.’”

They told Mr. Cotler his presence in the Jewish quarter, where he attended synagogue, was prohibited. He didn’t deny he was a practising Jew; he questioned why it was a problem. “I wanted the Jews there to know I wasn’t afraid,” he says during an interview at his home in Montreal.

He was released and told to leave the country.

At the same time, Mr. Cotler was defending another Jewish-rights activist a world away: Natan Sharansky, who was facing trumped-up charges of treason and espionage in the Soviet Union. While in Syria, Mr. Cotler learned his client – the first political prisoner he’d ever defended – would face trial in what would become a defining case of his career.

In the decades to come, Mr. Cotler transcended the legal world as a lawyer, professor, member of Parliament and justice minister, using his roles to advocate for the release of dozens of political prisoners. At the age of 80, he continues to take on new cases – always for free.

Mr. Cotler’s fight for human rights has taken over his modest split-level house. The living room coffee table is covered in news clippings, legal briefs and reports. Downstairs, more papers pile up on two folding tables in the den – a temporary measure that appears to have become more permanent as Mr. Cotler works from home during the pandemic. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Several Legal Remedies Will Mean Justice And Accountability for China’s Deliberate Suppression of Information. Earlier Action Could Have Reduced Transmission Drastically
David Matas and Irwin Cotler
Options, May 25, 2020

In order to safeguard global public health, the world must take action against the Government of China for its role in this global pandemic crisis. The Chinese Communist Party of China (CCP) and the Government of China, which the party directs, bear a large measure of responsibility for the global spread of COVID-19.

In the early days of the pandemic’s spread and during the Lunar New Year travel season, the Chinese government downplayed the severity of the illness and its spread. Human Rights Watch said in January that Chinese authorities had “detained people for ‘rumor-mongering,’ censored online discussions of the epidemic, curbed media reporting, and failed to ensure appropriate access to medical care for those with virus symptoms and others with medical needs.” Amnesty International warned soon after that the withholding of information was putting at risk the medical community’s ability to combat the virus.

There is authoritative and compelling evidence – including a study from the University of Southampton – that if interventions in China had been conducted three weeks earlier, transmission of COVID-19 could have been reduced by 95 per cent.

Meanwhile, an analysis of Chinese censorship around COVID-19, by the Munk School’s Citizen Lab, found that “Censorship of COVID-19 content started at early stages of the outbreak and continued to expand blocking a wide range of speech, from criticism of the government to officially sanctioned facts and information.”

The Chinese government’s wrongdoing and the suffering of its victims within its borders and internationally calls out for justice and accountability. There are clear and compelling legal remedies that should be considered to effectively address and redress this matter.

International

The International Court of Justice through a request for an advisory opinion from the United Nations General Assembly

The United Nations Charter provides that the UN General Assembly may request the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to give an advisory opinion on any legal question. Any UN member state can ask the General Assembly to make such a request to the ICJ, and China would not be able to veto such a resolution. The General Assembly could therefore request that the ICJ determine whether the actions of Xi Xinping’s China regarding coronavirus were in breach of its international legal obligations. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Human Rights And The New Anti-Jewishness
Irwin Cotler
Crif, Aug. 2016

Anchored in the “Zionism is Racism” resolution, but going beyond it, the new anti-Jewishness… can best be defined as the discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon, national particularity and peoplehood anywhere, whenever that national particularity and peoplehood happens to be Jewish. In its more benign form (if it can be called benign), it finds particular expression in the singling out of Israel and the Jewish people for differential and discriminatory treatment in the international arena — where United Nations human rights bodies are used as the mask or protective cover for this anti-Jewishness (e.g. The 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban). In its most lethal form, it refers to the singling out of Israel and the Jewish people for existential or genocidal assault, as evidenced by the suicide-bombers — or what I prefer to call genocide-bombers… — the convergence of both politicide and genocide.

 In a word, classical or traditional anti-Semitism is the discrimination against, or denial of, the right of Jews to live as equal members of a free society; the new anti-Semitism — incompletely, or incorrectly, [referred to] as “anti-Zionism”… — 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. What is intrinsic to each form of anti-Semitism — and common to both — is discrimination. All that has happened is that it has moved from discrimination against Jews as individuals — a classical anti-Semitism for which there are indices of measurement (e.g., discrimination against Jews in education, housing, or employment) — to discrimination against Jews as people — a new anti-Semitism — for which one has yet to develop indices of measurement.

 … I would like to propose… a set of indices by which we can identify… and monitor the nature and meaning of the new anti-Jewishness. These indices are organized around a juridical framework and draw upon principles of discrimination and equality as they find expression in both domestic and international law. There are thirteen indices that may serve to illustrate this new anti-Jewishness. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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How An Israeli Politician Succeeded In Speaking Canadian In Hebrew
Gil Troy
The J.Ca, Sept. 9, 2020

Notwithstanding Justin Trudeau’s desire to join his “family business,” not many children follow their parents into politics these days. Rarer still is a father, who served in one country’s parliament – and the daughter, who now serves in another, ten-thousand kilometers away. Nevertheless, that unique situation was celebrated earlier this month, when Michal Cotler-Wunsh, the daughter of the former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, gave her maiden speech in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Characteristically, Cotler-Wunsh not only honored both her parents, but celebrated the Canadian values and delightfully Montreal-like sensibilities she hopes to import to Israel – and its often-unruly Parliament.

Cotler-Wunsh’s meteoric rise to power reflects Israel’s democratic yet chaotic politics. The 49-year-old, Israeli-born lawyer only returned to Israel from Montreal in 2010 – and only entered electoral politics in January 2019 when she joined former Defense Minister’s Boogie Ya’alon’s Telem Party. A month later, Telem joined two other centrist parties attempting to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu to form Blue-and-White. The result was proof of how much Israelis love democracy: holding three elections in one year.

Ultimately, the electorate was so stalemated – and the Corona-crisis so intense, that after a third inconclusive election in March, 2020, Blue-and-White’s leader Benny Gantz agreed to form a National Emergency Government with Netanyahu. With Ya’alon’s Telem and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid refusing to enter any government with Netanyahu, the opposition alliance fragmented. Cotler-Wunsh, number 36 in a bigger bloc that only won 33 seats, accepted the voters’ verdict. She prepared to return to her rich “real life” as a human rights advocate, legal scholar, and busy mother, with a businessman husband, Rafi Wunsh, and four children.

But two more twists of fate – and one courageous, controversial decision by Cotler-Wunsh — intervened. The government was top heavy, with 12 ministers from Gantz’s party – even though the defections left it with only 14 MKs. Second, pulling a 34-person cabinet from a 120-person Knesset did not leave enough full-time legislators to represent the majority party adequately and conduct parliamentary business properly. The solution was Israel’s “Norwegian Law” allowing five Blue and White cabinet members to resign from Knesset.
 
The law left Cotler-Wunsh with a tough call. She could stay in opposition with Ya’alon – or join the already-squabbling coalition. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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FOR FURTHER REFERENCE:

Lessons of the Holocaust by Irwin Cotler – Part I:  Irwin Cotler, UNWatch, YouTube, Feb. 28, 2007 — Keynote Address by Professor Irwin Cotler delivered at the 2007 Holocaust commemoration ceremony at the European Headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva.

“Global Antisemitism: Assault on Human Rights: Irwin Cotler, excerpted from The Yale Papers: Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective, ed. by Charles Asher Small, Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Policy, 2015 Pp. 347-363

Robin Sears In Inside Policy: Irwin Cotler And The Pursuit Of Justice:  Robin V. Sears, 10 MLI, July 29, 2015 It would be wrong to call him a relic, as he is far too engaged and engaging to wear that label. But he is nonetheless an improbable member of Parliament who seems to have been teleported from an earlier time, from an era that valued intellect over show and unstinting courtesy over childish combat — an era that regarded self-promotion dimly.

MPs Defend Irwin Cotler, After Pro-Palestinian Protesters Disrupt Speech:  CJN, June 7, 2019 Members of Parliament from all parties joined in a show of solidarity with Irwin Cotler, after learning that pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted him while he was speaking at Concordia University on June 3.

Ahead Of Decision On War Crimes Probe, Knesset Taps Point-Woman for The Hague Raphael Aren, Times of Israel, Sept. 23, 2020– The Knesset on Wednesday tapped a special parliamentary coordinator for issues pertaining to the International Criminal Court, ahead of The Hague’s expected decision to open a probe into alleged war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists.
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This week’s Communiqué Isranet is Communiqué: L’Arménie résiste face à l’impérialisme turc (Octobre 9,2020)

CIJR wishes our friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom and a Happy Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah!