Troubling trends for human rights in China and India

Genocide is the outcome of nationalistic, populist movements that tolerate hate speech and discrimination and incite violence

Troubling trends for human rights in China and IndiaIf left unaddressed, the rising extremism and persecutions in China and India will undermine the well-being of millions of people. These acts will also set a precedent the international community will regret for generations, both in terms of the human cost and the undermining of many gains made in human rights over the past several…

Only respect for diversity will defeat extremism

Imagine what the Nazis would have done if they had access to today’s social media platforms

Only respect for diversity will defeat extremismI recently showed Steven Spielberg’s classic film about the Holocaust, Schindler’s List, to a group of students. Watching Nazi soldiers terrorizing and murdering Jewish people, I thought to myself that on some level they had to have known that what they were doing was wrong. Yet they seemed to be unaffected. Were they impacted at…

Silent Witness of a Holocaust Suitcase

A Canadian family helped solve the mystery of a teenage girl’s life and death at Auschwitz

Silent Witness of a Holocaust SuitcaseHana Brady could be another Anne Frank except she did not leave a diary. But the suitcase that 13-year-old left behind when she died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz concentration camp continues to teach millions of children around the world the importance of respect, empathy and compassion. It bears silent witness to the agony…

The return of the Armenian Genocide must be stopped

Putting the health of the people in the South Caucasus at risk puts us all at risk. Diseases spread and mutate rapidly in refugee camps

The return of the Armenian Genocide must be stoppedWhen teaching history, it’s rare that an issue more than 100 years old becomes a current events lesson, but that’s what happened as I began teaching about the Armenian Genocide. The Ottoman Empire is responsible for the death of 1.5 million Armenians, primarily under the cover of the First World War. The empire collapsed after…

We can forgive but we should never forget

Regardless of how a survivor processes their trauma, simply speaking the truth is what’s most important

We can forgive but we should never forgetDuring the 2015 trial of former SS guard Oskar Groning, as presented in the documentary The Accountant of Auschwitz, Holocaust survivor Eva Kor forgave the man she was testifying against. The response to Kor’s statement was extremely varied. Some praised her, others were shocked and some even reacted with scorn. Forgiveness is one of the…

Bringing the Architect of the Holocaust to justice

Was Adolf Eichmann a monster or just a loyal officer in a role that largely revolved around establishing train schedules?

Bringing the Architect of the Holocaust to justiceOn May 23, 1960, Israel announced the capture of Adolf Eichmann. An undercover Israeli security services team had snatched him 12 days earlier in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and smuggled him out of the country by air. The story was an immediate international sensation. If you were only moderately conversant with the Holocaust, you might never…

Labels just hurtful in search for Middle East peace

Trudeau insinuated that if you support the rights of Palestinians, you must be anti-Semitic

Labels just hurtful in search for Middle East peaceI like to think I’m not easily offended, but a recent speech by Justin Trudeau at the Yom Hashoah Virtual Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration pierced my spirit. In this ceremony, Holocaust survivors and their descendants not only remembered the crimes committed against the Jewish people, they celebrated who they are and the beautiful traditions that…

Don’t sacrifice truth for illusion of security

Very few people have ever had the freedoms Canadians enjoy today. May we always be mindful of this

Don’t sacrifice truth for illusion of securityLike many of my generation of German descent, I’ve had to grapple with an uncomfortable family history. Though I know he came to regret his decision, my grandfather was a member of the Nazi Party and was part of the populist movement that brought them to power. I could make excuses for his decision and…

We must face up to Canada’s dark past

Telling our Indigenous people to ‘get over it’ comes dangerously close to outright genocide denial

We must face up to Canada’s dark pastAs tensions have mounted in Canada in recent months over land claims and Indigenous rights, I’ve heard and read many variations of the phrase, “The Indigenous just need to get over it.” I wonder if the people who embrace this view really know what they’re saying. It reflects complete ignorance of the history of Canada…

Turning challenges into opportunities for success

But to successfully face those challenges, you need to know yourself and the opposition you face, and be prepared to grow and adapt

Turning challenges into opportunities for successIn the classic book The Art of War, Sun Tzu teaches about far more than war. He also teaches some of the key elements of a joyful and meaningful life. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the…

Imagine the future to find meaning in your suffering

You must first learn to respond positively to negative situations – embrace your willpower

Imagine the future to find meaning in your sufferingIt’s said that successful people aren’t those without problems, they’re simply those who deal effectively with their problems. This is an easy claim to make but what does it really mean? Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, tells us that between stimulus and response there’s a gap and it’s…

How a journey through hardship can inspire your life

The key is not to run away from life but to embrace every challenge, to find its meaning and the lesson it offers

How a journey through hardship can inspire your lifeThere’s a medieval legend about an alchemist who discovers how to turn common materials into gold. Of course, we know that adding a piece of the philosopher’s stone to molten lead will not turn it into gold, yet the story provides a beautiful metaphor for life. If we look at the life of any great…

If you stay true to certain ideals, life sorts itself out

Author James Allen tells us to embrace purity, patience, humility, self-sacrifice, self-reliance, fearlessness, knowledge, wisdom, compassion and love

If you stay true to certain ideals, life sorts itself outWe all face challenges, times when we feel like the bottom has fallen out and nothing makes sense. While it may be tempting to give in to vengeful thoughts and actions, teachings developed in every culture point to the same principles. As we live by these ideals, life finds a way of sorting itself out.…

If you stay true to certain ideals, life sorts itself out

Author James Allen tells us to embrace purity, patience, humility, self-sacrifice, self-reliance, fearlessness, knowledge, wisdom, compassion and love

If you stay true to certain ideals, life sorts itself outWe all face challenges, times when we feel like the bottom has fallen out and nothing makes sense. While it may be tempting to give in to vengeful thoughts and actions, teachings developed in every culture point to the same principles. As we live by these ideals, life finds a way of sorting itself out.…

Canada helps preserve memory of Holocaust by buying Hitler’s book

Canadians need to be reminded that conflicts and human tragedies sometimes come perilously close to home

Canada helps preserve memory of Holocaust by buying Hitler’s bookWise politicians realize that the people, also known as taxpayers, are always concerned about how their money is spent by government. The cost of a policy, program or item can be large or small, but every penny – or nickel, in this era – must be used responsibly and prudently. This brings us to the…

Hearing the stories of survivors of abuse with compassion

If we can be ‘enlightened witnesses’ and listen without judgment, we can help the healing process

Hearing the stories of survivors of abuse with compassionMuch of the study of genocide has focused on how it happens and what it looks like. This is important but perhaps we need to go further. What do people go through after these crimes have been committed? What happens to children? There are many amazing books written by survivors of genocide: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s…

The arc of the moral universe will bend toward justice

Amidst acts of nationalism and racism, it can be difficult to see the fundamental goodness of humanity – but it’s there

Nov. 9 marked 80 years since Kristallnacht, loosely translated as “the Night of the Broken Glass.” On this horrendous night, rampaging Nazis destroyed Jewish businesses, synagogues, homes and other properties in what was then German territory. There were many deaths and arrests of innocent people in this precursor to the Holocaust. It would nice to…

How to confront sex abuse in the Catholic church

If we’re to rid the world of this horrendous theft of innocence, we need to approach it the same way we approached the Holocaust

How to confront sex abuse in the Catholic churchIn the song Sympathy for the Devil, the Rolling Stones repeat several times, “Pleased to meet you. Hope you guessed my name. But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.” In essence, the Stones are talking about the nature of evil and our relation to it. We see it but we often don’t…

Suffering and death have meaning … of the deepest significance

Even in the depths of suffering, there is still reason to hope for the future. Even if we are in despair today, we can embrace the joys of the past

Suffering and death have meaning … of the deepest significanceRussian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, “It’s the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.” It should be no surprise that the writings of Dostoyevsky had a profound influence on Viktor Frankl, the Austrian Jewish psychiatrist, as he faced life in Nazi concentration camps. Dostoyevsky endured horrendous suffering in…

Embrace the moment, regardless of the circumstances

By living lives of integrity, by doing our best despite our imperfections, we find a way to move forward

Embrace the moment, regardless of the circumstancesWhen saying goodbye to people, I’ll often add: “And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” While I’ve always been aware this phrase was giving people something significant to ponder, I didn’t know its history. It’s actually attributed to Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher. In 1994, Jon Kabat-Zinn expanded on this idea in…

The double standards of social justice ideology

Allocating and denying benefits on the basis of race undermines the integrity and the autonomy of individuals

The double standards of social justice ideologyWhat would the death of six million people look like in the Canadian population? A loss of that number would be equivalent to the annihilation of every person in Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, London and Halifax. Or the death of every person in British Columbia and Manitoba. For Canadians, such numbers are impossible to imagine.…

The lessons of Rwanda seem lost on Canadians

We funded, educated and then sheltered the man who gave the Rwandan genocide its intellectual impetus. Will we make the same mistakes in Mali?

The lessons of Rwanda seem lost on CanadiansApril marks the 24th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda. On April 6, 1994, the aircraft carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down above Kigali. The worst genocide since the Holocaust began immediately thereafter. A party of extremists within the majority Hutu population aimed to murder the entire Tutsi minority. Over…

Stepping beyond stereotypes to right wrongs

The key is to focus on acceptable and unacceptable actions, not the ethnicity or gender of the actor

Stepping beyond stereotypes to right wrongsPsychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, “There are two races of men in the world, but only these two – the ‘race’ of decent men and the ‘race’ of indecent men. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society.” This is a powerful conclusion from a man who witnessed the very…

A neo-Nazi taunts Jews in Nova Scotia, with government help

Notorious art thief John Mark Tillmann managed to get two levels of government to rename a waterway just to torment Jewish neighbours

A neo-Nazi taunts Jews in Nova Scotia, with government helpShould the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia name something after a neo-Nazi? It’s not a hypothetical question. Fall River, N.S., (pop. 11,526) is a community in Halifax’s regional municipality. By all accounts, it’s a lovely spot and the locals are nice. If you go hiking on a trail in the area, you may spot…

Standing firm against a rising tide of anti-Semitism

The way to combat these racist abominations is to speak truth, and to speak it persistently in a loud and unified voice

Standing firm against a rising tide of anti-SemitismJust when we thought we had advanced as a society, putting disgraceful intolerance behind us and embracing and celebrating our ethnic diversity, we realize we still have a long way to go. The Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver received bomb threats on March 8 and March 12. These threats coincide with other anti-Semitic behaviour and…