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Rhonda Spivak, October 2, 2011

CISA Announces Its First Year of Programming: Editor Interviews Dr.  Catherine Chatterley
Editor: The Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA) which you founded last year is now in the position to announce its first academic year of programming, so what can Winnipeg expect to see?
Dr. Chatterley: Well, we have four events scheduled thus far. Hillel Neuer, a young Canadian lawyer who heads UN Watch, will be speaking at UM on November 23rd. Neuer will be speaking on campus about the problems he sees in the UN Human Rights Council, including its obsession with Israel. He is the guest speaker for the Jewish Foundation’s Annual Luncheon and we all agreed that it was important for him to speak to students while he was in Winnipeg.
In the New Year, on January 5, we will premiere an important new film about the contemporary deployment of Antisemitism against the State of Israel, entitled Unmasked: Judeophobia and the Threat to Civilization. The director, Gloria Greenfield, will be our guest.

I will be speaking about the Holocaust and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in the Critical Conversations Series at UM on March 5. And CISA’s first Shindleman Lecture will be held on the evening of Thursday, March 22nd and our guest will be Hannah Rosenthal, President Obama’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. Further details can be found on the events page of CISA’s website: 

Editor: Will Hillel Neuer address the Palestinian bid for statehood in his talk?

Dr. Chatterley: Mr. Neuer will take questions on any subject related to the United Nations.

Editor: How can the public buy tickets to these events?

Dr. Chatterley: For this year, CISA’s events will not require tickets. We will be asking the public to support our work by making charitable donations to the Institute. Ideally, this will be how CISA will operate into the future—without entrance fees, open to all, and funded by public support.
Editor: Didn’t Gloria Greenfield produce The Case for Israel with Alan Dershowitz?
Dr. Chatterley: Yes, and Irwin Cotler. She is the president of Doc Emet Films based in Boston and will be with us to premiere her new film on January 5th at the Berney Theatre. We will have a discussion after the film during which the audience can ask her questions about the project and the serious problem she has addressed. The film is a documentary that includes interviews with leading scholars, commentators, and politicians. It should be an important educational evening.
Editor: How did you manage to get President Obama’s “Special Envoy” Hannah Rosenthal to speak in Winnipeg—it is exceedingly rare for the Jewish community to be able to hear from a top official in the US State Department? Do you know Rosenthal?
Dr. Chatterley: Hannah Rosenthal works with Hillary Clinton in the State Department and it is her specific mandate to monitor and combat Antisemitism around the world on behalf of the US government. Her focus this year is to work to remove references to The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the lie of “Jewish Conspiracy,” from children’s textbooks throughout the Middle East.
I met Hannah last year on my birthday, the day the Free Press published my editorial “War on the Holocaust,” about the UCCLA pig postcard, and I think I’ll save that story for her introduction to Winnipeg on March 22nd. Let’s just say it was beshert.
The office of the Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism is actually the creation of the George W. Bush administration and Barack Obama has thankfully maintained the position. A special envoy is an Ad hoc diplomatic appointment, usually created for a specific problem like climate change or HIV/AIDS, or a specific region of the world undergoing severe crisis like Northern Ireland, Kosovo, or Darfur—all of which have had special envoys created by the UN or by the US government.
Hannah’s presentation will be a major event for Winnipeg.
Editor: Why CISA? Why did you create this Institute and what is its purpose?
Dr. Chatterley: Well, I have studied the history of Antisemitism and the Holocaust for over 20 years at university and even longer in my own life, and over the last ten years there have been shifts in how the public and academia perceives these subjects. Today, in many arenas, there is a desire, not to complement, but to replace Holocaust studies with comparative genocide studies. If you can imagine, the Holocaust is perceived by many people to be “too Jewish—too particularistic.” Colleagues have even told me this over the years. These people focus on its victims and ignore the broad historical and cultural context that produced the Holocaust in the first place. The Holocaust is a product of Western civilization and its Christian heritage—there is very little in fact that is Jewish about this. And, perhaps most significantly, the motivating ideology of Hitler’s Holocaust—Antisemitism—continues to persist and evolve, unlike the motivating hatreds of other genocides in the past. Wouldn’t we all be grateful if Antisemitism had died in the bunker with Adolf Hitler?
Antisemitism has never been part of the university curriculum anywhere in the world except for perhaps a chapter in Jewish history courses and part of the context in the few Holocaust courses that exist at Western universities. Jew-hatred is missing from too many aca
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.