Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 20

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on March 21, the world observed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The day reaffirms Article 1 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It is our collective responsibility to promote and protect this ideal.

I agree with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when he said: “Together, we must strengthen our common endeavour to put an end to racial discrimination and xenophobia wherever it occurs.”

Honourable senators, I stand before you today and ask you to reflect on the issue of racism and xenophobia in our world. To assist in our reflection, I wish to share my experiences working with many Israeli and Palestinian women. These women are tirelessly working to end conflict in their communities.

I had a life-changing moment last November in Haifa, Israel, when I met with women from Haifa and Bethlehem. The Haifa women shared their first-hand experiences of surviving a suicide bomber and gave emotional testimonials about how it has devastated their families, while the women from Bethlehem shared their encounters of the daily drudgery of proceeding through the degradation of checkpoints. By the end of the week, I observed that the women had come to an understanding of each other’s plight.

Today, I pay tribute Mazal Renford, Executive Director of the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center. The centre is financed by Israel’s foreign service. Mazal is a visionary who has worked tirelessly to find ways to create understanding and reconciliation between Israeli and Palestinian women.

Honourable senators, Mazal’s reconciliation work helps to bring peace to this region of the world. I ask you to join me in congratulating and thanking her for her determined efforts. I especially wish to celebrate her commitment to working with the women of Israel and Palestine to bring peace to that region.