Ousted Liberal candidate says party was aware of his online comments for weeks

Widely covered and unclear exactly how his comments made it through the vetting process given that they were likely to be uncovered by B’nai Brith and others. And intriguing if Liberals were working on defensive media lines (which could be developed):

Ousted Liberal candidate Hassan Guillet admits to posting online about a Hamas-aligned activist, but says the party was well aware of his comments and were even working on a public relations plan before they withdrew his nomination.

Last week, the Liberal Party dumped Guillet as a candidate in Quebec after a Jewish human rights group accused him of making a number of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements.

In a statement posted to its website Friday, B’nai Brith Canada alleges Guillett congratulated a Hamas-aligned activist, Raed Salah, upon his release from a “prison of occupied Palestine” and prayed that he would one day succeed in liberating “all of Palestine.” The group said he described Salah as “frontier-fighter.”

The group also said it found a since-deleted Facebook post from 2016 in which Guillet allegedly wrote “the Zionists control American politics.”

The group said it reached out to the Liberal Party more than a week ago to make it aware of their allegations against him. The Conservative Party also called for his withdrawal.

Later that day, the Liberal Party said Guillet’s “insensitive comments” don’t align with the party’s values and revoked his candidacy in the riding of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.

Guillet held a press conference in the riding on Wednesday, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with supporters. He said the party was aware of the contents of his Facebook page since at least Aug. 8 and already had discussed an action plan that involved reaching out to the Jewish community.

Guillet, a member of the Council of Quebec Imams who gained national attention after delivering a speech in Quebec City honouring victims of the Quebec mosque shooting, said he did congratulate Salah after he was released from prison because he had protested the closure of a Jerusalem mosque, but insisted he wasn’t aware of his background.

Liberals say decision is final

“The party either knew or should have known what it contained. Why, then, if these words were so problematic, why was my candidacy … accepted?” he said. “One is entitled to ask the question, was it incompetence or bad faith?

“I am not anti-Semitic. On the contrary, I campaigned and I will always campaign against all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.”

Guillet said a member of the Liberal Party approached him Friday and said he could resign for personal reasons — or the party would withdraw its support.

The Liberal Party isn’t changing its mind.

“Following an internal review, the Liberal Party of Canada took the appropriate steps to remove Mr. Guillet as the Liberal candidate for the riding of  Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel. That decision is final,” said party spokesperson Parker Lund in an email Wednesday.

Neither is B’nai Brith Canada.

“Today’s press conference only confirms our position that Hassan Guillet is not fit to carry the Liberal Party banner,” said Michael Mostyn, the group’s chief executive officer.

“We are satisfied with our role in exposing his anti-Semitic statements, and disappointed that he spurned an opportunity to retract them.”

Source: Ousted Liberal candidate says party was aware of his online comments for weeks

Polish Ontario newspaper accused of anti-Semitism

To watch:

Police in Peel Region have confirmed they are investigating a local Polish-language news outlet following a complaint from B’nai Brith Canada about anti-Semitic content.

The force’s Equity and Inclusion Bureau is “also aware” of the complaint, said spokesperson Const. Heather Cannon.

B’nai Brith laid the complaint after discovering “frequent anti-Semitic and hateful material” in Goniec, a news outlet based in Mississauga, Ont., that publishes a weekly newspaper with a circulation of about 1,000, and maintains a website and YouTube channel.

According to B’nai Brith, the paper has accused “Jews and Zionists” of having “terrorism in their blood,” and has urged readers to “stand up to the Jews,” in response to their attempts to “destroy” Poland.

In a series of “incendiary” articles, the outlet “warns repeatedly of Jewish control over the Polish government through ‘puppet politicians’ in the United States who favour ‘rewriting history’ in the interest of the Israeli government,” B’nai Brith said in an Aug. 15 statement.

Authors on the website have also stated that Jews are “playing their old game” of trying to interfere in various governments, while calling the actions of Jewish organizations “racist” and “satanic,” the Jewish advocacy group alleged.

“We are appalled by the blatant Jew-hatred peddled by this publication,” said Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith’s CEO. “While there is room for disagreement over policies in modern Polish-Jewish relations, the anti-Semitic content that we are seeing is truly beyond the pale.”

Among other examples B’nai Brith cited was a photograph of Hasidic Jews juxtaposed with the U.S. Capitol building, followed by allegations that Congress is controlled by Jewish forces, as well as a headline saying, You Use WhatsApp – Jews Are Spying on You.

Goniec has also described a film documenting the 1941 anti-Jewish massacre in the Polish town of Jedwabne as “false propaganda of the ‘Holocaust enterprise’ in a plot to initiate reparations for Jewish property that was lost or stolen during the Second World War,” B’nai Brith charged.

Andrzej Kumor, the paper’s editor-in-chief and sole employee, called B’nai Brith’s accusations “unfounded” and said he will co-operate with police.

“I have nothing to hide,” Kumor told The CJN via email. “I was never hateful towards Jews or any other community. I see politics as a power play of different interests. I love the debate and I think that the debate is a cornerstone of (a) free, democratic society.”

He defended the material cited by B’nai Brith.

The headline about Jews spying, for example, “is about the security hole found in WhatsApp, which was exploited by (an) Israeli group with connections to … state security services,” Kumor explained, asking, “Is the headline, ‘The Russians are spying on us’ anti-Russian?”

He said the commentary titled Zionists Have Terrorism in Their Blood (not “Jews,” he noted) is about paramilitary groups in pre-state Israel – the Irgun, Haganah and the so-called Stern Gang – and “the smart political use of terrorism by Jews fighting for their country after the Second World War.”

As for the July 1941 pogrom in Jedwabne, “this crime should be investigated to the very end … to find out how many people died, and other circumstances,” Kumor said.

Several sources agree that at least 340 Jews were murdered in the pogrom, 300 of whom were locked in a barn that was set on fire.

Peter Jassem, past chair of the Polish-Jewish Heritage Foundation of Canada’s Toronto chapter, said it was brought to his attention “on numerous occasions” that Kumor was publishing “anti-Semitic content for years, sometimes explicitly, sometimes as innuendo regularly present in numerous articles written by him and his contributors.”

As for B’nai Brith’s translations, “everything seems to be accurate,” said Jassem. However, the title of one video cited by B’nai Brith “does not mean that Zionists have terrorism in their blood, but rather that they are guilty of terrorism,” Jassem explained. “But when you listen to the video, (Kumor) does say this: ‘Jews or Zionists have terrorism in their blood.’ ” Later in the same video, Kumor says, “It is said that Jews simply invented modern terrorism,” according to Jassem.

He added that both in this article and in an interview Kumor gave to an online Polish television station that Jassem views as anti-Semitic,” Kumor “seems to show  himself as a martyr and a freedom fighter whose mission is to uncover the truth and to defend freedom of speech. He blames Jewish conspiracy for this action against him.” 

Source: Polish Ontario newspaper accused of anti-Semitism

Imam banned from preaching at Edmonton community centre

Of note, both the initial offence and the Muslim community response:

A community centre in Edmonton has banned a local imam from holding services there because he allegedly used anti-Semitic tropes in his services and online.

The Killarney Community League Hall banned Sheikh Shaban Sherif Mady from using their space to hold services after B’nai Brith alerted the community centre to Imam Mady’s rhetoric, including claims that international Zionism is behind all global terrorism, including ISIS and the New Zealand shooter, and that the Muslims will kill the Jews on Judgment Day.

Aidan Fishman of B’nai Brith said the police are “dutifully investigating” the matter. He also said B’nai Brith has been in contact with the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC).

“They’re aware of this and they, like I’m sure the vast majority of Muslims in Alberta and in Edmonton, have communicated to us that they totally disagree with what this guy said and they condemn it as well,” he said.

Faisal Suri of AMPAC confirmed that AMPAC condemned Shekih Mady’s speeches and online posts. He said AMPAC recognizes both anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia, as they affect two of the biggest communities most harmed by hatred and discrimination.

“We definitely condemn the words of this one individual. One individual’s actions and words do not reflect upon the Muslim community,” Suri said.

He also added that AMPAC is investigating Sheikh Mady, and whether other individuals hold similar views. He said the counci is working to prevent the imam from having any public platforms to advance his views.

Statistics of anti-Semitism in US are misleading

Good serious comparison of the various datasets available. The observations regarding the limitations of ADL statistics also apply to B’nai Brith as to those on FBI data also apply to StatsCan complication of police reported hate crimes.

With respect to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the closest Canadian equivalent is the currently underway General Social Survey – Canadians’ Safety (GSS) which includes self-reported victimization, to be released winter 2020-21:

On Sunday, a Jewish man standing outside a synagogue was shot in the leg in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime. It was only the latest in a string of anti-Semitic attacks this year.

These attacks have brought in their wake headlines declaring “a spike in hate crimes” and “increased anti-Semitic attacks all across this country,” based on episodes like Sunday’s as well as data. Earlier this year, the FBI reported the largest increase in hate crimes since 2001, and the Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-semitic incidents rose by 57% in 2017.

As a result, a consensus has developed around the idea that hate crime and anti-Semitism are rising, and that Jews are no longer safe in the U.S. Leaders across the political divide agree.

But I’ve found myself skeptical of these claims of rising hate. Partly, this is because of a rather personal reason: Since moving to the US over a decade ago, I have never personally experienced hate or a hate crime.

But I was skeptical for a professional reason too. As a mathematician by training, I spent my PhD years working with messy crime data. And the truth is, it cannot be trusted at face value.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the data on hate crimes, especially those pertaining to the Jewish community, might have similar problems.

And it does. Big time.

To dig deeper, I looked at all the available data on hate crimes, which included incidents of hate by year, surveys, and reports. I sought out datasets, what are in their ideal form collected methodically year after year by faceless government statisticians. I also downloaded spreadsheets and mined the numbers myself.

What I found will probably surprise you: We have a real anti-Semitism problem in this country. But it’s not getting worse.

It’s important to keep in mind that hate crimes are not a leading cause of injury or death; in the same year 37,000 people were killed on the roads, and 2.3 million injured or disabled.

But you can’t compare hate crimes to road accidents; with a hate crime, like with terrorism, the victim is targeted because of their group identity, and the entire group feels threatened. Hate crimes select symbolic targets, such as community buildings, whose significance far exceeds their property value.

And research indicates that being in a targeted group is not just discomforting but can have a tangible effect how people behave. We know from Europe that attacks on Jews can trigger a wave of immigration to Israel, and it should not be assumed that the same cannot happen to American Jews.

Even more disturbingly, research on fertility data from 170 countries found that during waves of terrorism there is a decline in births.

All of this made me even more anxious to find out if there was actually a wave of anti-Semitism sweeping through America. So I sought out the two most frequently-cited sources of hate crime data: reports from the ADL and the FBI.

Let’s start with baselines. According to the FBI’s most recent data, 2017 saw 7,175 hate crimes nationwide, including 15 hate murders. Anti-Jewish hate crime incidents represented 13% of all incidents – 923 – coming in second only to Anti-Black hate crimes, which numbered 2,013 incidents.

There were also more anti-Semitic incidents than “anti-gay” crimes, for example. Most importantly for our purposes, because Jews make up just 1-2%of the US population, these numbers mean that the Jewish community is targeted by hate crimes disproportionately to its numbers by a factor of ten.

The ADL has been tabulating data on anti-Semitic hate crime for an impressive 40 years, and it receives data both from the police and the public. The ADL has built out a modern data center and has interactive online visualizations.

In its most recent audit, the ADL reported that 2018 had the third-highest number of incidents of the past four decades, with 1,879 incidents. The 2018 total is 48% higher than the number of incidents in 2016, and 99% higher than in 2015. Both 2017 and 2018 had far more incidents than typical for the previous eight years. This is, indeed, alarming.

However, these numbers should be taken with a mild dose of the proverbial salt. The problem with hate data is that only 20% of hate crimes are reported to the police, and, one suspects, even fewer to the ADL. So the statistics give just the tip of an iceberg; the majority of hate times are not included in this count.

This makes them somewhat unreliable. To rely on 20% of the data to determine if there is a wave of anti-Semitic hate crimes would be like looking at the top shelf of your fridge, and finding it overflowing, deciding that you need to buy a larger fridge (I would suggest looking at the other four shelves first).

And you can’t just compare the 20% of reported crimes each year to the 20% from last for the simple fact that the reporting rate is not a constant 20% of all crimes. Reporting goes up and down along with public concern. An increase in concern about hate crimes can increase the number of reports by the public, and even the number of police investigations, making more of the “iceberg” (or fridge) visible and inflating the numbers.

To put it plainly, if many people started to believe, fairly or not, that we are in the midst of a wave of hate, they would also start to report more hate crimes, making the data inconsistent with the past.

This is not to say that the jump in anti-Semitic hate crimes reported by sources like the ADL is a statistical mirage. But the reality is probably different from what the numbers suggest.

Independently of the ADL, the FBI has been reporting hate crime data since the 1990s through its Hate Crime database. It has developed impressive guidelinesto judge if a crime incident is indeed a hate crime, and its reports are available online. Surely, here we can expect to finally find deep databases processed by standard and reliable statistical methods!

But alas, the FBI’s numbers also need to be taken with a little grain of kosher salt. The problem is that crimes are generally reported to the local police department and not to the FBI directly, so the FBI’s data is only as good as the reports it receives.

In some states, less than 10% of the police agencies bother to report to the FBI at all, and likely only report the more severe crimes. As a credit to the system, the FBI provides consistent data that goes back to the 1990s, and thus is well-suited to recording if there are any national trends.

But charting the FBI data from 1996 to 2017 suggests that we are far from having achieved new heights of anti-Semitism. Rather, anti-Semitic incidents peaked in 1999 at 1,109 per year, then declined from 2008 to 2014, and have been trending up since then, reaching 976 in 2017.

As with the ADL numbers, the data quality is not great, thanks to under-reporting. But even taking that into account, we appear to still be well below the numbers of the 1990s.

Fortunately, there is another government crime tracking program that has been all but forgotten by the press: the National Crime Victimization Survey. Unlike the ADL and the FBI, who collect reports, the NCVS goes out to the communities and interviews some 160,000 people every year, asking them if they were victims of various crimes.

Because the NCVS uses a representative sample, it can reliably estimate the number of crimes in the entire country, including hate crimes. If there is a wave of hate in America, the NCVS would detect it in its survey.

In its most recent report, NCVS estimated that 204,000 hate crimes occur in the US annually, of which just 15,000 are confirmed by the police.

The NCVS also shows that hate crime rates have been steady every year since 2015, and were probably higher ten years ago.

There is no data specifically on anti-Semitism in NCVS, but if we assume per the FBI’s estimate that about 13% of hate crimes are anti-Semitic, then there are a staggering 26,000 anti-Semitic crimes every year in the US — 30 times more than reported by the FBI and 14 times more than the ADL.

What we can learn from these statistics is both good and bad. For all the problems of the last few years, there is no reason to fear a wave of hate, because the wave, if it exists, is a small one.

Today’s Jewish America has probably the safest existence of any Jewish community in history. In this generation, a Jew is much more likely to suffer a car accident than a hate crime.

But to believe naively in the American utopia is to ignore the truth: Hate is alive and well in America, and Jews are often the target of it.

Source: Statistics of anti-Semitism in US are misleading

Record number of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada fuelled by online hate: B’nai Brith

The lated B’nai Brith report. Waiting for the 2018 police-reported hate crimes report (Statistics Canada re-released the 2017 report www150.statcan.gc.ca/…ticle/00008-eng.htm):

Online hatred is fuelling a rise in anti-Semitism that saw a record-breaking number of Jewish Canadians harassed and assaulted in 2018, according to a new report from B’nai Brith Canada.

Western Canada, in particular, saw anti-Semitic incidents skyrocket last year. The number of incidents in British Columbia more than doubled to 374 from 165 in 2017, just behind Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which together had a 142.6 per cent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 compared to 2017, to 131 from 54.

British Columbia had the third highest total number of anti-Semitic incidents behind Quebec, with 709, and Ontario, at 481.

The countrywide total topped 2,000 incidents of hatred toward Jews in 2018 for the first time in more than 35 years, marking the fifth straight annual increase and the highest number of incidents the organization has recorded since it began tracking such data in 1982. The report suggests the federal government needs to address legislative gaps that allow hateful rhetoric to flourish and spread.

The report comes just two days after a gunman opened fire on Jewish worshippers at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Southern California on Saturday — an attack that was prefigured by a threatening social media post, according to the FBI. The online screed said the alleged attacker was inspired by the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh in October, a tragedy that was preceded by virulent anti-Jewish comments posted online by the suspected shooter.

During the Poway attack, one woman was killed and three others were wounded, among them a child and the synagogue’s rabbi.

“Anti-Semitism has real-world consequences,” Ran Ukashi, the national director of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights, writes in the report’s introduction. Pointing to the murder of 11 Jewish worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue, Ukashi suggests anti-Jewish harassment is not only deeply troubling; its sharp rise in Canada fuels the fear here of violence of the kind seen internationally in the past year.

According to the report, online harassment on social-media platforms including Facebook and Twitter — or through electronic communications such as email — accounted for 80 per cent of total incidents.

“Of particular concern is the rise of anti-Semitic harassment on social media, including death threats, threats of violence and malicious anti-Jewish comments and rhetoric,” Mostyn said, echoing Ukashi’s warning.

Steven Slimovitch, the national legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada, said online hate has a much larger reach and can have a bigger impact than direct, one-on-one incidents.

“Now what’s happening is you can easily reach thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people via the internet,” he said. “You can do it quietly, you can do it in your basement and that’s a very, very serious problem.”

The report defines harassment as “verbal or written actions that do not include the use of physical force against a person or property,” including: promotion of hate propaganda via social media, the internet, telephone or in print; verbal slurs, hate speech or harassment, or systematic discrimination in public spaces; and verbal threats of violence in cases where “the application of force does not appear imminent, or no weapon or bomb is involved.”

And while physical violence represents only 0.5 per cent of the incidents cited in B’nai Brith’s Monday report, Canada is no stranger to real-world intimidation, violence or threats of violence against Jews. (B’nai Brith only includes incidents in the report where a victim’s Jewish religion was the explicit reason for the attack).

On Monday, the York Region police hate-crime unit reported investigating an incidentinvolving the spray-painting of anti-Semitic graffiti on the front of the garage of a Vaughan home on Friday.

In November, four 17-year-old Jewish boys wearing religious garments were assaulted in north Toronto by another group of teenagers, who prefaced their attack by making derogatory comments about the boys’ religion. In February, two Saskatchewan schoolchildren were beaten by their classmates for being Jewish.

And a Montreal man was charged with inciting hatred toward Jewish people and threatening to cause death and bodily harm to Jews after allegedly writing online posts in October in which he threatened to kill “an entire school full of Jewish girls,” according to the Montreal Gazette.

Mostyn said there is no reason to believe there is an elevated threat of an attack in Canada, but the amount of online hatred targeting Jews is having an impact. This, he said, is why B’nai Brith is pushing for protections that go beyond adding more security officers outside synagogues and Jewish schools.

“We have to start at the start, and the start is incitement,” Mostyn said. “And too often nowadays this incitement is taking place on the internet and it is influencing others that unfortunately take violent and drastic actions, and that’s what really needs to stop.”

B’nai Brith’s recommendations include instituting a dedicated hate-crime police unit in every major city and providing enhanced training for hate-crime officers, and co-ordinating between the federal government and social media platforms to develop a plan to counter online hate.

Facebook recently began deleting pages belonging to white supremacist individuals and groups, but has faced significant backlash for not doing more to stop hatred advanced on its platform.

Source: Record number of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada fuelled by online hate: B’nai Brith

Laïcité: des organisations juives sonnent l’alarme

A reminder that it is not just Muslims that will be affected by Bill 62:

Interdire à certains fonctionnaires de porter la kippa ou d’exhiber une étoile de David représenterait une grave atteinte aux droits garantis par les chartes et serait contesté devant les tribunaux, préviennent d’importantes organisations juives.

B’nai Brith et le Centre consultatif des relations juives et israéliennes (CCJI) s’inquiètent du dépôt imminent par le gouvernement Legault du projet de loi sur la laïcité.

Selon La Presse et Radio-Canada, Québec va interdire le port de signes religieux aux fonctionnaires en position d’autorité, y compris les enseignants, les directions d’école et ceux qui portent une arme.

« Ce qu’on entend du projet de loi est contraire aux valeurs canadiennes et québécoises. La CAQ doit éviter la pente glissante qui consiste à réduire les droits fondamentaux », prévient Harvey Levine, directeur du bureau québécois de B’nai Brith.

Le débat public sur les signes religieux au travail s’est surtout centré sur le hidjab. Mais les organismes juifs canadiens rappellent que la kippa serait aussi visée, tout comme le turban sikh ou la croix chrétienne.

« Il s’agit selon nous d’une menace pour les libertés religieuses des juifs, des musulmans, des sikhs, et tous les autres groupes religieux visibles dans cette province », indique M. Levine.

La laïcité de l’État peut être atteinte sans que l’on s’attaque aux droits religieux, estime le Centre consultatif des relations juives et israéliennes (CIJA).

« Bien qu’il existe un fort sentiment en faveur de la réaffirmation de la laïcité au Québec, notre communauté estime que la laïcité de l’État est un devoir institutionnel et non personnel. L’attachement à la laïcité ne repose pas sur l’apparence des individus », indique Reuben Poupko, coprésident du CIJA-Québec.

Pour le chef de l’opposition à l’hôtel de ville de Montréal, qui porte la kippa, l’idée d’interdire les signes religieux à certains fonctionnaires est basée sur une mauvaise prémisse : celle selon laquelle un employé de l’État qui porte un signe religieux ne peut être neutre.

« Il est difficile pour moi de croire qu’en 2019, on remette en question les motivations des gens selon leur manière de s’habiller, a récemment écrit Lionel Perez dans Montreal Gazette. Retirer les signes religieux n’éradique en rien les préjugés. »

Jusque devant l’ONU

Le B’nai Brith et le CIJA craignent que le projet de loi sur la laïcité n’enfreigne des droits garantis par les chartes. La Charte canadienne des droits et libertés protège certaines libertés fondamentales, parmi lesquelles les libertés de religion et d’expression.

Le premier ministre François Legault se dit prêt à utiliser la disposition de dérogation (communément appelée clause nonobstant) pour soustraire sa future loi aux tribunaux. Pour lui, il s’agit de « protéger notre identité ».

Selon l’avocat montréalais Julius Grey, la disposition de dérogation ne peut toutefois protéger le Québec et le Canada contre un camouflet devant le Comité des droits de l’homme de l’Organisation des Nations unies (ONU).

« Si le gouvernement espère éviter le débat judiciaire en invoquant la clause nonobstant, il doit se rappeler qu’il existe un forum international où ce genre de chose peut être débattu », souligne Me Grey.

« Il est téméraire de préjuger de ce qui sera dans le projet de loi, dit-il. Mais il me semble que la confrontation judiciaire est plus ou moins inévitable. »

Ce comité de l’ONU a par exemple épinglé la France à au moins deux reprises sur la question des signes religieux. Dans un cas, l’ONU a donné raison à une employée d’une garderie congédiée car elle portait le voile islamique. Les décisions de ce comité ne sont toutefois pas contraignantes.

« Bien sûr, la décision du Comité des droits de l’homme des Nations unies n’est pas contraignante comme le jugement d’une cour québécoise ou de la Cour suprême », explique Julius Grey.

« Mais je vois mal comment le Québec, malgré un jugement de cette nature, justifierait de maintenir sa position. »

Source: Laïcité: des organisations juives sonnent l’alarme

David Pugliese: Nazi whitewash gathers momentum as memory of the Holocaust fades

Good article by Pugliese:

With the horrors of the Holocaust a distant memory, and many Canadians no longer aware of the crimes that took place in the name of the Third Reich, an opening has emerged for those who want to rewrite the history of Adolf Hitler’s regime and those who served it.

A movement is afoot to claim that the Nazi collaborators and the SS units made up of Ukrainians, Latvians and other eastern Europeans, were actually nationalistic heroes and in no way associated with the Nazis. I have written a number of articles exposing the role of these collaborators in the Holocaust and their complicity in murdering tens of thousands of Jewish men, women and children.

I have received emails from Ukrainians and Latvians who claim the Holocaust never took place. Others write that while Jews were indeed killed, they deserved the death and destruction the Nazis brought down on their communities.

And then there are others who claim that journalists who write articles about the Ukrainian and Latvian SS units – and the parades that are held in those nations to this day honouring these Nazi collaborators – are “pro-Russian” or somehow spouting Kremlin propaganda.

I’ve had the distinction of being singled out as such in a recent report on Russian disinformation by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute of Ottawa, a right-wing think-tank.

The report’s author, Marcus Kolga, claims my articles about the role of Ukrainians and Latvians in the Holocaust and their service in SS units has parroted the Kremlin’s narrative and has “been critical of Canada’s support for states targeted by Kremlin aggression.”

For starters, the articles I have written about Ukrainian and Latvian Nazis who butchered Jews don’t even mention Canada’s support for those two countries, let criticize that support.

My articles are about those who would deny that Ukrainians, Latvians, and others from eastern Europe eagerly participated in the Holocaust and supported Adolf Hitler. The articles also expose those who would declare these Nazi collaborators as some kind of heroes.

To be sure, the Ukrainian and Latvian governments were not happy about my articles, considering they exposed their nations’ dark past in supporting the wholesale slaughter of Jews.

And the Macdonald-Laurier Institute has received funding from the Latvian Ministry of Defence. In addition, the Embassy of Latvia in Canada has also provided sponsorship for the institute.

What is going on in Latvia and the Ukrainian and other east European nations is a Nazi whitewash designed to rehabilitate those from these countries who took part in some of the most heinous crimes in history.

Here’s how it works.

Ukrainian and Latvian militia and police units were among the most brutal in helping the Nazis hunt down and murder Jewish men, women and children.

They were good at killing defenceless people. So good, that the Holocaust Chronicle, published in 2003 and written by 7 top scholars in the field of Holocaust studies, noted that Ukrainians were also sent to help kill Jews during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in April 1943. The Chronicle published a photo of two of Ukrainian SS members standing over the bodies of Jews murdered during that uprising. See the photo below:

SS General Jurgen Stroop, later executed as a war criminal, was very pleased with the Ukrainian, Latvian and Lithuanian volunteers who helped him and his men murder and hunt down 56,000 Jews. In his diary Stroop wrote that these killers were not only “nationalists and anti-Semites” but among his best troops. They were “wild at heart and with a tendency towards base things. But nevertheless obedient,” Stroop gushed about his Ukrainian, Latvian and Lithuanian killers.

The Ukrainian militias who murdered Jews in the ghetto and elsewhere went on to serve in a new SS unit created by the Nazis, the 14th SS Galizien Division. Stroop was brought on as an advisor to the newly created division.

A similar development happened in Latvia. The members of Latvia’s Arajs Kommando, who had killed an estimated 26,000 Jews for the Nazis, went on to serve in the Latvian SS legion.

These SS units were sent to fight the Russians as they closed in on the Third Reich.

Decades later the whitewash began. The Ukrainians and Latvians who fought for the SS – as the whitewash explains – weren’t really Nazis. They instead were nationalists fighting for their own country against the Russians. And of course none of them committed any type of crime, or so the whitewash explains, carefully ignoring the previous role of the individual members in these SS units in the mass murder of tens of thousands of Jews.

Last year, Karlis Eihenbaums, Latvia’s Ambassador to Canada, launched an attack on Canadian journalist Scott Taylor who wrote about the Latvian Legion (15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian) et al) and Latvian killers like war criminal Herberts Cukurs as well as the members of the Arajs Kommando. Like the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Eihenbaums suggested such articles were “fake news” and “disinformation.” And like the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Eihenbaums tried to smear the journalist by suggesting he was under the “influence” of the Russian government. Eihenbaums also targeted my articles.

As I have written before, the eager participation of some Latvians in the Holocaust is not “fake news.” It is a well-documented historical fact that many of the killers from the Arajs Kommando went to the Latvian Legion. These Latvians, Ukrainians, Estonians and others from eastern Europe nations served Hitler and his war aims. No number of claims of “fake news” can change that fact.

These days there are parades in Latvia and Ukraine to honour these SS units who fought under the Swastika. These parades and memorials, which have attracted the support of Neo-Nazis and other fascist groups, have long been controversial and questioned by many throughout Europe. See the photo below and note the white pride shirt on the young Ukrainian with the Ukrainian SS veteran.

For instance, the controversy over the Latvian Legion and the annual parade held in Riga (each March) to celebrate these Nazi collaborators is well known and has been going on for two decades, long before the term “fake news” was even coined. In 1998 the parade caused a storm of protests around the world, particularly in Israel, where Holocaust survivors couldn’t understand Latvia’s desire to celebrate such ruthless killers. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President Jacques Chirac were among those that year to protest the Latvian parade. The Times of Israel reported on last year’s Latvian SS parade in Riga, which took place mid-March.

So much for “fake news.” Did Helmut Kohl and Jacques Chirac spread Russian “disinformation” when they denounced the SS parade in Latvia? Of course not.

This whole issue isn’t about “fake news” or Russian “disinformation.” It is about individuals and nations trying to whitewash their Nazi collaboration and rewrite history, while attacking journalists and other organizations who don’t want to let that happen.

While the Macdonald-Laurier report carefully ignores the crimes of Ukrainians and Latvians who supported Hitler’s Third Reich and butchered Jewish men, women and children by the thousands, there are those in the U.S. Congress and Jewish community speaking out against the Nazi whitewash.

In late April 2018 more than 50 members of the U.S. Congress condemned the government of Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to glorify “Nazi collaborators.”

The letter, signed by both Republicans and Democrats, outlined concerns about ongoing ceremonies to glorify leaders of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army as well as 14th SS Galizien Division (aka 1stGalician/Galizien or the 1st Ukrainian Division). “It’s particularly troubling that much of the Nazi glorification in Ukraine is government-supported,” noted the letter to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. The letter was initiated by Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna of California and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

In the summer of 2018 B’nai Brith Canada’s chief executive officer Michael Mostyn called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to use his trip to Latvia that year to push back against that country’s glorification of Nazi collaborators as well as attempts to deny the nation’s role in the Holocaust.

Mostyn called on the Canadian government to speak out more forcefully to denounce parades in Latvia and other eastern European nations that honour units who fought with the Nazis during the Second World War.

“We must challenge all those who distort the historical record on governments, military units or organizations that fought with, supported or sympathized with the Nazis during World War II,” Mostyn wrote to Trudeau. “This includes government leaders who acquiesce in, or fail to condemn, a process of Nazi glorification that amounts to Holocaust distortion.”

“Those who glorify the record of such organizations or units cannot dismiss criticism as ‘fake news’ “,added Mostyn. “The fact is that some organizations and their leaders, now glorified for their fight against the Soviet army, were also involved in atrocities against Jewish civilians or embraced ideologies that were deeply anti-Semitic and perpetuated social hostility towards their Jewish populations. This is why B’nai Brith rejects any efforts to constrain historians and the media from researching what happened and publicly explaining it in an objective manner.”

These are words that those at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute should pay attention to.

Mostyn letter is here:

https://www.bnaibrith.ca/canada_must_counter_the_glorification_of_nazis_in_european_nato_countries

Source: Nazi whitewash gathers momentum as memory of the Holocaust fades

A Toronto conference on racism will feature both anti-Islam speakers and Jewish groups

Strange bedfellows:

An upcoming Toronto conference is going to feature anti-Islam speakers, anti-hate advocates and some of the most recognizable Jewish organizations in Canada.

The “national teach-in” on hate and racism is organized by a group called Canadians for the Rule of Law, which argues on its website that “‘political correctness’ is distorting valid criticism” and “‘Libel chill’ is preventing the sharing of ugly facts.” The teach-in seeks to expose those who perpetuate these problems to the detriment of Canadian democracy.

To that effect, the March 17 conference will scrutinize “(A) the radical left; (B) radical Islamists; and (C) the radical right,” in that order of priority. The teach-in was supposed to take place at an important synagogue in Toronto until it pulled out last week over security concerns.

B’nai Brith Canada, one of the country’s most prominent Jewish advocacy groups, has agreed to their CEO Michael Mostyn moderating one of the panel sessions, while Robert Walker, the head of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, a pro-Israel group that works primarily on campuses, is also speaking at the event next March.

Though the conference features a number of well-known, mainstream anti-hate advocates such as Donald Carr, who sits on the board of CFTRL, David Matas and Anita Bromberg, a significant number of organizers and featured speakers are active in Canada’s anti-Muslim or alt-right circles.

Perhaps most notable among these are Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College, and Christine Douglass-Williams, who was fired from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation board for being an active writer to Jihad Watch, a leading Islamophobic platform. McVety had a national TV show pulled off the air in 2010 for his remarks against the LGBTQ community. His college hosted a Rebel Media event in Feb 2017, emceed by prominent far-right propagandist Faith Goldy. He also hosted the popular anti-Islam activist and then Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders in 2011. At the time, McVety described the spread of Islam in Canada as a “demographic jihad.” “Islam is not just a religion, it’s a political and cultural system as well and we know that Christians, Jews and Hindus don’t have the same mandate for a hostile takeover,” he said in 2011.

“No reason whatsoever not to engage in a public discussion.”

John Carpay, who heads up Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, will also be at the conference. He spoke at a Rebel Media event in Calgary last month about the threat of totalitarianism in Canada partly by comparing the Nazi swastika to the “rainbow flag,” a comment he later said was “unintentionally” made. Rebel also fundraised on behalf of Carpay’s centre and some of its initiatives.

B’nai Brith Canada’s media liaison Marty York qualified his organization’s overall involvement when asked whether the decision to send its CEO to participate was made with the consideration that it features such a prominent anti-Muslim presence.

“Mr. Mostyn is moderating one single session on hate speech, which is something he does regularly,” York told VICE News. “He found out who the panelists are going to be and he was comfortable with their identities. Whoever else is involved during the day in other sessions, I’m not even sure if he even knows.”

He said Mr. Mostyn saw “no reason whatsoever not to engage in a public discussion” on hate speech in his one session.

“So there seems to be a smear by association campaign going on, and if that’s the case it’s very unfortunate.”

He added that B’nai Brith Canada “supports the rule of law” in Canada and thus “has no qualms at all about” Mostyn’s participation, regardless of who else is involved throughout the day-long conference.

David Matas, a noted human rights specialist and Senior Honorary Counsel for B’nai Brith, says he’s troubled by the anti-Muslim presence in the planned conference, but didn’t know until friends and colleagues emailed him their concerns.

“This all sort of just popped up and I have to go through all of it and make a decision collectively with my colleagues,” he says. “I admit that from what I’ve seen, there are obviously concerns that we need to discuss and I may end up not participating, but we have to look at all the information first.”

Robert Walker, executive director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, cited addressing “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Zionism” as the main reasons for his involvement in the conference, preferring to offer no comment on the anti-Muslim participants.

“There are obviously concerns that we need to discuss.”

Hasbara is an initiative run out of Aish Hatorah, a major international network of Jewish educational centres and synagogues.

“Contemporary anti-Semitism often masquerades behind different masks, such as anti-Zionism, which is denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their historic homeland,” he told VICE News. “I do not and cannot speak for other panelists or speakers.”

Among the conference’s main topics is “Actions Against BDS,” or the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the state of Israel.

The conference was originally supposed to take place at the prominent Beth Tikvah synagogue in North York. But in an email to VICE News, Rabbi Jarrod Grover of the synagogue noted that it has pulled out of the arrangement, leaving CFTRL without a host.

Grover stated that the decision to pull out was based primarily on security concerns for participants and to avoid a “media circus” — not over any ideological concerns.

“I defend the right of CFTRL and their speakers to say what they want to say within the limits of Canadian law.”

“We like dialogue and free speech, but we are a religious, not a political organization,” he wrote. “I defend the right of CFTRL and their speakers to say what they want to say within the limits of Canadian law, despite the fact that I obviously have different beliefs than many speakers at this conference.”

According to the Canadian Jewish News, the decision to pull out came after Karen Mock, president of the progressive Jewish group JSpace Canada, reached out to Rabbi Grover to discuss “potential damage control” over media interest in the event due to “the Islamophobia and bigotry associated with some of these groups and individuals.”

A response for a media request to CFTRL’s general inbox was replied by board member David Nitkin, who rejected the request on the basis that VICE News is an “alt-left” publication. Carr did not respond to requests for comment. He told the Canadian Jewish News that the event will go on, and “we reject any attempt by those who wish to stifle free speech.”

Nitkin is also a leading organizer and board member of the anti-Islam group, Canadian Citizens for Charter Rights and Freedoms (C3RF), which indicates in its mission statement that “Islamophobia” is a concept invented by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies to infiltrate Canada and implement Shariah law. It is listed as a “community supporter” of the conference, along with ACT! Canada, which is a prominent anti-Islam group.

Source: A Toronto conference on racism will feature both anti-Islam speakers and Jewish groups

ICYMI: Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate’s anti-Semitism committee stuck on Israel – NOW Magazine

Good question:

The province’s Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) has produced a clear and concise strategy to combat anti-Black racism. So why have they fumbled things so badly with their sub-committee on anti-Semitism?

Anti-racism is about giving voice to those who are outside the mainstream and ensuring broad representation in all public matters.

The ARD’s Strategic Plan, A Better Way Forward, states that its approach “actively confronts the unequal power dynamic between groups and the structures that sustain it [and] involves consistently assessing structures, policies and programs.”

Yet, the directorate has set up a sub-committee on anti-Semitism that consists solely of representatives from the Jewish establishment, including from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), B’nai Brith Canada, and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre (FSWC).

Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) and the United Jewish People’s Order (UJPO) have requested to be included on the committee.

“Underlying our desire to participate is deep concern, shared by a growing number of Jews, that accusations of anti-Semitism are being used to suppress criticism of Israel,” says Rachel Epstein, executive director of UJPO’s Winchevsky Centre.

In a submission to the directorate last year, IJV campaigns coordinator Tyler Levitan expressed concern that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel, also known as BDS, might also form part of the sub-committee’s mandate.

Sadly, limiting the committee membership to mainstream voices reinforces the systemic biases that the directorate has been set up to combat.

A broader, more balanced committee is essential, including representatives from non-establishment Jewish groups.

CIJA, B’Nai Brith and FSWC don’t measure up.

While they have decried Islamophobia, the groups have opposed M-103, a parliamentary motion passed last year condemning Islamophobia and all other forms of religious discrimination.

Bernie Farber, a former executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (who is a member of the sub-committee) criticized the groups in a column last February in the Canadian Jewish News.

“How can it be,” he wrote, “that fellow Jews … deny the very same protections they would rightly demand for themselves?”

One would expect the sub-committee would include those with a dedication to anti-racism generally.

But while the organizations represented on the sub-committee claim many criticisms of Israel as anti-Semitic, they have historically failed to take issue with blatant racism expressed by senior Israeli politicians and government officials.

Recently, that has included the Communications Minister calling African refugees a “sanitary nuisance” and the Justice Minister calling Palestinian children “little snakes.”

The Anti-Racism Directorate’s credibility will be seriously damaged unless it deals with the narrow membership on the sub-committee.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Michael Coteau, the provincial Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, need to act to preserve the directorate’s reputation as it carries out its important task of combatting racism in all its forms.

via Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate’s anti-Semitism committee stuck on Israel – NOW Magazine

Holocaust-denying prof reinstated at University of Lethbridge – The Canadian Jewish News

Questionable decision but appears that investigation ongoing (B’nai Brith appears to have been overly political in their initial reaction compared to CIJA):

The University of Lethbridge has reinstated a professor who had been suspended more than one year ago for questioning the Holocaust and suggesting there was a Zionist connection to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Anthony Hall, a tenured professor in the university’s globalization studies program, was reinstated following a hearing before a labour arbitrator.

Published reports stated that the university’s board of governors and the faculty association issued a joint statement saying that issues concerning Hall’s activities will be addressed in a faculty handbook.

Contacted by The CJN, the faculty association stated that, “It’s a personnel matter and its confidential.”

Hall was originally suspended in October 2016 over his Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories. At the time, the university issued a statement saying, “From the findings of that assessment, the board has decided to proceed with a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission against Dr. Hall for publishing statements, alone and in collaboration with others, that could be considered hateful, contemptuous and discriminatory.”

The faculty association contested the suspension and, following a court decision in September, an arbitrator was appointed and a hearing was held earlier this month.

B’nai Brith Canada slammed Hall’s reinstatement and blamed the government of Alberta for passing legislation that brought faculty under the province’s labour-relations laws.

“Premier (Rachel) Notley and her government bear direct responsibility for placing a discredited conspiracy theorist back in a university classroom,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “We repeatedly warned the government of the likely outcome of its actions, but they sadly chose to ignore our warnings and expose Alberta university students to anti-Semitism and discrimination instead.

“Despite this setback, we expect the University of Lethbridge to continue fighting anti-Semitism on campus, and to do whatever it takes to ensure that Hall has no podium for his unhinged anti-Semitic nonsense.”

In an email cited in a news release by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), Premier Notley stated, “There is no question that the views of this individual are repulsive, offensive and not reflective of Alberta. Our classrooms are a place for freedom of speech and expression but that does not mean individuals get to stand at the head of the class and spread lies and conspiracy theories. I am terribly disappointed to learn that this individual has been reinstated, but let me be clear that legislation that our government introduced did not give him his job back. I can confirm that this individual is now under investigation by a committee at the university.”

For its part, CIJA stated that Hall’s reinstatement was “a direct result of an agreement between Hall, the faculty association and the university. We have also confirmed that Hall will not be teaching or interacting with students. He is continuing to be investigated by the university and his future is far from certain.”

via Holocaust-denying prof reinstated at University of Lethbridge – The Canadian Jewish News