Police in the Canadian city of London, Ontario, are now in the midst of ascertaining whether an anti-Semitic article published in an Arabic-language community newspaper recently promoted or incited hatred against Jews, or was simply a manifestation of free speech.
In its June/July edition, Al Saraha, distributed in the city’s Middle Eastern grocery stores and restaurants, reprinted this inflammatory piece from Al-Masry al-Yom, a daily published in Egypt. Under the headline “The Question Which Everyone Ignores: Why Did Hitler Kill the Jews?” it defames Jews and pointedly questions the Jewish death toll during the Holocaust.
The article blames German Jews for Weimar Germany’s “economic collapse” in the early 1920s and claims they promoted “promiscuity … homosexuality (and) “every type of sexual deviance.”
It then suggests that “Jewish propaganda” succeeded in inflating the number of Jewish Holocaust victims from several hundred thousand to six million.
B’nai Brith’s chief executive officer, Michael Mostyn, was right to characterize the article as “absolutely hateful rhetoric” and to denounce its publication as unacceptable.
The notion that Jews were responsible for Germany’s economic crisis during the Depression and that they undermined its moral fibre is absurd and does not deserve a lengthy rebuttal. It’s the kind of fetid rubbish that German Nazis shamelessly peddled from the 1920s onward and that was enshrined in the national narrative after the National Socialists gained power in 1933.
The second accusation, which Holocaust deniers constantly trot out in their ceaseless attempts to smear Jews, is baseless as well. Reputable historians have established beyond a doubt that about six million Jews perished during the course of the Holocaust.
To deny this like denying that major events in history, from the fall of the Ottoman Empire to the Six Day War, never even happened.
Having been exposed as an anti-Semite who might be liable to prosecution under the Criminal Code, Al Sahara’s owner and general manager, Abdul Haidi Shala, a Palestinian originally from the Gaza Strip, hastily backtracked, according to a story in the London Free Press.
By way of apologizing for running the odious article, he said, in a reference to the Holocaust, “I didn’t mean to reject something that happened historically. I was curious to know why Hitler killed Jews … I believe in the correct history.”
Shala’s apology, however welcome, begs the question why he printed the scurrilous article in the first place. Did he do it out of malice? Was he pathetically ignorant? Whatever the reason, Al Sahara crossed a red line, exposing itself as a rag not above printing anti-Semitic filth.
The issue, though, goes deeper.
Arabs living abroad as residents or citizens tend to believe anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories. These malicious distortions of the truth inflame Arab public opinion and sometimes lead to extremely unpleasant situations which end in defamation or violence.
It’s no wonder that Jews in Canada, United States, France, Britain or Germany have been ambivalent about the massive influx of Muslims into their respective countries in the past few years.
One can understand why Arabs, particularly from Syria, were forced to leave their unstable and violent homelands under duress. But many of these migrants, having been raised in a toxic milieu receptive to state-sponsored and ingrained anti-Semitism flowing out of Islam, bring anti-Semitic attitudes and assumptions with them when they immigrate to Western democracies.
Some, like Shala, take advantage of Canada’s hospitality and disseminate racial hatred, which goes against the grain of Canadian democracy. This is why the hate crime unit of the London police force should press charges against Shala, his apology notwithstanding.
An example must be made of him to discourage others of his ilk and to uphold Canadian values.