Antisemitic news isn’t new, but it is ongoing. As first identified by B’nai Brith Canada, a few days ago a monthly Arabic newspaper distributed in London, Ontario called Al-Saraha published a disgusting Holocaust denial article entitled “The Question Which Everyone Ignores: Why Did Hitler Kill the Jews?” The article begins by denying that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, claiming that the actual number was between 100,000 and 600,000 and that this was inflated to six million by “Jewish propaganda”. It then asks the question “What did the Jews do in Germany that made Hitler take revenge on them?” – insinuating that the Jews did something to deserve being killed – and answers it with the classic blood libels that the Jews controlled the media and the banks and introduced moral corruption:

  • “[The Jews] managed to control 50 percent of the media, held 70 percent of the positions of judges and enforced their existence in the media, cinema and literature.”
  • “By this control, the Jews caused many of the economic collapses that happened to the banks between 1870 and 1920.”
  • “The first theater plays on homosexuality appeared in Berlin in the 20s. The first pornographic performances took place in 1880 and 1890 by Jewish authors. The prostitution, homosexuality, all kinds of sexual obsession, the morally degenerate art. This disdainful art is called today the Modern Art. All of this was promoted and planted by the Jews.”

What makes this even more egregious is that this newspaper, available in many Middle Eastern grocery stores and restaurants throughout southwestern Ontario, was recommended for new immigrants by the London & Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership (LMLIP), an organization funded and partly run by Canadian and Ontario government ministries. In fact, a few pages past the Holocaust denial article is a full page ad by the Ontario Liberal government wishing the community Ramadan Mubarak, featuring a prominent picture of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and headshots of several other MPPs. After the article came to light, Kathleen Wynne denounced the article and said the Ontario Liberal caucus will no longer purchase ad space from the newspaper, and the co-chair of LMLIP stated that their recommendation of the newspaper has been removed from their website.

The newspaper’s owner and general manager, Abdul Haida Shala, defended his publication of the article after being called out for his antisemitism. In his words:

“I didn’t mean to reject something that happened historically. I was curious to know why Hitler killed Jews during the Holocaust, so I read through his article and I found information. …The Holocaust happened historically. The numbers, however, I don’t know. I don’t endorse other people’s opinions.”

Since Shala’s statements indicate that he doesn’t think he really did anything wrong, I feel the need to spell it out for him and for anyone else for whom this might be unclear. This article is a hate crime, pure and simple. The denial of factual Jewish history and the substitution of that history with narratives premised on anti-Jewish prejudice, stereotypes, and blood libels is antisemitism 101. Ignorance is not an excuse. “I don’t endorse other people’s opinions” is not an excuse. And by the way, recognizing the fact that the Holocaust happened but claiming that the Jews inflated the death count through propaganda is still Holocaust denial. Insinuating that the Jews deserved to be killed in the Holocaust on the basis of antisemitic blood libels is still Holocaust denial. And publishing an article containing those claims as if it’s a valid opinion piece is Holocaust denial too.

While the publication of this article is vile and despicable, it’s hardly shocking – and if it is shocking to you, it’s because you haven’t been paying attention. Canadian newspapers print antisemitic articles all the time, and they almost always get away with it. The Mississauga-based Arabic newspaper Meshwar has a long history of doing so, including articles in December 2015, November 2014, and June 2012 praising Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis; a June 2015 article claiming that Israel is behind the civil wars in Iraq and Syria; an April 2015 article entitled “Jewish Terrorism” which claims that “the Jews are the real terrorists”; and a May 2014 article which claims that the “Holohoax” is “virtually the biggest lie in history”. York University’s campus newspaper Excalibur is another repeat offender, frequently printing articles containing antisemitic myths and blood libels against Israel as well as justifications for terrorist attacks against Israelis. The McGill Daily campus newspaper published an article in May 2016 containing a blood libel that Israel intentionally tests weapons products on presumably innocent Palestinians. The Egyptian-Canadian online newspaper Al-Ahram Canada published antisemitic cartoons on their website on August 2013 and March 2014, although it later removed the cartoons and apologized. Al-Ameen, a British Columbia Muslim newspaper, posted and then later apologized for an article in December 2009 accusing Israelis of harvesting the organs of Ukranian children – an updated version of a thousand-year-old antisemitic blood libel. I could go on.

All of this serves as a reminder that we must continue to be vigilant in standing up against antisemitism and hate. Kudos to B’nai Brith Canada for identifying this article and bringing a complaint to the London Police Service, who are now investigating whether the article constitutes hate speech under the Canadian Criminal Code.

The original article can be found in Al-Saraha’s June/July 2016 edition here, on page 4.

An English translation of the article can be found here.