HRC Rebuts Mayor's Diatribe in Journal de Montreal (June 14, 2010)

June 14, 2010

 

HRC Rebuts Mayor’s Diatribe in Journal de Montreal
June 14, 2010
 
Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,

 

When the Mayor of Huntington Quebec and notorious anti-Israel gadfly, Stephane Gendron, launched an odious attack on Israel by using the “flotilla fiasco” to compare the situation in the Gaza Strip to the Warsaw Ghetto, his comments crossed the line of fair opinion to hateful discourse.

Stephane Gendron’s diatribe as published in the June 1 edition of Le Journal de Montreal, not only unfairly maligned the state of Israel, it also exploited the Holocaust through contemptible comparisons between the Nazis and the Jewish state. By publishing Gendron’s column in North America’s largest circulation French-language newspaper, Le Journal de Montreal legitimized his bigoted views and provided him with a platform to spew his vile anti-Israel propaganda to a large audience.

HonestReporting Canada successfully negotiated prominent opinion space in a subsequent edition of Le Journal de Montreal to rebut Gendron’s outrageous assertions. HRC’s rebuttal was published on June 10 and it can be read in French immediately below or online by clicking here. To read the full unedited version in English, please read it by scrolling down below.

 

Gendron’s Spurious Gaza – Warsaw Ghetto Comparison

Stephane Gendron has a long history of making overtly bellicose and offensive statements with respect to the State of Israel. In an interview with Le Soleil in August 2006, he referred to Israelis as modern-day Nazis (“Les Israéliens, ce sont les nazis des temps modernes”). He later claimed that he was only referring to the current Government of Israel and that it wasn’t unreasonable to compare the Nazis to the Israeli government. Despite being condemned for his comments, he refused to issue a retraction or apology. At the time, B’nai Brith Canada describedhis statements as inherently racist, calling his comparisons “beyond the pale” and a “grotesque distortion of history.”

Shortly after Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, a military effort to thwart the over 10,000 rockets which had been fired at Israel for the past eight years, Gendron, the Mayor of Huntington, posted an odious letter to his blog addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper claiming that the “Zionist Government of Israel” was conducting a “genocide.”

In the wake of Israel’s recent interdiction of the Gaza-bound flotilla, an effort to enforce a maritime blockade of Gaza to ensure that deadly weapons don’t end up in the hands of the Hamas terrorist regime, Gendron jumped on the anti-Israel demonization and delegitimization bandwagon in a column he authored in the June 1 edition of Le Journal de Montreal.

Gendron’s screed completely ignored Israel’s legitimate security concerns. He failed to acknowledge past precedents which justify Israel’s blockade, such as Israel’s interception of over 50 tonnes of Russian and Iranian-made weapons in 2002 on the Palestinian Authority freighter Karine-A, or more recently, its November 2009 interception of “hundreds of tonnes” of arms from Iran destined to Hezbollah, in a raid only several dozen miles off its coast. Let us not be complacent to this threat.

In an effort to throw everything at Israel but the kitchen sink, Gendron spuriously claimed that Israel was an “illegitimate state” which commits “massacres,” “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and that it’s carrying out a practice of “ethnic cleansing” and is committing “apartheid.” Most perniciously, at the conclusion of his tirade he asked P.M. Harper “What is the difference between the Warsaw ghetto and concentration camp of Gaza?

Of course, to respond to each of these outrageous claims would only legitimize Gendron’s diatribe and give credence to the baseless debate that he’s trying to provoke. Due to the limited space available, I will respond only to Gendron’s sordid attempt at linking the situation in the Gaza Strip, to the suffering that Jews endured in the concentration camps during the Holocaust and in their terrible experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto.

The reason Gendron used the Warsaw Ghetto analogy was to trump up libelous claims that Jews, who were once the victims of the Nazis during the Holocaust, are now the victimizers carrying out the “genocide” of Palestinians. It should be noted that comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy and actions to that of the Nazis fits the European Union’s and U.S. State Department’s working definition of anti-Semitism.

Gendron’s Gaza – Warsaw Ghetto comparisons certainly do not hold up to scrutiny and are not deserving of publication by a respected newspaper like the Journal De Montreal. As Deborah Lipstadt, Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University noted, comparing “Jews to Nazis is not only ill-informed, it demonstrates a certain prejudice – anti-Semitism – which will never help resolve the situation. Whatever one thinks of Israeli policy, to describe it as akin to the Nazi policy of murdering all of European Jewry is to engage in anti-Semitism and a form of Holocaust denial.”

While constructive criticism of Israel is certainly legitimate, Mr. Gendron’s comments crossed the line of fair opinion to hateful discourse.

Le Journal de Montreal readers expect and deserve to read informed opinions from respected commentators and not baseless propaganda from a manipulative polemicist. If Canadian media outlets are interested in maintaining their credibility, they will distance themselves from Mr. Gendron altogether.
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