Candidates apologize for running ads in ‘anti-Semitic’ newspaper

Liberal candidate Sandra Pupatello (Sandra Pupatello/CC BY 2.0)

Federal candidates in the Windsor, Ont., area have apologized for advertising in a newspaper with a history of promoting terrorism and anti-Semitism.

Brian Masse, the NDP incumbent in the riding of Windsor West, apologized for running a full-page ad in the September 2019 issue of al-Forqan, a Windsor-based Arabic-language newspaper.

In a statement to B’nai Brith Canada on Oct. 13, Masse said, “I would like to apologize for any hurt that may have been caused and pledge to not run any further ads in this newspaper.”

The front page of al-Forqan’s website.

Also apologizing for advertising in the newspaper were three Liberal candidates in the area: Sandra Pupatello, who is running against Masse in Windsor West; Irek Kusmierczyk, who’s running in Windsor-Tecumseh; and Audrey Festeryga, in Essex.

“As soon as we were told of the concerns raised by B’nai Brith about this publication, we immediately contacted B’nai Brith to apologize,” Pupatello said in a statement, adding that her apology is on behalf of all three Liberal hopefuls.

“We were not aware of these issues when the ads were placed, and we will not be placing ads in this publication going forward,” the statement read.

NDP candidate Brian Masse (Scott A. Davidson/CC BY-SA 3.0)

In 2016, B’nai Brith exposed an editorial in al-Forqan that praised terrorist attacks in Israel as a “sacred duty of jihad.” This prompted the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County to cut ties with Mohammed Khalifeh, al-Forqan’s managing director, B’nai Brith said in a statement.

The May 2018 edition of al-Forqan proclaimed: “The hour (of judgment) will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.” B’nai Brith further alleged that the November 2018 edition asserted that “lying is an attribute inherent to the Jews.”

In a statement to CBC News, the publication said it has been targeted for supporting “the freedom of the Palestinian people against Zionists … not a single word that was written was anti-Semitic. We share the same values with many Jews around the world who condemn the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

Meanwhile, Salma Zahid, the Liberal incumbent in the Toronto-area riding of Scarborough Centre, placed a full-page ad in the Oct. 11 edition of the Toronto-based al-Meshwar newspaper.

The publication is “notorious” in the Canadian Jewish community for carrying articles “distorting the Holocaust, praising terrorist attacks and describing Judaism as a terrorist religion,” B’nai Brith stated.

Zahid told B’nai Brith that she was unaware of al-Meshwar’s history of anti-Semitism and would not advertise in the publication again.

“There is absolutely no excuse for subsidizing Jew-hatred by placing advertisements in these anti-Semitic publications,” said Michael Mostyn, the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “Our political candidates should be the first to acknowledge this fact, and we thank them for doing so in this case.”