TORONTO — The Toronto Police Service’s hate crimes unit has opened an investigation into a newsletter delivered in the Beach and East York neighbourhoods of Toronto that residents say is anti-Semitic.
Police are acting on a complaint from a member of the public who received the May edition of Your Ward News in their mailbox, said Det.-Const. Kiren Bisla.
“We’re looking at it to see if it violates any hate laws,” Bisla told The CJN.
Complaints about the publication were first raised by a Jewish postal worker who objected to delivering the newsletter, which claims it is delivered to 48,000 homes and has 200,000 readers.
The May edition of the publication features on its cover photo-shopped images of a purportedly Jewish postal worker, with a beard, kippah and payot (sidelocks), a bagel by his side and spraying bagel crumbs from his mouth, saying “It’s the Holocaust all over again.” Next to that image is a pictures of two stereotypical Jewish lawyers, with long noses, seeking to determine whether a past issue of the magazine promoted hate.
Inside the magazine, you’ll find references to Jews and Israel that paints them as powerful, manipulative and invariably in a negative light. There is a claim that the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris was “a staged false-flag operation likely perpetrated by the Israeli Mossad and the American CIA (the same two groups that dragged us into wars for Israel, by destroying the Twin Towers and created the fake ‘ISIS’ threat.)”
Much of the material aimed at Jews was also employed by notorious anti-Semitic propagandists Jim Keegstra and Ernst Zundel: references to “ZioMarxist-controlled mainstream media;” a claim that “Marxist Jews in the Soviet Union” were responsible for killing 50 million Orthodox Christians; suggestions that the Holocaust “supposedly happened to your people;” that Jews have “an inherent supremacist attitude;” the claim that Ashkenazi Jews are really descendants of Turkish Khazars; and that Jews perpetrate massacres. A novel twist is the assertion that Jews were behind the Armenian genocide.
Bernie Farber, former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress and former head of its community relations department, said the publication “is a throwback to the times of the Heritage Front” – except the material published by the white supremacist Heritage Front was not as “in your face.”
He referred to the front page of the newsletter, which was a part of a wraparound sponsored by editor-in-chief James Sears’ New Constitution Party of Canada, as “ugly caricatures of Jews better left in the [Nazi-era newspaper] Der Sturmer than in a Canadian publication.”
(The home page of Sears’ New Constitution Party’s website relies heavily on Nazi imagery, including upraised arms giving the Nazi salute.)
Farber, who noted that one of the photo-shopped caricatures on the front page was based on a picture of himself, applauded residents of the Beach who raised concerns about the newsletter’s contents. And he rejected suggestions that marginal publications like Your Ward News should be left in obscurity.
“I always believe these people should be exposed,” he said. “And if he violates the law, he should be subject to the law.”
Len Rudner, director of community relations and outreach for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said “the caricature that appears on the May issue is clearly anti-Semitic. Whether that is the intent of the individual is a different matter.”
He noted the magazine has repeated references to “zioMarxists,” a conflation of Zionism and communism.
“It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that the purpose of the material is to point to the Jewish community and demonize the entire community,” he said.
Warren Kinsella, a lawyer and author of Web of Hate, a look at the extremist right in Canada, said he and other residents of the east end have started a website called Canadiansagainstprejudice.com to oppose the message of the newsletter.
The site lists Your Ward News advertisers and asks if they know what kind of newsletter they are supporting.
Kinsella said he has been in touch with Canada Post, which continues to be paid to distribute the magazine, despite examining its content. “They don’t seem to care at all,” he said.
Canada Post did not respond to a query prior to The CJN’s deadline, but the Toronto Star quoted a Canada Post spokesperson as saying that Your Ward News did not meet the standard for “non-mailable matter.”
Leroy St. Germaine, publisher of Your Ward News, also did not respond to The CJN’s requests for comment, but he told the Star that the publication is not anti-Semitic, that the caricatures were meant to be humorous and that the publication is simply “not politically correct.”
And in a message to readers, Sears challenges those who would use the courts to “silence us. I am a fearless, obsessed man with very deep pockets who is loved and admired by many wealthy sympathizers. Canada Post, a multi-billion-dollar crown corporation, submitted to me. Attack us and my wrath will be swift, unyielding and decisive. I will crush you like a cockroach.”
Sears’ response to emailed questions from The CJN was just as pugnacious.
Asked if the May edition was anti-Semitic, Sears stated: “Let me put it in language that your readers would understand. Since the postie putz in question refused to do his job, which is to shlep the mail I paid for, I decided to evoke my Greek heritage and shtup him in the tuches.
“Since he used his Jewish heritage as an excuse for being irresponsible, his Jewishness became fair game… The fact that he was Jewish and he made an issue out of a joke that to any sane person would be anti-Nazi (outing Pierre Trudeau as one), shows that he has a thin skin.
“Furthermore, I never mocked Judaism or Jews in general.
“Finally, in the past, an anti-Semite was someone who hated Jews, but today it appears he is someone who Jews hate.”
In response to a question whether he was a “supporter of the Nazi ideology,” Sears replied: “If one borrowers ideas from an ideology, it does not necessarily mean that the person is an adherent of that ideology as a whole.
“Some people have called Israel a ‘Nazi regime’ based on how it treats the Palestinians and its anti-Ethiopian eugenics program of mass sterilization. So, if you are a supporter of Israel, does that mean that you are also a de facto supporter of Nazi ideology?”