Last month we paused for a day to remember the most tragic event in modern Jewish history, the Shoah. It robbed us of an entire generation. The attempted genocide of our people is forever seared into our consciousness.
We are a people with a long memory. We still recall more than 3,000 years later our suffering as slaves in Egypt. We all speak of being at Sinai. We construct sukkot to recall our wandering in the desert.
It should then be no surprise to readers of The Canadian Jewish News that we take anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial seriously. We don’t joke about the wilful degradation of our people. We find nothing humorous about throwing hundreds of thousands of children into gas chambers. It is hard to find any humour in the murder of six million Jews.
Yet, somehow, a hard right-wing pundit who likes to consider himself an edgy humorist thought it quite funny. In fact, following a “fact-finding” trip to Israel sponsored by the boorish Breitbart of Canada, Rebel Media, Gavin McInnes produced a video which mocked the Holocaust, found humour in the butchery of our people and defended Holocaust denial and minimization. And all this was done following his visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Here is what I wrote earlier this month for iPolitics about this bizarre video:
“‘During the tour of the museum, a guide denounced Holocaust deniers. And I [McInnes] felt like, I felt myself defending the super far-right Nazis, just because I was sick of so much brainwashing,’ he says.
“McInnes goes on to remind his fans that ‘they [Holocaust deniers] never said it didn’t happen. They’re saying it was much less than six million and that they were starved to death and weren’t gassed.’ Minutes later he tries to walk this wild stallion back into the barn by explaining that he personally doesn’t share these views. I guess he just needed to put that out there. You know… for debate.
“Digging that hole a little deeper, McInnes reminds his viewers that there were other genocides. He cites one in particular, the Holodomor – the Stalin-inspired forced famine that resulted in the wilful murder of millions of Ukrainians. It is one of the genocides officially recognized by the United Nations. McInnes tells his viewers that ‘(the Holodomor) was by Jews. That was by Marxists, left-wing Commies, socialist Jews.’”
Upon McInnes’ return to Canada, where the video had imploded on social media, he desperately tried to defend himself by telling us that he actually loved Jews and hated Nazis. You see, it was really an attempt at humour.
Frankly, I found this explanation disingenuous, outrageous and ugly. However, others disagreed. Ezra Levant, the “commander” of Rebel Media and himself Jewish, went to bat for McInnes, explaining that McInnes “is not a Holocaust denier. I just spent a week with him in Israel. I’d call him a bit of a Jew-lover.”
Fellow columnist Michael Taube piped in defending it as humour gone bad. Even CJN editor Yoni Goldstein, while condemnatory of McInnes, wrote the following:
“From my viewing, it looks as though McInnes was joking. At one point early in the original video, he describes his trip to Yad Vashem, using air quotes, ‘or as I called it, “the Holocaust museum” – no, I’m just kidding.’ There’s the key. McInnes was making an attempt at humour – a gross and unsuccessful attempt, no doubt, but an attempt nonetheless.”
Respectfully, I could not disagree more. I have been engaged in confronting and challenging Holocaust deniers, minimizers and anti-Semites for over 30 years. I have seen excuses for bigotry and then some. To accept that this was an attempt at humour gone bad is to turn our back and fail to defend those who cannot defend themselves.
Is Mcnnes an anti-Semite? I don’t know. I do know, however, that he defamed my family that was murdered at Treblinka, millions of other kedoshim and engaged in anti-Semitic blather.
And that’s not funny.