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B’nai Brith Deeply Disturbed by Antisemitic Attack on Canadian-Jewish MPs

Dimitri Lascaris (left) levelled an antisemitic slur against Canadian Jewish MPS Michael Levitt (centre) and Anthony Housefather (right)

Sept. 9, 2018

TORONTO – B’nai Brith Canada is denouncing an antisemitic slur levelled against Canadian Jewish elected officials by the chair of one of Canada’s largest anti-Israel groups.

Dimitri Lascaris, Chair of the Board of Directors for “Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East” (CJPME), accused Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt on Thursday of being “more devoted to apartheid (sic) Israel than to their own Prime Minister and their own colleagues in the Liberal caucus.”

Housefather and Levitt are both Jewish and have served as key liaisons between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Government and the Canadian Jewish community. Neither men are Israeli citizens.

Accusing Jews in the diaspora of being disloyal to their home countries or more loyal to Israel is a classic antisemitic canard, often used by far-right figures such as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. It is explicitly highlighted as part of the Working Definition of Antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), of which Canada is a member.

Responding to criticism from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) on Friday, CJPME claimed that Lascaris’ antisemitic attack was part of his “personal activism,” and declined to take any action against him or offer an apology. Lascaris, for his part, labelled the criticism of his remarks as a “smear."

“Antisemitic canards have absolutely no place in Canadian political discourse,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “We stand in solidarity with MPs Housefather and Levitt in the face of this vile and unprovoked attack.

“CJPME is a group that seeks to influence Canadian policy on the Middle East. B’nai Brith calls on Canadian officials to refuse to interact with CJPME until it removes Lascaris as Chair and offers a full and sincere apology for his unacceptable behaviour.”

Lascaris’ assault on Housefather and Levitt was harshly denounced as antisemitic by many Canadian political figures, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Lascaris served as Justice Critic for the Green Party of Canada before being stripped of that position in September of 2016. In June of this year, B’nai Brith defeated a defamation lawsuit launched by Lascaris, though he is now appealing the judgment. Lascaris  also was a co-organizer of a protest outside B’nai Brith’s national office in late August.

Published : Sep 09, 2018

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  • Judy Miller
    followed this page 2018-09-09 16:09:01 -0400
  • Zvia Gersten
    followed this page 2018-09-09 13:08:15 -0400
  • Kathleen Barry-Pulfer
    commented 2018-09-09 11:58:31 -0400
    I am getting very tired of people who use 20th century words usually reserved for specific incidents in time to further their own causes! The holocaust is a word only used to describe the horrors of the WW2. Using it to describe other tragedies is insulting and a gross miscarriage of justice! The Micmac in New Brunswick are describing their opposition to General Cornwallis and justifying the removal of his statue by saying he tried to commit Genocide against them. Another 20th century term which not only never came out of his mouth, but is generally used to describe the horrors of Rwanda, or the Ukraine. It would seem their anger is misplaced! They should be angry at the Catholic church and the priest who lied to them and used them, and incited them against the British at that time. Same with Sir John A MacDonald, because he made one stupid irresponsible remark there are people in our own country who want to remove him from our own history! Now we have these antisemitic groups using the word Apartheid, which is again a term to describe the historical events of South Africa, and using it to describe the country of Israel, which could not be any further from the truth! Israel is the only democratic nation in the middle east, and yet the false news continues, and these groups continue to spread lies and deceit in order to malign the Jewish People! As long as the media gives these people voice, and fails to set the record straight when it comes to false news and incorrect facts, our democracy is seriously at risk!
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