TORONTO (May. 1)
The Canadian Jewish Congress urged the National Hockey League today to re-open its investigation of an anti-Semitic incident that occurred during a game here last March and to make punishable under its rules the use of epithets “which degrade and humiliate the individuality and dignity of all of us.”
The Incident involved anti-Semitic taunts and references to Hitler’s gas chambers voiced by team members of the Boston Bruins against Larry Zeidel, of the Philadelphia Flyers, the only Jewish player in the Hockey League, in the heat of the game. The continued taunting resulted in a brawl between Zeidel and Eddie Shack, of the Boston Bruins, for which both were penalized. Zeidel received a four-game suspension and Shack was suspended from three games. The request to re-open the case and to take steps to punish similar incidents in future games was contained in a letter to Clarence Campbell, president of the National Hockey League, from Louis Herman, national chairman of the Joint Community Relations Committee of the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai B’rith.
“The statement issued by the Philadelphia team indicates that it would prefer to consider the penalties imposed on Zeidel and Shack as the end of the matter,” Mr. Herman wrote. “However, as we have stated in our letter of March 14, 1968, our concern is not really with the exchange of stick swinging on the ice but rather the language allegedly used by the Boston players. Our deep concern is that professional athletes who are regarded as public heroes and are adulated by youngsters should not be permitted to set a style of behavior which is reprehensible. We cannot regard it as a matter of course, nor should any civilized human being, that people should indulge in the use of derogatory and obscene epithets in respect to race, religion or national origin. We especially refuse to believe that taunts referring to ‘gas chambers’ — the connotation being plainly the mass anihillation of Jews and others by Hitler – can be indulged in without the most severe censure and punishment. Such comments contradict everything that sportsmanship is purported to represent.”