Menu JTA Search

Canada: Shoah denier can´t run Web site

TORONTO, Jan. 22 (JTA) — Jewish officials are praising a decision that will force Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel to close down a Web site. Officials of the Canadian Jewish Congress hailed the 110-page decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal as a "historic victory." The Tribunal ruled that Zundel was breaking the law through his arm´s-length operation of a California- based Web site. Ed Morgan, a law professor at the University of Toronto and chair of Congress´ Ontario region, said the Tribunal´s clear acceptance of Holocaust denial as a form of hate propaganda could have significant implications internationally. "A judicial finding of this nature will have an educative effect worldwide, as Holocaust denial can no longer hide under the cloak of scholarly debate or legitimate discourse," he said. Morgan also asserted that the Tribunal´s cease-and-desist order against Zundel will be "a strong deterrent against anyone who aspires to set up a hate site in" Canada. "The Tribunal has in effect declared that Canada will not be a base for the transmission of hate via the Internet," Morgan said. Michelle Falardeau-Ramsay, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, also welcomed the ruling, which came after six years of hearings and deliberations. "Hate messaging and propaganda have no place in Canadian society," she said. "The Tribunal has confirmed that this Internet activity is against the law and Canadians will not tolerate it." The ruling demonstrates that the Internet "is not a lawless zone and cannot be used to promote hate," Falardeau-Ramsay said. "This is all the more important in light of the tensions that have emerged since last September´s terrorist activity." The lengthy case began after the Commission received complaints in 1996 from the mayor of Toronto´s Committee on Community and Race Relations and from a private citizen, Paula Citron, a Holocaust survivor. Both alleged that Zundel´s Web site would expose Jews to hatred or contempt. Eight motions and various appeals by Zundel delayed the case substantially. More than 50 days of hearings were held, and closing arguments were presented in February 2001. Jewish officials acknowledge that the Tribunal´s order against Zundel is not likely to have an effect, since he moved to the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee about a year ago. A German citizen who has been banned from setting foot in Germany, Zundel had lived in Toronto since the 1950s, for much of that time pamphleteering against Jews. Reached by a Canadian reporter at his new home in Tennessee, Zundel described the Tribunal´s ruling as tiresome and irrelevant. "You´re talking to the new Ernst Zundel," he told the Globe and Mail newspaper. "They used to accuse me of Holocaust denial. Well, now I´m in Canada-denial. I have put Canada behind me." Zundel sent an e-mail to his supporters lambasting the ruling and indicating that his "position is unchanged." Despite the Tribunal´s apparent inability to keep Zundel´s hate material off the Internet now that he has left Canada, the ruling sets an important precedent, according to Joel Richler, a lawyer who advised Congress in its capacity as intervener. The Tribunal´s "findings can be used as a guide for any future cases as a means of protecting any identifiable minorities in this country who may be exposed to hate through the use of Canadian-based Internet sites," Richler said.

NEXT STORY