Canadian Jewish groups are calling for an appeal of a lower court’s decision that overturns a Holocaust denier’s suspension from teaching.
The New Brunswick Court of Appeals on Monday ordered that Malcolm Ross of Moncton, New Brunswick, be allowed to return to his teaching job.
Ross was suspended in 1989 after the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission found his publication of blatantly anti-Semitic material created a “poisoned environment” in the classroom.
“We are shocked and dismayed,” said Karen Mock, national director of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights. “There is something deeply wrong when a man with openly racist and bigoted views is allowed to teach in a classroom.”
Rochelle Wilner, national education chair of the league, said, “We are calling for this decision to be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“Holocaust denial is not a free speech issue. It is openly anti-Semitic hate propaganda and should be dealt with as such,” she said.
The Canadian Jewish Congress, a party to the case, is likewise calling for it to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Ross case has been dragging through the Canadian legal system for more than eight years.
Julius Israeli, a retired chemistry professor living in New Brunswick, filed the original complaint against Ross with the local office of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1985.
Following a 13-month police investigation, the New Brunswick attorney general decided not to charge Ross for promoting hatred of a people, saying it would be very difficult to secure a conviction.
Ross has written and published books alleging that the Holocaust was a hoax and that Jews intend to take over the world. His “Web of Deceit” is stocked in local libraries as a legitimate history of 20th century civilization. The case, in fact, raised interest in the book, which Ross published and distributed in 1978 by his own Stronghold Publishing Co.
Ross, who is a local director of the Christian Defense League of Canada, a right-wing group, has also written “The Real Holocaust,” “Christianity and Judeo-Christianity” and “The Battle for Truth.”
In addition, Ross sent letters to the editor of The Moncton Times-Transcript alleging a Jewish conspiracy.
He was teaching English and remedial mathematics at a junior high school outside Moncton before his suspension.
An investigation by The Canadian Jewish News found no evidence that he taught his anti-Jewish views in the classroom. The local school board made the same decision.
But David Attis of Moncton, a parent of a student and a lay leader in the Canadian Jewish Congress, filed a complaint in 1988 with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.
Attis alleged that discriminatory conduct by the school board had, in fact, occurred from March 1977 to April 1988, as a result of Ross’ actions.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center office in Toronto said it was not taking any action pending a review of the matter by its legal committee, said Sol Littman, Canadian director of the Los Angeles-based center.
“There are a number of peculiarities of Canadian law involved in the Ross case which suggest that we not simply wade in without careful legal preparation,” he said.
“We had never persuaded the attorney general of New Brunswick to charge Ross under the Canadian anti-hate literature law,” he said.
Canadian law permits the use of the defense that the defendant is sincere in his beliefs and also exempts religious subjects from the legal judgment.
Ross has written his books as a defense of Christianity against Judaism, Littman explained.
“As long as you are talking religion, you can say almost anything” under Canadian law, he said. “You can attack someone’s religion, you can point to another person’s religion as a conspiracy or a work of the devil, if you choose.
“And since Ross’ books were put in the context of a defense of Christianity against a so-called conspiracy to undo Christianity, the courts simply said he had been within his right to discuss it,” said Littman.
However, he said, “the Simon Wiesenthal Center Legal Committee believes that the religious defense has to be qualified and cannot be given absolute free reign.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.