B’nai Brith ad raises survivors’ ire


TORONTO (JTA) — A full-page newspaper ad placed by B’nai Brith Canada that equated radical Islam with Nazism has raised the ire of Holocaust survivors and a group that promotes Jewish-Muslim ties.
Headlined "The Unholy Alliance," the ad, which ran in the Nov. 9 edition of the pro-Israel National Post, noted the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the widespread pogroms in Germany on the night on Nov. 8-9, 1938. It showed a photograph of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem meeting with Adolf Hitler, and noted the "common objectives of Nazism and radical Islam: Killing Canadian men and women on the battlefield, incitement of children through schools and media, annihilation of world Jewry, and subjugation of every one else, [and] world domination."

The ad solicited tax-deductible donations to B’nai B’rith Canada.

The topic of open line radio shows and hundreds of blog postings, the ad drew an irate response from the group Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors. "We survivors have fought everybody that tries to trivialize the Shoah. We get very, very angry when it is done by Jewish leaders. I think that they should know better," said the organization’s co-president, Sidney Zoltak.

It is "horrible for a survivor to hear that anybody is compared to the evil of the leaders of Nazism," Zoltak said, but added: "We can see clearly the danger of extremism in the Muslim world. We have to be vigilant. We know what can happen when we become indifferent. [But] to compare the situation between now and then is not healthy. I’m upset about it."

Barbara Landau, co-chair of the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims, questioned the ad’s timing two days before Remembrance Day and in advance of the second annual Weekend of Twinning of Synagogues and Mosques. "My first thought was ‘why?’" she said. "It was so distressing."

B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Frank Dimant defended the ad, saying positive reaction to it outweighed the negative by "about 80 to 20. It seems there are a lot of people out there who are waiting for this kind of strong messaging."

Dimant said the ad was "intended to wake people up." He alluded to Iran’s threats against Israel as a possible "future holocaust unless we stop it. I don’t think any survivor will say that these people are not speaking about the genocide of the Jewish people."

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