On November 9, 2009, Canada’s National Post newspaper published an outrageous, polarizing, and distasteful full-page fundraising advertisement by the prominent Jewish organization, B’nai Brith.
The headline of this Islamophobic and offensive advertisement — The Unholy Alliance –” introduced an utterly false assertion that both Islam and Nazism share the following objectives: “Killing Canadian men and women on the battlefield, incitement of children through schools and media, annihilation of world Jewry, and subjugation of everyone else, [and] world domination."
The advertisement featured photos of both Adolph Hitler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, clearly inferring that only Muslim leaders co-operated with Hitler and kept quiet while the Nazis killed Jews. (Many Christian leaders and leaders from other faith traditions, as testified by history, turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the plight of Jews during that horrible time and the Church has repeatedly acknowledged this tragic failure).
Contrary to B’nai Brith’s position, many Muslims and their Imams were considered “righteous gentiles” by Jews for risking their own lives to save brothers and sisters of another faith –” in this case Jews. The same honorific of “righteous gentile” was applied to Christians who defied Hitler in the same way. But here in Canada, in 2009, B’nai Brith singles out one Muslim Imam (from another continent, and little known among Muslims) and attempts to tar all Canadian Muslims with the same hateful brush, intentionally ignoring the good that countless Muslims and their Imams have done. The advertisement is a very sinister distortion of history, to say the least.
And worse, it leads B’nai Brith to the illogical conclusion that the Muslims of today are a threat. Therefore, as the ad suggests to readers: “We must wake up from our slumber –” before it is too late.” What a great theme for fundraising! Muslims, as witnessed during the last decade, are such an easy target; vulnerable and barely protected by the weak anti-hate laws in most Western countries.
But historical facts are diametrically opposite to what B’nai Brith is trying to sell unsuspecting Canadians. For centuries, Muslim nations, communities and individuals around the globe have given Jews safe refuge, saving them from suffering and extinction, even when so-called modern democracies refused all but a tiny fraction of fleeing Jews seeking entry into their countries.
Both the National Post and B’nai Brith have intentionally misrepresented the actual historical relationship between Muslims and Jews, especially during the terrible Hitler years. Examples are numerous, but a few will suffice here:
- It is well known that when the Nazis occupied North Africa and sought to massacre Jews living there, it was Muslims who risked their own lives to save as many as they could. (Please read the book “Among the Righteous” by Robert Satloff (2006) on the following website: http://tinyurl.com/q65a8l
- In Asia and Eastern Europe, Turkish and Bosnian Muslims also gave shelter to Jews when their lives were threatened. The Huffington Post features a report on how Bosnian Muslims saved Jews: http://tinyurl.com/yh463v6
- During the Nazi occupation, “the Grand Mosque of Paris” provided sanctuary for Jews hiding from German and Vichy troops, and even provided certificates of Muslim identity to untold numbers of Jews (I am positive that the Imam himself signed many of these certificates). For more information, please read “The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews during the Holocaust” by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix.
- Albania, an impoverished European country with a Muslim majority, saved “almost every” Jew living within its borders, succeeding where other European nations failed miserably in resisting Nazi Germany. Lowly Albania was the only Nazi-occupied nation to emerge from the Second World War with more Jews than before the conflict. What better evidence can you find of how Muslims have treated fellow human beings when they needed help? We are not perfect, but neither are we the agents of evil and conflict that B’nai Brith would have the world believe. (For more proof of what I am talking about, please visit this helpful website: http://tinyurl.com/yaq3vwr)
Despite the foregoing examples from history, B’nai Brith still seems to feel no qualms of conscience about spreading egregious disinformation about Muslims and Islam for the sake of raising contributions to fight racism. How sadly ironic! It is unfortunate that B’nai Brith advances its goals by trying to incite misunderstanding and conflict between Muslims and Canadian society, instead of turning its considerable influence toward the elimination of all hatred and racism. It is absurd to hatefully target another faith and its followers in the guise of fighting anti-Semitism.
Both the National Post and B’nai Brith have crossed the line of rational and ethical discourse. The ad itself borders on racism and clearly suggests discrimination against Canadian Muslims. This attitude is quite Islamophobic. All this, while the National Post claims to be Canada’s most-trusted source of news and information and B’nai Brith touts itself as a human rights organization!
The kind of low tactics displayed in B’nai Brith’s false comparison of Islam and Nazis serve only to incite mistrust, hatred and further discrimination among Canadians –” it is my opinion that any advertisement promoting hate in this fashion should be totally banned from all Canadian papers. Indeed, it is disheartening to see a leading Jewish organization sink to such a low level and be endorsed by a leading media organization.
Fortunately, there is a bright spot in this mess. Canadian Muslims are encouraged by the fact that since the ad appeared many citizens — Jews and non-Jews alike –” have raised their voices in protest, calling the B’nai Brith ad misleading, inflammatory, and a negative reflection on the entire Jewish community. We applaud their courage and humane judgment; they are like bright stars in the struggle to make this world a better and safer place. For more information, please visit the following website: http://tinyurl.com/yzotyul
The appearance of this terrible advertisement is a potent wake-up call for all Canadians to stand up for truth and justice at all times, in all things, and for all people. There must be no differentiation between those whose traditions and cultures are familiar to us and those whose ways are different. Only then will we be able to say that we are true to our respective faiths and true citizens of Canada.