Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf & Lauren Kramer
A leading Indo-Canadian newspaper last week published an antisemitic column that called Zionism a cancer.
In rambling screed published Jan. 7 in the Vancouver-based South Asian Link, Sawraj Singh, an Ellensburg, Wash.-based surgeon and chair of both the Washington State Network for Human Rights and of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice, wrote that the troubles of the world are directly attributable to the triple “cancers” of racism, capitalism and Zionism.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) blasted the article, calling it “replete with conspiracy theories” and “numerous offensive statements concerning Jews and Israel.”
“We deplore this hateful column and call on The Link to immediately remove it from online, publish a retraction, and issue an apology,” CIJA chair David Koschitzky said in a statement last week. “It does the Indo-Canadian community, which has been and remains such a valuable contributor to Canada, no credit for one of its key community newspapers to be spreading such disturbing lies.”
Among other things, Singh’s article calls the United States “the mother of the cancers of racism, capitalism, and Zionism.”
“The Jews were and still are able to monopolize most of the academic and intellectually demanding positions. It is very interesting to compare the percentage of Jews amongst doctors, attorneys, university professors, and scientists in America to any European country, and even to Canada,” Singh wrote.
“The truth is that the Jews are represented in far greater numbers in these professions than their population in America (the same is becoming true of the Indians now). The result of this situation is that America has taken an anti-Islamic, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab stand, as compared to Europe or Canada.”
His column also claims that the United States is responsible for cancers afflicting various Latin American leaders, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as well as that American doctors are performing illegal medical experiments on America’s Latino and black prison populations and that AIDS was first introduced as a pathogen by white European doctors into the population of the Belgian Congo.
Singh did not respond to messages left by The CJN before deadline.
Reached by phone in Vancouver last week, Paul Dhillon, editor-in-chief of The Link, defended printing the column.
“We don’t support his opinion but he’s a regular contributor to the paper,” Dhillon said, adding that Singh has been a contributor for more than five years.
The Link has a readership of between 30,000 to 40,000 people and is available online and as a weekly paper, Dhillon said.
He said accusations that the article is antisemitic are unfounded.
“This column is not directed at Jews. Read it in context. He’s giving it in terms of America’s history, pointing out that Indians are in the same category. The point he’s making is that the West’s anti-Arab stance is brought on by the Jewish lobby,” he said. “If it’s a fact that there’s a lot of Jews in intelligentsia and academia, it’s a fact. He’s saying the Indians are getting there now, too. He’s not saying it’s a bad thing. If Jews are worthy, they come up at the top.”
When pressed about the column calling Zionism a “cancer,” Dhillon said he didn’t agree with the opinion, but admitted his columnist may have crossed a line.
“Sometimes an opinion writer gets carried away,” he said.
Asked what his paper’s stance is on the existence of Israel, Dhillon replied: “I believe it has a right to exist. That’s the origins of the Jews. It’s definitely a legitimate state. Our paper doesn’t take any line to the contrary like that.”
When asked about Singh’s comment that Jews “monopolize” academia in order to foment anti-Arab sentiment, Dhillon said he also didn’t agree with that statement or that Jews control the world or have infiltrated the ranks of academia for any nefarious reason.
“I don’t agree with that, but I don’t think [Singh is] implying Jews control the world, just that they possess great intelligence,” he said.
Jewish organizations were still calling for the article’s removal last week from The Link’s website, where it was still available as of The CJN’s deadline.
“Among many distasteful corruptions of history, this article uses historic antisemitic accusations – including the depiction of the Jewish people as power-hungry, and even a disease – to attack the world’s only Jewish state and its supporters,” Koschitzky said. “This is an alarming example of the convergence of anti-Zionism and antisemitism, starkly displayed as a leading editorial in a Canadian newspaper.”
Avi Benlolo, CEO of the Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, called it a blatant example of “pure antisemitic hatred” and one of the worst he’s ever seen.
“I question the judgment and bias of the editors who posted it,” he said. “This article should be immediately pulled from the website. Hate is not a Canadian value.”