Canadian public radio features anti-Semite to talk about dangers of anti-Semitism

“Would the CBC interview a misogynist about promoting women’s rights?”

By Meira Svirsky, World Israel News

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada’s public broadcaster, is being censured for interviewing a known anti-Semite about the problem of anti-Semitism – with no mention of the interviewee’s history.

Lambasting the publicly funded network, Honest Reporting Canada asked rhetorically, “Would the CBC interview a misogynist about promoting women’s rights? Would our public broadcaster interview an individual accused of having an anti-Muslim bias talk about the dangers of Islamophobia? Or would the CBC interview a white supremacist about anti-Black racism without mentioning it?”

The group, which advocates for fair and accurate media coverage of Israel, was referring to a July 18 program on CBC’s “The House,” which interviewed Dimitri Lascaris, a former candidate for the leader of the Green Party. Lascaris was asked if he thought anti-Semitism is a problem within the party, but no mention was made of Lascaris’ history of anti-Semitism.

“While CBC is free to interview anyone of its choosing, we feel that it was a major shortcoming to not mention that Mr. Lascaris has been widely condemned for engaging in anti-Semitism and has been an anti-Israel activist,” stated Honest Reporting Canada.

In 2018, Lascaris caught the attention of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after he accused two Jewish members of parliament, Michael Levitt and Anthony Housefather, of being “more devoted to apartheid Israel than to their own prime minister and their own colleagues in the Liberal caucus.”

In response, Trudeau tweeted, “Vile anti-Semitic smears like this are completely unacceptable, and should always be called out. Thank you @LevittMichael and @AHousefather for standing up to this, and for everything you do for your communities and our country.”

Lascaris, who stood by his tweet, responded to Trudeau with a lengthy post on his website, which featured a large photo of Trudeau with then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Lascaris wrote that he “unequivocally” opposed anti-Semitism while, at the same time, ironically proceeded to spew more anti-Semitism.

In the post, Lascaris specifically objected to Canada’s acceptance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which has been adopted by the U.S. State Department and 31 other nations, including Canada. Part of that definition states that anti-Semitism consists of “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”

In addition, the definition includes holding Israel to standards not expected or demanded by other democratic nations, a specific reference to the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement. At the time he wrote the post, Lascaris was a board member of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, a pro-BDS group.

In the post, he said the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was being used as a “weapon in the hands of pro-Israel groups and individuals: deploying it enables them to denounce any critic of Israel as anti-Semitic in order to disrupt, deter, marginalize and even criminalize Palestinian rights activism.”

“We must not allow such campaigns to diminish our determination to end Israel’s illegal, violent and deeply oppressive occupation and treatment of Palestinians, which has endured for over half a century,” he added.

Lascaris further said in the post that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was being “used viciously against prominent figures such as Britain’s former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn — not because Corbyn bears any hostility toward the Jewish people, but because he openly supports Palestinian rights. That same definition is now being used against me.”

Corbyn, who allowed anti-Semitism to run rampant in the party, famously called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends.”