Mayor ‘unable’ to take back award given to antisemitic TV station

Mayor says she wouldn’t have given the certificate had she been aware of the antisemitic rhetoric, but “unable” to retract it.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The mayor of a Canadian city will not take back an award she gave to a local antisemitic TV station although she says would not have bestowed it had she known of its slant ahead of time.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie of Mississauga in the Greater Toronto Area gave a certificate of appreciation last November to Lama TV, which was founded by Lama Aggad in 2011 to “give a voice to Canadian Arabs who have been left out of the Canadian discussion,” according to the media platform’s website.

Schooled by the Al-Jazeera Training and Development Center, it says Aggad is committed to “bridging the gap between East and West and minimizing the social political and religious stereotyping against Arabs.”

B’nai Brith Canada publicized Thursday that Aggad has made “numerous” antisemitic remarks over the years, including referring to Israel as a “terrorist state,” and calling repeatedly for viewers to launch an “electronic intifada” against the Jewish state.

Last June, she falsely insisted on social media that a Jew had murdered a Muslim family in Ontario, with the tweet remaining live long after it was categorically proven that the criminal was neither Jewish nor Israeli.

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When B’nai Brith asked Crombie to rescind the official certificate after providing her with this information, the mayor refused.

“While I’m unable to retract a certificate of this nature, I’ve asked my team to review our vetting process for these requests to avoid situations like this in the future,” she told the veteran Jewish organization in an email.

“At the time I wasn’t aware of the antisemitic comments posted on Lama TV’s social media accounts. If I had been aware, I can assure you I wouldn’t have given them a certificate.”

B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn criticized the mayor, saying “Lama TV is leaning on this certificate to whitewash its damaged reputation and secure a new platform for itself.”

The TV show had been aired for several years on a multicultural television channel that stopped broadcasting it in December 2020 for “production reasons.”

When approached by B’nai Brith last June with proof of Lama TV’s antisemitic rhetoric, channel owner Rogers Sports & Media pledged never to air the program again.

“The damage unintentionally caused is ongoing, and needs to be quickly addressed by both the Mayor and City of Mississauga,” Mostyn said.

Rescinding the certificate “should be as simple as sending an email or making a public statement.”

When presenting the city’s certificate of appreciation to Aggad last November in part for providing “free ads and media resources” to local businesses during the pandemic, Crombie said that “Lama has been a friend for many years and doing great work as a media journalist.”

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The certificate also recognized that her “contributions through Lama TV ensure that our residents are engaged and receive accurate and informative means of news and media,” finishing off with a wish for the network’s continued growth.