Why did the Jewish Congress build up the Nazi Party?
In my book, Shakedown, I briefly mention the bizarre history of Canadian "human rights" organizations propping up anti-Semitic groups -- including that the Canadian Jewish Congress helped build up the "Canadian Nazi Party" in the 1960s.
Ezra Levant and the Canadian Jewish Congress have not always seen eye to eye. Nonetheless, his book Shakedown does open the door to a potentially serious debate on human rights law.
The debate would have more hope for success were Levant to recognize that he has taken certain liberties with some facts.
Should the book go into a second edition, I am hopeful that Levant will address the concerns raised by Citizen writer Andrew Potter in his generally positive review. Potter states that "Of more concern is that clarity, fairness and perhaps even accuracy are often sacrificed in the greater service of the author's polemical objectives."
Mr. Potter cites Levant's claim, based on an article printed in Maclean's magazine at that time, that in 1966 the Canadian Jewish Congress helped fund the fledgling Canadian Nazi Party. Potter correctly points out that the only "bankrolling" expended by a private detective hired by the Congress to expose the Nazi group was money put out to purchase a bottle of rum. Between "rum" and "bankrolling" is more than a nuanced difference. It is the difference between accuracy and fiction.
Hopefully Mr. Levant will see fit to correct this for future editions.
Rabbi Reuven Bulka
Nice try. I suppose I should be happy that the CJC has moved away from censoring their political opponents with "hate speech" charges, and now merely write letters to the editor like normal people. But Rabbi Bulka shouldn't trust Burny's revisionist history. Here's why -- as written in my reply in today's Citizen:
In 1965 and 1966, the Canadian Jewish Congress helped organize the fledgling Canadian Nazi Party. That sounds crazy, but it's true, and I wrote about it in Shakedown, my new book about Canada's human rights commissions.
In a letter to the editor in the Citizen last week, the CJC's current co-president, Rabbi Reuven Bulka, called my book's description of the CJC's role "fiction." He said all the CJC did for the Nazis was buy them a bottle of rum.
It's true that the CJC did buy drinks for Nazis in the 1960s. That's pretty strange in itself, and I'd like to hear more of Rabbi Bulka's thoughts on spending Jewish charitable donations that way. But the CJC did a lot more than that: they hired an ex-cop named John Garrity to go to work for the Canadian Nazi Party.
Garrity helped organize that rag-tag band of losers, though they never amounted to anything except for fodder for the press.
There were only a dozen active Nazis when Garrity joined them and they weren't really a political party. He called them "harmless misfits," and they were -- their leader, John Beattie, was a nervous, gaunt, unemployed 24-year-old clerk who spent much of his time dodging angry Jews who tried to beat him up. (One of Garrity's jobs was to help Beattie escape street fights.)
Garrity brought more than just rum to the Nazis. He brought with him pretty much the only organizational talent the group had. They put him in charge of membership. Garrity called himself the "Heinrich Himmler" of the party, and a "Nazi leader for the Jewish Congress."
I'd like Rabbi Bulka's thoughts on that, too.
Of course, Garrity helped his paymasters at the CJC, too, giving them information about the names of party members and donors. And when Garrity finally quit the Nazis, he wrote a tell-all about his adventure in Maclean's magazine.
Garrity larded that report with personal insults toward Beattie and the Nazis. But he did acknowledge that they had never done, or even contemplated doing, anything illegal. All of the violence he witnessed was directed at Beattie, usually by Jewish vigilantes. "Sadly, it is the ... anti-Nazi extremists who, in their attempts to destroy Beattie, provide him with most of the publicity he craves. If it weren't for the riots and the assaults and the public protest meetings they hold, there'd be no real news in Beattie," Garrity wrote.
And that is the importance of this story and why I put it in my book about human rights commissions. Beattie hadn't done anything illegal. He was just a loser who believed in a discredited ideology. But the CJC wanted to bring in political censorship laws and I believe they needed to build up the threat to persuade Parliament to abridge Canada's freedom of speech.
Garrity puffed up a group of Nazi nobodies into a national menace, first through organizational support and then through spectacular media publicity. And, sure enough, Parliament enacted section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which censors offensive speech.
That's become a pattern. Twenty years after the Canadian Nazi Party vanished, CSIS, Canada's spy agency, inserted an operative named Grant Bristow into another rag-tag racist group called the Heritage Front.
Unlike Garrity, Bristow didn't play second-fiddle.
He became the boss, turning the Heritage Front into Canada's leading white supremacist group. This time it wasn't just Jewish money that was spent propping up neo-Nazis -- all taxpayers paid for it.
Which brings us to the present day -- and back to Rabbi Bulka and the section 13 censorship law. Canada's largest customer of section 13 is Richard Warman, who has been the complainant in all but two cases heard by the tribunal this decade. The CJC was so impressed that they gave Warman an award.
But, in a stunning human rights tribunal ruling last month, Warman himself was rebuked for posting anti-Semitic comments on Stormfront, a neo-Nazi website, including a message calling Jews "scum." Warman has stated that he was attempting to gather information on real Nazis, but the tribunal called his actions "disappointing and disturbing," and ruled that he risked encouraging more hateful messages himself.
Warman's actions appalled the tribunal, but apparently not the CJC. Just as the CJC did with Garrity, Nazi opponents continue to stir up neo-Nazi incidents -- as if there aren't enough real threats to Jews as it is.
Perhaps Rabbi Bulka can explain that one, too.
I'm pleased that the Citizen gave me so much room to reply. In doing my research I found out a lot more about the CJC's role in building up the Nazi Party -- one of the craziest stories I've ever come across. I think it's fascinating from so many angles: politically; religiously; legally; historically. It really is stranger than fiction. I think there's enough material there to form an entire book in itself -- especially when added to the CJC's discreditable conduct in the Grant Bristow affair, and their ongoing, unseemly relationship with Stormfront member Richard Warman. Incredibly, the CJC still stands by Warman even after the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal condemned him for his anti-Semitic propaganda. You'd think that would be something the Jewish Congress might care about.
My only quibble with the Citizen is with the headline they put over the op-ed: "Neo-Nazis are best simply ignored". I don't believe that and that's not the message of my op-ed. It's a false dichotomy to set up the only two alternatives as "ignoring" Nazis, or doing what the CJC does (building them up, then getting the government to prosecute them). I think there are plenty of other options, such as rebutting and debating neo-Nazis, campaigning against them, teaching against them, politicking against them, etc. That takes more work than the lazy CJC would do -- they're too busy campaigning against global warming.
Part of me hopes that Burny will write another historically revisionist reply for Rabbi Bulka to sign, so I can take another whack at them. But the more collegial part of me hopes that Rabbi Bulka will cut his losses and stop covering for his organization's bad behaviour 40 years ago -- and their bad behaviour today.