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Ernst Zundel is more dangerous than you realize

The Globe & Mail
Wednesday, February 26, 2003 - Page A15 

The recent barrage of publicity about Ernst Zundel and his ludicrous 
claim for refugee status calls to mind an old joke.

Two elderly Jewish men were sitting on a park bench, discussing current 
events. The first man, Sidney, sighed and said: "I don't listen to the 
news any more. It's too depressing. All I hear is news about war, death 
and terrorism. Worst of all, Israel is blamed for everything."

His friend, Harry, shakes his head. "I read the papers all the time," 
he says. "The Arabic newspapers from the Middle East. Every day, there 
are stories about how the Jews control the banks and the newspapers. 
We even secretly rule the world. When I read that, I don't feel so bad."

This little tale illustrates the most profound irony in Ernst Zundel's 
return to the news. Forget the fact that his application for refugee 
status makes a mockery of Canadian sanctuary for the persecuted. Forget 
that he previously renounced his Canadian home. The real irony is far 
sadder. His latest brush with fame coincides with the first anniversary 
of the horrific murder of journalist Daniel Pearl, a Jew. Mr. Zundel 
did not kill Daniel Pearl. But Mr. Pearl's murder was caused by a 
hatred of Jews that Mr. Zundel and his ilk have eagerly spread 
throughout the Muslim and Arab world for decades.

Mr. Zundel is notorious for denying the Holocaust, but what is not so 
well known is that he was originally tried in 1985 on two separate 
charges of spreading false news. The better-known charge concerned the 
publication of a Holocaust-denial booklet. The lesser-known charge was 
for his pamphlet titled "The West, War and Islam!" Mr. Zundel 
distributed this tract widely, from Morocco to Pakistan. It alleged 
a Jewish conspiracy "against the Islamic peoples" and called for 
Islamic nations to mount a campaign against "Zionist disinformation 
and hate propaganda."

He has luridly described Jews as "a rather paranoid, shrill, whining 
group of shysters, common racketeers, distorters of history, 
falsifiers of documents who created a gangster enclave in the Middle 
East called Israel."

Sadly, Mr. Zundel's Islamic project has succeeded far beyond his 
deluded dreams. In the past decade, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic 
conspiracy theories have become part of mainstream thought in many 
Muslim and Arab countries. Mr. Zundel's relentless pamphleteering 
and Internet propagandizing have powerfully abetted this process.

A look at the anti-Semitic Web site, Radio Islam, is instructive. 
It displays several quotes from Mr. Zundel, links to Mr. Zundel's 
"The West, War and Islam" pamphlet, and proudly shows photographs 
of the works of Mr. Zundel and French anti-Semite Roger Garaudy, 
on sale in prominent Cairo bookstores.

On his own Web site, Mr. Zundel attests to the authenticity of The 
Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the most dangerous hate-propaganda 
tract of the past century. Its fabricated allegations of an 
international Jewish conspiracy inspired Hitler to write Mein Kampf 
and call for the extermination of the Jews.

The Protocols were available in Egypt in the 1950s, but eventually 
fell out of favour. However, new editions have been published since 
the 1990s. After the events of Sept. 11, The Protocols has taken on 
a life of its own in the Muslim and Arab worlds.

This past Ramadan, a 41-part miniseries based on The Protocols was 
shown on Egyptian television. It described the founding of Israel as 
part of an international Jewish conspiracy. Newspapers in Pakistan, 
where Daniel Pearl was murdered, and throughout the Middle East, 
recalled the conspiracy theories of The Protocols when they blamed 
the Israelis for the events of Sept. 11.

There can be no doubt that a corrosively anti-Semitic ideology 
motivated the fanatics who murdered Daniel Pearl. With no interest 
in a ransom, they singled out their Jewish victim for kidnaping and 
murder. In the year that has passed since Daniel Pearl's murder, 
Mr. Zundel has remained unrepentant. He continues to operate his 
Web site in defiance of the cease-and-desist order of the Canadian 
Human Rights Tribunal. The hatred that he has spent decades spreading 
continues to flourish.

On the other hand, Daniel Pearl's family has created a foundation in 
his memory. Its mission is to "promote cross-cultural understanding 
through journalism, music, and innovative communications." Remarkably, 
Mr. Pearl's father has emerged as a voice of reason and reconciliation. 
Perhaps the final irony is that the Pearl family understands the need 
to move beyond hate, while Mr. Zundel remains obsessed with 
disseminating it.

While Canada does not need the likes of Ernst Zundel, neither does the 
Middle East nor the Muslim world. Better that Harry has nothing good 
to read about, than more of Mr. Zundel's lies. 

Marvin Kurz is national legal counsel of the League for Human Rights 
of B'nai Brith Canada.

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