August 4, 2016
B’nai Brith Canada (BBC) has been fixated on Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) since the beginning of June, having published at least eight communications attacking IJV since June 7, and making unfounded allegations about IJV in right-wing periodicals, such as Canadian Jewish News (CJN) and the Toronto Sun. BBC has publicized these allegations and has repeated them ad nauseum, including but not limited to statements that IJV is a “Jewish fig leaf for neo-Nazis and anti-Semitism”, and that IJV “promotes Holocaust denial and Khomeinist rhetoric”.
IJV wishes to set the record straight—once again—and expose BBC as an organization that engages in defamation and outright lies in its attempts to silence and discredit those who openly criticize Israel’s actions and defend Palestinians’ rights.
In February 2015, IJV mistakenly linked to a version of an article critical of Israel on its Twitter and Facebook pages that had been re-published on a disreputable website called Veterans Today. The re-published version of the article contained an inserted Editor’s note that denied the Holocaust. BBC seized the existence of this insertion as an opportunity to accuse IJV of promoting Holocaust denial. IJV immediately apologized in a public statement for having linked to this version of the article, and set the record straight further in a CJN article.
Nonetheless, over the course of the next several weeks, BBC repeated the smear that IJV promotes Holocaust denial—including it in its attacks on the Green Party for the Party’s draft resolutions criticizing Israel’s actions. We feel it is important to note that some members of IJV are Holocaust survivors, and virtually our entire membership has a parent, grandparent or relative who was exterminated in the Holocaust. We find BBC’s tactics hurtful and outrageous.
In the same attack piece, BBC accused IJV’s campaigns coordinator Tyler Levitan of “falsely claiming that IJV better represents mainstream community views on the Middle East than [pro-Israel lobby groups]”. Neither Mr. Levitan, nor IJV, has ever claimed to speak on behalf of the mainstream Jewish community, nor of being representative of mainstream Jewish community views. BBC has repeated this unsubstantiated claim on numerous occasions. IJV represents its members, and promotes a message that is supported by both Jewish and non-Jewish Canadians who acknowledge Palestinians’ human rights.
It is BBC itself that is guilty of falsely claiming to represent the views of Canada’s mainstream Jewish community. It has referred to itself as the “action arm of the Jewish community”, and more recently as “the grassroots voice of the Jewish community.” BBC makes this claim with neither the mandate nor the ability to fulfill such a role.
In yet another BBC attack on IJV, it stated that IJV “deleted half its website” due to BBC’s initial “investigation”. It based this claim on the fact that an outdated page from 2011 listing IJV’s Steering Committee at the time, which BBC had cited as current in their first attack piece, had been deleted by IJV (due to the fact that it was outdated). BBC also stated that a page that was deleted long before—providing information about lawyer Ed Corrigan’s libel suit against someone who falsely accused him of anti-Semitism— was “subsequently deleted” due to BBC’s investigation. This is patently false, and BBC’s claim that IJV was hiding its support for Mr. Corrigan’s case is nonsensical. Mr. Corrigan’s libel suit was settled out of court, when his accuser both retracted his accusation and apologized for having made baseless allegations of anti-Semitism against him.
In short, IJV deleted one outdated page on our website—which was already no longer visible to the public—after BBC’s first attack. There are over 750 pages and posts which remain on our website. BBC’s claim that IJV deleted half our website is simply a lie.
The Jewish Tribune, a staunchly conservative newspaper owned and operated by BBC until the paper folded in January 2015, is no longer accessible online. This raises the question of what BBC may be trying to hide by leaving no trace of the newspaper available to journalists or the general public.
BBC repeatedly engages in the practice of guilt-by-association, referring to an article by IJV’s Tyler Levitan that was re-published to the Veterans Today website. Mr. Levitan did not grant permission for his piece to be re-published, nor was he aware of the fact that it had been re-published there. Mr. Levitan contacted the editor of Veterans Today after BBC launched its attack, demanding that the article be removed from the Veterans Today site. It has subsequently been removed.
In its third attack, BBC alleged that IJV promotes the Khomeinist regime in Iran. It based this claim on the fact that a single rank-and-file IJV member, Ken Stone, has publicly supported the Khomeinist regime. A video linked to in the BBC release shows Mr. Stone speaking at an event honouring Ayatollah Khomeini. Mr. Stone was not speaking on behalf of IJV, but the video erroneously put “independent Jewish voices” [sic] in brackets next to his name as he begins his talk. We have been informed that the video has temporarily been taken down and will be edited by the Islamic Society of York Region to correct this error on their part. IJV had no knowledge of this event, and Mr. Stone—who never claimed to be speaking on IJV’s behalf—made no mention of IJV in his talk.
Mr. Stone’s support for the Iranian government does not reflect the views of IJV. IJV does not and never has supported any regime in Iran. Nor has IJV supported the government of any other country. Even after Mr. Stone stated clearly that he was not speaking on behalf of IJV at this year’s Al Quds Day rally in Toronto, BBC referred to IJV as being Mr. Stone’s organization, implying that his comments there reflected IJV’s positions.
This is not an exhaustive list of the baseless and defamatory allegations BBC has made about IJV since June 7. It is no coincidence that BBC has linked these attacks on IJV to the Green Party’s resolutions on Israel/Palestine, falsely claiming that IJV has dictated the Green Party’s “entire foreign policy platform”. This claim is an outright lie.
We encourage open and honest debate about the issues presented at the Green Party’s convention. We hope that through this IJV statement, BBC’s attacks on IJV and the Green Party will be seen as nothing more than a desperate smear campaign to deflect attention from the facts about Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians.
BBC’s record of employing intimidation tactics to smear critics of Israel’s actions has been documented here.