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Counterpunch

A Canadian court has cleared the way for Holocaust denier and neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel to be deported to Germany to stand trial.

Zundel, a leading proponent of white supremacy who claims the Holocaust never happened, is also the author of “The Hitler We Loved and Why.”

He has been held in a Toronto jail for two years while authorities determined whether he posed a security risk to Canadian society.

Federal Court Justice Pierre Blais said Friday that Zundel’s activities were not only a threat to national security, “but also a threat to the international community of nations.”

In his 63-page decision released in Ottawa on Thursday, Blais called Zundel a racist hypocrite and said his Toronto home was a “revolving door” for some of the world’s most notorious white supremacists who have promoted violence and hatred against Jews and minorities.

Last March a much more sympathetic account of Zundel was published. It described him as a “64 year-old painter and pacifist” and “the most widely recognized figure in the growing number of historians, both amateur and academic, questioning the veracity of orthodox accounts of the events which took place in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, specifically with reference to the number of Jewish dead and the means by which they came to their demise.”

There are of course grounds to challenge Zundel’s treatment by Canadian authorities as a denial of free expression, as did Alan Borovoy, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

“Zundel, I have no difficulty saying, is a nasty, nasty character and everything I’m saying is without the slightest sympathy for him,” Borovoy said. “But the process in itself is unfair.”

But nowhere does the article’s author, Alan Cabal, suggest the true nature of Zundel’s repulsive ideas, or express uneasiness with those ideas. Instead he calls Zundel “the world’s premier thought-criminal.” He concedes that Zundel’s views may be “provocative,” but he seems more disturbed by the “Holocaust industry” for persecuting people like Zundel and for behaving “in every way like a fanatical cult.”

What makes Cabal’s sympathetic article especially interesting is that it did not appear in some publication of the extreme Right but rather in a publication of the hard Left: Counterpunch, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.

Cabal’s piece is not currently posted on Counterpunch’s popular website, but it is posted (approvingly) on a pro-Zundel website. (The Counterpunch website continues to include references to the article.)

And this is hardly the first or only time Counterpunch has been a congenial host to writers minimizing antisemitism and dropping dark hints about “Jewish power” and Jewish loyalty.

Canadian professor Michael Neumann wrote in January 2003:

Talk of a Jewish power structure is increasing at two levels. In the nether regions of the internet, there’s more about Jewish control of the US’ Israel policy, or perhaps of the US itself. Higher up, one hears about a Jewish lobby, or a Jewish-Israel lobby, or, more often, about mean-spirited, unpleasant people who control the government, and who, it is said or coyly suggested, are Jews.

There is inconclusive but considerable evidence to support these claims. Jews loom large among the high ranks of government policy advisers, and in influential non-governmental policy organizations. Most media push a Zionist line; many are owned by Jews. And there are well-documented cases of senators and congressmen who have learned to regret, come election time, wavering in their support for Israel. Some suggest that Jewish pressure groups had a role in the downfall of Bush the First.

It is clear that American Jews are deeply involved in the formation of US policy towards what they call the Jewish homeland, the self-styled Jewish state of Israel. It is also clear that the interests of Israel are not identical with those of the United States. This naturally raises questions about the ultimate loyalties of these policy-makers, so the collection and distribution of such evidence is quite justified.

A few months earlier, he offered this lighthearted suggestion:

I think we should almost never take antisemitism seriously, and maybe we should have some fun with it.

The Canadian Jewish Congress reported in 2003 on an email exchange between Neumann and the proprieters on the antisemitic website Jewish Tribal Review.

The Web site quotes Neumann as writing, “I should perhaps have said I am very interested in truth, justice and understanding, but right now I have far more interest in helping the Palestinians. I would use anything, including lies, injustice and obfuscation, to do so. If an effective strategy means that some truths about the Jews don’t come to light, I don’t care. If an effective strategy means encouraging reasonable anti-Semitism or reasonable hostility to Jews, I don’t care. If it means encouraging vicious racist anti-Semitism, or the destruction of the State of Israel, I still don’t care.”

Neumann still writes for Counterpunch.

And would anyone care to argue that Alexander Cockburn himself– who still contributes a column to The Nation– has not tumbled into an abyss of antisemitic paranoia when he writes stuff like this:

It’s supposedly the third rail in journalism even to have a discussion of how much the Jews do control the media. Since three of the prime founders of Hollywood, were Polish Jews who grew up within fifty miles of each other in Galicia, it’s reckoned as not so utterly beyond the bounds of propriety to talk about Jewish power in Hollywood, though people still stir uneasily. The economic and political commentator Jude Wanniski remarked last week in his web newsletter that even if the Jews don’t control the media overall, it is certainly true to say that they control discussion of Israel in the media here.

Certainly, there are a number of stories sloshing around the news now that have raised discussion of Israel and of the posture of American Jews to an acrid level. The purveyor of anthrax may have been a former government scientist, Jewish, with a record of baiting a colleague of Arab origins, and with the intent to blame the anthrax on Muslim terrorists. Rocketing around the web and spilling into the press are many stories about Israeli spies in America at the time of 9/11. On various accounts, they were trailing Atta and his associates, knew what was going to happen but did nothing about it, or were simply spying on US facilities. Some, posing as art students have been expelled, according to AP. Finally, there’s Sharon’s bloody repression of the Palestinians, and Israel’s apparently powerful role in Bush’s foreign policy, urging him into action against at least two of the axes of evil, Iraq and Iran.

Well, we just can’t keep those darn stories from sloshing and rocketing around, can we, Alex?

The Jude Wanniski to whom he refers is one of the Reaganite fathers of supply-side economics who seems to share Cockburn’s paranoia about the Jews, and apparently admires the racist and antisemitic Lewis Farrakhan. He too has found a home at Counterpunch.

And yet… Counterpunch remains a prized source for hard-left anti-imperialist bloggers who frequently blogroll and link to it. Unsurprisingly it is a favorite among the conspiracy-minded denizens of Medialens.

Do Counterpunch’s devoted leftist readers ever notice these things? If so, does it matter to them? Or do they sometimes believe, in their heart of hearts, that maybe people like Cabal, Neumann and Cockburn are on to something about those Jews?