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February 14, 2016 9:20 pm

Jewish Groups Denounce Choice of Antisemite to Headline ‘Freedom to Read Week’ Event in Toronto

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Self-described anti-Zionist author and journalist Max Blumenthal. Photo: Wikipedia.

Self-described anti-Zionist author and journalist Max Blumenthal. Photo: Wikipedia.

Two major Jewish groups gently ripped into the Canadian branch of the international organization PEN — which campaigns on behalf of writers persecuted or imprisoned for expressing themselves freely – for inviting a highly controversial author to headline an event it is co-sponsoring, the Canadian Jewish News reported on Sunday.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center asked PEN why it is headlining the event, to be held on Feb. 24 at the Toronto Reference Library, with self-described “anti-Zionist” Max Blumenthal, whose fringe positions on Israel have earned him the label of antisemite.

Blumenthal, author of The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza and Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, was invited by PEN Canada, in conjunction with Independent Jewish Voices and Another Story Bookshop (as part of “Freedom to Read Week”) to be the star attraction at the event, titled “Embattled Truths: Reporting on Gaza.” His co-panelist will be Toronto Star foreign affairs reporter Olivia Ward.

“We thought this is an odd choice,” CIJA spokesperson Martin Sampson told the CJN. “Why would they do that? Why would they put their reputation at risk by associating with Blumenthal? I think his extreme positions disqualify him for being a rational, reasonable contributor in the discourse about Israel.”

Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center CEO Avi Benlolo told the CJN: “Max Blumenthal represents the radical left’s extremist belief that Israel is the embodiment of all evil and has no right to exist. His most recent book – [which has been] dubbed the ‘I Hate Israel Handbook’ – supports the mainstreaming of growing antisemitic attitudes by conflating Israel with Nazi Germany. While shunned by conventional media outlets, the book is popular on major antisemitic, neo-Nazi and conspiracy theory websites such as Stormfront and David Duke’s Rense, where his work is used to promote anti-Jewish hate. I’m not sure what PEN is trying to achieve by giving Blumenthal a podium from which to spew his hatred, but if its goal is to contribute to increasing antisemitism in Canada, then I guess they will succeed.”

According to the CJN, PEN spokesperson Brendan de Caires responded by saying that the group’s mandate is to “raise difficult subjects… We are a free speech organization. We embrace an open exchange of ideas.” And “the whole premise of our discussion is that this [Gaza] is a hot topic.”

De Caires added, “We have no stake in the content of what Mr. Blumenthal says. [But] we support his right to say it.”

According to CJN, Toronto Public Library stakeholder relations manager Ana-Maria Critchley said that, in spite of the controversy, the event will be going ahead as planned. “Blumenthal has been invited very clearly not because of his personal views, but to speak on his experience as a journalist,” she said.

Max Blumenthal’s name came to the fore recently, when the latest batch of emails released from the server of Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton revealed correspondence with her former adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, the author’s father. In these exchanges, Blumenthal senior sent Clinton links to a number of anti-Israel articles written by his son.

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  • rosalind hilis

    One can read what he thinks so it’s a waste of time to discuss his thoughts. Canada, Canada, how does my home and native land come up with such foolishness.

  • Franklin Delano Paskutnik

    Mr.Blumenthal should be allowed to speak and say what he wants.But it is essential that a pro-Israel speaker ALSO be invited to put Israel’s case – preferably someone shrill and strident like,for example, Pamela Geller!She will put him in his place quickly.English journalist Melanie Phillips and Alan Dershowitz are other possible choices.Toronto Jews please stop sitting with your heads in your hands – wake up and do something now to force the issue before it’s too late.

  • Philip

    Max is an anti-semitic moron. His and his father’s positions are one of the main reasons Hillary will not gain the American Presidency

  • Most of us might have already been aware that Max Blumenthal is a rabid antisemite. But what I certainly didn’t realize is that Toronto’s library system is complicit in this racism by allowing him to speak. I’ll be writing them and to our mayor and city council next.
    Freedom of speech has nothing to do with it. He is free to spew his antisemitic crap on the street but I’ll be damned if my taxes are going to pay for a nice warm place for him to do it. I wouldn’t think that our libraries would let Adolph Hitler spew his hatred so why should they let Max? I expect Ms. Critchley to reverse course on this and if not, I think she knows where to pick up her pink slip.

  • Bob

    The Blumenthals, father and son, do not have a tenuos relationship with Hilary Clinton. They are in fact her key advisors to the Middle East. And she could be our next President. She also supported the Iran Deal. Is this who we want to be our next Peresident?

  • Sam Harris

    Does Mossad have assets to close one this matter?

  • Corey NY

    Why is it that Larry O’Connor an the late Andrew Breitbart of blessed memory are the only 2 people to confront this ben-zonah?

    Where are all the high profile famous people when you need them? Maybe Howard Stern can denounce him?

    American Jews: do not forget the close bond between Max, his piece of trash father and the Clintons. If Hillary wins, the Blumenthals will be honored guests of the white house.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    Max Blumethal is the idiot son of Sidney Blumenthal, an advisor to Hillary.

    I don’t know what made him such a Jew hater and Israel hater and he is no intellectual.

    Some Jew should punch him in the head. PEN would never appoint an anti-black or anti-Hispanic or anti-white, well maybe they would, and live to get away with it.

    Jews are the weakest group in this world and there will always be hatred against them until they learn to fight back and stop being so nice and wanting to be liked.

  • truth

    the extremist jews are really overusing the “antisemite” claim. These militants demean normal jews.

    • wolff bacner

      Max, Use your real name when you post.

  • Shimmy

    Mr. Blumenthal can express his opinion freely, but should remember, self hating Jews in Germany and Jews who proclaimed themselves to be German first and Jewish second, if that, surprisingly, were on the same express line as other Jews into the gas chambers. At the end of the day (which may be right around the corner), Anti Semites don’t give a hoot if you are a secular Jew, a self hating Jew, a convert from Judaism, a Jew is a Jew and “the only good Jew is a dead Jew”.

  • Peter

    So, will the Toronto Library have a “journalist” from a Klan newsletter speaking at a future event? Perhaps Stormfront’s webmaster can share his unique perspective on the challenges of reporting news from the white-supremacist perspective in a multicultural society? I think not. Nor, should the Library.

    Moreover, I am sure there will not be “journalists” who wrote against gays or other PC issues and faces challenges. It shows the hypocrisy of the Toronto Library…it is fine to have an author that challenges the very legitimacy the Jewish State of Israel, but not other “PC” issues. There is no honest consistency in the library’s position….just anti-Israel hypocrisy.

  • jakob wasi

    The ussual knee-jerk reaction: anyone who is even mildly critical of the Zionist state is anti-Semite. What an insult to the Shoah.

    • A Zionist

      “… mildly critical of the Zionist state”

      In describing the Jewish State of Israel in this pejorative way with reference to Max Bluenthal, I think it is clear where your hatred lies.

      This is not “mildly criticism”. It is an attack, a murderous attack on one people, the Jewish people; and one country, the Jewish state of Israel.

      6,000,000 Jews died because they were Jews. The Jewish State is singled out ONLY because it is a Jewish State.

      Zionism, means Jewish self-determination. To be anti-Zionist therefore means to deny to the Jewish people, the same rights enjoyed by any other people. Anti-Zionism is the politically correct euphemism for Jew-hatred and Jew hatred = antisemitism.

      There are 193 countries at the UN. There are 82 countries which define themselves as Christian. There are 56 that declare themselves to be Muslim or Islamic. There are 3 Hindu countries. There is 1 Jewish State.

      No other country is denied its legitimacy. No other people are murdered and considered that this is justifiable.

      Name one other country that is surrounded by hostile countries, like Israel and which has from the beginning had to fight wars that they did not start AND has a better human rights record?

      There is no other country.

      Only Israel is surrounded by totalitarian, antisemitic and genocidal countries and terrorist organisations. Only Israel, when winning a defensive war, as they did in 1967, SUED for peace.

      Only Israel has given more to the world in its short life than any other country in the world.

      You ought to hang your head in shame, for it is you who shames those murdered in the Shoah.

    • Wm. J. Levy

      You are an idiot and a schmuck.

    • A person who devotes a large segment of his writings to vitriolic attacks of the Jewish State is not “mildly critical”. On the other hand, there are people who as a knee-jerk reaction will defend any and all anti-semites who are being “mildly” criticized.

    • frosty7530

      Sorry, Jakob. You are very wrong about the anti-semitism involved in re to “knee-jerk” responses to those who critique Israel. Seems to me, that ever since former President Jimmy Carter blamed Israel for their apartheid philosophy in the Gaza, together with the Presidency of Obama, anti-Israel/antiSemitic attitudes have grown substantially. You have nothing to worry about, because right now the level of hostility towards Israel and Jews has never been higher. Max Blumenthal will be welcomed by the growing number of J Street Jews who side with him. It is troubling that there is nobody invited to debate Mr. Blumenthal.

    • wolff bacner

      Israel wasn’t reestablished as a payoff for murdering six million of my Jewish brothers and sisters. Our homeland was reestablished because the land has been continuously inhabited by Jews for over 3200 years and it is our country.

      Stop using the Holocaust to delegitimize the fact that Israel is the nation of the Jewish people with our eternal, undivided capital of Jerusalem.

      Israel’s 5.5 million Jews didn’t parachute into the mythical country of Palestine on May 14, 1948. As a matter of fact, 60 percent of Israel’s population was born in the Middle East , They are the Mizrahi Jews and they were living in the Levant many centuries before Islam even existed.

  • Martin Bookspan

    Reptile! The perfect one-word characterization of Sidney Blumenthal and his entire clan…

  • Martin Bookspan

    Reptile! The perfect one word characterization of Sidney Blumenthal and his entire clan…

  • Ayatollah Ghilmeini

    I think they wanted the controversy, in some dim minded belief that Blumenthal’s screed is the writing that needs protection. In a better world, the publisher would send Max to get help, in this age, he is a headliner at PEN, the King Kong of self hating Jews, seeking acceptance that will only come when they kill him for being Jewish after all the rest are dead.

    For rest of us, Max is the crest of the new wave, his words will be used to assault us on the streets, pillory our kids at university: the enemy are the far right, the far left and the far Islamist, the left hold the coats for the other two when they go to kill the Jews.

    Wake up folks, it’s 1937 and the beast is rising.

  • Myron Robinson

    I think they forgot to invite the Ayatollah of Iran and the Leader of Hamas. What B@@##$$sh%t to suggest by the organisers that they are merely encouraging free speech.

    • Maybe he is not taking any money for his speaking, therefore it is “Free Speech”.

  • Tasha A.

    Ahmedinejad, George Galloway, Abbas, and radical Imams everywhere must have been unavailable.

    PEN needs to be less obvious.

    • maria

      Yes, All of those and do not forget Swedish Foreign Secreraty Wallström and Swedish Prime Minister Löfvén who are exactly as antisemitic as the above persons.

  • Judith Levine

    Choosing Max Blumenthal seems to be more because of his tenuous connection to Hillary Clinton than anything else. As a journalist, I contend that his ‘credentials’ are very tarnished. A true journalist looks for and reports on facts. Blumenthal basically writes about the way anti-Semitism is acceptable. I believe there are far more credible journalists that PEN could have selected.

  • Max Genghis Cohen

    Dear Ruthie: About this Max Blumenthal person, may I suggest excommunication? If the nation of israel or the national Council of Rabbis (if there is such an entity) would issue a decree of Excommunication against this dreary man,it would, in my opinion, atone for the sad excommunication of Baruch Spinoza merely because he professed pantheistic feelings. You may call Blumenthal a radical leftist, a commie without a conscious and a traitor to the heart of Israel, but he must not be called a Jew.

    • maria

      Yes, don´t call him a Jew. We have enough of the self hating Jews like Chomsky, Finkelstein and Soros( though Soros mother was not Jewish so he is not a Jew).

    • wolff bacner

      We do have excommunication in Judaism. It is called Herem (censure), expulsion from the Jewish community. No one in the Jewish community will even look a person in the face who is under Herem. We are only permitted to offer them food to prevent death from starvation or a temporary shelter if their health suffers from being exposed to the elements.

      Herem is a serious punishment that for a believing Jew must be soul crushing. Max deserves it, even though he is probably an atheist. Secular, Leftist Jews are the curse of our people.

  • Jeffrey Zucker

    I have heard about Max the self hating Jew for quite a while. And as a supporter of liberty and free speech he should be allowed to speak. If the intent of his invitation was to describe his reactions as a reporter. However, has someone else been invited to balance his hatred? If not, then pressure should be poured onto the inviting organization to provide proper debate.

    I laugh at anybody who would think that Max could even give a balanced and true reporting of events in Gaza.

    • Andria Switzer

      Might be best to bring Matt Friedman who documented all the fakery in Gaza during Protective Edge and points out how the media lie about Israel. It’s time journalism came under scrutiny for its bigotry, lies and antisemitism.

  • dante

    even the mutts who share blumenthal’s vile views know that he’s non compos mentis. they humor this reptile (not to give reptiles a bad name) because they delight at the spectacle of someone from a Jewish background attacking Jews.

    now, PEN has chosen to honor this disgusting reptile in a way that they would never chose for an anti-Muslim or anti-Black or anti-anyone agitator. PEN gives itself license to torment the Jews, to join iran, hamas, hezbollah, and all the repellent supporter-employers of blumenthal.

    so, one knows exactly where the worthies of PEN would have been in 1933 Berlin. they would not merely have fallen right into line; they would have been leading the attacks on the Jews. blumenthal is disgusting and contemptible but not more so than his collaborators in PEN.

  • Dave

    So, since they “embrace an open exchange of ideas”, have they invited an Israeli spokesperson to rebut/reply?

  • David Schiff

    PEN’s excutive director is Thasleem Tawhar , no doubt Arab and muslin , harbouring the normative anti Israel ,anti Jewish pathology .
    Blumenthal with his ugly pathology is a perfect match –no surprise here

  • ZG

    Enough with politeness. It’s time for protest. We shouldn’t take this antisemitic provocation lieing down. Enough is enough and this PEN organization should be shamed for the antisemitic racist anabling organization they are.

  • Larry

    Blumenthal, a Jew by birth, a anti-semite by choice, a self-hating Jew by all that know him. Only a inconsiderate moron like Ana-Marie Critchley would ever choose a low-life as Blumenthal.

  • John Train

    It is time for the Jewish community to stop being gentle and to show muscle. The organizers should be told in no uncertain terms that Max Blumenthal will encourage anti-Jewish violence and therefore the organizes of guilty of incitement to violence and will be held accountable in every current and future action that they might take.

  • Ron

    Every Jew on the globe should wake up and smell the felafel. There are more and more Jewish anti-Semites who get a spotlight shined on them simply because they are Jews who simply reflect the long-held opinion of anti-Jewish Christians and Muslims. It’s de rigueur in the 21st century for self-marginalized Jews to promulgate the demonization of Israel and by default blame their co-religionists for all that’s wrong with the world. Max Blumenthal is no exception other than enabling the Jewish world to understand that he, his father, and so many others have replaced their religious and cultural heritage with their own brand of progressivism, collectivism, statism, socialism and Fascism to enable themselves to feel safe in their own skin. Unfortunately, based on the upward spiral of anti-Semitism, that is not the reality.

  • shloime

    a “free speech organization”? have they invited any pro-israel speakers, or is their “free speech” only for israel-haters?

  • It’s fine to listen to all views provided that those views were developed in an educated, evenhanded, and nonprejudicial way.