He spent a quarter of a century battling Ernst Zundel, but Bernie Farber could not bring himself to do the same when it came to commenting on the death of the infamous Holocaust denier.
“Jewish tradition demands that we do not defame the dead,” said Farber, who worked with the Canadian Jewish Congress and fought Zundel’s campaign of Holocaust denial.
Farber chose to keep it civil, on the high road and on the facts.
“Ernst Zundel denied the genocide of six million Jewish men, women and children,” said Farber. “He brought terrible anguish to those few who survived the evil of the Shoah.”
And despite being jailed, deported and having his house firebombed, Zundel was still very much doing that until his death Saturday age 78.
His demise is the end of almost 50 years of public Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.
“You have to watch the Jewish people because they are tricky,” he told me in 1995 after dropping off an unmarked package to Toronto Police’s 51 Division that had originally been delivered to his home. It turned out to be an explosive filled with nails that had to be detonated by the bomb squad.
He issued a statement at the time saying, “I think it is about time for those in authority to take their blinders off and overcome their own prejudices” and “investigate leftist and Jewish violence as diligently as they pursue people of the right, before someone gets seriously hurt or killed.”
It was never proven who sent the bomb.
It was not Zundel’s first experience with such a delivery. His home and office at 206 Carlton St. in Toronto, nicknamed the “Nazi Bunker,” was a fortress and equipped with iron bars on windows and surveillance cameras after a firebomb caused $75,000 in damage.
Despite arrests, court cases that went to the Supreme Court of Canada, and retaliation against him, Zundel would not stop printing his pamphlets of hate and propaganda, and even wrote a book called ‘The Hitler We Love and Why’.
“There are legitimate and constitutionally protected other viewpoints on political and historical matters than the Anglo-Jewish drivel served up by the self-serving bunch from the media,” Zundel once said in a news release.
“The Zundel trial was a landmark case in the fight against hate speech in Canada, one in which B’nai Brith was instrumental in highlighting the dangers of Holocaust denial,” said Amanda Hohmann, national director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights.
“There is only one reason to engage in such rhetoric, and that is to create a false narrative of Jewish power and manipulation motivated by financial or material benefit for the Jewish people. It relies on conspiracy theories targeting world Jewry and can have no motivation other than anti-Semitism. That is the legacy that Ernst Zundel has left for the world.”
And despite being illegal to do so in Germany, Zundel’s web page still pushes the non-genocide narrative.
“Adolf Hitler never gave an order to eradicate the Jews,” it states. “There were no homicidal gas chambers in any German concentration camps set up specifically to kill human beings. Not nearly as many Jews died or were killed as a result of German policies as is now widely and ever more viciously claimed.”
Of course, testimonials from survivors and disturbing evidence presented at trials at Nuremberg show the opposite.
That Zundel was still spreading these views very much upset the Jewish Defence League, whose Canadian director Meir Weinstein commented Sunday: “Hitler Lover Ernst Zundel is dead ... Time for a party.”