Canadian Drug Store's Removal of Magazine Stirs Debate on Anti-Semitism
The Anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters accused the Canadian Jewish Congress Tuesday of successfully lobbying Canadian drug store chain Shoppers Drug Mart to put a halt on all future sales of the bi-monthly publication. Adbusters’ current issue, still on shelves, features a photo essay, titled “Truthbombs on Israeli TV,” which pairs an image of Nazi destruction of the Warsaw ghetto with scenes from Israeli military activity in Gaza.
The conflict has caused quite a stir in the Canadian press, with both sides trading pointed words over what constitutes anti-Semitism or hate speech. In a National Post editorial two weeks ago, CJC brass accused the magazine, a self-proclaimed agent provocateur, of “old-fashioned bigotry,” “Holocaust minimalization” and perpetuating the Israelis-as-Nazis analogy.
The editorial asks readers to “take a moment to see if their local bookstore or newsstand sells the magazine, to show the clerk or the owner the offensive material and to tell them that ‘this is anti-Semitic and shameful.’”
A Shoppers Drug Mart spokesperson told The Globe and Mail the decision to remove the Vancouver-based magazine from shelves was purely coincidental, instead blaming it on lack of shelf space.
Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn responded in his own National Post editorial — called “A tale of two ghettoes” — on Tuesday: “In Canada, we should be free to choose from a diversity of viewpoints and decide for ourselves what is anti-Semitic and what is a legitimate critique of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”
Lasn urged readers to walk into Shoppers Drug Mart and ask that the magazine be put back on shelves.
CJC CEO Bernie Farber denied the lobby, calling the accusation an “outright lie.” In the CJC editorial he acknowledged Adbusters’ right to publish anti-Israel material, but explained the Nazi analogy went too far, noting such comparison are deemed anti-Semitic by the European Union and U.S. State Department.