The Sherbrooke, Que., newspaper La Tribune has apologized for a letter to the editor that the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) denounced as containing “vile anti-Semitic clichés … better suited for neo-Nazi publications.”
The letter “should never have been found in our pages,” president and publisher Alain Turcotte stated in an apology published on May 19, referring to a letter written by Yvon Lavoie of Granby that was published in the opinion section the previous day.
Lavoie, however, is not backing down from what he wrote.
In particular, CIJA condemned Lavoie for describing Auschwitz as “a lucrative Jewish propaganda business,” saying that Jews were warned in advance of the 9/11 attacks and referencing the power and influence of Jews, all “under the pretext of criticizing Israel.”
Reacting to the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Lavoie argued that Jews now control “a great part of the American economy,” and that “the real U.S. embassy in Israel is the White House.”
According to Turcotte, “The letter, entitled ‘Trump and Israel,’ consists of remarks that have no place in our publications. The Tribune endorses none of these allegations. The publication of this letter was an error. We favour a plurality of opinions, but we also have the responsibility to reject any letter in which the content is inaccurate or at least offensive.”
He apologized to the Jewish community and other readers of the paper, which is the only French-language daily in the Eastern Townships.
“We are satisfied with La Tribune’s apology to its readers and the Jewish community, as well as the removal of this outrageously anti-Semitic letter from the daily’s website,” stated CIJA Quebec co-chair Rabbi Reuben Poupko. “We are confident that this grievous breach of journalistic ethics will not reoccur at La Tribune.”
On May 22, the online publication Présence Information Réligieuse carried a story on the matter by journalist François Gloutnay. He quoted Lavoie as saying that he is not anti-Semitic, but rather “simply fed up that, for all sorts of reasons, many groups play the victim card in order to do what they want on this planet.”
Lavoie said that on a recent organized trip to Poland, he refused to visit Auschwitz because the site has become “a very lucrative business of Jewish propaganda, in which the goal is, according to me, to create a space for an international gag order forbidding us any criticism.”
Rabbi Poupko said such views are “shocking, intolerable and extremely disturbing.”
La Tribune is owned by the Groupe Capitales Médias chain, which is headed by Martin Cauchon, a former federal Liberal cabinet minister.