Recent video rants by a prominent Canadian conservative commentator about Jews and Israelis were “appalling and offensive,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) says.
But Canada’s two other leading Jewish advocacy groups did not respond to the videos: neither B’nai Brith Canada nor the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies would comment on the online harangues by Gavin McInnes, a star contributor to the right-wing Rebel Media.
During a Rebel mission to Israel from March 4 to 11 and on subsequent videos posted to YouTube and Rebel, McInnes recorded a series of caustic remarks about Israel and Jews in which he sometimes affected an exaggerated Israeli or Jewish accent.
McInnes, a co-founder of Vice Media, said Israelis have “a whiny, paranoid fear of Nazis.”
His Israeli hosts “assume we’re going to listen to all this s–t we get fed,” he added, “That’s having the reverse effect on me: I’m becoming anti-Semitic.”
Describing a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem, “or as I called it,” he said, using air quotes “the Holocaust museum – no, I’m just kidding.”
He said he felt compelled to defend Holocaust deniers.
“I felt myself defending the super far-right Nazis just because I was sick of so much brainwashing and I felt like going, ‘Well, they never said it didn’t happen. What they’re saying is it was much less than six million and that they starved to death and weren’t gassed, that they didn’t have supplies,” McInnes says in one video.
“I’m not saying it wasn’t gassing. Please don’t take that clip out of context, but that’s what the far-right nuts are saying,” he continued.
“It’s like a liberal thing, it’s arguably a white thing, but it’s a Jewish thing to sort of dwell on the past. And this whole nation-state is talking about ‘Seventy-five years ago, my people were killed.’ Always the Jews, always killing us, we are the scapegoats.
“God, they’re so obsessed with the Holocaust. Yes, I know it was bad – don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro-Holocaust.”
McInnes went on to falsely blame Jews for the deaths by starvation of millions of Ukrainians under Josef Stalin. “I think it was 10 million Ukrainians who were killed. That was by Jews. That was by Marxist, Stalinist, left-wing, commie, socialist Jews.”
He also blamed “Jewish intellectuals” for influencing the treaty that ended World War I and paved the way to World War II.
McInnes later uploaded a video titled “10 Things I Hate About Jews,” which was subsequently retitled as “10 Things I Hate About Israel.”
The Times of Israel said McInnes was “apparently drunk” and “wearing an undershirt, [as he] stumbles down a Tel Aviv street ranting about Israel.”
He said Hebrew is “spit-talk,” which is “like Gaza – they’re launching little tiny missiles from your mouth onto your shirt.”
He also griped about Jews’ “whiny paranoid fear of Nazis” and that Israelis don’t support U.S. President Donald Trump because they’re “scared of Christians and Trump, who are their biggest allies.”
After returning to Toronto, McInnes recorded a video, apparently at the airport, in which he expressed surprise that endorsements of his earlier videos had been tweeted by U.S. white supremacists David Duke and Richard Spencer.
“I landed, and I’ve got tons of Nazi friends. David Duke and all the Nazis totally think I rock,” he said to the camera. “No offence, Nazis, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I don’t like you. I like Jews.”
On March 14, CIJA tweeted: “We love humour about Israel. But Gavin McInnes’ ‘10 Things I Hate about Jews’ on Rebel Media just isn’t funny.
“It’s offensive and stupid. If Rebel thinks this helps Israel’s cause, think again.”
Two days later, CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel issued the following statement to The CJN: “McInnes’ comments on the Holocaust and other issues, whatever his intention, were appalling and offensive. Just because one claims to support Israel doesn’t mean they are above criticism for repugnant diatribes that fuel anti-Semitism. A number of McInnes’ comments did just this, as seen in the fact that David Duke promoted his video. While McInnes has publicly rejected Duke’s support, this episode is the inevitable outcome of his inflammatory discourse.”
In an email to The CJN, Rebel Media founder and “commander” Ezra Levant said McInnes “is a provocative commentator and humorist. He’s not to everyone’s taste. But during the week I spent with him in Israel, I laughed more than I have since I was a child. Humourless liberals hate him, but Israelis seem to love him.
“He did a comedy show in Tel Aviv that was standing room only, and people stayed for two hours afterwards to talk with him.”
Levant added that the trip, which took several Rebel personalities to Israel, was “like all of our trips, 100 per cent crowdfunded. We accept no funds from any government, foreign or domestic.”
Levant told the National Observer he didn’t think the “10 Things I Hate About Jews” video was anti-Semitic. The “entire shtick could have been delivered by a comedian in Tel Aviv.”
Levant also said McInnes “is not a Holocaust denier. I just spent a week with him in Israel. I’d call him a bit of a Jew-lover.”
In a March 14 article in the Walrus, journalist Michael Coren called McInnes’ remarks “repulsive and disturbing.”
Federal Conservative leadership candidate Chris Alexander, who has appeared on The Rebel, tweeted his agreement, saying, “No more Rebel Media events for me.”
Kellie Leitch, also a candidate for the Tory leadership and whose “Canadian values” test for newcomers has been endorsed by Rebel Media, called McInnes’ comments “inappropriate, unacceptable, and un-Canadian.”
Leitch added that under her plan, “if Mr. McInnes were not a Canadian, he would not be allowed into the country.”
A 2003 New York Times article quoted McInnes as saying: “I love being white and I think it’s something to be very proud of. I don’t want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a western, white, English-speaking way of life.”