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 Posted Sunday, October 6, 2002

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada, March 24, 1997



Nazi snitch line divides Jews

by Stephen Bindman

OTTAWA -- A bitter feud among leaders of Canada's Jewish community has erupted in public over a proposal to make deals with suspected Nazi war criminals who agree to "rat" on their former colleagues.

B'nai Brith Canada has condemned the plan unveiled last week by the Canadian Jewish Congress as "morally reprehensible."

"I think it is an insult to the memory of all those who died in the Holocaust that we are making deals with war criminals who may be much more guilty than the ones they are trying to squeal upon," said Thomas Hecht, a child Holocaust survivor and head of a commission set up by B'nai Brith to lobby Ottawa on the war crimes issue.

Said Lyle Smordin, national president of the Jewish volunteer service organization: "Why would any Jew make a deal with somebody who themselves has committed atrocities against your own people?"

The two national Jewish groups have been at odds with each other for many years and have been unable to mount a common front on the war crimes issue.

But until now the organizations have rarely gone public with their feud.

Last week, the congress, an umbrella group of Jewish organizations and synagogues, announced it had set up a special hotline at its Montreal headquarters to encourage suspected Nazis to come forward and give evidence against their former colleagues.

The phone will be manned by American investigator Steven Rambam, who jokingly called the plan "1-800-rat on a Nazi." He said if suspects are prepared to give credible evidence, the Jewish community would go on their behalf to government to "make a deal for them."

Sol Littman, Canadian representative of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said the plan presents "a very serious moral dilemma which I don't quite know how to resolve."

"What is troubling is whether the Jewish community should serve as a protector and defender of the people who give evidence."

Irving Abella, a noted historian and chair of the congress's war crimes committee, said Nazi hunters have successfully used similar tactics at the U.S. government's Office of Special Investigations.

He said the decision to set up the hotline was not reached lightly and any information obtained will be turned over to the RCMP and Justice Department to decide if deals ought to be made.

"It's to get the RCMP to use a technique it's never used before."

But Winnipeg lawyer David Matas, B'nai Brith senior legal counsel, said it was a "poorly thought out gimmicky initiative that really gets us away from the real problem.

"It is moral repugnant because it means taking the side of mass murderers and saying we will defend you.

"Hypothetically, (Nazi) Adolf Eichmann could walk in the door and offer them iron-clad evidence against someone like Jacob Luitjens and they would offer to defend him. It's ridiculous."

(Luitjens was deported from Canada in 1992 to his native Holland after he was found to have lied about his Nazi past when he came to Canada.)

An incensed Abella called Matas's comments "mischievous and obscene and simply designed to create dissension within the Jewish community."

Last week, Justice Minister Allan Rock refused to comment on the plan.


Related items on this website:

Index to website dossier on the origins of anti-Semitism
Littman's letter to judge after Finta case debacle
Littman's allegation that Josef Mengele was in Canada: Exposed as a lie
Littman's secret letter to Prof Deborah Lipstadt, Oct 3, 1996, enclosing --
-- a smear report on David Irving written by one of his "students" (and pleading with Lipstadt to keep it secret)
Littmann's outraged OpEd in Toronto Star: "Do our jurists need Holocaust classes?"
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