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Sunday » August 21 » 2005
U of O professor accused of hosting anti-Semitic website
Group files complaint over 'wild theories' that blame Jews for 9/11
The Ottawa Citizen
Saturday, August 20, 2005
CREDIT: Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen
University of Ottawa professor Michel Chossudovsky says research on his website is 'anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic.'
A Jewish group has filed a complaint to the University of Ottawa against one of its professors after the discovery of content on his website that blames Jews for the terrorist attacks on the United States, and claims the numbers who died at Auschwitz are exaggerated.
The website, www.globalresearch.ca, also reprints articles from other writers that accuse Jews of controlling the U.S. media and masterminding the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Other postings suggest Israel, the U.S. and Britain are the real perpetrators of the recent attacks on London.
The site, which is not hosted by the university, is run by Michel Chossudovsky, a controversial left-leaning economist, and came to the attention of B'nai Brith Canada after public complaints to the advocacy group and the Citizen.
"The material on the site is full of wild conspiracy theories that go so far as to accuse Israel, America and Britain of being behind the recent terrorist bombings in London," said Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B'nai Brith Canada. "They echo the age-old anti-Semitic expressions that abound in the Arab world, which blame the Jews for everything from 9/11 to the more recent tsunami disaster."
The organization singles out a discussion forum, moderated by Mr. Chossudovsky, that features a subject heading called "Some Articles On The Truth of the Holocaust." The messages have titles such as "Jewish Lies of Omission (about the 'Holocaust')," "Jewish Hate Responsible For Largest Mass Killing at Dachau," and "Did Jews Frame the Arabs for 9/11?"
Another posting suggests the number of Jews who died at Auschwitz during the Second World War is inflated.
None of the postings is written by Mr. Chossudovsky himself.
Under Canadian law, website owners can be liable for material they knowingly post, even if they haven't produced it themselves.
"I know this isn't his own writing, but he's certainly got a responsibility for the website, which, I checked, is registered in his name," said Anita Bromberg, B'nai Brith's legal counsel and human rights co-ordinator.
The site identifies Mr. Chossudovsky as the director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and editor of globalresearch.ca. His wife, Micheline Ladouceur, is listed as associate editor. They manages the site out of Montreal.
The site does not mention Mr. Chossudovsky's position at the university, nor does his website at the U of O refer to globalresearch.ca. However, an Internet search of Mr. Chossudovsky's name shows he is listed as an adviser for a Swedish-based group called the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research. Its website contains a biography of Mr. Chossudovsky, his contact information at the U of O and a link to globalresearch.ca.
When reached in South Korea, where he is on a research trip, Mr. Chossudovsky said the offending messages were removed from the forum after he was made aware of them by the Citizen.
But as of late yesterday, some of the postings remain on the site. A discussion thread about 9/11, contained a message that casts doubt on the Auschwitz death count. Other postings under a forum on globalization have titles such as "The Hilarious Auschwitz Story" and "The HolyCo$t Lie is Finished."
Mr. Chossudovsky indicated that despite monitoring the forum "periodically," he did not know about the inflammatory messages, even though they had been posted since March. He added that while he has received complaints before about offensive content on the site, the volume of messages on the forum makes it difficult for him to control what is posted.
"We don't choose the articles that go up, and when we see that there are texts which are racist or hateful, we do, to the best of our abilities, try to remove them."
Mr. Chossudovsky described himself as being of Jewish descent, and said he has relatives who were Holocaust victims. "I'm the first person to withdraw any kind of hate material directed against the Jewish people."
He went on to defend the reprinted articles that have also sparked complaints, saying they are legitimate commentary representing views that are "anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic."
"It's an analysis of Israeli policy which we don't support," said Mr. Chossudovsky, an antiwar commentator and an outspoken critic of U.S. and Israeli policies.
He also noted the site contains a disclaimer saying the articles posted don't necessarily reflect his views as editor.
Jewish students at the University of Ottawa said they have so far received no complaints about the site, but maintain Mr. Chossudovsky has not gone far enough to ensure the website is free of material they consider offensive.
"As an organizer of the site, especially if he is of Jewish descent and his family has gone through the atrocities of the Holocaust, he should take a more active interest in what is posted and published on the site," said Nicole Advocat, an executive member of the university's Jewish Students Association.
Ms. Advocat, a second-year international relations major, worries other students will stumble on to the site.
"Students will come here looking for research information on the topic of globalization. I know as a globalization student, I'm often looking for different sites that can help me find articles and relevant information. And for students who aren't educated about the Holocaust, they could look at this information and say, 'This is the truth.' "
Ms. Bromberg said despite Mr. Chossudovsky's efforts to distance the website from the university, there is a chance students could happen upon it.
"The bottom line is, he is a professor at a leading university, which gives him credibility. ... It worries me what students, who may be very ill-equipped, face. He has an obligation as a professor towards the young minds he teaches."
B'nai Brith is monitoring the website closely, and putting pressure on the U of O to act. "His connection with the university might put some responsibility on the university to hold him to a certain standard of acceptable civil discourse," said Ms. Bromberg.
A U of O spokesman said the university has not yet received a complaint from B'nai Brith, and is not prepared to intervene. "Until we're approached, it's something that we just don't see a role for us to be involved in," said Bob LeDrew.
A specialist in globalization and the economics of developing countries, Mr. Chossudovsky, 59, has a reputation for producing radical critiques often out of step with the views of his colleagues.
Since 1968, when he left his native Switzerland to take a position at the U of O, Mr. Chossudovsky has produced research that keeps him on the margins of mainstream academia, but wins praise from anti-establishment intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky.
While he is rarely quoted in mainstream academic journals, Mr. Chossudovsky is a popular figure among anti-globalization activists, and is widely quoted in newspapers. He writes regularly for the French-language monthly Le Monde diplomatique, and his books, published by a small printing house in Britain, have been translated into 11 languages.
Students who take his courses rave about his unorthodox views, going so far as to dub him "Canada's Chomsky."
More recently, Mr. Chossudovsky's research has turned his attention to terrorism. He has written articles accusing the U.S. of plotting to conquer the world with Britain and Israel, and suggesting Osama bin Laden is a CIA asset.
A forthcoming book entitled America's "War on Terrorism" In the Wake of 9/11 is described on globalresearch.ca as an expose that "blows away the smokescreen, put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an 'intelligence failure.' "
But even sympathetic colleagues familiar with his work admit they are uncomfortable with many of his ideas.
"Among people who work on terrorism, there certainly is not much that resembles his work," said Michael Dartnell, a political scientist at York University. "The thing that disturbs me about what he's doing is there is a conspiratorial element to it. And I can't prove or disprove it."
Nonetheless, added Mr. Dartnell, Mr. Chossudovsky's ideas reflect a public sentiment that is suspicious of the motives of government.
"He wants, probably for very sincere reasons, to formulate a substantive critique of what the U.S. government is doing. I'm just not really clear that he's successful in doing that."
© The Ottawa Citizen 2005
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