Anti-Semitic Canadian column ruled OK

TORONTO (JTA) — A Canadian human-rights tribunal has ruled that a newspaper columnist did not violate anti-hate laws when he accused Jews of propagandizing the Holocaust for profit.

The Canadian Jewish Congress had filed the complaint against columnist Doug Collins, who wrote three years ago that Jews had orchestrated a "propaganda exercise" about the Holocaust.

In a 143-page decision handed down Wednesday, the tribunal, based in the province of British Columbia, ruled that the column was anti-Semitic, but that it did not constitute hate literature.

The ruling said Collins' column "presents Jews in a negative light, as powerful propagandists and profiteers, and it depicts, in grossly inaccurate terms, their victimization in the Holocaust."

But the tribunal found the column, offensive as it was, was not "hateful or contemptuous in the sense contemplated by" the British Columbia Human Rights Code.

Civil libertarians hailed the decision as a victory for free speech, even while disagreeing with the opinions expressed in the column.

Michael Elterman, spokesman for the Canadian Jewish Congress, said he was disappointed with the ruling, but added that it contained some positive aspects.

"We expect that the decision will encourage the media, regardless of whether they be mainstream or otherwise, to act responsibly when publishing material that is likely to expose people to hatred or contempt."