B’nai Brith Canada expressed concern on Thursday after a Canadian mayor awarded a certificate of recognition to Lama TV, which has a history of antisemitic content.
Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of the city of Mississauga which is located west of Toronto, honored Lama TV with the certificate last November. B’nai Brith noted that the show and its founder, Lama Aggad, have made numerous antisemitic remarks including describing "Jewish Zionists" as people who “break agreements.” Lama also has referred to Israel as a “terrorist state,” and called for an “electronic intifada.”
On social media, Aggad falsely and misleadingly insisted that the perpetrator of the murder of a Muslim family in London, Ontario was Jewish, based on the sound of his surname. Her remarks came in response to a B’nai Brith tweet clarifying the attacker was in fact not Jewish and had no connection to Israel.
Canada’s largest multicultural television channel, OMNI, pledged last July to no longer broadcast Lama TV, after B’nai Brith Canada exposed the antisemitic rhetoric used by the program online.
Crombie, when asked by B’nai Brith to rescind her certificate due to Lama TV’s antisemitic comments, said she regretted the incident but rejected the request.
“While I’m unable to retract a certificate of this nature, I’ve asked my team to review our vetting process for these requests to avoid situations like this in the future,” Crombie told B’nai Brith in an email. “At the time (of awarding the certificate) I wasn’t aware of the antisemitic comments posted on Lama TV’s social media accounts. If I had been aware, I can assure you I wouldn’t have given them a certificate.”
B’nai Brith also approached Canadian media giant Rogers about Lama TV’s troubling history. A Rogers spokesman said his conglomerate had not broadcast Lama TV since December of 2020 for “production reasons,” but went on to pledge that it would never work with the program again in light of its antisemitic rhetoric.
“Rescinding the certificate Mayor Crombie apparently granted in error to Lama TV, on behalf of Mississauga, should be as simple as sending an email or making a public statement,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.
“We advised Mayor Crombie and Mississauga City Councillors that Lama TV is leaning on this certificate to whitewash its damaged reputation and secure a new platform for itself. While the Mayor may have been unaware of Lama TV's antisemitism prior to granting the certificate, the damage unintentionally caused is ongoing and needs to be quickly addressed by both the Mayor and City of Mississauga.”
Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in Canada in recent years.
Statistics Canada released its annual survey last March of police-reported hate crimes which found that Jews have remained by far the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in Canada.
The Statistics Canada report found that there were 1,946 police-reported hate crimes in Canada in 2019, up 7 percent from a year earlier.
Toronto itself has experienced a series of disturbing antisemitic incidents in recent weeks. Earlier this week, students at a Toronto school performed a Nazi salute in front of a Jewish teacher.
Two weeks ago, students performed a Nazi salute and depicted the swastika in front of students at another Toronto school.
Several days after that incident, TDSB removed a teacher from the classroom who compared vaccine passports to the yellow Star of David that Jews were forced to wear in the Holocaust.