In his Now Magazine article “Facebook Removes Anti-Semitic Post after Online Blowback,” Bernie Farber explains that “the Facebook ravings on the social media site of Anthony Hall,” a tenured professor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, have been identified as anti-Semitic. This statement might lead readers to believe that there were anti-Semitic ravings by Dr. Hall on his Facebook page, but as the article makes clear, there are no examples of such ravings by Dr. Hall, only by “one Glen Davidson,” who we are told posted these ravings on Dr. Hall’s page.
Farber goes on to state that Dr. Hall “has publicly embraced the ridiculous and obnoxious notions of Gerard Menuhin, who has purported to have proof that the Holocaust is a myth.”
Farber does not attempt to dismiss any of this proof, as one might expect an objective journalist to do, but instead takes the position that such proof can be dismissed out of hand as false without any investigation.
By comparison, Dr. Hall sounds like the more reasonable person for having actually looked at Menuhin’s book Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil. Note, too, that when Hall says “I’m reading that text and having to reassess a lot of ideas,” he does not say that he has changed his ideas, only that he is reassessing his ideas. Again, Hall sounds like the more courageous thinker for his willingness to reassess his thinking on a narrative as seemingly sacrosanct as the Jewish holocaust.
Having not yet said anything that convinces me Dr. Hall is an anti-Semite, Farber adds, “Hall reportedly linked Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, with 9/11.” The role of Mossad, along with the CIA, in the 9/11 attacks is a fact well documented by credible journalists and scholars and widely disseminated online and in books. It is public knowledge and in the public domain. To admit the role of Mossad and the CIA in 9/11 is to admit the villainy of national governments and their foreign policies. Jewish identity and anti-Semitism have nothing to do with it.
Regarding the anti-Semitic Facebook post that did not even originate with Dr. Hall, Farber writes, “To the best of my knowledge, Hall was never moved to delete this post himself.” An unbiased journalist would have contacted Dr. Hall and asked him about this matter. Well, I did contact Dr. Hall, and he informed me that he didn’t even know that the post was up on the “wall” of his Facebook page until after it had been taken down and after he had learned of the resulting controversy. So, here again, Farber offers no proof that Dr. Hall is even remotely anti-Semitic.
Not only that, but Dr. Hall’s award-winning two-volume book The Bowl with One Spoon, published by respected arbiter of scholarly history McGill-Queen’s University Press, gives every indication that Dr. Hall is the opposite of a racist, particularly in light of his deep commitment to exposing the plight of Indigenous peoples. Indeed, renowned Canadian scholar Naomi Klein, who happens to be Jewish, doesn’t seem to think that Dr. Hall is a racist either. On the cover of Dr. Hall’s book, she writes, “I cannot overstate the importance of this book. If used properly, it could change the world.”
Nonetheless, Farber goes on to bemoan that “the combined efforts of B’nai B’rith Canada and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs were unable to move the University of Lethbridge to take action against Hall.” I would like to believe that this unwillingness on the part of the University of Lethbridge to help B’nai B’rith destroy Dr. Hall’s career is due to the university’s professed commitment to liberal education and liberal values, even if Farber does portray Lethbridge as a racist backwater in conservative Alberta, where Hall is said to have “found a comfortable home amongst Holocaust deniers.”
I would like to believe that the unwillingness of the University of Lethbridge to help B’nai B’rith destroy Dr. Hall’s career is due to the fact that, as a nation, Canada has shown itself willing to reconsider history when there is good cause. Notably, Canadians have recently begun the hard process of re-evaluating our own history with respect to our nation’s cultural and physical genocide against our Indigenous peoples. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools has just published a six-volume final report on its findings, and in the tradition of scholars like Dr. Hall, this report shows fearlessness in confronting past lies so that history can better reflect the truth, however uncomfortable that truth may be.
I would like to believe that the unwillingness of the University of Lethbridge to help B’nai B’rith destroy Dr. Hall’s career is due to the university’s high ideals and Canadian bearing, but when I contacted Dr. Hall, he informed me that the University of Lethbridge has indeed asked him to step down from his tenured position after twenty-six years as a professor. It seems that the university is ready to bow to outside pressure and to sacrifice Dr. Hall. I’m sure that Farber’s biased account of the anti-Semitic posting on Dr. Hall’s Facebook page did little to help Dr. Hall’s chances of staving off B’nai B’rith’s attack.
Farber’s misrepresentation of Dr. Hall is no less offensive than the crime of which Dr. Hall is accused, namely misrepresentation of the Jewish holocaust. The difference between the two is that, in the case of Farber, his accusation that Dr. Hall is an anti-Semite is clearly baseless, whereas Dr. Hall’s willingness “to reassess a lot of ideas” about the history of the Second World War seems to be well thought out given his reputation as a respected historian.