a conspiracy to lie, within an army unit already sworn to pro-israel propaganda

JPost admits it has no evidence for “go back to the ovens” claim
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada, Nov 28 2019

Shar Leyb, second from right in bottom row. (via Facebook)

The JPost has conceded that it has no credible evidence for accusing students at Canada’s York University of shocking anti-Jewish bigotry. The JPost initially claimed that hundreds of students protesting the presence of IOF soldiers on their Toronto campus on Nov 20, chanted “Intifada, Intifada, go back to the ovens” at Jewish participants. They were protesting an event hosted by Reservists on Duty, a group that brings IOF soldiers to speak on campuses. The newspaper has now admitted that the evidence-free accusation was made by a former member of an IOF death squad who is now part of an elite propaganda outfit. It offered no substantiation for the inflammatory accusation, and despite there being numerous videos from the event, none provides any evidence to support the assertion. Moreover, the group Christian Peacemaker Teams, whose members witnessed the event, says the chant never happened. Yet the initial accusation was accepted on its face by Canadian leaders. PM Trudeau joined in the attack on the York students, accusing them of directing “violence and racist chants” against Jews. But it was not Jewish students or supporters of Israel who were attacked and subjected to abuse. It was the students rallying for Palestinian rights who were attacked by members of the JDL. After JDL members assaulted protesters outside the event, Reservists on Duty smeared the protesters as anti-Semites, backed by Israeli media and Canadian politicians. Still, no shred of evidence has emerged a full week later.

A screenshot of the original article in the JPost

On Wednesday, Vancouver-based activist Marion Kawas posted her exchange with the JPost reporter who filed the original story. Kawas emailed the reporter Ilanit Chernik for verification of the serious charge. Chernik replied to Kawas:

One of the speakers who was there, Shar Leyb, told me that this was chanted by the group while they were setting up for their event. I have a recording of him telling me this from when we spoke on Thursday afternoon.

The correspondence has been seen by The Electronic Intifada. Leyb, a member of Reservists on Duty, is a Canadian who settled in Israel and joined the army. Leyb stated during the Nov 20 event that he was a member of Duvdevan, an elite IOF unit whose members often disguise themselves as Palestinians in order to carry out extra-judicial executions. Leyb even described taking part in a raid on a Palestinian home where young children were sleeping, during which the combat soldiers confronted a woman holding a toddler. But whether in combat gear or not, Leyb still considers himself on a mission for the IOF. During the Nov 20 event, Leyb said he was part of the Gideon group, a “Reservists on Duty flagship project” whose members undergo “intensive training” in Israeli propaganda. The unit aims to smear Palestine solidarity activism as “anti-Semitism.” According to the group’s Facebook page, Leyb joined a 2017 tour as part of Reservists on Duty “to give their testimony and to battle the outrageous lies that delegitimize the IOF and the State of Israel.” As Kawas points out, Leyb clearly had an agenda to smear the Palestine rights supporters,  and the JPost helped him. Hours after the initial email exchange, Kawas says that the JPost issued an update to its article, which slightly amended the lead sentence to attribute the chant to “several protesters.” The JPost also added an editor’s note, claiming:

A mistake in editing accidentally attributed the chant to all of the protesters at the event. This was not the case. The comment was made by a handful of protesters to some of the organizers.

Yet this effort at spin is no more honest than the original article. There is still no published evidence to support the claim that anyone at all chanted “go back to the ovens.” Lawyer and human rights campaigner Dimitri Lascaris says:

I have examined over 50 separate video clips taken at the York University protest, but found no evidence of violent or anti-Semitic conduct on the part of Palestinian solidarity activists. Shar Leyb speaks in six of the dozens of video clips, but in none of them could pro-Palestinian protesters be heard to chant the words “Go back to the ovens.” At no time in any of those clips did Leyb claim to have heard pro-Palestinian protesters chant “Go back to the ovens.” The damage has been done. The smear was repeated and repeated, and a half-hearted revision five days after the first story will not undo the harm that has been caused. The JPost must release the audio recording of Leyb, because we need to clarify how this dangerous fabrication came about. Was it from the speaker, Shar Leyb, or was it from the newspaper staff itself?

Meanwhile, support for the York students continues to grow, as does outrage at Trudeau and other Canadian politicians who smeared them. On Wednesday, York’s chapter of Amnesty International condemned the presence of Israel military personnel on campus and the attacks on the student protesters. Christian Peacemaker Teams, whose members witnessed assaults by JDL Canada members, listed on Tuesday multiple specific instances of attacks on protesters. Such attacks, CPT states, included threats of raping and stabbing demonstrators. The group also said that no one chanted what Leyb claimed to the JPost. Jewish activist group If Not Now slammed university administrators and top politicians for failing to condemn the JDL. Earlier this week, Independent Jewish Voices Canada admonished Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford. The group said that the politicians’ smears of the protesters were “a thinly veiled attempt to continue to silence Palestine solidarity movements and individuals who stand up for human rights.”

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