Niki Ashton rejects NDP leadership endorsement from man B'nai Brith calls a Holocaust denier
'We must put a stop to the denial of the Holocaust,' Ashton says
NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton is rejecting unwanted political support from a controversial Canadian-Palestinian that B'nai Brith Canada has singled out as a Holocaust denier.
"It has come to my attention that our campaign was shown support by a member of the public on Facebook known to hold anti-Semitic views and has made public comments denying the atrocities of the Holocaust," Ashton said in a statement Tuesday.
"In no way do I support such views. I do not accept support from people who hold such views."
Ashton issued the statement after B'nai Brith Canada, the Canadian arm of a Jewish group that fights anti-Semitism and racism, pointed out that Nazih Khatatba had endorsed Ashton on the front page of his free newspaper, Meshwar Media, Canada.
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Khatatba has also posted pictures of Ashton on his Facebook page, asking his followers to support her for leader of the New Democratic Party.
B'nai Brith Canada said that Khatatba attended one of Ashton's fundraising events in Mississauga on Aug. 11, where he posed for a picture with her.
A spokesperson for Ashton said her campaign does not have a record of when the photo was taken. Ashton's Facebook page lists an event that day as a fundraiser hosted by the Palestine Aid Society in Mississauga.
"For the record, the photo was taken at a public event and it was not known to [Ashton] or the campaign that it would be used as an endorsement," said the spokesperson.
Earlier this year B'nai Brith Canada drew attention to an Arabic-language program on Rogers TV in which Khatatba called Jewish suffering a "fairy tale." Rogers quickly dropped the program from its roster.
In her rejection of the endorsement, Ashton said members of her family died at the hands of the Nazis and fought the regime in Europe.
"We must put a stop to the denial of the Holocaust," her statement said. "In no uncertain terms. Such hate and violence has no place in our communities."
In an email to CBC, Khatatba said he is not anti-Semetic nor is he a Holocaust denier but has been singled out by B'nai Brith for his criticism of the state of Israel and its actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"For the record, I recognize the genocide of more than six million Jews in the Nazi Holocaust."