For more than six months now, Ernst Zundel has been held without charge in solitary confinement in Canada on the pretext that he is a threat to national security. In fact, this 64-year-old German-born writer, publisher and civil rights activist is a political prisoner and a victim of great injustice.
Who is this man, and why is his case important?
Zundel was arrested at his home in Tennessee on Feb. 5, where he had been living peacefully with his wife, Ingrid Rimland, on the pretext that he missed an interview date with immigration authorities. Two weeks later he was deported to Canada, even though his wife is an American citizen.
Claiming that he is a national security threat, Canadian authorities have been holding Zundel since Feb. 19. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) — something like the American FBI — supports this charge by citing tenuous and years-old ties by Zundel to “white supremacist” groups. While acknowledging that he is not violent himself, CSIS also argues that material published by Zundel might cause “like-minded individuals to engage in violence.”
There is absolutely no basis for the “security threat” charge. Zundel’s life is an open book. He is a peaceful man with no record of violence. During the 40 years he lived in Canada, he was never convicted of a crime. In fact, he has himself been a victim of hate and violence. He survived at least three attempts on his life, including a devastating arson attack against his residence.
Jewish groups are demanding that Zundel be deported to Germany, where he faces years of imprisonment for the “thought crime” of “denying the Holocaust.” (“Holocaust denial” is against the law in Germany, France, Switzerland and some other European countries.)
Zundel is in prison not because his views are unpopular, or because he’s a “security risk.” He’s in prison because Jewish groups want him there. He’s a prisoner because he promotes views that the Jewish-Zionist lobby considers harmful to its interests.
This lobby is the decisive, critical factor in the decades-old campaign to silence him. The only sustained and institutionalized effort to imprison him has come from this lobby, which includes the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association, and the League for Human Rights of B’nai B’rith (with the Anti-Defamation League, its counterpart in the US).