Rabbi calls editorial comparing Holocaust with COVID measures 'out of line'

·3 min read

A Saskatchewan rabbi is calling for more reflection after a Moose Jaw news outlet published an editorial comparing COVID-19 public health measures to "what Hitler did to the Jews."

Parent company Glacier Media posted a statement on Monday expressing its “regret for this error” over the editorial, which was posted to its Moose Jaw Today website last Wednesday. It also ran on page A4 of the associated Moose Jaw Express newspaper the same day.

Glacier said the editorial, which has since been removed from the website, did not meet the company's standards.

"The editorial inappropriately compared (COVID-19) pandemic-related lockdowns to the Holocaust,” it said in the post.

Rabbi Jeremy Parnes, from Regina’s Beth Jacob Synagogue, said “using the Holocaust as analogous to (the pandemic) seems way out of line and inappropriate."

Parnes said he wishes Moose Jaw Today would “do a little bit more to think about what it is they’re publishing before they go ahead and publish it, and not have to send regrets, but rather avoid the situation in the first place.”

He’s also concerned that, “Even though the paper expressed regret and says they’ve pulled the article, it’s still out in the online media, and the hard copies are still out there in circulation, because obviously they can’t be withdrawn.”

Titled Questions with no solid answers, the editorial by senior editor Joan Ritchie asked whether gathering restrictions meant to fight the spread of COVID-19 are a "a violation of human rights," and wondered if they could lead to "lockdowns in internment camps."

Moose Jaw Express publisher Robert Ritchie responded to the Leader-Post in an email that “this is an internal issue that we are currently dealing with.” He did not respond to follow-up questions about whether there would be any sort disciplinary or cultural sensitivity training process for the editor.

Glacier’s corporate office has not yet responded to email and phone-call requests for comment.

Lockdown measures for the pandemic and the Nazis’ imprisonment and murder of Europe’s Jews in the Holocaust are “two completely different realities,” Parnes said. He added that likening the two "is to take it out of context, and that’s not helpful.”

“It seems to me irresponsible,” he said.

Parnes added the editorial “might be perceived as hurtful to some, especially people who have had family that suffered in the Holocaust.”

Saskatoon’s Dr. Dennis Kendel, a public health consultant and former registrar with the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons, who raised concerns with the paper about the editorial, said COVID-19 gathering and lockdown restrictions are effective in killing the virus and stopping its spread.

That’s because “it can’t go from one person to another; it can’t replicate … viruses cannot sustain themselves, they cannot survive” if there’s not a human host providing the virus new cells to replicate itself, he said.

As of Monday the south central health zone, which includes Moose Jaw, has recorded 118 COVID-19 variant strain infections. On Tuesday, the region had 111 active COVID-19 cases.

eradford@postmedia.com

Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post