The Caribbean Camera is not antisemitic



When The Caribbean Camera was launched in 1990, we had some community papers in Canada that were seen as Black.

The Caribbean Camera carved out a space that we could occupy – Black but without a “race” label. That created a problem for us.

Many in Canada still do not fully understand the region we came from and our culture. Black people born in Trinidad and Tobago, have more in common with persons born in Jamaica or Guyana than with those Black from the United States.

We had a Trinidad and Tobago-born editor of South Asian descent and some very vocal Black individuals thought that because of the editor’s race he could not or should not be able to speak on Black issues, although he was having the same experience as they had. He should “stay out of Black people business,” they kept saying.

Members of the Jewish community outside Temple Aaron

Today we have similar problems though to a smaller degree than in the days when the paper was mainly accepted as a Black paper by community leaders such as the late Dudley Laws and Charlie Roach and Kingsley Gilliam along with our mostly South Asian Caribbean advertisers.

The Caribbean Camera gained prominence when we came on the scene in 1990 because it was the only paper that was in close touch with newsmakers in Trinidad and Tobago when there was an attempted coup in that country. We had a direct line to journalists in Port of Spain and news gatherers from the CBC, CTV and other Canadian organizations camped out at our offices to get the latest information before their reporters got down to Trinidad and Tobago.

Temple Aaron, a synagogue in Port of Spain, Trinidad has served the Jewish community for over 140 years

Then when Garth Drabinsky brought “Show Boat” to a theatre in Canada and the community got up in arms about it, The Caribbean Camera called on the community to see the production before condemning it. That was when we were called the voice of reason in the Black community by Laurie Goldstein, a publisher from a mainstream newspaper, and we were presented with an offer from a Jewish group who said that they would support the paper if we would, in turn, support the Jewish community, an offer we rejected.

About 20 years ago, we published an article about the Jews who came to Trinidad as refugees from Nazi Europe in 1938. They were among the thousands of refugees who came to the Caribbean during the Second World War.

Many of the Jews who settled in Trinidad started new businesses in the country and the Star of David can be seen on the uniforms of the officers of the Trinidad and Tobago Police services.

The Jewish section of the Mucurapo cemetery in Port of Spain contains the graves of some of the members of Jewish families who made Trinidad their home.

Why am I talking about this is January 2024?

The reason will surprise those who know us. There is a Jewish group in Canada that wants to brand The Caribbean Camera as antisemitic because of four articles that appeared in our paper since the conflict between Israel and Hamas flared up on October 7, 2023.

By the way, we have done the math and here it is. In the last 33 years, The Caribbean Camera has published over five thousand commentaries and the Jewish group in question calls us antisemitic because we have had four articles in our paper that did not agree with their stance on the war.

And let us not forget that the views of our columnists do not always reflect the views of The Caribbean Camera.

Yes, we said that Hamas was not justified in attacking Israel last October, killing over 1200 people and taking over 200 people as hostages.

But can this justify the killing of over 25,000 people and the destruction of what looks like over 60 per cent of the structures in Gaza, destroying the hospitals and having over a million people on the run with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

And when they get to the south, Israel decides that they must now move to the north because that is their (Israel’s) next target area. Gaza is not like Toronto where you can easily move people on buses, trains, cars and planes. Ninety per cent of the people there are moving on foot and they are hungry.

Before the war, hundreds of trucks came in to Gaza every day with aid and these were was not enough to satisfy the needs of the hungry people there.

Our Jewish critics must understand that because we criticized the unfair behaviour of Benjamin Netanyahu with respect to the Palestinians does not make us antisemitic.

They should also bear in mind that there are many Jews in Israel who also disagree with the policies of Netanyahu and surely, they are not antisemitic.