Quebec paper rapped for ‘Shylock’ jabs
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Quebec paper rapped for ‘Shylock’ jabs

La Presse repeatedly invokes Shakespearean anti-Semitic term referring to dishonest moneylenders

Al Pacino as Shylock in the Michael Radford-directed 2004 production of Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' (courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)
Al Pacino as Shylock in the Michael Radford-directed 2004 production of Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' (courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)

MONTREAL – A Quebec newspaper is getting flak for repeatedly using the term “Shylock” in an article on unscrupulous moneylenders.

The headline in Monday’s edition of the daily La Presse was “The New Shylocks,” and the reference also appeared several times in the article.

A sidebar explained the roots of the term – the William Shakespeare classic “The Merchant of Venice”– but failed to mention its anti-Semitic connotations going back several centuries.

The article’s author said in interviews with Canadian media that the term is commonplace in the province and was not meant to offend.

However, Luciano del Negro, vice president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, responded that it did not make the newspaper’s use of the term acceptable and offered as an alternative the French word for “usurer,” or usurier.

La Presse, which was founded in 1884, has a circulation of over 200,000.

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