Holocaust museum ad causes controversy for student paper p. 33

By: Dorothy Giobbe Ad saying Holocaust museum lacks proof runs across from ad for the movie Schindler's List sp.

STUDENTS FLIPPING THROUGH the Justice, a 4,000-circulation weekly distributed at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., might have thought they were hallucinating.
In the Dec. 7 issue, diagonally across from an ad for the movie Schindler's List, which deals with the treatment of Polish Jews during World War II, another ad said the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington "displays no proof anywhere of homicidal gassing chambers and no proof that even one individual was gassed at any camp liberated by Allied armies."
The ad, created and paid for by the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, is typical of revisionist theory, which supports variations on a basic theme of Holocaust denial. The CODH is Bradley Smith, who works out of his home in Visalia, Calif.
Smith's ads also have appeared in newspapers at the University of Michigan and Cornell, Georgetown and Duke universities.
Perhaps in anticipation of the storm of controversy that would come with publication, Smith lashed out in the ad against "academic bureaucrats, career-driven professors" and "f?hrers of conformity" who would seek to silence him.
"I published that ad because I believe at its heart, the Holocaust museum is a fraud," Smith said.
Howard Jeruchimowitz, senior editor and editorial board member, said, "In my four years here at the Justice, this is probably the most troubling thing we've ever had to deal with."
Publication of the ad sparked a large demonstration on the predominantly Jewish campus, and on the day of publication, about half of the papers were stolen from distribution sites. The copies later were replaced, and the distribution sites were monitored by campus security.
No one has claimed responsibility for taking the papers, and campus security is investigating the thefts.
Because the Justice editorial board was aware of the controversy the ad would cause as well as the strong feelings of the Brandeis community, the decision to publish the ad was not made easily.
The board, composed of 17 associate and section editors, held a series of meetings and emergency sessions before eventually voting to publish the ad and donate the $130 in revenue to the Holocaust museum. The meetings, Jeruchimowitz said, were "heated, emotional and tough for everyone" though consistently, a "substantial majority" favored publishing the ad.
While it's against board policy to discuss proceedings, Jeruchimowitz said "every option was considered," from running the ad as is to rejecting it to including an editorial or disclaimer that condemned the ad's message.
"The arguments against running the ad were very similar to those in the general public: That the ad is full of lies, that it is demeaning and offensive to Jewish people and to humankind in general," Jeruchimowitz said.
The First Amendment, however, was never discussed as justification for running the ad.
"This is not, nor will it ever be, a First Amendment issue," Jeruchimowitz said. "The paper has the right to reject ads. It might be a free-speech issue for Bradley Smith, but not for us."
Letters to the paper from alumni and faculty were both supportive and critical. Some suggested that the Justice was allowing itself to be used as a platform for "hate propaganda." Others said that while raising the issue of anti-Semitism is constructive, publishing the ad was irresponsible.
Jeruchimowitz said the Justice plans extensive coverage of neo-Nazis in the future, but for the short term, the ad may have helped to stir up the Brandeis community, acting as a form of shock therapy.
"By printing the ad, I think the Jewish community, if they haven't necessarily come together, have awakened and have started to go after Bradley Smith in a more organized fashion," he said. "Other groups have been afraid to deal with this guy and think he will just go away. We've got to start dealing with him and that includes recognizing that his ads are out there."
The message of the ad is even more disturbing in light of recent polls showing rising anti-Semitism in the United States and a growing neo-Nazi movement in Germany.
"Personally, as an editor, I thought the ad should be printed because the issues of anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and the rise of neo-Nazism in America need to be exposed to the Brandeis community so that we can deal with it as a community," Jeruchimowitz said. "I think the Jewish community has been quiet far too long."
When asked if he was concerned that the message in his ad might spur violence against Jews, Smith wondered, "What has that got to do with the ad?"
While Smith added that he is creating more ads denying the validity of the Holocaust museum, there is no guarantee that the Justice would accept them.
"Personally, I think it's dangerous if college newspapers were to set policy on what to do every time we got these ads," Jeruchimowitz said. "We're here to learn, and whether it's right or wrong, we will learn either way."
Smith, when asked about the issue, only repeatedly insisted, "Not one journalist has had the good sense to question the gas chamber exhibit at the museum. You would do well to ring them up and ask which exhibit displays proof of the gas chambers' existence."
? (The controversial ad is at the lower right, diagonal from the movie ad.) [Photo and Caption]


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