Sunday, September 9, 2007

ADL, The Aggressive Demonization League

by Michael K. Smith

Founded in 1913, the Anti-Defamation League has long since become an Orwellian inversion of its civil rights incarnation, pursuing slander and distortion with obvious relish, targeting Holocaust revisionists with special venom. As the great anti-Zionist critic Alfred Lilienthal pointed out nearly thirty years ago, "The ADL's earlier emphasis on stamping out genuine prejudice and bigotry gave way long ago to acts of defamation, spying, and publishing spurious literary productions, motivated by support of Israel and effected by eliminating critics of Zionist tactics." (The Zionist Connection, p. 405)

Consider ADL's trashing of Holocaust revisionist Bradley Smith, available on the ADL website. Smith, currently enjoying a refreshingly open-minded response to his ideas in Mexico, has recently outlined revisionist claims as centering on the following:

(1) It can't be demonstrated that Germany had a policy to exterminate the Jews of Europe or anyone else by putting them in gas chambers or killing them by abuse and neglect

(2) It can't be demonstrated that 6 million Jews were "exterminated" during WWII

(3) It can't be demonstrated that homicidal gas chambers existed in any camp in Europe under German control.

(4) It can't be demonstrated that the awful scenes of the dead and emaciated inmates captured on newsreel footage at Dachau, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen were the victims of intentional killing or starvation.

(5) It cannot be demonstrated, as the Holocaust Industry claims, that there are "tons" of captured German documents which prove the mass murder of Jews and others in homicidal gas chambers.

(6) It cannot be demonstrated that, as was claimed during war crimes trials, that Jews were cooked to make soap from their fat, or skinned to make lampshades from their hides.

(7) It cannot be demonstrated that during the war the Red Cross, the Pope, humanitarian agencies, the Allied governments, and prominent figures such as FDR, Truman, Churchill, Eisenhower all knew about "gas chambers" but really did not want to talk about it.

In seeking to evaluate ADL's criticism of Smith, we naturally turn to the evidence advanced against his claims. In the present instance this is an easy task. No evidence is provided. ADL shirks debate in favor of characterizing Smith as a failure, a crackpot, and a Jew-hater. Purity of motive, not persuasiveness of argument, is their sole concern.

ADL starts off by claiming that Smith "tries to present himself" as a free speech activist, when in reality they feel he is a "propagandist for the Holocaust denial movement." No evidence is introduced to support the assumption that there is a contradiction in being a free speech activist and promoter of Holocaust revisionism. But it must be obvious that being a free speech activist does not depend on holding any particular view of the Holocaust, orthodox or unorthodox. All it takes is to defend people whose speech rights have been denied. There is no doubt that Smith has done this - defending Ernst Zundel, Robert Faurisson, and Germar Rudolf - among others, who have been repeatedly tried for heresy for questioning the existence of homicidal gas chambers in WWII. The ADL simply ignores this.

ADL also criticizes Smith on the grounds that he is motivated to promote "anti-Israel propaganda," suggesting that there is something sinister in this. But if one objects to apartheid on principled grounds, what's wrong with engaging in anti-apartheid activism? I don't recall ADL complaining that criticizing South African apartheid was a form of anti-white racism, so why should we assume that criticizing Israel's apartheid is anti-Jewish hatred?

ADL goes on to smear Smith as a "Holocaust Denier," i.e., a racist of the worst sort. But why is it racism to want to revise our understanding of the Holocaust, so that we do not regard as true what cannot be proven? There can't be racism in trying to get the facts right, which cannot be done when free inquiry is punished with financial ruin, heresy trials, imprisonment, beatings, and book shreddings, a dreadful sequence imposed on Holocaust revisionists with dismal regularity. If the facts are as obvious as ADL believes they are, why the need to resort to such draconian measures?

ADL passes over the crimes committed against revisionists without any criticism at all, as though it were perfectly natural to punish people for speech. Consider this: "Although an arson attack on IHR's building that month (July 1984) apparently caused the Institute to indefinitely divert its attention from Smith's manuscript ("The Holocaust Cult and the Suppression of Free Inquiry") Smith's enthusiasm for the IHR and Holocaust denial only grew." This is a very curious comment. The suggestion is that we should allow ourselves to be intimidated by fire-bombings. No doubt we all are indimidated by acts of barbaric violence, but to imply that we should meekly submit to such terrorism is very odd. By that logic, Martin Luther King should have abandoned his effort to dismantle Jim Crow after white racists bombed his house.

ADL likewise provides no critical comment about Smith's work on the IHR newsletter "Prima Facie," merely belittles it on the grounds that it didn't last very long because of budget constraints. So what? Many fine publications have quickly gone out of business due to financial pressures, and there is no known correlation between quality of social commentary and success in the marketplace.

In attempting to discredit the Institute for Historical Review, (for which Smith formerly worked) by referring to the Mermelstein trial, in which the court forced the Institute For Historical Review to pay a reward offered to anyone who could prove the existence of gas chambers, ADL doesn't provide any evaluation of the trial and also neglects to mention that IHR in fact did not recant its revisionist beliefs in spite of all the "legal" pressure brought to bear on the organization in an attempt to force it to do so. And ADL admits that a subsequent lawsuit was dropped. Apparently, orthodoxy is hard to impose by judicial fiat.

The ADL returns to its "failure" theme in its references to the Institute For Historical Review's Media Project. No substantive criticism is advanced, rather, ADL simply asserts that Smith failed to "provok[e] discussion about the landmark documentary Shoah," a failure that could easily be accounted for by the fact that the Holocaust Industry is massively funded and completely dominates the media irrespective of what the facts about the Holocaust are. But ADL doesn't investigate the reason for the "failure," merely implies that Bradley Smith is a racist loser, as though that characterization had some bearing on revisionist claims.

ADL continually resorts to "small is ugly" rhetoric, belittling Smith's work on the "Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust" on the grounds that initially the committee allegedly only had two members. Even if this is true, so what? Lots of great undertakings have started small; in fact, nothing great can be achieved if you are unable to start small. This kind of anti-small commentary shows that ADL is incapable of dispassionate analysis, continually injecting its prejudice instead.

The rest of ADL's commentary on CODOH is equally lacking in substance. In an attempt to discredit Smith via guilt by association ADL claims that CODOH was initially funded by William Curry, a "self-proclaimed anti-Zionist" who used his money to promote two beliefs: "that Israel has no right to exist and that the Holocaust was nothing but 'World War II propaganda.'" No evidence of the alleged funding link is given and no direct quotes of William Curry's are provided so that the reader can verify the claims. But I see nothing wrong with saying Israel has no right to exist, if in fact Curry said it. No state has a right to exist and Israel's constant insistence that its "right to exist" be recognized is a demand for special rights nowhere recognized under international law. Meanwhile, our neo-con war engineers are quite openly engaged in ending states that they label "rogue." So if states have a right to exist, ADL should be complaining about that. They're not.

Turning to the second alleged claim, that the Holocaust is "nothing but" WWII propaganda, the implication is that Curry claimed that nothing terrible happened to Jews at all during WWII. Since we don't have any quotes from Curry himself, not to mention the context he may have uttered them in, we can't evaluate the claim. But as a general matter revisionists do not, in fact, deny that Jews were treated brutally at the hands of the Nazis. What's at issue is whether or not homicidal gas chambers accomplished the killings, whether the killings were intentional or a byproduct of deteriorating wartime conditions, and what the Jewish death total was. There is nothing inherently racist in pursuing such questions, any more than it is racist to claim that American Indians were wiped out by disease rather than deliberate genocide.

As for Smith's "Campus Project," ADL decribes it as placing "Holocaust-denying advertisements" in college papers. But what is a "Holocaust denying advertisement?" ADL provides not a clue. The original public challenge Smith issued, according to ADL, was, "The Holocaust Story: How Much is False?" This, in fact, is not a denial at all, but a perfectly straightforward query about the relative accuracy of conventional views of the Holocaust, leaving open the possibility that these views are 0% false. It is the kind of question we should be asking all the time, not just about the Holocaust, but about our conventional understandings generally. After all, we live in a media-driven, propaganda-saturated environment 24-hours a day, and we therefore hold all kinds of false beliefs. The only way to correct them is to examine and debate them, which the Holocaust Industry refuses to allow.

ADL comments that Smith's ads calling for open debate were "almost universally recognized as a piece of specious anti Semitic propaganda" by college editors, although a perverse few said the ads deserved to be aired on First Amendment grounds. ADL neglects to point out that the latter position is also taken by such dangerous radicals as John Stuart Mill, who pointed out in "On Liberty" that suppression of views regarded as completely false are grounded in a presumption of infallibility. Unfortunately for the ADL, surrendering its presumption of infallibility would lead to questions it doesn't want to answer, like: "When are we going to hear the German side?" and "How do we know the gas chambers really existed?" According to Deborah Lipstadt's "Denying the Holocaust," a book ADL recommends as an excellent debunking of revisionist claims, such questions are evidence of horrifying bias. How so?

Returning to its "small is ugly" theme, ADL attributes Smith's failure to get national publicity for his campus project to "increasingly savvy student communities" rather than an "organized attempt at repression," which they claim Smith attributed the failure to. No information is provided with which to resolve these differing interpretations. Rather, ADL accuses Smith of "conspiratorial megalomania" in allegedly saying this: "The Industry has all the money, all the press, all the professors and all the politicos. None of us can go head to head with the Industry. CODOH is in a guerrilla war [and is composed of] a small band of idealists struggling to overturn a great tyranny. That's what the Industry is, an agent, for great cultural and military tyranny. It promotes and legitimates cultural tyranny in the nations of the West, and military tyranny in the Middle East . . . . The display-ad tactic has become what CODOH tactics must never become - predictable. The Industry understands what we are going to do each academic year, and when we are going to do it, and it is prepared for us. Almost everywhere I probe with the display ads, I'm being stopped in my tracks . . . I'm being neutralized . . . . They are on to [my] game plan."

There is nothing conspiratorial here and it hardly requires megalomania to recognize the immense influence of the Holocaust Industry in making life difficult for a single activist devoted to free inquiry on the Holocaust. The steady outpouring of tear-jerking Holocaust movies, radio shows, newspaper articles, videos, and DVDs alone makes life difficult for anyone attempting to get a dispassionate view of this tragic event, and the frenzied dedication to labeling critics of Holocaust orthodoxy Jew haters makes Smith's comments here perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, reasoned evaluation is not ADL's business.

ADL continues in prejudicial mode when referring to Smith's autobiography as consisting of "recycled" essays on his life (all writers revise and recycle) and his "now-defunct" Web site (websites go in and out of existence all the time). The suggestion is that Smith is a tired hack and a failure. But no evidence is provided for this view and it's irrelevant to all the points at issue in any case.

Curiously unable to understand free speech at all, ADL characterizes Smith's defense of "extremist" European revisionists imprisoned for their beliefs as mere attempts to "portray himself as a free speech advocate," instead of actually being one. And since European revisionist publications are really "extremist attempts to deny the Holocaust and demonize Jews," we needn't worry about the fate of thought criminals languishing in prison. This refreshing admission of contempt for free inquiry and expression is regarded by the ADL as a form of wonderful humanitarianism. The subtext says it all: those who say things that find favor with the Holocaust Industry are entitled to free speech; those who don't are transparent frauds whose rights can be trampled on in the interest of "stopping hate." Intriguing theory.

ADL ends by psychoanalyzing Smith's alleged motives, which requires the skills of omniscience that defenders of Holocaust orthodoxy apparently alone possess. The allegation here is that Smith is peddling his writings because they are "his only means of financial support," as though making a living as a writer were a grave sin. Again, it's the subtext that counts: earning money as a writer is admirable as long as you don't displease the Holocaust Industry. If you do the latter, you are a hate-monger and a fraud.

ADL asserts that "Smith dismisses the records of World War II (which records?), including thousands of documents that were used immediately after the war in the Nuremberg trials, as having been forged by a secret committee (no footnote provided, how do we know this charge is true?); he rejects survivors as greedy charlatans (this is a characterization, where is the direct quote confirming this charge?); he even claims that American GI's who saw the death apparatus in the camps were duped by the American military itself, which was also complicit in the conspiracy." (no footnote or direct quote provided, although we should note that the Holocaust Industry concedes that the International Red Cross inspected the death camps while the mass gassings were allegedly going on, but says it was completely duped by the Nazis. So why is it impossible to believe that U.S. soldiers were duped?)

By the way, is "death apparatus" the same as gas chamber or is this another Holocaust Industry sleight-of-hand job?

The ADL asserts that Smith's writings express "an angry anti-Semitism." The evidence is that he (allegedly) describes Holocaust survivor stories as sado-masochistic, muses about "Israel-Jewish 'Samson' and 'Masada' complexes,' describes Hillel as "the leading private Jewish intelligence agency on college campuses," whose rabbis have "broad political agendas but no spiritual one," are sweaty with self-righteousness and bad faith," and harbor a "lust to control the thoughts of others." He is also accused of being scathingly critical of Simon Wiesenthal.

These are strong opinions, but they are not racist. There may in fact be a lot of sado-masochism in Holocaust survivor stories. The facts of the case are more relevant than the psychological animus behind survivor accounts, but if ADL can speculate about Smith's motives, why can't Smith speculate about the psychology of Holocaust survivors? The Samson and Masada "complexes" are well known. Noam Chomsky, who puts no stock in Holocaust revisionism, warns of the Masada complex behind Israeli policy, saying that it could lead Israel to blow up the world. That hardly makes Chomsky a racist. Secondly, there is no doubt that Hillel plays an important role in the policing of college campuses, which are thoroughly surveilled by Holocaust Industry thought police. David Horowitz has a thoroughgoing campaign to discredit any professor who criticizes Israel, let alone raises questions about the gas chambers. Classes are spied on, reports are drawn up, and professors learn to curtail their criticism.

And look at Dershowitz's successful campaign to have Norman Finkelstein fired from DePaul. Finkelstein merely documents the financial shakedown the Holocaust Industry conducts in the name of "never again." He doesn't raise issues about the gas chambers. But that was enough to get him fired. As for the scathing remarks about Wiesenthal, no context is provided by which to judge them. What grievances does Smith have vis-a-vis Wiesenthal? ADL doesn't say.

ADL concludes saying this: "Most troublingly, Smith appears to recognize that his denial of the Holocaust itself contributes to anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence, especially in the Arab world. Smith writes that Holocaust deniers 'understand that [telling] the truth about the gas chambers . . . will result in Arab fanatics having yet one more moral justification for killing innocent, unarmed Jews.' Yet Smith and his cohorts continue to disseminate their lies anyway."

Notice that ADL changes "telling the truth" (Smith word's) into "disseminat[ing] lies." [ADL's words] What is the justification for this switch? Nowhere in the ADL article is any evidence for homicidal gas chambers offered. So why is it a "lie" to question their existence or even declare that they didn't exist? A "lie" is based on the intent to deceive. Where is the deception in questioning that homicidal gas chambers existed or asserting that they didn't exist? Once again, ADL is presupposing what it needs to prove.

And if the truth causes "Arab fanatics" to blow people up, then it's certainly time to start taking their grievances vis-a-vis Israel and the Holocaust Industry seriously. How many more people have to die so Israel's victimology routine can remain uninspected?

Michael K. Smith is the author of "Portraits of Empire," and "The Madness of King George (illustrations by Matt Wuerker)," from Common Courage Press. He can be reached at

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