Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Win for Internet Speech

The sheriff of Cook County, Ill., grabbed headlines earlier this year when he sued Craigslist, the online classified advertising forum, for allowing posts that he said promoted prostitution. A federal judge in Chicago wisely threw out the suit last week. As Congress has recognized, if an Internet proprietor had to police every posting that a third party put up, the cost would be enormous — and it would likely stifle communications.

Craigslist warns users that offers or solicitations of prostitution are prohibited. Sheriff Thomas Dart argued that its “erotic services” section still included numerous listings for paid sexual services, including some using code words. The company made voluntary changes after the suit was filed, including conducting a manual review of the listings. Late last year, before the suit was filed, it started charging for those ads in an effort to appease critics.

Even without these changes, Craigslist was operating entirely within the law. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects “interactive computer services” — ranging from small bloggers to giant Internet service providers — from liability, in most cases, for speech they did not help create.

The legal question before Judge John F. Grady was not a difficult one. Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, whose decisions are binding in Illinois, ruled in a fair-housing case that Craigslist cannot be held liable for its users’ illegal real estate listings. As Judge Grady rightly concluded, the same logic applies to adult listings.

Other law enforcement officials, including several state attorneys general, have attacked Craigslist recently for its adult listings, despite its immunity under the Communications Decency Act.

This is the wrong approach. Sheriff Dart told the court that his office had conducted sting operations using Craigslist that led to numerous arrests on prostitution and related charges. He seemed to think it was an argument against Craigslist, but it actually shows why suits like his are unnecessary.

Source: The New York Times

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Israel rations Palestinians to trickle of water

From Amnesty International

Amnesty International has accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.

These unreasonably restrict the availability of water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and prevent the Palestinians developing an effective water infrastructure there.

“Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank, while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies. In Gaza the Israeli blockade has made an already dire situation worse,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the OPT.

In a new extensive report, Amnesty International revealed the extent to which Israel’s discriminatory water policies and practices are denying Palestinians their right to access to water.

Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the main source of underground water in Israel and the OPT, while restricting Palestinian access to a mere 20 per cent.

The Mountain Aquifer is the only source for water for Palestinians in the West Bank, but only one of several for Israel, which also takes for itself all the water available from the Jordan River.

While Palestinian daily water consumption barely reaches 70 litres a day per person, Israeli daily consumption is more than 300 litres per day, four times as much.

In some rural communities Palestinians survive on barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended for domestic use in emergency situations.

Some 180,000-200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities have no access to running water and the Israeli army often prevents them from even collecting rainwater.

In contrast, Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools.

Numbering about 450,000, the settlers use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.

In the Gaza Strip, 90 to 95 per cent of the water from its only water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Yet, Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to Gaza.

Stringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has reached crisis point.

To cope with water shortages and lack of network supplies many Palestinians have to purchase water, of often dubious quality, from mobile water tankers at a much higher price.

Others resort to water-saving measures which are detrimental to their and their families’ health and which hinder socio-economic development.

“Over more than 40 years of occupation, restrictions imposed by Israel on the Palestinians’ access to water have prevented the development of water infrastructure and facilities in the OPT, consequently denying hundreds of thousand of Palestinians the right to live a normal life, to have adequate food, housing, or health, and to economic development,” said Donatella Rovera.

Israel has appropriated large areas of the water-rich Palestinian land it occupies and barred Palestinians from accessing them.

It has also imposed a complex system of permits which the Palestinians must obtain from the Israeli army and other authorities in order to carry out water-related projects in the OPT. Applications for such permits are often rejected or subject to long delays.

Restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people and goods in the OPT further compound the difficulties Palestinians face when trying to carry out water and sanitation projects, or even just to distribute small quantities of water.

Water tankers are forced to take long detours to avoid Israeli military checkpoints and roads which are out of bounds to Palestinians, resulting in steep increases in the price of water.

In rural areas, Palestinian villagers are continuously struggling to find enough water for their basic needs, as the Israeli army often destroys their rainwater harvesting cisterns and confiscates their water tankers.

In comparison, irrigation sprinklers water the fields in the midday sun in nearby Israeli settlements, where much water is wasted as it evaporates before even reaching the ground.

In some Palestinian villages, because their access to water has been so severely restricted, farmers are unable to cultivate the land, or even to grow small amounts of food for their personal consumption or for animal fodder, and have thus been forced to reduce the size of their herds.

“Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford,” said Donatella Rovera.

“Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water, and take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources.”

Source: Amnesty International

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Could you ever imagine the Times running something like this? Rattling the Cage: Some victims we are

From The Jerusalem Post

The kill ratio was 100-to-1 in our favor. The destruction ratio was much, much greater than that. To this day, thousands of Gazans are living in tents because we won’t let them import cement to rebuild the homes we destroyed. We turned the Gaza Strip into a disaster area, a humanitarian case, and we’re keeping it that way with our blockade.

Meanwhile, here on the Israeli side of the border, it’s hard to remember when life was so safe and secure.

So let’s decide: Who was the victim of Operation Cast Lead, them or us?

No question - us. We Israelis were the victims and we still are. In fact, our victimhood is getting worse by the day. The Goldstone report was the real war crime. The Goldstone report, the UN debates, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Red Cross, B’Tselem, the traitorous soldiers of Breaking the Silence and the Rabin Academy - those were the true crimes against humanity. This is what’s meant by “war is hell.”

It is we who’ve been going through hell from the war in Gaza. It is we who’ve been suffering.

Gazans? Suffering? What’s everybody talking about?

We let them eat, don’t we?

This imaginary monologue is how we actually see ourselves today. We initiated the war in Gaza, we waged one of the most one-sided military campaigns anyone’s ever seen - and we’re the victims.

We’re fighting off the world with the Holocaust; witness Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the UN with his Auschwitz props. “We won’t go like lambs to the slaughter again,” vowed his protégé, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, in a cabinet discussion of the Goldstone report.

Auschwitz, lambs to the slaughter, Operation Cast Lead. To Israelis today, it’s all of a piece, it’s one story, one unbroken legacy of righteous victimhood.

The truth is that the State of Israel has never been a victim, and our likening of ourselves to the 6 million has been embarrassing from the beginning - but now? After what we did in Gaza? With the stranglehold we have on that society, while we over here live free and easy?

Victims? Lambs to the slaughter? Us?

No, this has gone beyond embarrassing; this is out-and-out shameful.

And, despite our excuses, it’s not that we’re “traumatized” by the past into believing that we’re still weak, still the frightened, powerless Jews about to be led to the gas chambers. Many Holocaust survivors still believe this, and to some very limited extent, this vestigial fear still takes up space in the Israeli mind.
But by now, 64 years after the Holocaust, 42 years after seeing in the Six Day War how strong we’d become, we know, whether we admit it to ourselves or not, that we aren’t the victims anymore. We know we aren’t a continuation of the 6 million but rather a deliberate and stark departure from them.

THE REASON we tell ourselves and the world that we are victims is because we know, whether we admit it to ourselves or not, that victimhood is power. Victimhood is freedom. A victim can’t be told to restrain himself. A victim fighting for survival can’t be accused of abusing his power because, after all, his back is to the wall, he’s desperate.

On the facts, it’s very hard to convince ourselves, let alone the world, that Gaza and its Kassams have pushed Fortress Israel’s back to the wall, that we’re desperate, that we’re struggling to survive. So, to convince ourselves and the world that this really is so, we do two things.

One, we refuse to acknowledge any facts that mar this image of ourselves as victims, and instead go over and over and over only the facts that fit the picture.

We talk only about the thousands of Kassams fired at Sderot; we never mention the thousands of Gazans we killed at the same time.

We talk only about Gilad Schalit; we never mention the 8,000 Palestinian prisoners we’re holding.

And we never mention our ongoing blockade of Gaza or the devastation it does to those people.

The second thing we do to convince ourselves and the world that we’re still victims is to never, ever, ever let go of the Holocaust - because that’s when we really were victims. Victims like nobody’s ever known, victims a million times worse than the Gazans.

Auschwitz, lambs to the slaughter. Remember us, the people of the Holocaust? That wasn’t the Middle East’s superpower you saw fighting in Gaza.

That was the 6 million.

So you can’t blame us. We’re immune from your criticism. We’re the biggest victims the world has ever known. We’re desperate, so don’t tell us about kill ratios and disproportionate use of force and collective punishment. We’re fighting for our survival.

This is what we tell ourselves and the world, and, in the face of what we did and are still doing in Gaza, it has become intolerable. We are not the 6 million. The 6 million were powerless Jews three generations ago; we cannot wrap our abuses of power in their tragedy.

Instead, let’s take a good, hard look at what we did and what we’re doing in Gaza. Then let’s take a good, hard look in the mirror. And then let’s admit who’s the true victim here and now, and, more importantly, who isn’t.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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Help Jewish Voice For Peace Fight efforts to kill the UN Goldstone Gaza report

Fight efforts to kill the UN Goldstone Gaza report

The continued attacks on the Goldstone Report prevent accountability for the civilian victims before, during and after the attack on Gaza -- both Palestinians and Israelis -- and shred the rule of law. That's why we are asking you to say: I support the Goldstone Report. Once you sign, we'll tell you how to easily and quickly lobby Congress and your UN Ambassador in the next few days.

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James Madison University Revises Speech Code of the Month After FIRE, Students Challenge Unconstitutionality

We have good news from the front in the fight to eradicate speech codes from our nation's campuses. James Madison University has revised its policy on Obscene Conduct, no longer banning "lewd, indecent or obscene...expression." Yet the university's strained relationship with First Amendment principles has recently manifested itself in another way, with students charged with offenses for investigating newsworthy events on campus.

First the good news. Torch readers will remember that FIRE expressed concern in September that JMU's policy on obscene conduct had been changed to include not only on-campus but also off-campus expression, threatening a large volume of student speechincluding online expression. The policy was already problematic, banning expression that could be constitutionally protected. (Can you say for certain what is lewd, indecent, or obscene expression as opposed to what is just offensive? Would you trust JMU to always agree with you? I didn't think so.) The revision drastically expanded the policy's reach, giving the administration the power to censor online and off-campus speech. Certainly, as Sam pointed out at the time, there's a great deal of speech on Facebook and other sites that is lewd and indecent but does not reach the high legal standard for obscene expression. In fact, legal "obscenity" is a term generally reserved for hard-core pornography.

Sam's post caught the attention of the JMU student paper The Breeze, which published an article on the policy change. Josh Bacon, director of JMU's Judicial Affairs, told the paper that "the intention is not to police social networking sites," but to protect students from "people who have been exposing themselves off campus." The university may certainly have a legitimate interest in prohibiting such conduct, but as FIRE and JMU students pointed out, the policy need not prohibit "expression" to reach behavior like indecent exposure. Initially, the administration stuck to its guns; Mr. Bacon told The Breeze that "It's an interpretation of how you say expression; is it physical expression? Again, to me, it says obscene conduct, not obscene expression." As Sam responded, "But of course, as anyone who can read the policy knows, what it says is ‘obscene conduct or expression.'" Why a policy that Bacon always insisted was meant only to reach conduct also originally included the word "expression" was never explained. After all, few people consider episodes of indecent exposure like public urination to be legitimate examples of expression.

JMU student and CFN member John Scott penned an excellent essay in The Breeze on the policy change, challenging the ethics and constitutionality of such a policy. The administration promised that the policy would never be enforced to censor protected expression, which was another way of saying it would never be enforced as written. Yet even if the current administration did respect student speech rights in practice, there's no guarantee its successors would follow suit. As John writes, "This is exactly why personal guarantees do not hold the same legal weight as written policy."

FIRE then added to the pressure by naming the policy its Speech Code of the Month for October, writing,

Eliminating two words"or expression"from this policy is a simple change that would leave the administration with full power to punish the kinds of activities it is ostensibly concerned with, and at the same time remove the threat to free expression. The fact that the administration seems unwilling to do so-and is instead resorting to verbal chicanery to try and convince concerned students that the policy doesn't actually prohibit free expression-should be of great concern to anyone who cares about student rights. We hope that JMU students will find Bacon's answer as unsatisfactory as we do and will keep the pressure on the administration to revise this unjust policy.

Today, we are pleased to say that JMU students did not stand down, the pressure continued, and the JMU administration has officially changed the offending policy, deleting "or expression" from the policy. In an e-mail sent to all students, the Office of Judicial Affairs wrote,

University Policy Obscene Conduct J24-101 has been revised and now states: No student shall engage in lewd, indecent or obscene conduct, regardless of proximity to campus.
For more information on this and all University policies please refer to the Student Handbook at:

The new policy can be viewed here. We are glad to announce the policy change and we commend the JMU administration for moving to preserve the constitutional rights of its students to free expression in its policies, just as The College of William & Mary and the University of North Texas, where coalitions of students have worked with FIRE to change their unconstitutional policies, recently did. We also congratulate the JMU students who have done so much to expose the unconstitutionality of the policy, and will be offering further analysis of the change in upcoming blog entries. If you would like to challenge the unconstitutional policies at your school, register for the Campus Freedom Network and contact us at

Yet this incident is unfortunately not the only way in which JMU's administration has demonstrated a questionable understanding of students' rights. Indeed, JMU Judicial Affairs--the office of the aforementioned Josh Bacon, in fact--is currently charging two student journalists from The Breeze for trespassing, disorderly conduct, and failure to follow the order of a university official while investigating a story about trespassing in one of the residence halls, despite the fact that it appears that they did not actually break any college regulations. If the reporters' accounts hold up, JMU's actions would constitute a clear violation of the freedom of the press by punishing student journalists who were investigating a story of general concern while following residence hall policies.

Liberty will not be secure at JMU as long as the administration is willing to unjustly punish student journalists. Unless the facts of the case are different than we have been led to believe (and JMU has provided no countervailing facts), the administration must immediately drop the charges against the students and cancel the hearing currently scheduled for November 5.

Source: FIRE

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Community College in California Suspends Four Professors Without Explanation Following Peaceful Protest

Inside Higher Ed reports that four faculty members at Southwestern College, a San Diego community college, were suspended without explanation following their participation in a peaceful student protest over state budget cuts that would eliminate over 400 of the school's courses. The faculty unionwhose current and former president were among those suspendedis demanding a hearing, which the college must provide within seven days.

Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik writes:

Southwestern officials could not be reached to explain why they took this action. The college's spokeswoman was recently laid off and she has not been replaced. The college's president, Raj Chopra, is reportedly on vacation and his e-mail reply says that he will be off campus until November 13. Chopra's executive assistant gave local reporters a statement that said that the reason for the suspensions could not be made public, and that "the college shares our students' concerns about reductions in state funding for the college. The college respects, values and is committed to freedom of expression."

Philip Lopez, an English professor who is president of the faculty union, said that there is no other possible explanation for the suspensions except the rally. "Nothing else happened the day before," he said.

Despite the school's vague, noncommittal statement, Southwestern's actions certainly do not indicate that the college is committed to free expression.

Source: FIRE

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The Zionist Operation Was a Success

Educated folks are fond of the cynical saying that ‘the only thing we learn from history is that people don’t learn from history.’ Unfortunately some of the worst offenders are professional historians and film documentarians, who cook up singular interpretations of events and serve them up again and again to their followers. Two such mock scholars are Edwin Black, author of The Transfer Agreement, which deals with the 1933 Ha’avara (Hebrew for transfer) Nazi-Zionist trade agreement, and Gaylen Ross, director of Killing Kasztner: The Jew Who Dealt With The Nazis.” As republished books don’t get reviews, Black had to announce, in the 9/23/09 Jerusalem Post, that he put out a new edition, while Ross is more fortunate, with the 10/24 New York Times giving her new documentary a favorable review. Now, Black hopes, a new generation of gullible Zionists will rush out and buy it, unaware of the across- the-political-spectrum critical disdain for his 1983 original, while Ross relies on the ignorance of present reviewers as to how serious critics dealt with previous attempts to defend Rezso Kasztner’s collaboration with Adolf Eichmann.


Black’s father was a pre-WW II member of the Betar Zionist-Revisionist youth movement in Poland, when Menachem Begin was its Warsaw leader, and in 1983 Black was himself a member of the American branch of Herut, then the party of Prime Ministers Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, now subsumed in Bibi Netanyahu’s Revisionist Likud. Nevertheless, his 1983 edition Zionist critics were either extremely wary of the book, or intensely hostile.

When he first heard of the Ha’avara pact with the archenemy of his people, it was a nightmare: “The possibility of a Zionist-Nazi arrangement for the sake of Israel was inconceivable.”

He was correct to be shocked. In 1933, any German, Jew or gentile, who wanted to take money out of the country lost about 25% as it went out the door. But under the Ha’avara, a Jew turned over his money to a German bank and Germany shipped goods, steel pipes, etc. to Palestine, where they were sold by the World Zionost Organization. Later the WZO extended sales of these Nazi goods to the rest of the Middle East. The Nazis still deducted money from the transation, and the WZO did likewise, but the cuts were less than the percentage a Jew had to pay to send money elsewhere.

Even after he collected his wits, and decided to write about it, Black understood that he was walking straight into a political minefield:

My greatest worry is that the revelations of the book might be used by enemies of the Jewish people. For those who seek to besmirch the Zionist movement as racist and Nazi-like, this agreement might seem to be perfect ammunition.

Black’s Zionist reviewers were almost all hostile to him because he brazenly cheered the fact that the WZO didn’t fight Hitler. Arnost Lustig, writing in the 5/84 issue of the B’nai B’rith organ, The Jewish Monthly, said that “sometimes he gets into dangerous, carefree formulations that the critics will return to him like a boomerang.” A. J. Sherman reviewed Black’s book for the NY Times. He was out of sorts with Black for asking, rhetorically,

whether the Jewish architects of the agreement were men of madness or of genius. They were of course neither… they left to others the self-indulgence of ringing denunciations and posturings for the press, delivered in… the heady atmosphere of a crowded Madison Square Garden.

Henry Feingold told us in the 9/84 issue of the American Jewish Congress journal, Congress Monthly, that “both Nazis and Zionists had something in common. Neither believed that Jewish life in the Diaspora was desirable. They were both dissimilationists. It was that shared belief which made the Transfer Agreement possible…. For a propagandist who seeks to strike at the very core of Jewish sensibility, awareness of the Transfer Agreement is like a dream come true.” Black’s book “plays into the hands of those who seek to destroy the state of Israel.”

Eric Breindel took on Black in the 2/18/85 New Republic: “Black cannot evade responsibility for the uses to which his book is now being put by simply asserting, in his text, that suggestions of Zionist complicity in the Holocaust are ‘absurd.’”

Black responded to Breindel in the 4/29/85 New Republic:

Breindel links me with the anti-Zionist efforts of Arab propagandists, Soviet anti-Semites, and the anti-Zionist work of Lenni Brenner. That is so far from the truth, it is laughable. Indeed, Jewish leaders have felt that my book provided the precise document-by-document rebuttal to Brenner’s distortions, and encouraged the distribution of my book overseas.

I sent the NR a response to Black but, knowing they wouldn’t run it, I also sent it to him via his publisher, with a challenge:

“If you… believe that my books… are in need of refutation, the best way to try to do that is in debate.” By now it should come as no surprise that he didn’t accept my offer.

One can imagine Black’s dismay when he read a 6/84 speech by Louis Farrakhan:

The Zionists believed that they should get a homeland for the Jews and maintain that homeland, but they wanted to fulfill the vision without fulfilling the preconditions. So Zionists made a deal with Adolf Hitler. These are the same people that condemn me for saying Hitler was a great man, but a wicked man…. So for me to say that Hitler was great, I’ve made no mistake at all. He was great, but wickedly great, and the Zionists made a deal with Adolf Hitler according to a book called The Transfer Agreement by Edwin Black, one of their own kind….

This transfer agreement let 60,000 German Jews into Palestine and $100 million of their money into Palestine, where they began to take land away from the Palestinian people and little by little they gained strength and power and with the backing of the nations, they claimed that land to be theirs and they called it Israel. I say to the Jewish people and to the Government of the United States: the present state called Israel is an outlaw act…. and she will never have any peace, because there can be no peace structured on injustice, thievery, lying and deceit and using the name of God to shield your gutter religion under his holy name.

Black, his Zionist critics and Farrakhan were correct on one level or another. It is instinctual for post-civil rights movement Americans to suspect any group of oppressed who try to make a deal with their oppressor. Nevertheless, Black, well aware of what they did, tried to vindicate the Ha’avara:

It was one thing for the Zionists to subvert the anti-Nazi boycott… but soon Zionist leaders understood that the success of the future Jewish Palestinian economy would be inextricably bound up with the survivial of the Nazi economy…. If the Hitler economy fell both sides would be ruined.

However, he is so fanatically committed to Israel that he was driven to deceive himself with a totally false after-the-fact explanation for the traitorous pact:

As many Jews as possible had to be brought over from Germany as fast as possible – not to save their culture, not to save their wealth, but to save their lives…. The only way to continue the transfer and rescue was to bring over large groups of so-called capitalist emigrants.

In a subsequent article in the 5/84 Jewish Monthly, Black tried his own rescue operation – on the Ha’avara. Everyone knows that modern liberation movements are not supposed to be concerned only with saving capitalists, so he told us that the wealth of these German Jews “opened the gates to hundreds of thousands of working class Polish and Eastern European immigrants.”

Black claims he hired 50 people to help him research the period. He is completely familiar with the standard Holocaust literature. Yet he knowingly omitted anything from other scholars which would contradict his rescue fable. In 1983 this writer discovered that Black was working on his book, and inasmuch as my own Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators was about to be published, I wrote his editor, who put me in contact with Black. He presented me with his rescue theory. I asked if he was familiar with Abraham Margaliot’s article “The Problems Of The Rescue Of German Jewry During The Years 1933-1939: The Reasons For The Delay In Their Emigration From The Third Reich,” found in Rescue Attempts During The Holocaust, a tome issued by the Yad Vashem Institute, Israel’s Holocaust study center. Of course he had read it, but he was quick to tell me that he was “the person who knows more about the transfer than any person alive.”

Margaliot had described a 1935 speech by Chaim Weizmann, later Israel’s first President:

He declared that the Zionist movement would have to choose between the immediate rescue of Jews and the establishment of a national project which would ensure lasting redemption for the Jewish people. Under the
circumstances, the movement, according to Weizmann, must choose the later course.

Margaliot quoted Labor Zionist leader Berl Katznelson’s 1933 statement that “we know that we are not able to transfer all of German Jewry and will have to choose on the basis of the cruel criterion of Zionism.” Two-thirds of the German Jews who applied to the World Zionist Organization for immigration certificates in 1933-35 were rejected while no less than 6,307 Zionist cadre were brought to Palestine from Britain, South Africa, Turkey and the Western Hemisphere.

Rescue was never the WZO’s priority. Black knew of a 12/7/38 speech by David Ben-Gurion, quoted by Yoav Gelber in Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XII. In the wake of the dreadful Kristalnacht pogrom, the British, hoping to ease pressure on them to admit more immigrants to Palestine, offered to take in thousands of Jewish children directly into Britain. But Ben-Gurion, later Israel’s first Prime Minister, solemnly declared that

If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the people of Israel.

Black wouldn’t debate me in the 1980s, but I’m going to challenge him again, via his publisher, Dialog Press: If Black thinks that the WZO did the right thing re Hitler in the 1930s and that I falsely accused them of collaborating with Nazism, lets debate it now, in 2009, over the internet and let the world public decide!


Gaylen Ross’s film is three documentaries rolled into one. Labor Zionist Rezso Kasztner negotiated with Adolf Eichmann in Hungary in 1944. In 1953, Israel prosecuted pamphleteer Malchiel Gruenwald for libeling Kasztner as a collaborator.

On 4/25/44, Eichmann summoned Laborite Joel Brand, and sent him to negotiate with the WZO and the Allies. The SS would allow a million Jews to leave for Spain in exchange for 10,000 trucks, soap, coffee and other supplies. The trucks were to be used exclusively on the eastern front. As a token of good faith, Eichmann authorized Kasztner to organize a preliminary convoy of 600 Jews to Palestine. Brand never thought that the Western Allies would accept the proposition. He believed that worried SS officers wanted to invest in their futures. Live Jews were negotiable currency. Brand hoped to decoy the Nazis into thinking a deal could be made. Possibly extermination would slow down or stop while an accord was worked out. But Britain notified Stalin and publicly denounced the offer as a trick to divide the Allies.

While historians complain about how the WZO and Britain handled the Brand affair, the central issue is Kasztner’s role in Hungary. Eichmann allowed him to organise the convoy, ultimately a train to Switzerland, and place family and friends on it. Gruenwald denounced Kasztner for silence re German lies that Hungary’s Jews were only being resettled at Kenyermezo, then part of Hungary, now in Rumania.

The Labor Party got more than it bargained for. Shmuel Tamir, a brilliant cross-examiner, appeared for Gruenwald. On 6/21/55, Judge Benyamin Halevi found there had been no libel, apart from the fact that Kasztner hadn’t been motivated by monetary gain. His collaboration crucially aided the Nazis in murdering 450,000 Jews and, after the war, he compounded his offence by going to the defence of SS murderer Kurt Becher.

On 3/3/57 Kasztner was assassinated. Zeev Eckstein confessed to killing him, claiming that he was a government agent who had infiltrated a right-wing Zionist terrorist group. However, on 1/17/58 the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Kasztner-Gruenwald case. It ruled, 5 to 0, that Kasztner perjured himself on behalf of Becher. It then concluded, 3 to 2, that what he did during the war couldn’t be legally considered collaboration. Judge Shlomo Chesin argued that

He didn’t warn Hungarian Jewry of the danger facing it because he didn’t think it would be useful, and because he thought that any deeds resulting from information given them would damage more than help …. The question is not whether a man is allowed to kill many in order to save a few, or vice-versa. The question is altogether in another sphere and should be defined as follows: a man is aware that a whole community is awaiting its doom. He is allowed to make efforts to save a few, although part of his efforts involve concealment of truth from the many; or should he disclose the truth to many though it is his best opinion that this way everybody will perish. I think the answer is clear. What good will the blood of the few bring if everyone is to perish?

Ross filmed Eckstein apologizing to Kasztner’s daughter, Zsuzsi, who defends her father’s deeds. Killing Kasztner is at its worst dealing with the collaborator, but the parts about the assassin and the daughter are new and automatically interesting, regardless of what they think.

Many Israelis refused to accept the verdict. Had Kasztner lived, Labor would have been in difficulty. Between the trial and the Supreme Court decision, Tamir uncovered evidence that Kasztner also intervened for SS Colonel Hermann Krumey. He sent the court at Nuremberg an affidavit: “Krumey performed his duties in a laudable spirit of good will, at a time when the life and death of many depended on him.”

During Eichmann’s 1961 trial, Brand’s cousin, André Biss, who worked with Kasztner and supported his policy, offered to testify. He had more contact with Eichmann than any other witness. An appearance was set, but Prosecutor Gideon Hausner discovered that Biss would defend Kasztner’s activities. He knew that there would be immense outcry. He also knew that Eichmann, in Argentina, followed the libel trial and described his relationship with Kasztner in interviews taped by a Dutch Nazi in 1955. Parts were later published in the 11/28 and 12/5/60 issues of Life magazine after his capture in 1960. The tapes showed how Eichmann might implicate Kasztner. And Halevi was one of the trial judges.

Israel gained prestige from Eichmann’s capture. The Labor government didn’t want the focus of the trial to shift away from him to a re-examination of Labor’s Holocaust record. According to Biss’s book, A Million Jews to Save, Hausner asked him “to omit from my evidence any mention of our action in Budapest, and especially to pass over in silence what was then in Israel called the ‘Kasztner affair’.” Biss refused and was dropped as a witness.

Eichmann had described “Kastner” [Life’s anglicised Kasztner] as

young man about my age, an ice-cold lawyer and a fanatical Zionist. He agreed to help keep the Jews from resisting deportation – and even keep order in the collection camps – if I would close my eyes and let a few hundred or a few thousand young Jews emigrate illegally to Palestine. It was a good bargain. For keeping order in the camps, the price of 15,000 or 20,000 Jews – in the end there may have been more – was not too high for me. Except perhaps for the first few sessions, Kastner never came to me fearful of the Gestapo strong man. We negotiated entirely as equals. People forget that. We were political opponents trying to arrive at a settlement, and we trusted each other perfectly. When he was with me, Kastner smoked cigarettes as though he were in a coffeehouse. While we talked he would smoke one aromatic cigarette after another, taking them from a silver case and lighting them with a little silver lighter. With his great polish and reserve he would have made an ideal Gestapo officer himself.

Dr Kastner’s main concern was to make it possible for a select group of Hungarian Jews to emigrate to Israel…. As a matter of fact, there was a very strong similarity between our attitudes in the SS and the viewpoint of these immensely idealistic Zionist leaders who were fighting what might be their last battle. As I told Kastner: ‘We, too, are idealists and we, too, had to sacrifice our own blood before we came to power.’

I believe that Kastner would have sacrificed a thousand or a hundred thousand of his blood to achieve his political goal. He was not interested in old Jews or those who had become assimilated into Hungarian society. But he was incredibly persistent in trying to save biologically valuable Jewish blood – that is, human material that was capable of reproduction and hard work. ‘You can have the others’ he would say, ‘but let me have this group here.’ And because Kastner rendered us a great service by helping keep the deportation camps peaceful, I would let his groups escape. After all, I was not concerned with small groups of a thousand or so Jews.

In 1961, Ben Hecht, a celebrity American Zionist journalist, wrote Perfidy, an expose of the Kasztner scandal, presenting pages of Tamir’s demolition of Kasztner’s defense.

Tamir: How do you account for the fact that more people were selected from Kluj [Kasztner’s home town] to be rescued than from any other Hungarian town?
Kastner: That had nothing to do with me.
Tamir: I put it to you that you specifically requested favoritism for your people in Kluj from Eichmann.
Kastner: Yes, I asked for it specifically.

Kasztner made things up on the witness stand:

Kastner: All the local Rescue Committees were under my jurisdiction.
Tamir: Committees! You speak in the plural.
Kastner: Yes – wherever they existed.
Tamir: Where else except in Kluj was there such a committee?
Kastner: Well, I think the committee in Kluj was the only one in Hungary.

After Eichmann’s execution, Zionist-Nazi relations were debated in Israel but, excepting articles by East German Klaus Polkehn and Faris Glubb’s PLO pamphlet, Zionist Relations With Nazi Germany, the issue dropped out of international concern until the 1980s, with Zionism in the Age of the Dictators and Black’s book. My text was reviewed by London Times editor Edward Mortimer, who hailed it as “short, crisp and carefully documented.” This attracted the attention of Jim Allen, a leading British TV playwright, who wrote a 1987 stage play, Perdition, titled after Hecht’s Perfidy, based on my Hungarian Holocaust chapter. Two days before its opening, the Royal Court Upstairs canceled it under Zionist pressure.

It turned into a Zionist disaster. Jim had no trouble getting nationwide prime time Diverse Reports to set up a debate. He, Marion Woolfson and I took on Zionist Martin Gilbert, the Churchill family’s appointed historian, Hungarian-born Stephen Roth, chair of the local Zionist Federation, who worked with Kasztner, and Holocaust survivor Rabbi Hugo Gryn.

Our side met with Perdition’s director, Ken Loach. He gave us our debate roles: “Marion, you defend the public’s right to see the play and make up their own minds re Kasztner. Jim, you defend the additions and subtractions you were making in the run up to opening night. Lenni, you back him up with documents.”

I returned to the US the morning after the debate. I took the Underground to Heathrow, getting into a car via an end door. In little time I realized that many folks were looking at me. As others got on and saw people looking in one direction, they did likewise. A packed car arrived at the airport, looking at me with smiles on every face. Finally, one guy said “You won.” “I think we won. But I’d like to know why you think we won?” “We had the right to see the play and make up our own minds, Jim was making last minute changes, as playwrights do, and you backed him up with solid documentation.”

Readers understand my ego-boost as a historian and debater. But Ken was the star of that show. David Lan wrote up the debate in the 4/2/87 London Review of Books. He explained why those Brits looked at me:

The High Court of Justice in London, 1967. Dr. Miklos Yaron, a Hungarian gynaecologist, is suing his former assistant Ruth Kaplan for libel. Kaplan has published a pamphlet accusing Yaron of collaboration with Nazi leaders in 1944….

Is there anyone in Britain interested in the theatre, in civil liberties or in Jews who can’t identify this as a scene in Jim Allen’s play Perdition? The successful lobbying by Jews in Britain to have its production cancelled has made it one of the most famous plays of the decade.

Zionist Holocaust historian David Cesarani, involved in the Royal Court purge, confessed, in London’s 3 July 1987 Jewish Chronicle, that the public thought the theatre “had been bullied into censoring the play.”

Fanatics don’t know when to quit. In 1943, Nathan Schwalb, Labor’s Swiss representative, had written a letter to party comrades in Slovakia:

About the cries coming from your country, we should know that all the Allied nations are spilling much of their blood, and if we do not sacrifice any blood, by what right shall we merit coming before the bargaining table when they divide nations and lands at the war’s end? Therefore it is silly, even impudent, on our part to ask these nations who are spilling their blood to permit their money into enemy countries in order to protect our blood – for only with blood shall we get the land. But in respect to you, my friends, atem taylu, and for this purpose I am sending you money illegally with this messenger.

Schwalb sued Allen, who found his letter in my book and put it in Perdition. Allen had to publish Perdition with blank space where a character quoted it. But there was a judicial day of reckoning. London’s 27/11/92 Jewish Chronicle lamented: “The collapse of a libel action has allowed… Perdition to be published in full…. The action… collapsed due to lack of evidence.”

Kasztner’s libel trial lies about his post-war efforts on Becher’s behalf, denounced even by the Supreme Court, were the bedrock of Israeli hatred of Kasztner:

Tamir: And how did it happen that Kurt Becher, a high-ranking SS leader and war criminal, was acquitted at Nuremberg as a result of your intervention and testimony?

Kasztner: That’s a lie! I never testified for him!

Zionist Holocaust scholar Walter Laqueur described the after effects in the 12/55 Commentary:

“With that, he had fallen into Tamir’s trap…. For Kastner had testified at Nuremberg, on August 4, 1947, asking that Becher’s services be accorded the ‘fullest possible consideration’…. worse was to follow… Kastner had stated that the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization had authorized him to give his testimony in Becher’s behalf.” Laqueur insisted that “this turned out not to be so,” but a 1997 article in The Journal of Israeli History by Shoshona Barri (Ishoni) documented that this was true.

She traced the evolution of Kasztner’s statements re Eichman’s crew:

In September 1945, he made two statements before the American Committee for the Investigation of War Crimes…. The first described the destruction of the Jews… mentioning Krumey as the one who had headed the implementation of Eichmann’s murderous program…. The second statement described Becher and Wisliceny as war criminals whose only reason for benevolent activity during the final months of the war (including the preservation of Kastner’s own life) had been to provide themselves with alibis; they sensed the impending defeat of the Nazis and the subsequent end of the war.

Eliahu Dobkin of the Jewish Agency, the WZO’s Palestine executive body, testified at the 1954 trial. Barri (Ishoni) tells us that

when Dobkin was called to the witness stand, he denied ever having heard Becher’s name… Kastner sent a letter to Justice Halevi in which he attempted to prove that… Dobkin had been scheduled during the war to meet Becher in Lisbon as part of the rescue attempts. He had also been party to the Jewish Agency’s rescue work and was therefore familiar with all reports issued on rescue activities, including Kastner’s own report (which had been written in 1946)…. Kastner claimed that it was impossible that this man should not be familiar with Becher’s name. This claim of Kastner’s sounds quite plausible. Dobkin was indeed about to meet Becher during the war…. Becher’s name appeared innumerable times in Kastner’s own report.

She explains that the WZO was trying to get its hands on the ‘Becher deposit,’ “money and valuables taken from the Jews of Hungary and later turned over by Becher to [Moshe] Schweiger acting on behalf of the Rescue Committee” run by Kasztner. “This treasure was then taken from Schweiger by the American forces.” Barri (Ishoni) discovered that “there was a total of seven interventions by Kastner on behalf of Nazi war criminals…. Certainly the Jewish Agency knew of some of them… archival sources suggest the probability that the Jewish Agency was aware of them all.”

She explained that

Members of the Jewish Agency… were concerned that… the Jewish people. lacking a state, was not represented in the Nuremberg court…. Kastner, as one who was acquainted with top ranking Nazis, could testify as to their activities, and could at the same time report on the trials’ proceedings. These were the reasons for his employment at Nuremberg. It is therefore difficult to accept the picture painted during the 1954 trial and thereafter, that Kastner’s sojourn in Nuremberg was entirely on his own initiative.

Ever since the 1954 trial, Israeli historians and dramatists have tried to explain Kasztner’s Becher intervention. Barri (Ishoni) said that

This article does support the view that Kastner underwent psychological processes that influenced his testimonies…. Psychologists use the term ‘cognitive dissonance’ to describe what happens to someone who has performed an act in the past that is difficult to live with.

Among Barri (Ishoni)’s major contributions to the discussion is detailing Jewish Agency use of Kasztner in their chase after the Becher deposit and adding that as a factor explaining his obviously morbid character development. Gaylen Ross certainly knows Barri (Ishoni)’s development of the JA’s role, but the documentary focused on Kasztner, not the JA’s role, which is not an artistic sin. Therefore this discussion follows her line of thought and doesn’t develop the JA’s involvement in this morbid tale. Readers interested in that should go directly to her excellent article.

New York’s 10/23 Jewish Week says that “Ross became inspired several years ago when when… she heard sociologist Egon Mayer, who who was one of the “Kasztner Jews,” say that the train represented ‘the single largest successful rescue of Jews by Jews during the Holocaust.’” The NY Times review focuses on his mother, Hedy Mayer, “several months pregnant when she boarded Mr. Kasztner’s train.” As I edited 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration With The Nazis, published in 2002, I discovered Mayer’s website devoted to defending Kasztner. It quoted his 1946 German Bericht or Report, unpublished in English, so I went to him and asked for a copy:

“I want to read it because I don’t want to be blindsided, unaware of evidence exhonorating him. If I find any such, I’ll run it.”

I meant it, but I expected to get a big no, given my condemnation of Mayer’s hero. When Egon realized that I was a serious scholar, he not only gave me the Bericht, he gave me a translation he had privately made for him. Ultimately I showed Egan the 33 pages of excerpts that I wanted to put in the book. “Was it fair to Kasztner?” “Run it.” Total cooperation with someone who opposes your politics is otherworldly saintliness. Later yet, he told me that he was “a demographer, not a historian. What I don’t understand is how Zionism evolved from a basically secular movement into one overrun with religious fanatics.” I told him that I’d contact him and we would set a time for such a serious discussion. Days later he got sick, was hospitalize and died.

An obituary cited his open cooperative character. Indeed I’ve met people of many different politics including my own. But few of their deaths upset me as much as Egon’s. In his memory, I donated a copy of the yet unpublished Report to the Jewish Room of New York’s 42nd Street Public Library. And now memory of him makes me declare that Zsuzsi Kasztner may think her father was a hero and still be a nice person. He collaborated with Eichmann, not her. Defending her father is a very human mistake. But he was the collaborator that Hecht and Allen and I say he was.

Source: Dissident Voice

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Losing our Food Freedom

Food Security Now is circulating a petition to be presented to President Obama. I have signed and passed it on to growers and supporters of organic and sustainably grown food. If you want control of our food supply in the hands of corporate agricultural, stop here. If you want our food supply to become safer and more secure, read on and sign the petition.

Dear President Obama,

We urge you to withdraw the nomination of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agriculture Negotiator and to reconsider your support of Roger Beachy as director of the new National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Siddiqui is CropLife’s current vice president of science and regulatory affairs, and until last month, Beachy was the head of Monsanto’s de facto nonprofit research arm. As two textbook cases of the “revolving door” between industry and the agencies meant to keep watch, Siddiqui and Beachy’s industry ties demonstrate that both men are too beholden to corporate agriculture to serve the public interest.

Appointing Siddiqui to this critical post within the U.S. Trade Representative’s office sends a clear signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. plans to continue down the worn and failed path of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture by pushing pesticides, inappropriate biotechnologies and unfair trade arrangements on nations that do not want and can least afford them. Siddiqui’s professional record is revealing on several points:

  • Siddiqui was a paid lobbyist for 3 years for Croplife America, which represents the chemical pesticide and ag biotechnology interests. Members include Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta.
  • CropLife America’s regional partner had notoriously “shuddered” at Michelle Obama’s organic White House garden for failing to use chemical pesticides and launched a letter petition drive, urging the First Lady to consider using insecticides and herbicides in her garden.
  • CropLife America has consistently lobbied the U.S government to weaken and thwart international treaties governing the use and export of toxic chemicals such as PCBs, DDT and dioxins.
  • Siddiqui’s past service at the USDA included overseeing the initial development of national organic food standards that would have allowed GMOs and toxic sludge to be labeled “organic”— until over 230,000 consumers forced their revision.

As the global food crisis deepens and we head into the Doha round of trade talks at the WTO, the U.S. needs a lead negotiator who understands that the current configuration of trade agreements works neither for farmers nor for the world’s hungry. All eyes are on the U.S. to demonstrate international leadership in this arena by withdrawing support for an industrial model of agriculture that imperils both people and the planet, by undermining food security and worsening climate change.

In his capacity as director of NIFA, Roger Beachy will be in charge of the nation’s agricultural research agenda and purse strings for the next six years. Given Beachy’s previous career running the Danforth Plant Science Center, a nonprofit closely linked to and funded by Monsanto, we believe that billions more in government funding will be funneled into genetic engineering and chemical pesticide research. Meanwhile the real solutions to our growing agricultural problems, provided by sustainable and organic agriculture research, will suffer from a lack of federal funding and attention.

Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, agricultural biotechnology—of the kind aggressively promoted and marketed by CropLife— has failed to deliver on any of its promises of higher yields for U.S. farmers, “enhanced nutrition” or drought-resistance for developing country farmers. What Monsanto’s research agenda has yielded is skyrocketing herbicide use, resistant “super-weeds”, rising debt for farmers, polluted waterways, threats to the health of farmworkers and rural communities, and unparalleled corporate consolidation in the agrochemical and seed industries. The top 10 agribusinesses control 89% of the agrochemicals market, 66% of the modern biotech market and 67% of the global seed market.

With farmers here and abroad struggling to respond to water scarcity and increasingly volatile growing conditions, we need a resilient and restorative model of agriculture that adapts to and mitigates these effects of climate change. In the most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture to date, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), states unequivocally that “business as usual is not an option.” We need a model of agriculture that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, feeds communities, and puts profits back in the hands of farmers and rural communities. Industrial agriculture—and Roger Beachy, Islam Siddiqui and CropLife in particular—favor none of these solutions.

While we appreciate your Administration’s recent gestures in support of local food systems, we fear these initiatives will not fulfill their potential unless the monopolistic power and political influence of the agricultural input industry is directly confronted. We therefore respectfully ask you to withdraw your appointments of Siddiqui and Beachy, and replace them with candidates who have a sustainable vision for U.S. agriculture and trade.

As parents, farmers, advocates, scientists and people who eat food, we remember your promise on the campaign trail: “We’ll tell ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness. It’s the Department of Agriculture. We’re going to put the people’s interests ahead of the special interests.” We, the undersigned, are writing to hold you to that promise.

Source: Dissident Voice

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Free speech in a Democracy

By Noam Chomsky

Professor Howard Smokler, responding to a column by Nat Hentoff (June 30), writes that I have "hurt and offended" him by two actions concerning Robert Faurisson, who in 1980 published a book entitled Memoir in Defense Against Those Who Accuse Me of Falsifying History in which, according to Smokler, "he charged that 'the myth of the gas chambers' originated in certain American Zionist circles around 1942 ... "The two actions are: 1) that I "defended Faurisson's right to publish these falsehoods," and 2) that "in a letter to the historian Lucy Dawidowicz, (I) expressed complete agnosticism on the subject of whether Faurisson's views were 'horrendous." I will return to the first point. As for the second, it is not clear on what grounds Professor Smokler might be hurt or offended by a personal letter, which I presume he has never seen, written to a third party, but the question is academic, since he has grossly misinterpreted its contents.

The relevant facts are as follows. Faurisson was a professor of French literature at the University of Lyon. After he published some items in which he denied the existence of gas chambers, he was suspended from teaching on the grounds that the university could not protect him from violence. He was then brought to trial for "falsification of history," and condemned -- the first time in the West, to my knowledge, that the courts have affirmed the familiar Stalinist-fascist doctrine that the State has the right to determine historical truth and to punish deviation from it. I was one of 500 foreign signers of a petition urging that Faurisson's civil rights be respected. Shortly after, in a letter of Sept. 10, 1980, Ms. Dawidowicz wrote me asking whether I "had signed a statement defending Robert Faurisson's right to speak his views," and if so, "what reason compelled me to sign it." On Sept. 18, I wrote her that I had indeed signed a statement defending Faurisson's right to speak his views. As for my reasons, I wrote that "I signed the appeal because I believe that people have the right of freedom and expression whatever their views, that the importance of defending these rights is all the greater when the person expresses views that are abhorrent to virtually everyone (as in this case), and that this becomes particularly important when the person in question is thrown out of his academic position," and subjected to other ill-treatment. I did not know then about the "falsification of history" trial, and had never heard of Faurisson's book, which appeared three months later; this book, as the title indicates, was a defense against the scandalous charges for which he was later sentenced, dealing specifically with the charge that he had falsified the diaries of Nazi doctor Johann Paul Kremer.*

[*Faurisson was not convicted of falsifying history; the Paris Court of Appeals upheld a guilty verdict based on "personal damages" likely to arise from "passionately aggressive actions against all those ... implicitly accused of lying and deception" by the results of Faurisson's research. (Ed. note)]

I also wrote to Ms. Dawidowicz that I was shocked by her query as to why one should defend freedom of speech. I remain shocked today. I might add that no question has ever been raised on the innumerable occasions when I have signed similar petitions for people with all sorts of views, often views of which I know nothing or which I know to be horrendous, or when I have taken far stronger and more controversial stands in support of civil liberties, for example, when I supported the right of American war criminals not only to speak and teach but also to conduct their research, on grounds of academic freedom, at a time when their work was being used to murder and destroy (no one accuses Faurisson of being a war criminal or claims that his work is contributing to massive ongoing crimes). I might note that the utter hypocrisy of Smokler, Dawidowicz and their circles more generally is very clearly demonstrated by the fact that they are "hurt and offended" by my defense of the right of free expression in the Faurisson case, but not by far more controversial and extreme actions of mine in defense of the same rights for people they find more congenial.

I went on to inform Ms. Dawidowicz that I knew very little about Faurisson's work, so that while it may be "horrendous," as claimed by his critics, I obviously could not comment. This is what Smokler reports as an expression of "complete agnosticism." Apparently, he is willing to pass judgment on matters of which he knows nothing, but I am not, and the fact that a person is universally denounced does not suffice for me to join in the parade without at least looking at what he has to say, which I had not done in this case and had no particular interest in doing: I am willing to wager that Smokler has never read a word by Faurisson, nor is there any reason why he should. Furthermore, as I wrote to Ms. Dawidowicz, the nature of his views is, plainly, completely irrelevant to the issue of his right to express them, a truism among civil libertarians that those of a Stalinist-fascist persuasion find quite shocking.

I have discussed Smokler's second charge, based on his distortion of the personal letter to Dawidowicz to which he alludes. Let us consider the first charge. Here he is correct. I do defend the right of Faurisson to publish falsehoods, as I defend the right of anyone else to do so, including Professor Smokler. As I wrote to Ms. Dawidowicz in the letter that Smokler misrepresents, "I thought that all of this had been settled in the 18th century, but apparently others do not agree," including Professor Smokler. He states that my support for familiar Enlightenment principles and my rejection of the Stalinist-fascist doctrine that he advocates hurts and offends him. I am afraid I have no apologies to offer about that. Smokler goes on to deny at length a claim that was never made, either by me or by Nat Hentoff: namely, that my "political rights," including the right of freedom of speech, were denied in the three incidents mentioned by Hentoff: namely, 1) a request by students at Cornell Medical School that I withdraw as commencement speaker (as I did) because my views on Zionism so offended them that the occasion would be spoiled for them no matter what I spoke on; 2) the withdrawal of an invitation by the Middle East Center at the University of Michigan after pressure by faculty members who demanded that I not be permitted to speak on the Middle East at the Cleveland City Club, evidently under some form of pressure. Smokler is quite right to say that there is no issue of freedom of speech in these cases, nor has anyone so alleged.

The issue, as Hentoff clearly stated, is an entirely different one. It is as stated in my letter to the Cornell Medical students, which Hentoff quoted: "As you may know, Israeli doves have bitterly deplored the chauvinist fanaticism among sectors of the American Jewish community that they consider -- rightly in my view -- to be driving their country to disaster." I have taken many highly controversial positions on many matters, but incidents of the kind Hentoff describes have never occurred except on this issue, and then only in the United States; my only comparable experience is in the Soviet sphere, where not a word of mine on any political topic is allowed expression. Many others have had the same experience, including prominent Israelis: for example, (General) Mattityahu Peled, who bitterly denounced the American Jewish community, after a visit here when he was subjected to the kind of abuse familiar among those who do not toe the Party Line with sufficient precision, for their "state of near hysteria" and their "blindly chauvinistic and narrow-minded" support for the most reactionary policies within Israel, which poses "the danger of prodding Israel once more toward a posture of calloused intransigence." Other well-known Israeli doves have condemned what they correctly describe as the "Stalinist" practices in these circles. The issue is a serious one, but it is not one of freedom of speech in the technical sense that Smokler irrelevantly debates with no opponent.

Smokler states that it is my responsibility to "make publicly available the evidence which leads (me) to assert that (I am) systematically excluded from the expression of (my) ideas." The assertion is his, not mine, but apart from that, I do not accept such responsibility. The ridiculous antics of Smokler's friends and associates are not my concern. If Nat Hentoff or others ask me for information about these matters, I will provide it, but I recognize no duty beyond that. The Michigan affair was discussed extensively in the University and Ann Arbor press, and by Michigan historian Alan Wald in several articles. It was regarded as scandalous quite rightly, but I have never mentioned it except in response to queries. The same is true of the other two incidents, and of many others.

Suppression of critical comment on Israel of a sort that is easily expressed in Israel itself is readily demonstrable. To mention only one case, my book Fateful Triangle (1983) was reviewed in major (and minor) newspapers and news weeklies in Canada, Britain, Australia (even on national TV), and in exactly two local newspapers in the United States (and in the New York Review of Books, after a long review had appeared in its sister journal in London, which is widely read here), though its contents are far more relevant to U.S. concerns. This is quite typical, for others as well. While I am asked to write regularly on the Middle East in major journals in Israel, Europe and elsewhere, that is virtually inconceivable here. My experience is not all that unusual in this regard. It should be noted that the U.S. is a highly ideological society in which dissenting opinion is effectively marginalized as compared with other industrial democracies, but nevertheless, the case of the Middle East is unique. As has been observed in press commentary in Israel -- a more democratic society than ours, at least for its Jewish majority -- this is a serious danger for American democracy, for the Middle East, and indeed for world peace.

Again let me stress that no one is raising an issue of the "political rights" of critics of Israeli policies. To take another case, my "political rights" are not violated when the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith keeps a 150-page file on my activities, including surveillance of my talks and grossly falsified accounts of these talks and other matters, which the League then circulates to people with whom I am to have debates (e.g., Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz) or to groups in universities where I am to speak so that they can extract defamatory and slanderous lies from this material. The issues, rather, are quite different. I have agreed to provide these files (leaked to me from the ADL office) to the people who find the Stalinist-style mentality and behavior of the ADL scandalous, and who question whether a tax-exempt organization should devote itself to surveillance and defamation of critics of the state it serves, but I accept no further responsibility to concern myself with the matter, contrary to Smokler's absurd claim, any more than I waste time over the behavior of Communist Party hacks. For those who may be interested in the disreputable and dangerous activities of these groups, there is ample evidence in Paul Findley's recent book, They Dare to Speak Out, Naseer Aruri's "The Middle East on the U.S. Campus," (Link, published by Americans for Middle East Understanding), and other works.

Smokler also presents his private version of my views, claiming that I have given no evidence for them and that an unnamed Africanist interprets the facts differently. No comment appears necessary. Those who may be interested in what my views actually are and whether I have given evidence for them can easily consult available literature, for example, Fateful Triangle. To my knowledge, only one competent Zionist historian has reviewed this book, Dr. Noah Lucas, in the Jewish Quarterly, London, Nos. 3-4, 1984. I will simply quote his concluding words: "Good luck to the reader who may succeed in refuting any of the facts or assumptions or conclusions presented by Chomsky. It will not be accomplished by anyone who approaches the matter as an issue of propaganda or public relations for Israel, but only by the student who matches research with research." Not by Professor Smokler, plainly.

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