Holocaust Museum Ad Causes Controversy for Student Paper

By Giobbe, Dorothy | Editor & Publisher, January 15, 1994 | Go to article overview

Holocaust Museum Ad Causes Controversy for Student Paper


Giobbe, Dorothy, Editor & Publisher


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 "fuhrers 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. …

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