Thursday, November 1, 2007

Oregon "Peace" Group to Mark Kristallnacht with Holocaust Denial Conference

Here's another story concerning what appears to be a trend: purported "peace activists" promoting Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. In this case, a University of Oregon peace organization called Pacifica Forum, which was founded and is led by a retired professor and a retired administrator from that university, is marking Kristallnacht with two days of speeches and conferences this weekend conducted by Mark Weber director of the Holocaust denial group Institute for Historical Review. Weber, the former editor of the National Vanguard, the main publication of the neo-Nazi National Alliance Party, has spent the past 30 years as a professional advocate of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. His opening lecture on Friday is entitled: "Free Speech vs. Zionist Power". Advertisements for the event feature the image of a snake in the shape of a Star of David with the legend "The Israel Lobby: How Powerful Is It?" November 9 marks the 69th anniversary of Kristallnacht, which is considered by many historians to be the beginning of the Holocaust. (Pacifica Forum schedule available here. [NOTE 12/24/2010: That link is now dead. Archived versions here and here.])

In 2006, the Pacifica Forum sponsored multiple talks by Valdas Anelauskas. Anelauskas, who was born in Lithuania, is an author and internet journalist who calls himself a "white separatist and racialist", and has affiliations on both the far left and far right. In an email to a reporter for the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard, he stated "I believe people have to live among their own kind ... I feel no supremacy - I just want to be separate and live in my own environment." In October, 2006, Anelauskas gave a lecture on "Zionism and Russia" in which he blamed Jews for the Bolshevik Revolution, calling them "the greatest killing machine in history" and stating that American Jews suppress dissemination of this information through their control of academia and the media. He dedicated this lecture to Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf. (Read here; more here and here).

According to a news report (read here):

During a question-and-answer period, Aviva Sainz called Anelauskas' lecture "anti-Jewish garbage in a tradition that has lasted for centuries." His talk, she told him, "is in the tradition of Hitler's `Mein Kampf.' ""There's a lot of truth in `Mein Kampf,' " Anelauskas responded. Afterward, (Pacifica Forum co-leader Orval) Etter said he was "unable to say" if Anelauskas' lecture could be characterized as anti-Semitic.

Anelauskas is a friend and supporter of Ward Churchill, who assisted Anelauskas with his book Discovering America As It Is. He has endorsed in print Churchill's statement calling 9/11 victims "little Eichmanns", going so far as to use the same phrase with respect to the administration of the University of Oregon when they rescinded an invitation for Churchill to lecture there (read here). [By the way, Discovering America As It Is has been endorsed by Howard Zinn, David G. Gil, and Ward Churchill (read here).]

The founders and leaders of Pacifica Forum are Orval Etter and George Beres. Beres, who was the manager of the UO Speakers Bureau and was UO Sports Information Director, has retired from those positions and is currently a columnist for a number of internet publications including Counterpunch and is a member of the Oregon Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East. Just two days ago, a pro-free speech piece he authored was published on the anti-Semitic (Read here.) In the midst of his piece is a fund raising ad reading:

"Help us increase awareness of Jewish supremacism (sic)and the sick(ening) evilness of Zionism. Donate US$10 US$20 US$50 US$100 US$200 more.... or send us an email [email address deleted] with the details of your pledge."

Beres' Counterpunch writings include one (read here) which, along with some seriously deficient historical background (he writes that Muslim anti-Christianity began in response to the Crusades, ignoring several hundred years of Muslim conquest and oppression of Christians), details some of his reasons for being anti-Israel. He says that he personally feels himself to be a victim of Israel. He says that he is of Greek extraction and grew up with many Arab Eastern Orthodox Christians. "Few in America realizes (sic) how the Eastern Church, along with innocent Muslims, is under attack in Lebanon and Palestine by (a) rare alliance between Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity. I also am a target, and am overdue in speaking out." Just how he has been a target of Judaism, he doesn't make clear.

With respect to Orval Etter, who is a 90 year old emeritus professor of public affairs and administration, the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard reports (read here) that

he organized the forum after he "became convinced that Israel was a very tyrannical state." He said he recalls reading a pamphlet that asserted that "what Israel is doing to Palestine is a holocaust."
That same article states that

Pacifica Forum topics (in 2006) included a lecture by Etter on British historian David Irving, a Holocaust denier who in February was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in Austria for his views. Critics say they attended another forum that featured a videotape on William Luther Pierce, founder of the National Alliance white separatist group.

It was the lecture on David Irving which first attracted Anelauskas to the group.

I have previously recently written about "9/11 truth" advocates and (alleged) peaceniks in the Aspen, Colorado area promoting Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism (read here and here and here and here). I found that story of small-town bigotry shocking, but I consider this one to be more so. While both stories deal with crackpots seeking attention for themselves on the peripheries between far left and far right, the Pacifica Forum story involves academics legitimizing those peripheries by providing the most extreme forms of anti-Semitism and conspiratorial paranoia a forum within a major university (albeit in an unofficial forum). They have done this with the assistance of friends and allies on both the far left and far right and the tacit approval of those who do nothing to oppose them.

My concern with all these stories is that we must not allow racism and anti-Semitism to be legitimized in our public discourse. If we ignore these people because they're crackpots, they may or may not just go away, but the ideas they promote won't. We must expose them and counter their lies forcefully with the truth.

Thankfully, I am not alone in this thinking. According to the Register-Guard:

Local critics affiliated with Community Alliance of Lane County have scheduled a free speech vigil to be held just outside the UO hall where Weber will speak. “We are operating under the theory that the best response to hate speech is more speech,” volunteer Michael Williams said. “We want an opportunity for the community to show its opposition to the kinds of things that Mark Weber stands for.”

Williams said opponents don’t plan to shout slogans or prevent people from hearing Weber’s talk. “We will have a presence that is unavoidable but not obstructionist.”

David Frank, a professor in the Honors College at the UO, said he and two faculty members are planning a Holocaust symposium in response to Weber’s talk.

Weber “has the right to come to campus and make preposterous statements,” Frank said. “But we have a responsibility as scholars to demonstrate the expertise and research that shows his claims are not only false but dangerous.”
Now that's sound thinking.

Read more about this story here: Foes target Pacifica Forum: The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.

Institute for Historical Research promos for the event in pdf here and here [WARNING- HOLOCAUST DENIAL WEBSITE]


Julius Martov said...

Kudos on your blog which I found via Solomonia.
Clicking one of your embedded URL's in that blog post to the Pacifica Forum, I saw the names of two anti-Zionists in the Veterans for Peace org. Having posted on various VfP lists on yahoogroups, I knew that not only the two noted, Jack Dresser and Gordon Storrock in that org. to hold extreme anti-Semitic pov's but, others in that org.
Take a look at these,
Having had a "discussion" w/ a Veterans for Peace member at a denver anti-war demo last Sat. who expressed explicitly Stalinist ideas, I am not surprised about the presence of other wackoids in that org.

Anonymous said...

has a commentary decrying the "Pacifica Forum" neo-Nazi presentation

TeachESL said...

I took a look at their forum and saw that they had had a 'comemmoration' for Martin Luther King. So, I did a search and found King's speech that said if you are an anti-Zionist you are an anti-Semite. I copied it and pasted it onto an e-mail I sent to this Pacifica Forum. I called them anti-Semites dressed up in 'liberal' clothing. I told them that King would have had nothing to do with them!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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