Thursday, September 15, 2011

The ADL/Hillel Manual for Action: A Crime against Thought

by Jett Rucker

It’s a Plan. What to do if you care about Israel above anything else (über alles), and Bradley Smith and his Committee for Open Debate of the Holocaust (CODOH), manages to get the student newspaper on your campus to carry one of his minimalist ads. Israel, according to the script, is to be defended against any and all who might attack, or even attempt to reason with it, or the widely held beliefs upon which its command of so much sympathy on the part of Americans is based. Americans, after all, constitute the heart and mind of the world’s 800-pound gorilla, Israel’s benefactor, enforcer, legitimizer, and Godfather.

The Plan is disseminated through those outposts of subservience to Israel on American campuses, the chapters of the Hillel Foundation, and its goal is to prevent those few inquiring (young) minds on American campuses from prying into the factual basis of the story of the Holocaust (the Martyrdom of the Jews). Bradley Smith’s CODOH engages in the annoying practice of placing advertisements in campus newspapers that tempt respondents to be exposed to alternative views of the Story and the findings of (some, proscribed) investigators who have looked into the matter.

The investigators CODOH favors, undeniably, are those who attend primarily to “forensic” evidence—archaeology and documents from the period, much of it recorded by those (Germans) who are held to have perpetrated that Holocaust. Indeed, many of the investigators, though by no means all of them, are themselves Germans—all too young, of course, to have numbered among the perpetrators themselves.

Back to the campus newspapers. Hillel and its “big brother” in the larger society beyond the campus, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), somehow, react to such initiatives in a way that clashes conspicuously with the ostensible spirit of enlightenment at institutions of higher learning—that ideas are to be considered on their merits, and in particular, that allegations as to historical fact are to be considered on the basis of the evidence for or against them, with quality of evidence taking precedence over quantity, popularity, or the weight of coercion employed for their defense or enforcement. Examples such as that of Galileo are sometimes called upon to depict the dynamics in play in such cases.

Hillel and ADL, then, undertake to oppose these insidious little ads from CODOH not with rejoinders of facts, but rather with that essential tool of the Inquisition, charges of blasphemy (or, more recently, “hatred” of the victims or of those who today claim to be descended from them, or to run a country that “protects” them). Their Manual for Action encourages—in chilling detail—a confrontation of fact with “force” that would make Torquemada cheer. That is, the Manual at no point even admits any possibility of engaging Bradley Smith’s side with argumentation, fact-based, morality-based, or otherwise. It instructs in the methods of marshalling the force of institutionalized opinion against his invitation to partake of the fruit of knowledge—a modern-day reincarnation of the hoary sin of Blasphemy, resplendent in all the reeking Medieval rags of superstition and persecution for Wrong Thought.

Far be it from what any Jewish organization besides the Jewish Defense League would recommend to entail violence: the Manual even suggests that activists refrain from confiscating or destroying existing copies of a campus newspaper carrying an offending ad—leave this to the contrite perpetrators themselves as they come to grips with the enormity of the offense they have committed in light of the “firestorm” of official and popular rebuke, igniting which is the main focus of the instructions in the Manual. Let Jewish hands always remain clean, at least insofar as visible physical acts are concerned.

Meantime, those acts that are not necessarily visible to all remain at center stage: complain and threaten, and do it where it counts: with the Administration. This issue of visibility illuminates an interesting attribute of the Manual as it has thus far been distributed. It is, in all its repressive glory, visible to all on the Web site of the ADL. One might think, in view of its reason-phobic character, that it might have been distributed to its adherents as at least a semi-secret communiqué—something short of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, for example, but nonetheless discreet to at least some extent.

But no. It’s There for All to See on the ADL Web site, at least for now. And in the thoughtful, such as your correspondent is pleased to see himself, this raises a question: why so public about all this? Two possibilities come to the mind of your thoughtful, but cynical, correspondent: first, that the instigators of the Manual are so filled with a self-impression of such unimpeachable, universal righteousness that they have no inkling of the crime against thought (not to be confused with thought-crime) they are committing; and second, that they are so grossly overfunded for their obsolete mission of combating anti-Semitism that they must contrive even this improbable project as a means of creating the impression that they are putting their surfeit of pelf to good use despite the paucity of targets against which they could direct it. Take your pick. Maybe it’s both, but in either case, it’s grotesque, when you step back to contemplate it.

The treatment it advocates for Bradley Smith’s invitations to inquiry does, indeed, imply some sort of criminal intent in the advertiser, despite the fact that there is as yet in the United States no official thought-crime on the books such as stops the mouths, if not the minds, of Germans, Austrians, Swiss, French, and people in a growing list of countries headed, of course, by Israel.

The matter at issue in the case of CODOH’s paid advertisements in student newspapers is a slight twist of the standard issue of freedom of speech for students (and faculty) on campus. It has, rather, to do with freedom of hearing or, more broadly, freedom of information (including “lies,” notwithstanding the protestations of Hillel/ADL). Censorship by the university administration is still censorship even when it is inspired by the righteous indignation of Hillel and ADL, and just as well for a paid advertisement as for any other part of the newspaper.

Wrapping itself in sheep’s clothing, the Manual cleverly couches its assault on students’ informational rights in terms of those very rights, diverting attention by urging its executors to remind student editors that they have the right to reject any advertisement that agents provocateurs like ADL/Hillel may make it too uncomfortable for them to carry. And they certainly do, but naturally ADL/Hillel make every exertion to avoid the obvious implication that rejection of a free-information-proffering ad such as CODOH’s itself limits the rights of the readership to receive information, not to mention the newspaper’s right to collect the admittedly minor fees that CODOH always pays up front. Propaganda is always about controlling the subject.

The Manual at no point discloses the ulterior motive of its campaign, which is, ever and always, suppressing criticism of the actions of the state that excuses its very existence on a sort of restitution for the “Holocaust” visited upon Jews and other enemies of Nazism in Europe before and during World War II. The linkage, again, is to be found on a Web site, in particular that of Hillel, which declaims:

Israel advocacy is a central force in promoting a positive Israel agenda on campus and for developing a cadre of articulate Israel activists. This is an outstanding opportunity for student leaders to affect the culture of Israel on our campus. Through their knowledge of and passion for Israel, we have the ability to have a profound impact on our campus community.

The “profound impact” referred to in this passage not only includes dissemination of a thorough whitewash of Israel and its actions in the real world, but suppression of any inquiry into those portions of history that happen to bear on its founding mythology and the basis of ongoing excusal of the depredations it continues to commit on those peoples and countries with which it shares the world.

Inevitably and vociferously, it conflates CODOH’s opposition to suppression of free expression into hatred of a people and/or a religious group. This shrill calumny, long the stock in trade of parties who have no substantive argument to mount in their own defense, is wearing thin.

Just how thin can be tellingly gauged from the laundry list of repressive, vengeful, fearsome list of measures detailed in the forty pages of the ADL/Hillel Manual for Action.

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