Fighting Holocaust Denial in Campus Newspaper Advertising: Revisiting the ADL / Hillel Manual

Published: 2016-04-16

Many of our readers might be aware that CODOH has an outreach program in campus universities. This program was started by our founder Bradley R. Smith; he named it The Campus Project. The main objective of the campus project was to promote, through advertising in student newspapers, a free discussion of the Holocaust, to oppose the taboo that surrounds this topic and have on college campuses “a free exchange of ideas” as Bradley would repeatedly say in his arguments about the importance of this kind of outreach. His campus project was a reprise of his work as a Media Project Director at the Institute for Historical Review in the mid ‘80s.

ADL/Hillel Manual for Action

His success with the campus project was unquestionably high and became more and more dangerous for those who sought to keep the Holocaust a closed case where no debates, no free inquiry, no free exchange of ideas were allowed. Not even in the realm of academia. Not on the university campus.

When I started to participate in the campus project at the beginning of 2009 he was just coming out of his first chemotherapy and was willing to get back to work after a not-very-successful promotion of his book Break His Bones: Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist. At that time he would still do ads in student newspapers in their printed editions.

That year we had a lucky strike when one of our ads asking why Gen. Dwight Eisenhower never mentioned the Gas Chamber stories in his memoirs of World War II ran in the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper at Harvard University. After that, it became more-difficult to run an ad in any student newspaper. We tried many student newspapers, just to get the same answer: our ad was not suitable to be run in this or that student newspaper. We were a bit discouraged but Bradley had all the experience in the world at what we were committed to do: to promote intellectual freedom in the American university.

So we changed the strategy, I suggested to Bradley to start submitting ads in the online version of those student newspapers that had the online option of doing so. Well, I don’t think the “other side” was actually considering that we might go online with our disquieting ads and we had another period of successfully ads running in different universities across the U.S. 

 As the saying goes we had won a battle but not the war. I don’t have the exact date but the ADL (Anti-defamation League) and Hillel (The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life) some time at the beginning of 2010 created a manual with detailed information for student newspapers to help indoctrinate and convince  students and faculty,  who worked  at students newspapers, to reject any of our ads questioning the legitimacy of the orthodox narrative of the Holocaust and therefore preventing any possibility of encouraging a free discussion outside the permitted limits regarding the Holocaust. The manual is called: Fighting Holocaust Denial in Campus Newspaper Advertisements. A Manual for Action. This is the revised Edition of May 2010.  

Here revisionism is reduced to a vulgar, simplistic and false definition:

“Holocaust denial is a form of anti-Semitism… From the 1960s until the 1990s, virtually all Holocaust deniers were neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Even today, many deniers are adherents of these ideologies. This population embraces Holocaust denial to redeem the image of Adolf Hitler, who they see as a great leader who defended the white race.”  

This is the kind of information students and faculty get about Holocaust denial and I should note here that faculty may have the ability to corroborate some of this information, they are much more mature and can do independent research on their own, but students might be completely overwhelmed by what they are being told about us, for them, we real bad guys!

Hillel is an organization that is in every university campus in the U.S. The creation of this manual for action could have been easily spread through campus student orgs, in meetings with those students involved in the making of student newspapers and many other ways. So it is not rare that many students, not only because of this document but also because of the enforcement of the taboo that helps perpetuate the inability to openly discuss the Holocaust, might have an aversion towards revisionism. Their curiosity has been shattered by taboo. Their will for free inquiry destroyed by the fear of being associated with anti-Semitism.

The ADL/ Hillel manual is a 34-page document where they even have actual samples of advertising we had successfully run in the online version of several student newspapers. There you can find a section dedicated to Bradley Smith and Holocaust Denial on Campus, where they say:

“While many Holocaust denial websites do not hide their anti-Semitic beliefs, others try to appear more objective and credible by avoiding the use of crude anti-Semitic stereotypes. One such site, called CODOH (Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust) is run by Bradley Smith, who has targeted college campuses for the promotion of Holocaust denial since the late 1980s.”

Notice the term Holocaust Denial is the one they use for anything that does not comply with their narrative of the Holocaust. A radical term that implies we just simply say nothing really happened. A simplistic way, again, to describe the right of free inquiry on a profound and complex historical event that needs to be routinely examined just like any other historical event. And this needs to happen everywhere. Including in the American university.

The entire ADL/ Hillel document to “help” students deal with “denial” is collection of exaggerations, stereotypes and a mixture of lies and fear of getting involved with anti-Semitic groups. CODOH is among those groups.

In another part of this manual, they assure students of this:

“Are college newspapers required to print ads from Holocaust deniers or other haters? The answer is NO. Although campus media are a natural venue for the expression of ideas – even controversial ideas – editors should be aware that privately owned publications have editorial autonomy to decide what will and will not be published. Courts generally view student newspapers (even those at public schools) as private when student editors, and not school administrators, make decisions about content and advertising policies”

Well this could be encouraging to some students who are willing to take the risk to run an ad that questions the orthodox Holocaust narrative, but as I wrote in my last article The Campus Project Is Back!  students seem to have very little control when taking the decision of running an ad that might be controversial for the campus university. It is faculty or as Bradley Smith would colloquially say “the adults” who have the last word on what gets published in a student newspaper. Nevertheless CODOH will continue to encourage intellectual freedom and a free exchange of ideas in student newspapers with regard to the Holocaust question. We are not giving up on that! 






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Author(s): Roberto Hernández
Title: Fighting Holocaust Denial in Campus Newspaper Advertising: Revisiting the ADL / Hillel Manual
Published: 2016-04-16
First posted on CODOH: April 16, 2016, 12:22 p.m.
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