Open Letter to John Silber, Chancellor of Boston University

Published: 2000-09-20

Bradley R. Smith
PO Box 439016
San Diego CA 92143
T & F [now invalid., ed.]
E-mail: [now invalid, ed.]
On the Web: (

20 September 2000

Chancellor John Silber
Office of the Chancellor
Boston University
147 Bay State Road

Boston, Massachusetts 02215

Dear John:

I have your Open Letter to Colleges and Universities in which you address some of the issues raised in the text of my advertisement "Holocaust Studies: Appointment With Hate?" So that your academic associates have access to my reply, I have posted this communication on the World Wide Web at

During the 1999-2000 academic year my ad ran in some eighty student newspapers at colleges and universities around the country, which suggests that some half-million students and faculty had access to it.

I take seriously your condemnation of my ad as "false propaganda—a violation of civil discourse—a repudiation of learning [comparable to] flat earth theory—a jumble of "vicious lies" and some other nonsense. If a university president and chancellor such as your self can be wrong, or half-wrong, or wrong-headed about most everything he writes in response to such texts, the problems dividing American students from the professorial class in this country are even more serious than I had supposed.

It may be that one reason the text of my ad is so troublesome for you is that I failed to communicate clearly what I was trying to say. I wouldn't have thought everything would have to be spelled out as if I were speaking to a child, but with regard to the Jewish holocaust story and the professorial class, that appears to be exactly what I do have to do, so I will do it here. Please be assured that I wish the best for you, and for your little friend, Boston University professor Elie Wiesel.

In your Open Letter you write:

The advertisement begins by misunderstanding the idea of the university. It is not merely to promote intellectual freedom, but also to promote intellectual responsibility in the pursuit of truth.

Please refer to my text. I write that "one ideal of the university is to promote intellectual freedom." I did not write that the idea of the university is "merely" to promote intellectual freedom. See how I wrote "one?" How I did not write "merely?" It makes something of a difference, or don't you think so?

Not having attended university, I might be wrong about this. (I graduated from John C. Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles in 1947—maybe you've heard of South Central—the place where they have the riots? I realize I am addressing a professional academic and that you are probably interested in my credentials.). Nevertheless, I think "merely" would imply only one, while "one ideal" would imply that there might be more than one. Two, perhaps? Three?

I do not want to imply that you intentionally misread my text. You're a busy professional, you probably tossed off your response with your left hand one morning over coffee and bagels. But when you posted your Open Letter on the World Wide Web condemning my ad, you did not provide the URL to the text of the ad. Those who read your Open Letter then do not have easy access to my ad. Some students will take the time to search for it to see if you're giving me a fair shake—or if you are not. Some who do search will find it, some will not. Maybe this courtesy slipped your mind. Perhaps you will correct this oversight? However, let's move along.

You write:

...anyone who cares about the truth is under an obligation to think twice before offering a platform to those who systematically lie by denying the Holocaust. Those lies are at the heart of the advertisement submitted by Mr. Smith...

Well, my ad does not state that I "deny the Holocaust." Take another look at the text. It just doesn't say that, does it?

I have many questions to ask about the Jewish holocaust story. I am skeptical, to put it mildly, of many of the accusations of unique monstrosity made about German behavior during World War II. That's not "denying the Holocaust.". That's expressing doubt about stories I doubt, particularly stories that accuse Germans of a unique monstrosity. Should I do anything less? Is it immoral to argue for the innocence of Germans where you have reason to doubt their guilt? Skepticism on the university campus is a good, not an evil. Belief is not an evil, either, but it is merely belief. Let me clear up something for you. In my ad I do not supply my definition of what I believe the Jewish "holocaust" was. In your condemnation of my ad, you do not define what you believe it was. I'm going to fill in my part of this blank for you here.

The Jewish holocaust story is a war story, John. It's put together from an immense and still growing collection of individual war stories. Like every other war story, some of it's true and some of it isn't. See? It's not an all or nothing affair. Students do not have to eat the entire enchilada the way our Elie Wiesels have peddled it for half a century, just because the professorial class has swallowed it whole. Students have the right to their own integrity.

Here we come to the main thrust of your Open Letter. You charge that I have libeled Nobel Peace Prizewinner, former concentration camp inmate, and notorious fraud, Elie Wiesel. In the ad I write ironically about Elie Wiesel as an "eyewitness" authority and as an "authority" on hate. My language is ironic because I find Elie to be a false eyewitness and a promoter of hatred for Germans and others.

You are particularly troubled by my use of a direct quote from Elie's book Legends of Our Time. Wiesel's use of Legends in the title of this book is significant in ways that your professional peers have been reluctant to recognize. I'm here to encourage them to take charge of their professional lives with regard to this one subject. In my ad I write "Elie Wiesel has won the hearts and minds of Holocaust Studies professors with his counsel on how to perpetuate a loathing for Germans. I quote directly from Elie:

Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate—healthy virile hate—for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German." (Legends of Our Time, "Appointment With Hate," NY, Avon, 1968, pp. 177-178.)

I write: "Students understand the implications of this statement when brought to their attention, while their professors appear not to. Perhaps if we change one word in Elie Wiesel's sage advice, it will focus their attention:" That is:

Every Palestinian, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate “ healthy virile hate “ for what the Jew personifies and for what persists in the Jew.

Many professors, including many Jewish professors, have been outraged by this little exercise. You appear to be outraged by it. So far, however, no Palestinians and no Palestinian professors have communicated their outrage to me, which I find difficult to understand. Surely, those Palestinians who belong to the professorial class have about the same moral and ethical concerns as do Jewish professors and those from Texas. Or are we to presume that ethics on the university campus generally are, and should be, an expression of ethnic identification?

You write:

The quotation cited by Smith doesn't even support his libel. In the quote, Elie Wiesel does not say that every Jew "should set apart a zone of hate — healthy virile hate" for Germans. Rather he said they "should set apart a zone of hate — healthy, virile hate — for what the German personifies and for what persists in the Germans." As the Nazi generation has passed from the scene, what Germans personify and what persists in the Germans has changed. What Germans personified in 1945 is not what a different generation of Germans personify today.

I'm willing to be convinced that you are right about this, and that I am wrong. A hatred for Jews is one thing, shall we say, while a hatred for what the Jew personifies and for what persists in the Jew is something very different. Is that how you would put it? Does it appear ironic to you that while the Nazi generation has "passed from the scene," the "Zionist generation" that co-existed with the Nazi generation and cooperated with it in significant ways, and which at the close of World War II directed the invasion and conquest of Palestine, the destruction of Palestinian culture, the creation of millions of Palestinian refugees, and built a Jewish settler state on Palestinian land, did not pass from the scene at all but still flourishes today? What part do you believe the policies of that generation of Zionists play in the hatred so many Palestinians feel for Jews today, and how do you distinguish their hatred of Jews from, say, their hatred for what "the Jew personifies," or for "what persists in the Jew?"

If anyone can explain this distinction, without causing those who read it to slap their legs and emit loud guffaws, I should think that you would be that man.

You write:

Smith writes, "Elie Wiesel claims in All Rivers Run to the Sea, ÂI read [Immanuel Kant's The Critique of Pure Reason in Yiddish.'" Smith continues, "Kant's Critique has not been translated into Yiddish. Here again, EW did not tell the truth." But selections of Kant's Critique of Practical Reason had been translated into and published into Yiddish in pre-war Warsaw—I have a photocopy of the title page before me as I write. After the passage of 50 years, Wiesel misnamed the Critique he had read in 1945, but his minor slip hardly justifies Smith's claim that "EW did not tell the truth."

Frankly, I did not know that a chapter from Kant's Critique of Practical Reason was published in Yiddish in pre-war Poland. Always glad to learn something new. It turns out that others also know about it. For example, Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry, knows about it. He was chatted up by Salon recently and fills in some of the blanks here (—see how I give the URL?—and this is part of what Professor Finkelstein has to say on the matter.

Wiesel claims to be a Kant scholar. He says that when he was a teenager, girls were running away from him because all he could do was talk about Kant—what was published in Warsaw in 1929 was Kant's "Critique of Practical Reason." One chapter, 60 pages.—Everybody agrees on that. There is no dispute. The "Etik" comes from Kant's "Critique of Practical Reason." Confusing the two Kant books is like a Tolstoy scholar having read one chapter of "Anna Karenina" and confusing it with the whole of "War and Peace." That's ridiculous.

Perhaps you should get Elie on the horn and ask him what's going on here. Perhaps you already have. What did he say? I'm all ears. Elie himself is remarkably reticent on the matter. In your Open Letter you write:

Smith writes: "EW claims that after Jews were executed at Babi Yar in the Ukraine, 'geysers of blood' spurted from their grave for 'months' afterward." Wiesel's words are these: "Eye witnesses say that for months after the killings the ground continued to spurt geysers of blood. One was always treading on corpses." Nowhere did Elie Wiesel claim to see geysers of blood, only that he heard these reported.

Once again, I agree with you. Elie does not claim to have seen these "geysers of blood" with his own eyes — he only forwards the story as if it were true.

Well, if we are going to go with that standard of public story telling (which is inherently a charge of unique German monstrosity), I have a story for you about how Jews murder Christian children and drain their blood to use in cooking matzoh balls. Remember that one? Jewish patriots call it a "blood libel": Now, I admit up front that I have not seen such an event with my own eyes — but — I have heard it reported by others. Using the standard you and Elie Wiesel use, I suppose you guys would find it ethically correct for me to forward the Christian-blood-for-matzoh-balls story to Boston University students as if it were true.

I'm not like you guys, however. I would find it unutterably vulgar to forward such a story if I could not demonstrate that it were true.

Or—maybe you are going to argue that there really were "eyewitnesses" to Elie's grotesque geysers-of-blood-months-after-the-Jews-were-buried gossip, and that this gossip can be demonstrated to be fact. Is that how I should take it? I kind of hope so. It would be immensely comic to discover that the chancellor of Boston University has been taken in yet one more time by his little buddy in the humanities department.

You write:

[Smith] reports that Elie Wiesel claims that he was liberated from Dachau, from Buchenwald and from Auschwitz. That is contrary to fact. Elie Wiesel wrote in Night that he was liberated from Buchenwald, and he has never claimed anything else. Newspapers occasionally get facts wrong, and Smith bases his claim about Wiesel not on Wiesel's writings but on newspaper reports. From these erroneous accounts, Smith claims that Wiesel is not a credible witness.

Again, I agree that Elie wrote in Night that he was liberated from Buchenwald. I agree that newspapers occasionally get facts wrong. But when you write that the newspaper accounts reporting that Elie claimed to have been liberated from Auschwitz and from Dachau are erroneous, you do not tell us what evidence you have that those two reporters were wrong in what they wrote about what Elie said. If you do have such evidence, let's have it. And why do you think that Elie has not publicly pointed out these errors of fact so that readers of the New York Times and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency would not go on believing he said what they reported he said?

Are reporters for the JTA so unprofessional, such amateurs, and have such tin ears that they would mistake "Dachau" for "Buchenwald?" What is the JTA, a professional news service or a refuge for the comprehension impaired? Does the JTA have children for editors? Is it possible that there is or ever has been one Jewish editor at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency who has not followed the Elie Wiesel story for the past ten years—the last thirty years — who is not aware that Mr. Wiesel was liberated at Buchenwald? Is there one print editor in any great city in America who has not seen the famous photo where Elie is posing for photographers in someone else's bunk at Buchenwald- the photo that has been reprinted endlessly all over the world?

Who are we kidding here? Who are we trying to kid? The New York Times reporter mis-heard "Auschwitz" for "Buchenwald?" I believe they would have printed a correction of such a stupid blunder — if it had been sent them by this Nobel Laureate. What do you think the New York Times is—chopped liver?

You write:

Elie Wiesel was invited by the President and Chancellor of Germany to speak in Berlin on January 27, 2000, the day of the remembrance of the liberation of Auschwitz.—In that address Wiesel commented favorably on Germany's support of Israel, on Germany's compensation for the victims of the Third Reich, and on Germany's recent initiative in compensating those who were used as forced laborers.

I have no doubt whatever that Elie Wiesel, along with the rest of those who speak for the Holocaust Industry, and those who have profited so greatly from the creation of the Israeli State upon the ruins of a destroyed Palestine, look "favorably" upon the billions of marks that have flowed into Israeli coffers—to say nothing of the hundreds of billions that have flowed to the same place from the US taxpayer and now from one European nation after another—all of which is being paid by the labor of people who were children or who were not yet born during WWII.

As a matter of fact, isn't that really rather the point of it all? The whole Holocaust Industry scam? Influence? Then money? Then more influence, more money? If it isn't about that—that is, about power, what is it about? Remembering? If it is, I have a suggestion that would be a great boon to the Jewish people. Forget it!

In the final paragraph of your Open Letter to Colleges and Universities, which compresses into a few words the entirety of the message in your careless letter, you write:

What is the motivation and purpose of Mr. Smith and his CODOH? Why do they find it personally important to deny the Holocaust and to abuse and denigrate Professor Wiesel? Isn't it relevant to ask? Bradley R. Smith and his Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust are a travesty and a repudiation of all that a university should stand for when falsehood is disseminated and truth is suppressed.

Re motivation: I suggest you let this one go. None of us knows what the motivation of the other is, and when we look closely at our own motives we find each one to be a maze of complexities. Do you think I would bother to consider seriously the roots of your motives for having chosen to defend a man who is a demonstrable liar and fraud? I'm 70 years old. I don't have enough time left to get into a morass as deep as that one. I would have thought you would understand about motive. I thought you were a philosopher.

I wonder what you think the "Holocaust" was? Have you just gone along with the journalists, who have gone along with the professors, who have gone along with the big money people in the Holocaust Industry? Did you believe for forty years, for example, that four millions were murdered by the Germans at Auschwitz? When the camp authorities removed their "four-million" plaque and said it was only about "one million" (Yehuda Bauer had mentioned publicly that revisionists can count) did you just stop believing the four million figure and start believing the new one-million figure? Or did you know all the time that it was not four million—and chose to remain silent? Did you ever comment publicly on the contemptible role the professorial class played in the Auschwitz four million charade? Or did you consciously choose to remain a "bystander" on this one?

You have charged that I am a liar. You have not demonstrated that I am. Even if you were able to show that I am factually wrong about something in the ad, and you have not, it does not follow that I am a liar. You know that, I know you know that, but it looks like you thought you could get away with saying it anyhow because you're a university chancellor and I'm—what? — a simple writer with no position, no wealth, and no influence. I don't know what your motives were for deciding to write something so careless and empty on such an important issue, but I suggest you take a run at trying to figure it out. It might change your life.

Re the suppression of truth: to put it simply, I have not suppressed truth, and your reckless, self-serving letter does not demonstrate that I have.

My suggestion is that you ask yourself why the Boston University fraud you want to defend is unwilling to speak for himself. In case this question baffles you, I will suggest an answer. He does not need to. He has men like you who have trained yourselves to accept at face value any stupidity he utters.

Just for a lark, why not ask Elie Wiesel about the New York Times story where he relates how he was hit by a taxicab and flew "an entire block" (200-plus feet) down Broadway. Another error, I suppose, on the part of a NYT reporter who meant to write something entirely different — maybe that rag is chopped liver after all (a friend suggests that Professor Wiesel should be nominated for the Nobel Prize for Flying).

I will be glad to discuss the "eyewitness" testimony of Elie Wiesel, as well as his obvious Germanophobia, at any reasonable public forum you choose.


Bradley R. Smith

President John Silber's letter condemning CODOH's Holocaust Studies ad can be seen at:

CODOH's Holocaust Studies ad:

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Open Letter to John Silber, Chancellor of Boston University
Published: 2000-09-20
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 18, 2000, 7 p.m.
Last revision:
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