More Assaults On Free Speech

By Elizabeth Wright

Unfortunately….. there are always more updates to be done on the victims of Europe’s “hate crime” laws. In the last Commentary, The insidious chilling of debate,thought criminalsDavid Irving and Ernst Zundel were awaiting their fates in German and Austrian jail cells. As you know, in December, Austria freed Irving, and in February, Germany sentenced Zundel to five years in prison. The 67-year-old Zundel has been incarcerated in Germany for almost four years for the “crime” of publicly disputing the official version of Holocaust history.

Also, in the grand democracy of Germany, Germar Rudolf is on trial for a report he authored in 1993 questioning, after his own examinations and research, the accepted, “official” account of the gas chambers in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Rudolf, a chemist and former doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute, in 2004, had all his property confiscated by the German government, which also demands he pay 55% of all money earned on the sale of his books about his research, since they are now considered “illegal.” He faces the possibility of spending five years in prison.

Here in Free Speech USA, New York University historian Tony Judt is getting his come-uppance for having the temerity to think he can give lectures and write articles about Middle East issues when his perspectives differ from those of The Lobby–that is, The Lobby that does not exist.

Like others, such as Amos Elon, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Richard Cohen, Tony Kushner and Israel Shamir–all of whom criticize the United States’ biased support of Israeli policies–Professor Judt is learning that there is a special hell reserved for his ilk. Representatives from that hell follow you around, hunt you down, and single-mindedly……… work to sabotage your every effort at dissent.

After Abraham Foxman of B’nai Brith’s Anti-Defamation League (ADL) got on the case, Judt’s scheduled talk last October at the Polish consulate in New York was canceled. The Washington Post quotes the Polish Consul General describing phone calls he received from the ADL and the American Jewish Committee: “The phone calls were very elegant but may be interpreted as exercising a delicate pressure.” Another speech, scheduled at the Bronx’s Manhattan College, was also canceled under pressure. Explained the Hebrew Institute’s Rabbi Avi Weiss, who was responsible for bringing about the cancellation: “Being anti-Israel is essentially being anti-Jewish.” And that’s that! Subject closed.

As the issuers of death threats and the torchers of homes and libraries constantly remind us, when mocking the First Amendment, “You have the right to try to be heard, but you don’t have the right to be heard.”

It was encouraging, for a while, back in March 2006, just after publication of the paper, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, to experience a wave of hope. Even though the paper, authored by the two Americans, was published and placed online by a London magazine (an American magazine having chickened out), the knowledge that it was being distributed throughout the U.S., and could not be annihilated like Dixie Chicks CDs, made some of us feel like we lived in a free country, after all. (A working version of the paper is on the Harvard University website.)

But, let’s face it, we knew the light couldn’t last. When The Lobby (that does not exist) can interfere with the elections of members of Congress, can prevent books from being published, can directly intervene in the workings of governments in foreign countries, there is little hope that the light will last for long. Former President Jimmy Carter is learning about that right now. The publication of Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, brought the hounds running in his direction. Fortunately, the would-be censors could not prevent the book’s release.

However, the hounds have found other ways to “Get Carter,” as writer Chris Hedges titled an article on the subject. After Carter spoke in a forum about the Middle East, at Brandeis University, pressure by the Usual Suspects” was brought to bear on some of the University’s wealthiest donors, as implied in The Jewish Week (2/16/07). A current Brandeis trustee reported on “a fair number of donors who have indicated they will withhold contributions.” And, joining those with concerns, no doubt, for their future careers and/or financial welfare, 15 members of the Carter Center’s advisory board resigned.

Yet, as bad as it looks, what with people running to put distance between themselves and the ostracized Carter, author Philip Weiss, writing for The American Conservative magazine (2/26/07), sees a silver lining. He reports not only on the thousands of copies of the book that have been sold, but on the fact that many months after publication, it is still on the New York Times bestseller list. Weiss thinks that greater numbers of Americans finally are seeking to educate themselves on this hot topic, instead of depending on the usual media sources. (His article offers a first hand, eyewitness account on the forum at Brandeis University.)


Full Article here.


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