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Holocaust Denial Group Planning ﾔPeaceﾕ Rally
A Holocaust denial group is planning what it calls a "rally for justice and peace" at the Simon Wiesenthal Center on July 29, part of an ongoing effort by right-wing extremists to borrow the language of antiwar activists.
The Institute for Historical Review plans its noon rally in front of the center's Pico Boulevard headquarters, across the street from the Museum of Tolerance. A Web site announcement by the groupﾕs executive director, Mark Weber, said the protest would highlight the Wiesenthal Center's "record of lies in support of war, Zionist oppression and Jewish supremacism."
A combination of antiwar and anti-Israel rhetoric have the potential to resonate, say experts, because some participants in antiwar events tie Israel to the Iraq War, blending conspiracy theories about Jewish power with broader ones about the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center protest probably will not attract a large crowd, but calling it a "rally for justice and peace" raises concerns, said Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at the Massachusetts-based Political Research Associates. "Well-meaning yet naive, antiwar activists are easy prey for cynical right-wingers."
Berlet added that some left-leaning activists embrace followers of right-wing extremist Lyndon LaRouche. Refugees from the 1990s "patriot" movement produce conspiracy theory DVDs that are sold at antiwar events. Those far-right DVDs use, as source material, the anti-Semitic newspaper, American Free Press, formerly The Spotlight of the far-right Liberty Lobby founded by Willis Carto -- who also created the Newport Beach-based Institute for Historical Review.
Wiesenthal Center officials do not comment on extremists, because the center does not want to give them media credibility. But in 1993, the center exposed Weber, who claims to be a historian, as a Nazi sympathizer.
Weber did not respond to a Jewish Journal e-mailed request seeking comment. On July 16, Weber was scheduled to host a small invitation-only gathering of like-minded historical revisionists in New York.
Mark Pitcavage, Anti-Defamation League fact-finding director, said he was skeptical of Weberﾕs reach, given the typical turnout at his events.
"If 10 people show up to Mark Weber's rally, then you can say that his attempt to expropriate their language has not had much success." --
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