The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 05-12-18

Posted on May 17th, 2018 at 12:00 pm by

Laying Claim

As our small group approaches its fifteenth year of existence, we claim the title of “Longest running regular street protest in Ann Arbor history”. Are we mistaken? Have we forgotten an activist group with a longer, sustained record? Please inform us and we will gladly take our ordered place in the history books.

Shaking Down the Mennonites

At the request of Bruce Leichty, Witness for Peace members Dan McGowan and I traveled to Newton Kansas to attend a conference entitled “Mennonites and the Holocaust”, held at Bethel College in North Newton, March 16 and 17. Bruce was the immigration lawyer who represented Ernst Zundel’s unsuccessful attempt to be reunited with his American wife, Ingrid Rimland Zundel. It was Dan’s and my first opportunity to meet Bruce, and we were impressed with the man’s decency.

Some of the conference’s views were captured by titles of the presentations, e.g.:

– “Anti-Semitism and the Concept of ’Volk’”
– “Mennonite Scholarship in the Third Reich: From Knowledge Production to Genocide”
– “An Illusion of Freedom: Denominationalism, German Mennonites, and Nazi Germany”
– … and the Keynote Address: “Neighbors, Killers, Enablers, Witnesses: The Many Roles of Mennonites in the Holocaust” (This topic was the Keynote Address, delivered by Doris Bergen, the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto)

A lifelong Mennonite, Bruce sees himself as a member of that community. Alerted by the above topics and sensing a shakedown of his Mennonite community, Bruce secured a nearby venue for Dan and I to speak and bring a different point of view to those being disseminated at the conference. To inform conference goers of his event (“Two Jewish Revisionists Consider the Holocaust”), Bruce created and distributed flyers announcing the Friday evening event. Political flyering seems as common as football pep rallies on college campuses, but when campus honchos determined that Bruce was using this technique, he was ordered to stop.

And stop he did. But on Saturday he was asked to leave the campus by College President Jon Gering. This writer video-taped the exchange between Gering and Leichty, which included an impromptu conversation between myself and an unknown Holocaust affirmer; that video can be viewed here.

I wanted to remain in the lobby of the Luyken Fine Arts Center to capture Bruce’s exit from Krehbiel Auditorium, but was asked to leave the campus by the North Newton police. They could provide no reason to have me removed from the campus, other than the request came from President Gering, who, according to the police, needed no reason to have me evicted from campus.

I asked the officer if he would inform Bruce of my off-campus location and he said he would. To my surprise, it was the officer – not Bruce – who showed up to tell me that Bruce had been arrested and was being detained at the Harvey County Detention Center. Bruce was released only after 18 hours of detention. His story has been picked up by CODOH, the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust: “Lawyer Arrested for Holocaust Dissent in Kansas”. Readers are encouraged to view this document while holding the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution close by.


Attendance held between 3 and 4 vigilers April 21, 28 and May 5, 12
Witness for Peace
Remember Al-Nakba
Henry Herskovitz

One Response to “Report on Beth Israel vigil 05-12-18”

  1. Bruce Leichty and Henry Herskovitz on getting arrested at a Mennonite holocaust conference; Robert Mendelson on universality of God/Creator/Spirit – Kevin Barrett

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