Historical News and Comment

Los Angeles 'Museum of Tolerance' to Cost $30 Million

On 30 July of this year, California's Governor, George "Duke" Deukmejian, signed into law SB 337. This bill, introduced by Democratic State Senator David Roberti, of Hollywood, authorizes a grant of $5 million to the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles for its "Museum of Tolerance" expansion program.

The bill was signed despite the public opposition of the Los Angeles Times, and of some major Jewish organizations, including the so-called Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith and the American Jewish Congress.

And it was signed despite Deukmejian's vetoing "of similar measures in the past. "Earlier this year Deukmejian vetoed more than $4 million for private museums in the proposed budget sent to him by the legislature. In his veto message, he said he was 'concerned about the seeming proliferation of appropriations related to museums and exhibitions.' "

Although Deukmejian signed SB 337 without comment or explanation, it appears that the governor, who is of Armenian descent, was bought off by the promise of Wiesenthal Center officials that the Museum of Tolerance will include a token exhibit about the so-called Armenian Genocide of 1915, a topic dear to his heart.

Marshall Phillips, legislative chair of the West Hollywood Democratic Club, complains that Wiesenthal Center officials will not promise to give recognition to homosexuals as victims of Hitlerian intolerance. Phillips claims that "tens of thousands of homosexual men were also systematically exterminated or brutally worked to death in enterprises attached to various concentration camps." (For the sake of convenience, I suggest that henceforward we all refer to the alleged Nazi extermination of homosexuals as "the Homocaust.") Phillips says he queried Senator Roberti's office about the exclusion of homosexuals from the "Museum of Tolerance" and was told, "To include others would water down the whole event."

The criticism that SB 337 violates the First Amendment's requirement of church-state separation is still being made as well. Ron Nelson, an atheist activist, writes, "I wonder if there are any consistent atheist, nationalist, humanist or 'freedom from religious' (sic) organizations that still believe in the First Amendment . . . .

I wonder if any of these organizations or the American Civil Liberties Union will have the courage of their convictions to challenge this blatant violation of the separation of state and church in court."

The week before Deukmejian signed SB 337, one of the opponents, American Jewish Congress vice president Doug Mirell, said his group and others were considering suing the state over the issue if necessary. However, no one has actually taken any action as yet.

If anyone does challenge the constitutionality of SB 337 in court, they should be sure to read the special report on the Wiesenthal Center by Gary Rosenblatt, published last year in The Baltimore Jewish Times.

Wiesenthal Center officials have lately been attempting to pass their Holocaust museum off as a non-sectarian, humanitarian institution. Thus, they incorporated the Center, until recently a part of Yeshiva University, as a separate nonprofit organization. But Rosenblatt's interview with Wiesenthal Center Director Rabbi Marvin Hier apparently conducted before Hier got the bright idea of soaking California's taxpayers, makes it perfectly clear that the Wiesenthal Center is a specifically Jewish institution, dedicated to specifically Jewish ends.

Consider these revealing excerpts from Rosenblatt's article:

[Hier] says he felt from the beginning that the ideal site for a Holocaust museum would be a yeshiva because it would offer living proof that Judaism had survived Hitler. "What is the ultimate memorial to the six million? That Torah lives on, that the Jewish people live on," says the rabbi. "Our memorial is against assimilation, it stands for the future destiny of the Jewish people. It's not a cold memorial of bricks and mortar but a place where students carry out God's command to be vigilant against Amalek (the Bibical personification of Israel's enemies). That's the lesson of the Holocaust."

Responding to the argument that he conceived the Holocaust Center as a means of attracting wide-scale support for his yeshiva he says: "You have to bring a person to his Jewish feelings through what he cares about. The Holocaust is a tragedy most Jews can relate to, while keeping kosher or observing Shabbos is alien to so many. . . ." [Rosenblatt, "The Simon Wiesenthal Center: State-of-the-art Activism or Hollywood Hype?" Baltimore Jewish Times, 14 September 1984, p. 73.)

We see ourselves as an Orthodox institution not happy with the image that Orthodox institutions must be limited to narrow religious issues. We’re not like that. We operate on every front. We will speak up whenever and wherever Jews are put on the defensive. Our goal is to work for Am Yisrael (the people of Israel) and be involved in all issues affecting Jews . . . " (Rosenblatt, op. cit., p.. 74.)

There you have it, right from the rabbi’s mouth: the Wiesenthal Center is an Orthodox Jewish institution whose goal is to work for "the people of Israel" and to be involved in all issues affecting Jews.

It is this Orthodox Jewish-and Zionist-outfit that California’s taxpayers will be forced to subsidize unless somebody goes to court and gets SB 337 overturned. So what are all the First Amendment Fundamentalists waiting for? A sign from God?

-- L. A. Rollins
 

(As it happens, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court to stop the state from providing the $5 million for the proposed museum of tolerance. The suit contends that construction of this museum on the campus of Yeshiva University in Los Angeles would be in violation of the California Constitution's mandate for separation of church and state. It maintains what is clear to all honest citizens, that Yeshiva University a private religious educational institution.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and dean of Yeshiva University as well, each of which are housed in the same buildings, is prepared to "vigorously defend" the constitutionality of the grant. "Preventing the spread of hatred and bigotry is the responsibility of all and has nothing to do with the issue of church and state," Hier said.

The very concept of a museum of "tolerance" is a vulgarity, and Rabbi Hier keeps his hand in it, a significant segment of the Jewish community will probably find it offensive as well. The concept implies that tolerance is not to be found in the daily lives of citizenry, in our communities, our literature and other arts, and therefore we don't know what it is. Rabbi Hier thinks it is necessary to go to a Jewish museum to discover the nature of tolerance.

Maybe revisionists should welcome the erection of such a pleasure palace of neuroticism as it will reveal to the many how much deception and fraud the Holocausters are trading in, information on which now is restricted to the minority who read revisionist literature.)


From The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1985-86 (Vol. 6, No. 1), pages 504-507.