Historical News and Comment
"This group [the IHR] is more dangerous than the skinheads."
-- Irv Rubin
"Historians are dangerous people. They are capable of upsetting everything."
-- Nikita S. Khruschev
"The Holocaust was not a sacred event. It was a historical event and it should be open to routine, historical criticism."
-- Bradley Smith
Mr. Irving Rubin of Los Angeles leads a rag-tag association of militants who claim to serve the interests of the American Jewish community by protecting it from a variety of imagined threats. His Jewish Defense League (JDL), founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, now an American expatriate in Israel, is the organization which, a few years back, sunk the hoary art of sloganeering to new depths by coining the phrase "FOR EVERY JEW A .22!"
According to Mr. Rubin's mindset anyone -- even other Jews -- could be, and probably is, out to get his people. By his logic any Gentile is liable to be afflicted, at any time, with the dread contagion of anti-Semitism. But since Rubin's JDL has been classified as a terrorist group by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, "defending" his people through the use of threats and violence has become increasingly inconvenient of late, and Rubin has been forced to seek more commercial means of harassing the "anti-Semites."
It was Rubin and his friends who, brandishing the Israeli national flag, staged two violent demonstrations in front of the offices of the Institute for Historical Review when we were located in Torrance ("NAZIS WITH PH.Ds ARE STILL NAZIS!" "SIX MILLION-NEVER AGAIN!"). And it was Rubin who appeared at the scene of the crime the day after the devastating July 4, 1984 arson destruction of the IHR's offices and warehouse in Torrance, boasting to the press that while, of course, neither he nor his group had had a hand in the professionally-executed terrorist deed, "We applaud those who took this righteous action." He said essentially the same thing after the home of IHR Editorial Advisory Committee member Dr. George Ashley was firebombed and severely damaged four years ago. The media loves him because he can always be counted on to offer interesting news followups, from physically violent confrontations to reward offers for the severed ears of "Nazis." Indeed, "Nazis" abound in Mr. Rubin's world. And they are out "to finish the job that Hitler started."
Rubin, like his fellow Jewish terrorist Mordechai Levy, is one of those people around whom disaster, destruction and various forms of violence swirl continuously, yet who have never been convicted of anything really serious. When things got too hot for the JDL a few years ago, Rubin was forced to officially unload his uncontrollable hatchet man, Levy, who was then set up to operate out of New York City with a new organization called the JDO ("O" for Organization).
While Rubin's professed mission has been to safeguard Jews from the Holocaust which always lurks just around the corner, his own brutal antics and goon-like demeanor probably prompted as much anti-Jewish feeling as anyone. "NEVER FORGET, NEVER FORGIVE" is the JDL's motto and Rubin's own attitude toward life. This February, with his usual measure of malice aforethought and insight into the weaknesses of the human psyche, Rubin set out to torpedo the IHR's Ninth International Revisionist Conference. He failed, of course, but not before embarrassing his group, and exposing himself, as well as two multi-million dollar commercial establishments and at least one municipal police department, to serious legal repercussions, including breach of contract and conspiracy to violate the civil rights of American citizens.
The Rumor of Auschwitz Revisited
During the afternoon of February 16,1989, Irv Rubin held a press conference in the lobby of what was to have been the site of the Ninth International Revisionist Conference: the Red Lion Inn in Costa Mesa, California. He was after the hotel to cancel the event. He had mistakenly been informed that the IHR had booked the hotel under a phony name and thus left itself open to some form of lawful last-minute cancellation by the Red Lion. But Irv Rubin is a generous man: in the event that IHR's booking was legally binding and the Red Lion could not be intimidated into cancelling, he offered to place the JDL's financial resources at the disposal of the hotel's management should it wind up as the defendant in a costly lawsuit.
The day before, the manager of the Red Lion Inn, Russell Cox, had phoned to tell me "confidentially" that he was cancelling the IHR's contract, claiming that he had "three Jewish weddings" scheduled for that weekend and wanted no trouble. There was no convincing Cox with any rational arguments. He was not the least open either to truth or pleas for justice. I realized it wouldn't help asking him to cancel the "three Jewish weddings" instead. The die was cast. The Red Lion was backing out, unilaterally breaching a signed contract with the Institute, a contract made some eight months earlier with a good faith cash deposit. Seventy-two hours before the IHR's Ninth International Revisionist Conference was to commence, with 180 people scheduled to arrive from four continents, and with the Red Lion standing to gain more than $20,000 in revenues from lodging and banquet bookings, the IHR suddenly found itself with no place to hold the event.
We at IHR. however. were not caught unawares.
Behind the Orange Curtain
On the previous Tuesday, Mr. Cox had called to tell me that the Red Lion had received several anonymous phone threats of demonstrations and protests if he allowed the IHR group to meet there. But at that time he didn't appear to be overly concerned. He did seem a bit bewildered, however, about complaints that we were "rewriting history." But when I explained to him that whenever any history is written, history, at that point, is being rewritten, he seemed satisfied. He was cordial and said that he looked forward to meeting me on Saturday, the opening day of the conference.
Evidently, the Red Lion Inn decided to renege only after Irv Rubin forewarned the hotel and the media that he planned to hold a press conference there.
Mr. Cox did not have the courage to say NO to a member of an organization with a public record of intimidation and violence. Rubin, his sidekick Bruce Derflinger, and the other JDL bully boys were invited to assemble in the Red Lion's elegant marble- and brass-fronted lobby and hold their press conference in the name of freedom of speech. Meanwhile, a legitimate, peaceful, historical society with no record of ever having caused trouble or violence, after eight previous conferences, seven of them in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, was being banned from the hotel, despite a binding contract made months before.
It thus seemed clear that the hotel's devastating eleventh hour cancellation had been engineered not by one of the officially approved and influential Jewish pressure groups, such as the Anti-Defamation [sic] League, but by perhaps only one or two JDLers who, after having discovered the location of the conference, made a few phone calls to the hotel, hinted a threat or two, including the suggestion of adverse publicity, and announced a press conference to convince the Red Lion management to throw us out. If this supposition is correct, then all it took to prompt the breach of a valid commercial contract and leave 180 people without their pre-arranged conference site was perhaps two, maybe three, frenetic cranks with little to offer of late besides impotent threats. Then again, the JDL may have had a little help in its efforts, courtesy of the Costa Mesa Police Department.
Curiouser and Curiouser
When I was told by the Red Lion's Mr. Cox of the cancellation, I was also advised that a local Holiday Inn had agreed to accept and honor the contracts made originally with the Red Lion (the IHR's Eighth Conference had been held at another local Holiday Inn). Fobbing us off like this, from the Red Lion managements point of view, might serve to mitigate to some extent its contractual and financial liability. In other words, if the Red Lion could arrange for the IHR to hold its conference elsewhere, the IHR could be supposed to experience less of a direct financial loss than by having no place at all to hold the event.
The Holiday Inn directly across Bristol Street seemed a logical choice. It did not remotely approach the class and opulence of the Red Lion, but it was close by, and its manager, with knowledge of the circumstances of our Red Lion cancellation, with no Jewish weddings that weekend, and with a virtually empty hotel and no scheduled banquet business, seemed glad to accommodate us. It is worth noting at this point that Mr. Cox assured me that he had spoken at some length with the Holiday Inn's manager, Mr. Dick Heatherington, and had informed him of the nature of the "problem" he had with the IHR and the "three Jewish weddings," and that Mr. Heatherington was all the same happy to have our business. The Holiday Inn contracts were all drawn up and signed the following afternoon amid smiles, handshakes and repeated assurances of the best service. I handed over a $10,000 deposit check (subsequently cashed by the Holiday Inn), and everything seemed set. Twenty thousand dollars of instant revenue had been effortlessly gained by the Bristol Street Holiday Inn. Its managers had reason to smile. All this took place on Thursday, less than 48 hours before some 180 invited Revisionists were due to descent on Orange County, proceed to the Holiday Inn via the Red Lion, and attend the Ninth International Revisionist Conference.
I was at the office all day Friday; everything seemed to be going well. I called the new hotel a few times to make changes to the rooming list and to take care of all the last-minute loose ends. The hotel had given no sign of anything untoward, the conference was still on, and it was to be the largest and, by all prospects the best, conference we'd ever held. At around 5:00 p.m. I left the office with conference emcee Mark Weber, and headed home.
Prof. Robert Faurisson and another conference attendee from out of town were staying at my apartment. Mark and I arrived at my place, parked the car, walked the distance to my door and entered. What I heard in the next two seconds made my blood boil. The Holiday Inn had called the office and cancelled the contract at approximately 5:10 p.m., moments after I had left. On this Friday, the seventeenth of February, our people were already arriving by plane. Registration for the conference was less than 20 hours away. I could visualize aircraft landing with attendees and speakers from as far away as Japan and Switzerland, cars converging on the Los Angeles areas with guests from Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco. Suddenly, as if by diabolic intervention, we were without lodging, meeting space, catering facilities, our conference; we didn't even have a place to meet and sort things out. All attendees had been notified to come to the Red Lion, and although the Red Lion promised to tell our people to go across the street to the Holiday Inn, there was now no room at the Holiday Inn, either.
Just about then, I reckon that Mr. Irving Rubin and his boys were off tossing down a few (watery) beers and laughing among themselves at the wimpish acquiescence of the managers of two major franchises, in what trade publications refer to as the "hospitality industry," smug in their confidence that the rug had been cunningly pulled out from underneath the Revisionists at the last possible minute. Bristol Street, in the fair city of Costa Mesa, California, had shattered the world record for the number of commercial contracts unilaterally breached on a single street in one 48-hour period. And it looked as if this might well portend the beginning of the end for freedom of speech for Historical Revisionists in these United States.
To Serve and Protect
It is difficult to remember a time span in my life as intense as the two hours between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. that Friday evening. Phone calls were coming in and going out so fast that it was hard to believe any order could ever emerge from the apparent chaos. The IHR and Historical Revisionism were being systematically muzzled, right before our eyes, in the United States of America. We had paid half the entire hotel bill in advance. We had the signed contracts. The only thing we didn't have was a place to put 180 people, all of them looking forward to an enjoyable and informative three-day conference.
I placed a call immediately to Dick Heatherington, general manager of the Holiday Inn, who, not a day and a half ago, had been all smiles and enthusiasm.
Why was he cancelling us at the very last moment? On the recommendation of Captain Tom Lazare of the Costa Mesa Police Department, Heatherington said.
According to Heatherington, Lazare had called earlier to warn of the likelihood of some trouble, a demonstration, a confrontation. Heatherington had heeded Captain Lazare's advice and phoned his superiors at Holiday Inn corporate headquarters in Kansas City. Heatherington informed me that the decision to cancel was made over his head, based on the Costa Mesa Police Department recommendation. He apologized several times, saying how sorry he was and how terrible he felt that we were being thrown out, none of which, of course, alleviated my problem in the slightest.
Instructing Heatherington as to the characteristic stratagems and bluff favored by the JDL, and urging him to call his superiors back or to put me in touch with them directly, I next called the Costa Mesa Police and asked for Captain Lazare. Lazare had left his office at police headquarters and returned home. A fellow who said his name was Captain Smith fielded my call; I told him what I has been told by Heatherington. I expressed my disbelief that any police department would advise in favor of the breach of a commercial contract. And hadn't Presidents Reagan and Bush informed the nation of their resolve not to surrender to terrorist demands? Smith transferred me to the watch commander, to whom I restated my complaint The watch commander, stonewalling at first, told me to call back during regular business hours on Monday to talk to Lazare. After my adamant insistence, however, he agreed to try to reach Lazare at home; he promised to call me back as soon as possible.
As good as his word, the watch commander soon called to say that Lazare could not be located. Gone fishing maybe, and without his pager! At this point, it was clear that the Costa Mesa police were in no mood either to serve or protect. Despite the valid commercial contracts, despite Constitutional and civil rights, our last hopes for a reconsideration and a reinstatement of the conference at the Holiday Inn seemed to be fading fast.
The Revisionists Rally
Meanwhile, I waited to hear back from Heatherington, who was presumably contacting his superiors in Kansas City. At 7:30 p.m. he called to let me know that he had been unable to reach any decision-makers. Since Conference attendees were by then pouring into the Holiday Inn to register for their rooms, Heatherington expressed a willingness to permit us at least to conduct our own registration for the conference the afternoon of the following day. No meetings and no food, however. And since our contract had been cancelled, there was to be no further direct billing to the master IHR account Arriving attendees would have to pay for their rooms, a second time, on their own account.
This was distasteful, but we had at least secured a foothold. If we could at least meet and organize, mass confusion would be avoided, and perhaps there would still be time to find an alternative location for the Saturday night opening and the following two full days of the conference agenda.
Around 8:00 p.m. Friday evening Robert Faurisson, Mark Weber, Frank and I sat eating pizza and discussing the situation. I knew none of us would sleep that night and that the following day might well turn out to be the busiest in my life. The phone rang. It was a local conference attendee who had called the IHR office and learned of the last-minute cancellation. He had already called a friend of his who might be able to help: Joe Bischof, owner of a large restaurant and banquet hall at Old World, a European-style shopping complex in nearby Huntington Beach. In addition to some twenty speciality shops, Old World has a church with a large basement. The word from our caller was that Mr. Bischof could probably feed our group and provide us with a meeting space on Sunday and Monday, but it might be tricky because of existing bookings. I called Mr. Bischof immediately and suggested we meet first thing the following day to work out the details. He couldn't help us out for the Saturday night meeting, but he said that he could probably work something out for the following two days.
The next slice of pizza tasted awfully good. I uncapped a cold beer. Now we had a place to organize, register and make plans on Saturday afternoon, as well as a place to meet for the two big days of the conference. A half-hour before we had had nothing. Two problems down and just one to go. All we had to do now was find meeting space for Saturday night.
Freedom of Assembly and Speech Prevail
Since taking over the directorship of the IHR in 1981, I have always happily remarked to my associates at the end of every IHR conference, "We pulled another one off." I've looked at it this way only because of the character of the opposition which any dissent in this area finds itself up against: it is underhanded, defamatory, intellectually non-confrontational and utterly un-American.
Irv Rubin's remarks to the press during this brouhaha included the statement, "We will confront them on any level they wish." But of course Rubin fears to confront anything above his street-level plane of understanding. Repeated calls by the IHR and others for an open debate on the Holocaust remain unanswered. Such a debate was scheduled to occur in Torrance on the Tuesday following the conference. The Revisionists were there, as promised, but the anti-Revisionists -- all four of them -- bailed out.
To make a long story short, we did, in fact, pull it off. A Saturday night booking was made at almost the last minute, and on Sunday morning we moved over to Old World. This eleventh-hour organizing, briefing, and shuttling around of 180 people, many of whom were elderly and most of whom were far from their residential element, could not have been accomplished, I believe, by any other group. Everyone simply got shoulder to shoulder and pulled hard. It gave me real inspiration, and was impressive beyond words.
In the end, we all enjoyed a full conference that ran right on schedule, without a single upsetting incident. Judging from the comments of both attendees and speakers, this was, indeed, by far the best IHR conference ever. By the third day, nearly 200 people packed the bunker-like basement beneath the chapel, and professional video and audio crews recorded the entire three day-event on tape.
Rubin and a handful of sullen hangers-on did finally manage to catch up, turning in their usual pathetic performance. Irv and his gang's idea of rational discourse was to march around with placards proclaiming, e.g.: "IF THERE WAS NO HOLOCAUST, THEN THERE WAS NO VIETNAM WAR AND CUSTER'S LAST STAND." Quite a syllogism!
It may turn out that during this conference weekend they will have accomplished exactly the opposite of what they had intended to do. This time there will be a backlash. Our legal case is unmistakably clear: there have been two major, unilateral breaches of contract; violations of our civil rights; and perhaps even a conspiracy to violate our rights as well. These matters will be pursued and both actual and punitive damages sought. The only question that remains is one of financial resources. To seek remedies in the courts in these times requires sizable funds, something the IHR simply does not possess.
But if what was done to the Institute in this case is permitted to go unpenalized or unpunished, it will set a precedent that will make our Constitutional guarantees of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech worth little more than the paper they are printed on. Thus every American who believes in these rights, and who is able to contemplate a world in which they are absent, has a vital vested interest in fully supporting the IHR in seeking a judicious and meaningful remedy.
I believe all of us Americans at IHR's Ninth Conference during the historic weekend of February 18-20, 1989 had reason to be proud of the rights and freedoms our forefathers wrung from the world's mightiest empire a little over two hundred years ago. Our foreign visitors, I think, were impressed to see us stand up to economic sanction, open threats, and police intransigence with the casual self-assurance and unstudied pragmatism that stamps the best of our countrymen.
And we're a bit proud of ourselves as well. Once again, in modern-day "times that try men's souls," the men and women of the Institute for Historical Review have served notice that they claim their birthright of free speech and free inquiry with pride, not shame, in devotion to truth and in defiance of whoever would engineer or acquiesce in its suppression, be he trembling corporate "honcho," home-grown terrorist, alien meddler, or minion of the State.
From The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1989 (Vol. 9, No. 1), pages 116-125.