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(Jeff Haynes / Agence France Presse)

Michigan professor named in "Nazi" ad hits at New York Times for "aiding and abetting environment of fear"

Earlier this week, The New York Times published a vile advertisement from a notorious racist agitator accusing a number of named US college professors of inciting the murder of Jewish children and setting the stage for a new Holocaust because some of them have supported calls for the boycott of Israel.

One of those named, William Thomson, emeritus professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, shared this response, which I am posting with his permission:

On the New York Times attack ad - a response from Bill Thomson

On, 24 April 2012 – a date which will live in memory – 13 academic colleagues and I were suddenly and deliberately attacked by the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

This attack took the form of a 1/4 page unlabeled advertisement on the editorial page of the New York Times (see attached).

Under a photograph of a 1930s era Nazi Brown Shirt, my colleagues and I were identified by name and academic affiliation, inferentially connected to the tragic murder of a French rabbi and three children, and listed with others on the horowitzfreedomcenter.org website as “BDS supporters of hate and anti-Semitism.”

I presume my inclusion in this list was the result of my efforts at the University of Michigan to promote the formation of a University Committee to investigate possible divestment. Precisely, what we are requesting is:

Whereas, the undersigned believe that any University investments in entities contributing to human rights violations by either Israelis or Palestinians is inappropriate,

Resolved, the undersigned call for the formation by the University of Michigan of an advisory committee consisting of members of the University Senate, students, administration and alumni to determine if any University investments are questionable and in need of appropriate corrective actions.

Although our efforts at Michigan have been consistently mischaracterized by the local opposition as anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic, please note carefully that we are calling for divestment with regard to both Israeli and Palestinian human rights violations. This call has been supported by a wide range of Palestinian and American Jewish groups, as well as by three Nobel Peace Laureates and numerous Nobel nominees.

It is not pleasant being characterized as anti-Semitic, even by ill-informed and misguided individuals. However, those of us who toil in this arena for any length of time are quite familiar with the charge. Over time I have come to associate it with an absence of reasoned argument by our adversaries.

Similarly this advertisement associates us with the initiation of a new Holocaust. In my mind such a charge infinitely reduces the recognition and memory of the millions who suffered unimaginable pain and suffering at the hands of Adolf Hitler and his associates. To cast such charges in such an irresponsible manner is an egregious violation of the memory of a terrible historical reality.

Nevertheless, groups and individuals will resort to unfounded character assassination and ad hominem attacks when reasoned discussion is beyond their abilities. It comes with the territory, and I have learned to live with it. Wounds are inevitable in the full exercise of our First Amendment freedoms.

My primary argument in this situation is with the New York Times. Why would the supposed Newspaper of Record publish such an indefensible screed, and why it would put it on its editorial page without clearly labeling it as an advertisement?

The ad lists our names and our academic affiliations. It calls for us to be “publicly shamed and condemned for the crimes [our] hatred incites”. It requests readers to “contact the president of your local university and ask them to publicly condemn their faculty’s participation in the Boycott of Hate”.

I am too weathered a campaigner to be much affected by these requests. In fact, there is a part of me that recognizes that such unjustified attacks mean that we are nearing the critical mass that causes real fear in the hearts of our adversaries.

Now being seven years post-retirement, I am thankfully beyond any conceivable retaliation. My reputation, for better or worse, is probably fixed. However, others on this list may not be in my position, and at the very least, such an advertisement may have a “chilling effect” on the younger, more creative, more energetic individuals on all sides of this issue, individuals that hold the keys to its resolution.

Unfortunately, I have directly witnessed negative consequences toward vulnerable colleagues expressing views on this topic. The concern is real. So why is the New York Times aiding and abetting this environment of fear?

Please consider expressing any concerns you may have to the New York Times Public Editor (Ombudsperson), Art Brisbane, at public@nytimes.com, or (212) 556-7652.

Comments

Those charges of "self-hating Jew" or "anti-Semite" by Zionist operatives have become so trite and so scattershot as to make them insipid and meaningless. I have no idea to whom these are directed, or why anyone should take it seriously anymore.
By the same token, I'm sure in some circles, they will label the 60 Minutes interview with Israel Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren (ne Bornstein), the expatriate American; to be anti-Semitic as well; and the interviewer, Bob Simon, to be a self-hating Jew. The attitude ought to be "who cares!?"
You want to call me a self-hating Jew? Fine, I'll call you the schmuck on the camel.

The timing and placement of this ad was no coincidence. It just happened to run on the same page and on the same day that a very tepid essay on a possible unilateral "solution" to the Israel-Palestine conflict by Israel. (Needless to say, when any Palestine or pro-Palestinian recommends unilateral declaration of statehood, the NYT, Obama, and US political elites scream bloody murder.)

I remember noting that Bill Ayers signed on to the ad. Evidently, Ayers is trying to resurrect his political standing by allying himself with one set of bigots to ward off the attacks of another set.

The Times _must_ have vetted the ad for liability purposes. It treads very close to being actionable libel. That it ran on the same day as the essay also suggests that the ad's makers were informed of timing.

Please note: Bill Ayers did NOT sign on as a supporter to the ad. He was named as a target of the ad for his support of justice for all.

Huge mistake on my part.

Thanks to Y. Kahn for correcting me on this.

The attack ad may be taken as evidence that the BDS campaign and the growing worldwide protests over Israeli government atrocities against Palestinians are having an impact. If they weren't why would the Horowitz Freedom Center lash out with such a desperate smear campaign?

I note a sense of incredulity in"positives" response: why would they......my thought is to realize that the Israel Lobby is well funded and the Hasbara Organization which will not let Truth be heard, will lie and distort at will to hammer home their message. True Zionst believes the world owes them a blank check for reparations and a suspension of all ethical and moral codes codes that may govern their behavior. The genocide and the ethnic cleansing of the American Indian gives them a template to use for their nasty and evil quest they are on in Palestine. The Iran issue has only been a diversion so the world will thnk that tiny little David who is in a rough neiborhood, has to fend off the mighty Goliaths who might destroy it. meanwhile settlements are expanding and ethnic cleansing continues .
L

I agree with Hugh Sansom. There is no coincidence in life and certainly not in newspaper land of the mainstream media. Highly politicized. Not really very independent anymore. BDS means multinationals (including companies which own or are affiliated with newspapers) not earning money through their work in the settlements for the state of Israel and being complicit to events on the ground. The war industry has long tentacles. Using the genocide on us Jews to shame and go after people in a world renowned newspaper is amoral and shows the length to what these unconscionable people go. The blood of those massacred cry from the ground.

Wow could they possibly be any sleazier? How low will they go? Wow...

Who are the owners of the New York Times?

Does their record of coverage give any insight into their agenda?