Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company The New York Times November 17, 1999, Wednesday, Late Edition - Final Section B; Page 8; Column 1; Metropolitan Desk "Angry Press Debate at Hofstra Over Ad Doubting Holocaust" By KATHERINE E. FINKELSTEIN DATELINE: HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., Nov. 16 A 27-page advertisement that casts doubt on the Holocaust's existence has led to angry debate at Hofstra University, where editors of the student newspaper were confronted at a crowded forum today by angered students, faculty members and leaders of campus Jewish organizations. The ad, which is titled "The Revisionist: A Journal of Independent Thought" and includes topics like "Gas Chamber Skepticism," ran as an insert in 5,000 copies of the student newspaper, The Chronicle, on Oct. 28. The ad's creator, Bradley R. Smith, a Californian who has long argued that Jews made up the Holocaust to gain sympathy, had offered it to student newspapers across the country, but Hofstra's is believed to be the only college newspaper to have published it. The Chronicle and other college papers have published smaller ads by Mr. Smith. At a two-hour forum attended by about 200 people today, the editor in chief of The Chronicle, Shawna Van Ness, a junior, and some faculty members defended the newspaper's decision as free speech and a beneficial spark for debate. "Since I've come on as a freshman, we've never rejected an ad," Ms. Van Ness said, adding that the paper would not be discouraged from printing controversial material. But some faculty members angrily argued that rejecting ad copy does not restrict speech, and that the Holocaust's existence is not open for debate. "The ad is not controversial," said a panel member, Nitza Druyan, an adjunct professor of comparative literature and languages. "It's a lie." But Stephen R. Knowlton, an associate journalism professor, said: "I do not think that The Chronicle made a mistake. I think that they did the university a great service." Because of the controversy, he said, many more people are now aware of Mr. Smith's revisionist views. Since 1991, Mr. Smith has submitted full and half-page advertisements for his organization, the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, to college newspapers, accusing "Zionists" of stifling debate about the Holocaust's existence to "drum up world sympathy." His views raised similarly heated debates in 1993 when student newspapers at Brandeis, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Duke, Cornell and Northwestern published an ad by Mr. Smith titled "A Revisionist's View of the U.S. Holocaust Museum." Efforts to find Mr. Smith for comment were not successful. Jeffrey A. Ross, an official of the Anti-Defamation League who attended today's forum, said the most recent ad was rejected by student newspapers at the University of South Carolina, Rice, the University of Delaware, Georgia State, Virginia and Queens College. Ms. Van Ness said today that smaller ads from Mr. Bradley had run in The Chronicle and in 89 other college newpapers, so that when her paper's editorial staff debated including the much longer insert, the discussion was routine. "It went before our editorial board and was approved by an overwhelming majority," she said. Hofstra's director of Jewish chaplains, Rabbi Meier Mitelman, did not object either when he learned three days before publication that the paper was planning to run the insert. At the forum, Michael DeLuise, the vice president for university relations, criticized Rabbi Mitelman for failing to notify administrators so they could talk with the newspaper's staff or solicit advertisements to counter Mr. Smith's message. "By your silence, were you helping to give Bradley Smith a stage?" Mr. DeLuise asked Rabbi Mitelman at the forum. "You knew about it." Rabbi Mitelman accepted some measure of blame. "The choice not to bring that to the attention of the university was an oversight," he said. "Not expressing my outrage was a mistake."
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