NEW YORK (Sep. 28)
Federal and local law enforcement agencies in Tidewater, Virginia, have launched an investigation into a series of bomb threats against an exhibition of Holocaust artifacts and photographs at the Tidewater Jewish Federation. At the same time, local police have stepped up security at the exhibit, “Auschwitz: A Crime Against Humanity,” which opened September 8 and is scheduled to run a month. The exhibition has been seen by at least 500-800 people daily.
In addition to the bomb threats, the exhibit was picketed a week ago by a group said to be affiliated with a white supremacist, anti-Semitic group, the Christian Identity Movement. About a dozen demonstrators distributed blatantly anti-Semitic leaflets with a cartoon deriding the Holocaust as a lie and portraying Jews in control of all forms of the media. It was captioned “How long can the Jews perpetrate the Holocaust myth? Not much longer!”
The leaflets bore two different addresses, Kingdom News Crusades for Truth, in Chesapeake, Va., and Lord’s Covenant Church, America’s Promise, Phoenix, Az. Both are known headquarters for an extreme rightwing, pseudo-Christian movement that promotes belief in the “Israel identity of the Saxon race” and espouses paramilitary tactics against Jews, Catholics, Blacks and the American government.
The Identity movement also vilifies Christian Fundamentalist supporters of Israel, chiefly the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who are based in the same Virginia area as the Tidewater Federation.
SUPPORT FROM NON JEWS
According to A. Robert Gast, executive director of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the 15,000-member Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the 15,000-member Jewish community has received much support from the non-Jewish community there. A rally was held last Wednesday at the Jewish Community Center, site of the exhibit and of the Federation and Jewish Family Services. The convocation, endorsed by the local press, brought together civic and religious leaders of the Tidewater area. Father Thomas Nee, of the Blessed Sacrament Church, addressed the rally, saying, “I wish to decry and deplore the insanity and the cruelty of the violence exhibited here” which demonstrated “un-American, woefully ignorant and thoroughly un-Christian behavior … It is frightening to realize that the diabolically evil shadow of the deeds and spirit of Nazi hatred so poignantly recalled by the chilling exhibit … can reappear”…
Gast, in a telephone interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, said that people are “concerned but not frightened… Our absolute horror in seeing this demonstration in Norfolk, Virginia, reinforced our determination to make the Auschwitz exhibit more available to the community at large.” He said the Jewish Federation would double its effort to “get the good people of Tidewater to come out and stand up to the demonstrators.” The exhibit was first seen at the United Nations last winter by 70,000. The UN showing was organized by the Auschwitz State Museum and the International Auschwitz Committee. In April, the United Jewish Appeal signed an historic agreement with the Polish government providing for a two-year nationwide tour of the death camp artifacts and related documents. Among the articles on display are suitcases, human hair, oven parts and 135 photographic panels. Tidewater is the first of its stops throughout the U.S. Gast said attendance at the exhibit has risen sharply since the demonstration and bomb threats, and that people coming to see the exhibit included groups from universities and churches, including Black Pentecostalists.