Posted on May 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm
Kentucky man offers $1000 reward in “Elie Wiesel Tattoo Challenge” at Wiesel’s Xavier University May 6 Speech
By Carolyn Yeager
Updated on May 2, 6:30 p.m. (see below)
Robert Ransdell is a man after our own heart. He’s putting up money to publicize the fact that Elie Wiesel doesn’t have the Auschwitz tattoo he claims to have.
“An Evening with Elie Wiesel” is coming to Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday, May 6th. The entertainment/education event is being marketed by CHHE, which stands for Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. We just finished with Holocaust Remembrance Week in the United States, and now the entire month of May is Jewish American Heritage Month! So people like Elie Wiesel are on the circuit.
Picture at right is used on promotional materials for the “Evening with Elie Wiesel.”
CHHE is worth studying in itself. It shouldn’t pass your notice that “Holocaust” is combined with “Humanity,” cleverly making a connection between the two. Headquartered in Cincinnati at the campus of Rockwern Academy (formerly Yavneh Day School) at 8401 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236, it displays a permanent exhibit named Mapping Our Tears which showcases “a multimedia theater set in a 1930’s European attic that takes visitors back in time.” A portable exhibit of “Out of the Attic” can be taken to schools and other locations (with trained “educators,” of course) for a fee of $350.00 a half-day and $500.00 for a full day. But Mapping Our Tears is also supported by generous benefactors, such as United Way, U S Bank, Time-Warner Cable, Kroger, Proctor & Gamble, Cinergy, Federated Dept. Stores and Frisch’s Big Boy … and one whose logo I can’t recognize. (Anyone in the mood to boycott?) To see the permanent exhibit, it is suggested you give a “donation” of $5 per person. CHHE is a non-tax-paying, non-profit organization … such a laugh.
CHHE has a Speakers Bureau, naturally, featuring “Holocaust survivors, Holocaust refugees, World War II veterans and concentration camp liberators, and other eyewitnesses. Additionally, children and grandchildren of survivors, and trained experts and educators are available to speak to your group.” Also, “A donation to the Center of $100 is suggested to cover the costs incurred by this program.” I imagine one would be made to feel downright cheap if an even more generous “expression of appreciation” were not given directly to the speaker also. Elie Wiesel is too exalted to be just another available speaker on their list, and absolutely costs more than $100 (LOL) but he is still handled by the Speakers Bureau.
The Center likes to hold major events at nearby Cintas Center of Catholic Xavier University. In the new spirit of Catholic-Jewish reconciliation, the Jesuit university is more than willing to help promote holocaust education. But does the Jewish school or the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati (which used to house the CHHE) promote Catholic-Christian history in a way that the Catholics would like? Very doubtful. With Jews, you don’t get an equal exchange.
The poster that advertises the event says “Professor Wiesel’s visit is made possible by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati … with their partners The American Jewish Committee, Cedar Village, Jewish Community Relations Council, The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, Jewish Vocational Service and the Issac M. Wise Temple. In other words, it’s an all-Jewish production. It is Jews, and Jews alone, who present endless programs on the Holocaust to the long-suffering Christians, although the audience will probably be majority Jewish. They make sure to support their own.
Note that there is both a Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and a Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. The CHHE reminds me of the British HET (Holocaust Education Trust). I feel sure it is patterned after that older, very successful organization.
The man who is sponsoring a $1000.00 Challenge to bring the ‘Wiesel—No Tattoo’ issue to the Xavier campus
Robert Ransdell, who lives in the Kentucky/Ohio area, has been flyering both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University for the past month — since he found out Wiesel would be making the speech there. He has come up with “The $1000 Challenge”—the money promised to the first person to get Elie Wiesel to show his left forearm and reveal his A-7713 tattoo number … or lack of it. If there is no tattoo visible, no reward will be given. The winner must show proof that Elie Wiesel does have a tattoo—which would require Wiesel’s cooperation.
Ransdell realizes that few, if any, would even be able to get close enough to Wiesel to ask him, but he is trying to make a point with his Challenge. He also tried to place an ad in the Xavier campus newspaper, but it was eventually turned down. Ransdell thinks it’s because his flyering made them aware of his intentions—the ad simply said “Elie Show the Tattoo,” with “Elie” being the name of a band coming out with a new album titled “Tattoo.” Ransdell also posted some of his flyers at Hillel, the “largest Jewish campus organization in the world,” which was probably a mistake since they would then be on the lookout for him.
Ransdell, however, is no novice to this kind of activity. He told me that he has crashed holocaust speaking engagements in the past, including Deborah Lipstadt at Xavier in March 2007, and has had some success for his efforts. Because it was a smaller audience than Wiesel’s will be, Ransdell was able to interrupt Lipstadt’s speech when she started talking about the Holocaust. He asked, “Now which Holocaust are we talking about here, the first or the second?” As the room fell silent, he continued, “are we talking about the one in 1919, when Ilya Ehrenburg claimed that 6 million Jews were being killed in a Holocaust … or the second one?” Lipstadt fumbled for a second and Ransdell rose and said even more before he was ordered to leave. But he continued talking on the way out, and Lipstadt had no answer.
He is not planning to attend the “Evening with Elie Wiesel” himself, but hopes to inspire some action by others with the promise of the $1000 reward. We will report on further developments next week. You can contact Robert Ransdell at [email protected] He could probably use some financial contributions to help cover his costs, if you feel inclined.
* * *
UPDATE: May 2, 6:15 p.m.
From the Cleveland Jewish News: For the ADL, this is another sign of rising antisemitism.
Hate Fliers target Wiesel’s May speech in Cincinnati
MARILYN H. KARFELD
Senior Staff Reporter | 0 comments
Anti-Semitic fliers have been posted at the University of Cincinnati and nearby Xavier University, targeting Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor, who is speaking at Xavier on Sunday, May 6.
On April 4, about 30 fliers were posted at the University of Cincinnati on and around the Hillel Jewish Student Center, and a couple were found by the student union, said Judith Wertheim, 20, a resident of University Heights and a junior at the university. The fliers were posted a day after Hillel began advertising Wiesel’s speech, which is being presented by The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, an independent nonprofit in Cincinnati.
The fliers, which call Wiesel a liar and a fraud, among other scurrilous charges, [No mention of the legitimate question of Where Is Elie’s Tattoo? That is not hate, and it is very dishonest of them to not state the actual contents of the flyer. They are AFRAID of the tattoo question. -cy] were also spotted on the campus at Xavier University, a Jesuit institution that is co-sponsoring his appearance.
In response, the University of Cincinnati’s Undergraduate Student Senate passed a resolution supporting a letter drafted by Rabbi Elana Dellal, executive director of its Hillel, and submitted to the senate by Stephen Lamb, a student intern at Hillel. The letter criticized the fliers’ message, said Wertheim, a senator from the College of Allied Health Sciences.
“We, the student body of the University of Cincinnati, will not stand by as intolerance occurs on our campus,” Dellal wrote in the letter titled “We Will Not Be Silent.”
“We, students and supporters of the University of Cincinnati, understand that denying that the Holocaust happened is anti-Semitic,” the letter continued. [Did the flyer deny the holocaust happened? -cy] “There is no place on our campus for intolerance of any kind, be it religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity.”
Jewish students active at Hillel, who plan to attend Wiesel’s speech, also decided that doing more than writing the letter and alerting the student government to the fliers was “giving too much power to this person posting them,” said Wertheim. “This wasn’t a threat of violence. But we don’t condone hate speech [only their own -cy], which is why we brought it to the student government to get more backing.”
When informed of the fliers, university officials said they would “keep an eye out,” said Wertheim. “It was very clear the university is very supportive of Hillel.”
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education is presenting Wiesel, a Romanian-born Holocaust survivor and author, with financial support from the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati. Wiesel’s first book “Night,” the 1956 memoir of his experiences in Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz, has sold millions of copies. [Why does the author of a 10- million-plus-selling-book need financial support? And 1956 is not the publication date for Night, but for the Yiddish book Un di velt hot geshvign … the one Elie never talked about until Nikolaus Grüner brought it to public attention after the 1986 Nobel Prize awards. -cy]
The author of the flier identifies himself as Robert Ransdell, coordinator of Cincinnati’s unit of the National Alliance, a white supremacist group that has dwindled in support in recent years and only has about a dozen active participants, said David Schneider, an Anti-Defamation League investigative researcher based in Chicago.
“Elie Wiesel, because of his prominence and his status, attracts the attention of Holocaust deniers and white supremacists,” said Schneider.
Wiesel has not spoken in Cincinnati in a decade, said Sarah Weiss, executive director of The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. Many schools in the area include “Night” in their reading lists, and there are already 4,000 reservations for the event, including 2,000 students, she said.
“While it is unfortunate that individuals who hate and want to deny history are present and visible and active, it’s a small minority of people,” said Weiss. “We should use this to energize and galvanize efforts around Holocaust education. Maybe, in a small way, it’s an opportunity for us.”
Publicizing hate-mongering activities requires walking a fine line, said Nina Sundell, area director of the Anti-Defamation League, whose region covers Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania.
“The purpose of distributing the fliers is to bring more attention to a hateful activity,” she said. “There’s a downside to publicizing that as more people hear their message. However, one of the best ways to fight hateful rhetoric and speech is through other speech, the reverse type. It’s always a judgment call” whether or not to make these activities public.
Sundell has not decided if she should become involved in the Cincinnati incident. “Would it assist them in putting forth a positive message or spread the hateful message further?” she asked. “We feel it is the ADL’s role to bring these issues to light, but we need to examine this situation further to decide if we take any action.”
The lesson here, dear readers, is that even the smallest of actions against St. Elie of Wiesel will bring down a torrent of abusive reaction from the guardians of the most powerful narrative in the Jewish arsenal.