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March 06, 2008 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-03-06

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U-M Press' Hate-Filled Tie


ince 2004, the University of
Michigan has been the sole
distributor for London-based
Pluto Press, which publishes some of the
most anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and anti-
American tracts available in the United
More than a dozen of these books advo-
cate the destruction of the Jewish state
and any book dealing with Israel can be
trusted to vilify Zionism. Neither U-M
Press nor Pluto Press offer any texts that
present pro-Israel views. If left alone, this
distribution contract will automatically
renew every six months. There has been
no communication from U-M whatsoever
that the contract is to be discontinued and,
in fact, some indication that the contract
could be renewed.
Our efforts, with the help of other com-
munity organizations, exposed the Pluto
Press arrangement and resulted in the
U-M Press executive board creating guide-
lines for contractual distribution relation-
ships with other publishers. This was, of
course, a welcome change.
However, the guidelines now appear
on the U-M Press Web site. Pluto Press
remains listed as a distributed publisher,
as does all the language used by Pluto
Press to promote its books on its own site.
Indeed, Pluto Press is listed directly above
the guidelines, providing any visitor to the

U-M Press Web site the clear image that
Pluto Press now is in compliance with the
At Issue
new guidelines.
StandWithUs-Michigan accepts that
Local representatives from B'nai B'rith,
President Coleman's emphasis on proper
American Jewish Committee, the Jewish
review procedure is important when deal-
Community Relations Council and
ing with longstanding university contacts.
StandWithUs-Michigan met with U-M
We share her respect for free speech and
President Mary Sue Coleman
academic freedom, and we
and Provost Terry Sullivan on
thank her and Provost Sullivan
Feb. 12. President Coleman and
for the efforts that have been
Provost Sullivan assured the
made. These are important
assembled group that the Pluto
Press contract and all distri-
The problem that remains
bution contracts are being
is that anti-Semitism is still
reviewed under the new guide-
being treated differently and as
lines posted in January.
less serious than other forms
"The director of the Press
of racism. It is inconceivable
Jonatha n Harris
has been charged with
that if black community lead-
Commun ity View
reviewing all the distribution
ers had learned that U-M Press
contracts of the Press;' said
was distributing Ku Klux Klan
Coleman. "That review is to determine if
material and brought it to the attention
the existing contracts meet the new guide- of the U-M administration that they then
would be asked to endure a year's worth of
President Coleman said that a determi-
bureaucratic procedure.
nation on Pluto Press was expected before
We would see similar alacrity regarding
the May 30 deadline for terminating or
concerns from the Muslim community,
renewing the contract. When pressed
the Hispanic or any other minority. But
on the issue of the Web site, President
what constitutes hate of Jews and Judaism
Coleman and Provost Sullivan stated that
is still open to debate by non-Jews. Aside
our concerns would be brought to the U-
from a brief two-week suspension of sales
M Press board. Three weeks have passed
of a single anti-Israel text, not one thing
and the Web site endorsement and promo- has changed regarding Pluto Press. More
tion of Pluto Press remain.
than 30 texts of prejudiced, malicious

misinformation about Jews, Judaism and
Israel are being actively promoted and
sold on the University of Michigan Press
Web site every day, right now
The series of anti-Israel events that
took place in Febraury at U-M, while rep-
rehensible, were largely ill-attended and
likely effected few students. That is the
good news. But what also was revealed by
those events is the real pattern emerging
at the University of Michigan — the total
absence of responsible, informed debate
about Israel and Zionism and the total
forfeiture of responsibility by the U-M
administration. These unscholarly, overtly
political events held the endorsement of
several university departments, including
the Program of American Culture and the
Screen Arts and Culture Department. The
sponsoring group, now emboldened by its
acceptance by the university, has invited
Israel Lobby writers John J. Mearsheimer
and Stephen M. Walt to U-M in March.

Condemn Anti Semitism
Seen in the light of U-M Press's four-year
exclusive distribution of anti-Israel and
anti-Semitic texts, a series of dubious anti-
Israel speakers and a weeklong series of
non-scholarly anti-Israel events endorsed
by university departments — and notably
all of these actions greeted with the com-
plete silence of the administration — it


The Quintessential Holocaust Survivor


early 62 years after he was liber-
ated from Auschwitz, this past
year, at the age of 92, my father,
Charles, was laid to rest. He was indeed the
quintessential Holocaust survivor.
While I was relatively young, my father
would eagerly recount his "adventures"
and exploits of being shuttled into vari-
ous internment camps and concentration
camps, which included incarceration at
Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz.
His narrative was calm, yet sufficiently
explicit, that I could conjure up a vivid
imagery of his dramatic accounts.
His stories were varied and included
such episodes as being examined for an
eye infection by Dr. Mengele himself; his
being "saved" from a brutal beating for
attempting to pick up the remains of a
cigarette off the "factory" floor. Apparently,
the Nazi who "saved" him had recently
obtained a "perfect hair cut" from my
father, and was not going to let an ordi-
nary guard bash his skull just yet!
He twice "escaped" from internment


March 6 p 2008


camps, in Belgium and France, and often
recounted these episodic events enthusi-
astically, adding or modifying a detail he
had missed previously. He likewise offered
accounts of his exploits in
Brussels, prior to his being
deported in 1944. He often
spoke of his youth in his
beloved native Vienna, which
he was forced to flee with his
first wife whom, along with
his parents, perished in the
My sister and I would sit
mesmerized while he spoke,
all the while our eyes trans-
fixed by his tattooed six dig-
its, branded on his left arm " courtesy" of
his Auschwitz hosts.
In 1956, our family immigrated to
America, initially settling in Detroit, mov-
ing to Oak Park in 1958. My father had felt
he had "moved around enough',' residing
in Oak Park with our mother, Helen, for
the next 49 years.

Through his stories, I was left with
an indelible impression of varied les-
sons learned of faith, justice, treachery
and redemption, the vulnerability of the
human condition, and an intui-
tive belief that there was indeed
a purpose to his survival.
During my teenage years,
sometimes wild and carefree,
there were various incidents
where I could have easily strayed
and gotten into "trouble";
however, I would always sub-
consciously hear the murmur
of a subliminal refrain and rhe-
torically ask: Would my negative
actions be what he survived for?
The obvious answer was sufficient moti-
vation to quickly nudge me back into a
reality check, onto a "straight and narrow"
While there is an extensive amount of
literature on the Holocaust, there are far
more untold stories, suppressed for a vari-
ety of reasons; however, each is deserving

of its unique legacy. With each passing
hour, day, month and year, there are new
generations of deniers or those that would
diminish the extent of the Holocaust; how-
ever, for me, there is but one true constant
— my father's legacy, a testament to the
quintessential survivor that he was, which
will be forever cherished by my family and
those who were fortunate enough to have
known and loved him. ❑

Bob Strassberg is a Farmington Hills resident.

Helen and Charles (Karly) Strassberg (circa 1986)

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