Wyman Institute Update – December 29, 2006

To: Members of the Board of Directors, Academic Council, Advisory Committee, and
Arts & Letters Council of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

Re: Update on Recent Developments


* Welcome to the newest member of the Wyman Institute’s Advisory Committee:

Israeli statesman Dr. Yehuda Ben-Meir served as Deputy Foreign Minister from 1981 to 1984, playing a central role in the Israel-Egypt negotiations. A Member of the Knesset from 1971 to 1984, he was a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as well as its Finance Committee, and chaired the Knesset faction of the National Religious Party.

Dr. Ben-Meir received his B.A. and rabbinical ordination from Yeshiva University, then earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology at Columbia University. He has been teaching in the Department of Psychology at Bar Ilan University since 1961, and has also taught psychology at Tel Aviv University. Since leaving active politics in 1984, he has authored two books (National Security Decision-making: The Israeli Case [1986] and Civil-Military Relations in Israel [1995]), served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, and earned a Law Degree, with honors, from Bar Ilan University. He currently practices law at a private firm in Tel Aviv.

r. Ben-Meir was one of the featured speakers at the Wyman Institute’s July 2006 event in Jerusalem concerning the 1943 rabbinical march for Holocaust rescue. His father, Rabbi I. Solomon Rosenberg, and grandfather, Rabbi Eliezer Predmesky, both took part in the march.


Catholic and Jewish Scholars Urge Vatican to Open Holocaust Archives

The Wyman Institute and internationally-known Jewish leader Seymour Reich recently mobilized thirty-five leading Catholic and Jewish scholars and interfaith activists to urge the Vatican to open its archives pertaining to the response of Pope Pius XII to the Holocaust. The petition followed the recent discovery of new documents pertaining to the Pope and the Holocaust. The signatories on the petition included Holocaust scholar Prof. Deborah Lipstadt; Catholic scholar and activist Prof. Leonard Swidler, editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies; Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J., Holocaust Collection coordinator at Holy Cross College; Prof. Padriac O’Hare, director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations at Merrimack College; and Prof. Michael Berenbaum of the University of Judaism.

Author Admits He Wrongly Portrayed Holocaust Activists as Draft-Dodgers

South Carolina attorney Robert Rosen, author of a recent book defending President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Holocaust record, has admitted that he wrongly portrayed two Holocaust rescue activists as draft-dodgers. Rosen’s false statement was protested by the families of Yitshaq Ben-Ami and Dr. Alexander Rafaeli, two leaders of the activist Bergson Group. As a result, Rosen acknowledged he was wrong about Ben-Ami and Rafaeli and pledged to correct the information in future editions of his book. Earlier this year, the Wyman Institute mobilized fifty-five leading Holocaust scholars to denounce Rosen’s assertion that criticism of President Franklin Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust is “anti-American” and “America-bashing.” The scholars’ protest was the subject of a feature story in the Washington Post.

Wyman Institute Issues Annual Report on Holocaust Denial

The prosecution and imprisonment of prominent Holocaust-deniers in Europe, especially David Irving, dealt a serious blow to the Holocaust-denial movement in 2006, according to the Wyman Institute’s just-released annual report on Holocaust-denial activity around the world. The report is authored each year by Dr. Rafael Medoff and Dr. Alex Grobman. The report added that the release of Irving from prison in December 2006, after serving only one-third of his three year sentence, “is likely to reinvigorate the denial movement in the year ahead.” The report noted the continued sponsorship of Holocaust denial in the Middle East, led by Iran, and warned that the injection of Iranian funding could give the denial movement a boost in the coming year. (For the complete text of the new report, please visit www.WymanInstitute.org)


Members of the Wyman Institute’s “They Spoke Out” network continue to spread the message. Deborah Benami-Rahm spoke recently at Florida Atlantic University, about the Holocaust rescue activism of her late father, Yitshaq Ben-Ami of the Bergson Group. She was later interviewed on South Florida radio station WLVJ … Franz Leichter, a former New York State Senator, spoke at the Torah Academy of Bergen County about his family’s escape from Vichy France in 1940 with the help of Hiram Bingham IV.

The Wyman Institute’s petition regarding the Pope and the Holocaust was reported in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and elsewhere … A letter by Deborah Lipstadt and Rafael Medoff, in response to the Iranian Holocaust-denial conference, was published in the New York Times in December, and an article by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Rafael Medoff, concerning Holocaust-deniers, was published in the Jerusalem Report … Medoff was interviewed in the leading Danish newspaper, Morgenavisen Jylland-Posten, about the conference … A Koch-Medoff op-ed about antisemitism was published by numerous Jewish newspapers, and a letter of theirs was published in The Weekly Standard … Academic Council member Prof. Stephen Norwood’s essay about Columbia and the Nazis in the 1930s was published in the Columbia Spectator. He was also interviewed on the CBS-TV Evening News in New York City.


Wyman Institute associate director Benyamin “Buddy” Korn was the keynote speaker at a New Jersey dinner honoring Adam Boren, a longtime Wyman Institute supporter and author of the acclaimed memoir “Journey Through the Inferno.” Korn spoke about the Wyman Institute’s efforts to combat Holocaust-deniers.

Academic Council member Prof. Stephen Norwood (U. of Oklahoma) appeared recently on the History Channel, in an episode of the Time Machine series on “The Night of the Long Knives.”

Prof. Alan Berger (Florida Atlantic U.), a member of our Academic Council, authored a chapter on “The Storyteller’s Quarrel with God,” in the new book Elie Wiesel & the Art of Storytellin, published by McFarland Books.

Arts & Letters Council member Dr. Phyllis Chesler appeared recently on the al-Hurrah radio network, translated into Arabic and broadcast across the Muslim world, in a debate about religious pluralism. The paperback edition of her book, “The Death of Feminism,” was released in November. She also written numerous articles in recent months about antisemitism and related issues, in the Washington Times and elsewhere.

Prof. Kathryn Hellerstein (Penn), a member of our Arts & Letters Council, won a Penn SAS Language Teaching Innovation Grant to develop on-line pedagogical materials for teaching Yiddish.

Academic Council member Dr. Alex Grobman (Brenn institute) has authored a new book, Nations United: How the United Nations Undermines Israel and the West, which has just been released by Balfour Books.

Arts & Letters Council member Thane Rosenbaum recently hosted a panel on “What’s So Funny About Jews?,” with Judy Gold and Jackie Hoffmann, at the 92nd St. Y, in New York City.

Prof. Harry Reicher (Penn), a member of our Academic Council, spoke on “The Legacy of the Holocaust: The Nuremburg Trials, Genocide, Human Rights” in November at Kean College, sponsored by the college’s Holocaust Resource Center.

Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff (Northeastern U.) reviewed Robert Rosen’s Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust, together with a second book about FDR and the Holocaust, in the December issue of Moment magazine.

An exhibition of photographs and artifacts by Dr. Ruth Gruber, a member of our Advisory Committee, will open at the Musuem of Jewish Heritage in New York City in January 2007.

Academic Council member Prof. Baila Shargel (SUNY-Purchase) spoke on “Henrietta Szold–Lost Love, Found Mission,” at the 92nd St. Y, in New York City.


February 7, 2007: Arts & Letters Council member Peter Himmelman will give a concert in the series Nextbook: Public Programs on Jewish Literature, Culture & Ideas, to be held at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle. More information: 1-888-219-5222 or www.nextbook.org

February 25: The Wyman Institute will host a program at the Silver Spring Jewish Center, in Maryland, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the voyage of the Bergson Group’s refugee ship, the S. S. Ben Hecht. Speakers will include Dr. Rafael Medoff and David Miller, nephew of the ship’s captain, Robert Levitan. The event will be sponsored by the Wyman Institute’s David Brodetzky Memorial Research Initiative. For more information, call 202-434-8994.


The Wyman Institute offers its deepest condolences on the passing of Ruth Schachter Morgenthau, wife of Advisory Committee member Henry Morgenthau III; and George Preston, father of Wyman Institute supporter David Lee Preston. May their memories be for a blessing.


Warmest congratulations to Arts & Letters Council member Neshama Carlebach on the recent birth of her son, Rafael Lev Shlomo Carlebach. We are glad to report that mother and baby are both doing fine.