September 26, 2018
News Special Reports

An Open Letter to the General Manager and Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) From the Zionist Organization of America

Dear General Manager Grace Crunican and Members of BART’s Board of Directors:

We were appalled to learn that BART is displaying an anti-Semitic hate group’s ad at two BART stations.  The ad reads “History Matters!” and identifies the name of the advertiser, the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), an anti-Semitic hate group.  In keeping with BART Advertising Content Guidelines, we strongly urge you to remove these ads immediately. 

IHR pretends to be an academic organization seeking historical truths and accuracy.  But its actual objective is to promote Holocaust denial and defend Nazism.  When IHR was formed in 1978, it was comprised of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.  A year later, IHR publicly offered a $50,000 prize to anyone who could prove that Jews were gassed at Auschwitz.  Mel Mermelstein of California, an Auschwitz survivor who lost his mother and two sisters in that death camp, came forward with the proof.  But the IHR rejected his claims.  Mermelstein sued IHR, which eventually settled, paying him the “prize” money and damages for the emotional distress he was caused to suffer. 

Nevertheless, IHR continued to tell the world that Mr. Mermelstein had failed to prove his case.  And IHR continued to promote its lies about the Holocaust, including in a pamphlet entitled, “66 Questions and Answers About the Holocaust.” 

IHR has declined in recent years.  These BART ads are plainly intended to inspire interest in and support for this anti-Semitic hate group, with BART’s help.  Indeed, on its website, IHR proudly touts the ads as a “public service.”   

BART should play no part in giving this extremist group a platform. The message on the ads may appear to be “viewpoint-neutral,” as the BART Advertising Content Guidelines require.  But as many upset and outraged people have made clear to BART already, both the ad and the advertiser are offensive to BART passengers and create a hostile environment for them, particularly for those who are Jewish, in violation of the guidelines.   

We have no doubt that if the Ku Klux Klan submitted the very same ad, BART would immediately reject it.  Despite a seemingly viewpoint-neutral message – “History Matters!” – BART would understand right away that merely advertising the group’s name sends a repugnant message that is not viewpoint-neutral.  Moreover, the ad would wrongly and immorally give visibility, publicity and legitimacy to a despicable hate group which BART would want no part of. 

For the very same reasons, BART should remove IHR’s ads immediately.  The name of this group alone – comprised of Jew-haters, Holocaust deniers, and Nazi sympathizers – sends a message that is hardly viewpoint-neutral.  Let this group look for attention somewhere else, so that, consistent with BART’s guidelines, BART can “maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all BART passengers,” and “avoid identifying or associating BART . . . with the advertisements or the viewpoints of advertisers” who are anti-Semitic liars and extremists.   

We look forward to your response. 

Very truly yours,

Morton A. Klein, National President

Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director, Center for Law and Justice

David Kadosh, Executive Director, Western Region