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October 1998

Bradley Smith, a veteran Holocaust denier, has recently begun an effort to place a newly-designed advertisement in campus newspapers. This is the ninth year in which he has mounted such a campaign.

This new quarter-page ad draws upon themes and techniques which Smith and other Holocaust deniers have used in the recent past. The "hook" is a supposed offer of $250,000 (up from last year’s $50,000 offer) to anyone who can arrange a 90 minute, prime-time, nationally televised debate between Bradley Smith and a representative of ADL. As with last year’s bogus "offer", there is virtually no chance that any television network would ever give 90 minutes of free prime air time for this purpose, and it is even more unlikely that anyone who reads a campus newspaper would be in a position to facilitate such an arrangement. Needless to say, the League would never agree to such an event.

The $250,000 offer, announced in big bold print, is just a means of drawing the reader’s attention to the "information" contained in the ad. The ad contains several distinct components:

  1. It directly disputes the existence of the Holocaust by asserting that there is reason to debate the existence of gas chambers, the veracity of the testimony of Holocaust survivors and the authenticity of The Diary of Anne Frank. It labels mainstream Holocaust programming as "one-sided."

  2. As in last year’s ad, it seeks to encourage the distribution of the David Cole (the so-called "Jewish revisionist") video, which provides a denier’s tour of Auschwitz, centered on a rather tedious attempt to dispute the reality of the gas chambers. This video has been in circulation for a number of years, and was once distributed to campus newspapers for their review. This ad employs testimonials for the video from a number of sources, including Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D, Ohio) and Holocaust scholar, Yehuda Bauer, who are either misquoted or quoted entirely out of context. Kaptur has publicly denounced the use of her name in Smith’s advertising efforts.

  3. It seeks to explain the defection of David Cole, who has renounced Holocaust denial, as a response to a "death threat" from the Jewish Defense League.

  4. It seeks to link ADL to the Jewish Defense League.

  5. It labels proponents of the historicity of the Holocaust as "anti-German bigots."

  6. It asserts the bogus claim that the airing of Holocaust denial propaganda is an issue of fairness, free speech, open debate and intellectual freedom. These are themes that play well in a campus community.

  7. Like the "stealth ads" of previous years, it provides the internet address of Smith’s web site. This web site provides a massive library of Holocaust denial and blatantly anti-Semitic materials. From this site, an internet surfer can link into a grand tour of the hate movement, incorporating everyone from David Irving and Ernst Zundel to Tony Martin and the Nation of Islam.

In many instances, campus newspapers have run this ad without understanding the issues and motivations involved. Some even mistakenly assumed that the ad had come from the Anti-Defamation League.

The ad is designed to do two things. First, it seeks to generate a heated controversy on campus so as to leverage interest on the part of the general off-campus media, which will report on the ad in print and broadcast news stories. Second, it seeks to entice members of the campus and general communities onto Smith’s web site and onto those sites linked to it.

To date, the ad has been published at campus newspapers at Georgia State University, Wayne State University, the University of Vermont, the University of Toledo, Cal State-Fullerton, Loyola of New Orleans, the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, Kent State, Marshall University, Indiana University at South Bend, the University of Texas at Dallas, Marquette, SUNY-Plattsburgh, SUNY-Oswego, Stanford University, and at Boisie State University. In addition, a letter-to- the-editor from Smith was published in the campus newspaper at UCLA. A small general-circulation community newspaper in Marysville, California (The Appeal Democrat), has published the ad as well.

We know that the ad has been turned down at the University of Michigan, the University of Texas, Boston University, Yale University, West Chester University, the University of South Carolina and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Other papers, such as those at Michigan State University, Syracuse University and Columbia University, have indicated that they would turn down this ad if and when they receive it. The Collegiate Network, an umbrella group representing over 50 generally conservative campus publications, was contacted by Smith for its mailing list. The Network has threatened to expel any of its constituent publications that accept the ad.


  • It is most important to be in touch with ever-changing campus newspaper editorial staffs on an ongoing basis and to sensitize them to the extremist campaigns that seek to manipulate college and university media. They need to be made aware of Smith’s background, tactics, motivation and message. Actions taken before the fact are always more effective than those taken afterwards. The material on Holocaust denial that is found on ADL’s web site ( can be very effective in this regard.
  • Campus newspaper staffs need to be shown that the principled rejection of Holocaust denial propaganda is consistent with all recognized standards of academic freedom and interpretations of the First Amendment.
  • This ad and others like it should be denounced strongly where and when they appear. It is particularly important to encourage college and university presidents to follow the lead of many of their peers in taking a public position of moral leadership.

Those campus newspapers that have inadvertently published the ad should be urged to issue an apology and retraction. Campus newspapers should be urged to examine and clarify their policies on accepting unsolicited advertisements.

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