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Pacifica Forum's critics onstage.

Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard

Two of the Pacifica Forum's harshest critics will speak at this week's Pacifica Forum.

The topic offered by the Rev. Dan Bryant and Michael Williams is to the point: "Are Pacifica Forum Programs Anti- Semitic?"

Bryant and Williams are members of the Anti-Hate Task Force, a coalition of religious and social justice leaders that emerged last fall in response to some of the programs offered by Pacifica Forum.

The forum is a local discussion group founded by Orval Etter, a longtime Eugene pacifist, university professor and music patron. In recent months, it has featured multiple talks on "Russia and Zionism" by Valdas Anelauskas, a native of Lithuania who describes himself as a "white separatist and racialist." Anelauskas dedicated a lecture he presented in October to a Holocaust denier.

In response, task force members raised funds for a large newspaper ad decrying the forum's programming, and said they are working to bring one or more national experts on anti-Semitism to Eugene.

Task force members in the past have declined forum organizers' invitation to a public debate, contending that doing so would give undue credence to anti-Semitic views. But in a letter sent in mid-January, Williams and Bryant said they'd like to address the group if forum organizers would agree to certain conditions, such as a nondebate format.

Williams said forum organizers had a legitimate beef in complaining that critics have sometimes labeled programming anti-Semitic without offering specifics. Friday's forum will allow critics to offer those specifics, he said.

"We want to show up and say which programs we regard as anti-Semitic, and why they should be of concern to Christians and all citizens," Williams said.

Part of the debate centers on whether speakers can be sharply critical of Israeli policy without being condemned as anti-Semitic. Williams said the test is whether such criticisms spill into Jewish stereotypes and historical slanders. "It's possible to be anti-Israeli policy very easily without being anti-Semitic," he said.

Etter said forum members were divided on extending the invitation, but most agreed it was consistent with a tradition of offering critics a chance at the podium. "I had a little misgiving, but I think I'm morally committed to say, `Come ahead,' ' Etter said.

Depending on interest, a 30-minute rebuttal time might be tacked on to the forum's usual 90-minute schedule, Etter said.

The tentative topic for discussion at the forum's subsequent meeting on Feb. 9 is a United Nations report issued in 1948 that purports to document terrorist activities of people agitating for creation of the state of Israel, Etter said.


Topic: "Are Pacifica Forum Programs Anti-Semitic?"

When/where: 4 p.m. Friday, 129 McKenzie Hall, UO

Speakers: Rev. Dan Bryant and Michael Williams of Anti-Hate Task Force; moderated by UO sociology instructor Charles Hunt. Time allowed for questions and answers.

More information: For background, see Williams' posted article on Web site. To reach forum, call 913-3899 or 344-0483.
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Title Annotation:Religion; Two from the Anti-Hate Task Force will discuss anti-Semitism claims
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 1, 2007
Previous Article:FOR THE RECORD.
Next Article:BRIEFLY.

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