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Pacifica not really understood.

Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Orval Etter For The Register-Guard

On June 11, The Register-Guard editorialized that Temple Beth Israel and the Pacifica Forum were taking two different paths - the temple high, the forum low.

A correction: At least three paths. The chairman of the Pacifica Forum has believed since back in the 20th century, along with the Jewish Committee on the Middle East, that what Israel has been perpetrating in Israel-occupied Palestine has been a holocaust. Ironically, the Jewish incantation "never again" regarding the Holocaust has not been practiced with reference to Israel-occupied Palestine.

The editorial's characterization of the Pacifica Forum as "once respected" needs updating.

Four years ago, The Register-Guard carried a routine announcement that the Pacifica Forum would show the second of two videos on Israel-occupied Palestine. A Jewish attendant at the Eugene Friends Meeting immediately e-mailed a dozen of her fellow attendants that the showing "threatens" Jews in Eugene and "is seen as a smear and a hate campaign."

The Pacifica Forum has undergone five years of intermittent discrediting as anti-Semitic.

The editorial recites two incidents in 12 years of vandalism at Temple Beth Israel. It says nothing about the more recent trespass and vandalism at the smaller synagogue in Eugene.

All Pacifica Forum attendants quite certainly disparage all this vandalism. No Pacifica Forum presenter has advocated it. The Register-Guard's not having suggested the contrary is appreciated.

Also appreciated is the editorial's having noted the Pacifica Forum's emphasis on free speech. Along with the high-gear efforts late in 2003 to tar Pacifica Forum with the anti-Semitic stick went an effort to shut it and its chairman down, leaving the forum to present its programs outdoors unprotected from the elements.

One of the most potent of the tactics to this end was to persuade sponsors of the Pacifica Forum to end their sponsorship. The Pacifica Forum therefore has a selfish interest in free speech.

It is, however, also interested in the free speech for others, partly because recent developments have made clear that there is little or no commitment in certain high circles in Eugene to free speech for certain persons or groups.

The editorial makes very clear that one of these is David Duke. And that another is Valdas Anelauskas.

The editorial apparently was written by someone who, like hundreds of others in Eugene, has never attended a Pacifica Forum session, but is ready to disparage it on the basis of hearsay, gossip and rumor. Had the writer of the editorial attended numerous recent sessions, he would have known that he had no basis for writing that Anelauskas is "a regular Pacifica Foruma... lecturer."

Had the writer attended more sessions, and had he more extensive knowledge of anti-Semitism, he would have had a more informed basis for evaluating my response to reporter Jeff Wright 2' years ago that I was not sure of the extent of Anelauskas' anti-Semitism.

The response to Wright came very early in my acquaintance with Anelauskas. Early on, I devoted a whole Pacifica Forum program to challenging his racial separatism.

The editorial writer clearly knows how to spin words for certain effects. Item: "The parade of Holocaust revisers." They were two, Mark Weber and David Irving, almost eight months apart.

Quite a parade!

The editorial's final advice to the Pacifica Forum is a superb example of jumping from an unwarranted assumption to a foregone conclusion. The Pacifica Forum is committed to the truth, including, with an eye to one of Jesus' observations, truth that is controversial. The Pacifica Forum also is committed to justice, especially in places where others, even Temple Beth Israel, seem unable to discern its lack.

The Pacifica Forum may be counted on to continue in its commitment to make people better informed. If its information is divisive now and then, let those on either side of the division, on either side of the road, still discourse with one another, in trust that doing so will be conducive to amity and tranquility.

Retired University of Oregon professor Orval Etter of Eugene is the founder of the Pacifica Forum.
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Title Annotation:Local Opinion
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 23, 2008
Previous Article:FOR THE RECORD.
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