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The SPLC also has expanded the number of categories included in its hate map, bringing in additional groups that may have already been active. Deir Yassin Remembered
was listed by the SPLC for the first time in 2016 as a Holocaust denial hate group active in Ann Arbor. However, Henry Herskovitz, an advisor on the group's board, said he has been picketing outside of Ann Arbor's Beth Israel Congregation for more than a dozen years, with another small local group he formed.
Formerly an attendee of the congregation, Herskovitz said he began weekly protests in front of the synagogue after its leaders refused to let him share his photos and views of Palestine with the community after a visit to the region. The group's name, Deir Yassin, is a reference to the former Palestinian Arab village where more than 100 people were massacred during the 1947-48 civil war.
Herskovitz rejects the label of Holocaust denier, instead calling himself and the group "revisionists" who question specifics of the Jewish Holocaust.
"None of the revisionists deny that there was widespread suffering in many communities. What they question is the so-called Final Solution that was meant to be ethnic cleansing and extermination," he said. "They (revisionists) claim there was no homicidal gas chambers used by the Third Reich, and there were far fewer than six million deaths."
Herskovitz said while he's never been a very religious person, he was raised in a very conservative Jewish home. He said he attended the Beth Israel Congregation for high holiday services from 1970 to 1985 because it brought back memories of his father.
"There's been so many claims about the Holocaust that have been proven false. ... But if these claims that I and many others were raised on are false, then it leads you to ask what else is false, and that leads you to almost question religion."
Earlier this year, Deir Yassin Remembered paid for a billboard near Whitmore Lake that stated, "America First Not Israel." Outfront Media later called the billboard an "attack ad" and declined to run additional spots, Herskovitz said. Still, he said he doesn't understand why the SPLC listed the group on the same map as the KKK and Neo-Nazis.
"The only thing we hate is mendacity; that's the whole thing that drives me," Herskovitz said. "I've been lied to my whole life. 'A land without a people (for a people without a land)' – what a crock."
Radical Right expert Mark Potok, a former senior fellow at the SPLC for 20 years prior to departing the center in March 2017 to work on independent projects, said violence or outright slurs alone aren't qualifiers for a group to land on the SPLC's Hate Map....continued on page 3