Part I: Paper
trail of deceit
Winning wasn't easy,
but fight after is harder
is the last of a two-part series on the hidden
workings of the Anti-Defamation League and how three
Bay Area activists were able to uncover a spy
operation that reached into the San Francisco Police
Department. Today: Acerbic battle leaves sour
By Dan Evans
of The Examiner Staff
AFTER nearly a decade of fighting the
League in court, attorney
Pete McCloskey is as bitter as a man who consumed
a gallon of vinegar.
The former Republican congressman from San Mateo, who
recently won a settlement from the civil rights group for
three Bay Area residents, is still tending to emotional
wounds he endured from the ADL simply for defending his
"They come after anyone that disagrees with them," he
said of the organization's tactics to paint him as an
The decorated retired Marine, who represented his San
Mateo County district in the House of Representatives
from 1967 to 1983, is anything but an ideologue. He was
one of the few Republicans who opposed the Vietnam War
and fought with President Nixon on numerous
While he vehemently denies any ties to anti-Semitic or
neo-Nazis groups, some of the avenues he chose to express
his views have not helped his case.Anti-Semitic
While in Congress, McCloskey granted an interview in
1982 with the anti-Semitic newspaper Spotlight.
And in May 2000, he gave a speech at a conference of the
Institute of Historical
Review, a Holocaust revisionist group.
McCloskey spoke to the Spotlight because, he
believes, one should speak to people they disagree with
as much as people they agree with. The newspaper was the
publication of the now-defunct Liberty Lobby.
Though he acknowledged the newspaper's subscribers
were primarily right-wingers and racists, ascribing him
similar views are ridiculous, he said.
"Not a year didn't go by during the years I was in
Congress that the Spotlight didn't blast me as being a
liberal Republican," he said.
In the Oct. 11, 1982 edition of the paper, McCloskey
said Republicans were far better politically positioned
than Democrats to push for a Palestinian state because
GOP candidates were not as beholden to Jewish money to
"The battle will be for public opinion in the United
States, whether the Congress will be willing to back
Reagan and stand up to the Jewish lobby in this country,"
However, he also stated in the interview that he
disagreed with 90 percent of the group's views, and
suggested that peace in the Middle East would only be
realized when the United States gave equal merit to both
Arab and Israeli viewpoints.Disagreement
As for his connection to the Institute of Historical
Review, McCloskey said he respected the group's
determination to question historical records. He said he
strongly disagreed with the group's view on the
Holocaust, but supported its right to say it.
In a letter last year to the group's president,
Mark Weber, McCloskey spoke of his visits to death
camps and his conviction that "there was a deliberate
policy of extermination of Jews, Poles, gypsies and
homosexuals by the Nazi leadership."
McCloskey also suggested Weber's group give up its
views about the Holocaust, and instead focus on what he
called the ADL's distortions of truth, one of them being
its claim McCloskey was a Holocaust denier.
"It was like when Bush went down to Bob Jones
University, and his political opponents tried to identify
him with Bob Jones," he said, referring to the
conservative South Carolina school that, until recently,
prohibited interracial dating. "It's ridiculous."
"The primary view of the ADL is that Jews should not
be stereotyped or guilty by association," he continued.
"Yet you see them trying to discredit people by virtue of
One of his clients, Steve Zeltzer, acknowledged
he wasn't entirely comfortable with McCloskey going to
the Institute of Historical Review convention. Still, he
said, he supports the right of free speech, even if he
strongly disagrees with the content.
"I wouldn't have done it, and I was opposed to him
going," Zeltzer said. "I wouldn't attend one of their
conferences. They have a right to say what they want to
say, but I don't support their positions."
Another client, Anne Poirier, said she had not
heard about her attorney's attendance at the conference
and so couldn't comment on it.
"One thing I know for sure, though, is he's not an
anti-Semite," said the Berkeley resident. "I'll go
mano-a-mano with anybody that says so."
E-mail Dan Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org