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|Anti-Defamation League calls Jim Rizoli Holocaust denier||October 29, 2009|
|David Riley 508-626-3919||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM -- In a statement on its Web site, the Anti-Defamation League says the host of a local cable TV show is an anti-Semite who promoted denial of the Holocaust in his program last week.
A post under the "Extremism" section of the league's Web site describes at length comments Jim Rizoli made during the Oct. 20 segment of his weekly show on Framingham Public Access television.
The league said Rizoli defended Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from accusations that he denies the Holocaust, saying he "has some issues with the way the whole thing went down. Just like I do."
Rizoli also referred viewers to two Web sites, "both of which advance Holocaust denial arguments," the league statement said.
The show had not been posted to Rizoli's Web site as of yesterday.
A Town Meeting member and co-founder of the local group Concerned Citizens and Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement, Rizoli said yesterday the Anti-Defamation League is trying to create controversy where there is none.
He said he would have to look at the video to vouch for what the league attributes to him. He said he is being targeted in part because of his stance on illegal immigration, and denies doing anything wrong.
"I present information to make people think about both sides of issues," Rizoli said.
He said he does not deny that the Holocaust happened.
"People died, a lot of people died," Rizoli said. "But there are other issues, too. That's all I'm saying."
That's a common argument by Holocaust deniers, said Robert Trestan, civil rights counsel for the Anti-Defamation League's New England chapter.
"The questions that they are posing are a challenge to direct witness testimony and historical fact," Trestan said. "They're not just trying to engage people in a discussion. They're trying to engage people in a discussion that leads toward denial, and that's the goal."
It's not the first time Rizoli and his brother Joe have come under fire from a civil rights group. In two reports last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center aid Concerned Citizens and Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement had attracted hardcore racists and neo-Nazis.
The law center also said the brothers made a number of comments online denying the Holocaust. The Rizolis challenged both reports.
The league's statement is titled, "Xenophobe Jim Rizoli Delivers Holocaust Denial Diatribe on Public TV."
On his show, according to the ADL statement, Rizoli said he was unhappy with a newspaper article about the Dachau concentration camp and Ahmedinejad.
Rizoli said his audience had been "brainwashed for the last 50 years on the propaganda...that really isn't dealing with the subject matter straight on."
According to the statement, Rizoli said he had not read anything where the Iranian leader denied the Holocaust or called for Israel to be destroyed. He said Ahmedinejad is "against the Zionists, he's not against Judaism."
Rizoli said Zionists are "the radical Jewish element that really have no respect for the United States, have no respect for anybody," and at another point called Zionists "nutsos," the league says.
He later recommended two Web sites, one of which promotes itself as "Nine hours of free Internet video about how the Holocaust is a myth," the ADL says.
Trestan said a viewer from Framingham called his group about the show.
He said the ADL felt people who are familiar with Rizoli's immigration views should know there is another side to his beliefs.
"I think it's letting people know what their true message and their true beliefs are," Trestan said.
Framingham resident Cathryn S. Kaner-Taytslin said she first read the statement on an e-mail list for her congregation at Temple Beth El in Sudbury.
She sent a link to the Framingham Community, or Framcom, e-mail list this week and suggested people boycott Rizoli's carpet-cleaning business.
"Hatred evolves over time, and as the ADL says, the challenge is not to wait to stand up until the final stage when it's too late," Kaner-Taytslin said yesterday.
Kaner-Taytslin, whose mother is a Holocaust survivor, said she's heard plenty of people who thanked her for speaking up.
Rizoli said the e-mail "slammed and defamed me" and called it "a witch hunt." After the note went out, he said a local chapter of Business Networking International, where he is a member, asked him not to attend an upcoming meeting.
Most people criticizing him haven't actually seen the show, Rizoli said. "It seems to me like somebody is coming after me and trying to make me look like I'm a bad guy. ...They're actually behaving like Nazis themselves," he said.
Framingham Public Access sent an e-mail to the Framcom list saying it is forbidden by law from controlling content unless it is illegal.
It comes down to free speech, Rizoli said: "You try to get people thinking - good, bad or indifferent."
Trestan agreed: "We have a right to tell people what he's saying, too."
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