In the past few weeks, Steven Goldstein, the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, has been appearing on television news shows to accuse the Trump administration of willfully ignoring anti-Semitism and, most recently, of Holocaust denial. Goldstein’s title creates the impression that he is an authority on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, but nothing in his background implies any such thing. Even the claim on the center’s website that Otto Frank (Anne’s father) participated in its founding is doubtful. Emma Green writes:
The Jewish world is full of organizations that advocate against anti-Semitism and discrimination, including groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee. Unlike the Anne Frank Center, these organizations have years of experience, dozens of offices, and sizeable grassroots support. They also have clear frameworks for defining and combating anti-Semitism. . . . The Anne Frank Center has reliably been willing to criticize the Trump administration in more aggressive and hyperbolic terms than any of these well-established groups, and media outlets have credulously rewarded it with extensive coverage.
The center . . . recently got a new board chair, a private-wealth manager named Peter Rapaport, and he brought on Goldstein, who has a background in political organizing. It shuttered its small museum and disbanded its board of advisers composed of Holocaust experts. All of the staffers who were working there when Goldstein arrived have left. . . .
Rapaport said [in an interview that] teaching about the Holocaust is “a valuable thing, but that’s not what we do. . . . We teach about the thing that we think will prevent future Holocausts. . . . It isn’t our focus to be pro-Jewish or to be just a Holocaust-education [organization]. We want to use the knowledge of the Holocaust and go further.” . . .
In other words, this is a tiny organization in the process of reinventing itself. The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect and Understanding may not be a Holocaust organization, a Jewish organization, or one founded by Anne Frank’s father. It may not have leaders with a scholarly background, a mass membership, or institutional standing among Jewish groups and Holocaust museums. But because it talks a big game and wields the name of Anne Frank, the media have awarded it authority it never earned.