Himself a child of Jewish descent whose family had to flee Berlin in 1939, Aryeh Neier decided to defend the right to demonstrate as president of the American Civil Liberties Union. He described his own dilemma by saying, “How can I, as a Jew, refuse to defend freedom, even if it is that of the Nazis?”
Edited by Irmtrud Wojak, Holger Buck and Joaquín González Ibáñez.ISBN: 978-3-9817614-7-4
Aryeh Neier, founder of Human Rights Watch, on the fight for freedom of expression in the U.S.
This book is an impetus for new thinking about the open, current confrontation with Nazis in Germany. In April 1977, the American Nazi Party planned a demonstration in Skokie in the American state of Illinois, home to one of the largest communities of Holocaust survivors. The scheme sparked a fierce debate, which Aryeh Neier explains in his book Defending My Enemy.
Himself a child of Jewish descent whose family had to flee Berlin in 1939, he decided to defend the right to demonstrate as president of the American Civil Liberties Union. He described his own dilemma by saying, “How can I, as a Jew, refuse to defend freedom, even if it is that of the Nazis?”
“Aryeh Neier’s book is more urgent and necessary today than ever. His defense of freedom of expression and thought is a warning. In this century, the authoritarian threat is expanding. (…) For those who underestimate the dangers to democracy and civil rights, Neier’s words are even more relevant. Making noise alone is not enough. A free and open clash of truth and falsehood must be allowed.” – Karina Sainz Borgo
Aryeh Neier is a human rights advocate and founder of Human Rights Watch, where he served as executive director. He worked at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for fifteen years, the last eight of which he served as executive director, and was president of the Open Society Foundation, where he is currently president emeritus. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the author of seven books, including Taking Liberties: Four Decades in the Struggle for Rights (2003) and The International Human Rights Movement (2012).