Simon Wiesenthal Center

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) is a human rights organization established in 1977 by Rabbi Marvin Hier.[1][2][3] According to its mission statement, it is "a global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context. The Center confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations."[4]

Simon Wiesenthal Center
Simon Wiesenthal Center.jpg
Named afterSimon Wiesenthal
Founded1977; 43 years ago (1977)
FoundersMarvin Hier
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Key people
Marvin Hier, Abraham Cooper
US$25,359,129 (2018)
ExpensesUS$26,181,569 (2018)
136 (2016)
Simon Wiesenthal

The Center promotes the prosecution of Nazi war criminals, and fights against extremism, neo-Nazism, and hate. The Center is also involved in Holocaust and tolerance education. Its "Campus Outreach" division is part of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC).[5]

The Center has close ties to public and private agencies, and regularly meets with elected officials of the United States and foreign governments and with diplomats and heads of state. It is accredited as a non-governmental organization (NGO) at the United Nations, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe.

The Center publishes a seasonal magazine, Response.

The Center is named in honor of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. Wiesenthal had nothing to do with its operation or activities other than giving its name,[6] but he remained supportive of it. "I have received many honors in my lifetime," Weisenthal once said, "when I die, these honors will die with me. But the Simon Wiesenthal Center will live on as my legacy." [7]

Leadership and organizationEdit

Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles

The Center is headed by Rabbi Marvin Hier, its dean and founder, Rabbi Abraham Cooper the associate dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda and Rabbi Meyer May is the executive director. Hier's wife, Marlene Hier, is the Director of Membership development.[8] Shimon Samuels is the Director for International Relations.[9]

In 2016, the Center had 136 employees.[10]

The headquarters of the Simon Wiesenthal Center is in Los Angeles. However, there are also international offices located in New York City, Miami, Toronto, Jerusalem, Paris, Chicago, and Buenos Aires.[11]


According to Charity Navigator the Center's total revenue and expenses was $25,359,129 and $26,181,569 in 2018. 52.8% of the revenue came from contributions, gifts and grants, 31.4% from fundraising events and 15.8% from government grants.[12]

In its 2013 survey of Jewish charity compensation, the Jewish-American magazine The Forward singled out Hier as "by far the most overpaid CEO" earning double the amount of what would be expected. He and his family members received nearly $1.3 million in 2012 from the Center.[13][14] In 2017, The Forward again rated Hier as the most overpaid Jewish charity leader with a total salary of $818,148. Family members of his earned over $600,000 from the organization.[15]

Museum of ToleranceEdit

The Center's educational arm, Museum of Tolerance, was founded in 1993 and hosts 350,000 visitors annually.

Simon Wiesenthal Tolerance Center in New York City

In April 2016, the New York City Council stopped funding for the New York branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance following the arrest of a former board member who has been accused of raising $20 million from a city correctional officers' union through kickbacks. The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a statement saying that the member had resigned from its board on June 15, and that the Centre was unaware of any alleged unethical or illegal activities regarding its donors.[16]

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance is one of many partner organizations of the Austrian Service Abroad (Auslandsdienst) and the corresponding Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service (Gedenkdienst).

Jerusalem branchEdit

A branch museum in Jerusalem, expected to be completed in 2021, sparked protests from the city's Muslim population. The museum is being built on a thousand-year-old Muslim graveyard called the Mamilla Cemetery, much of which has already been paved over. The complaints were rejected by Israel's Supreme Court, leading to a demonstration by hundreds of people in November 2008.[17][18] On November 19, 2008 a group of US Jewish and Muslim leaders sent a letter to the Wiesenthal Center urging it to halt the construction of the museum on the site.

As of February 2010, the Museum of Tolerance's plan for construction has been fully approved by Israeli courts and is proceeding at the compound of Mamilla Cemetery. The courts ruled that the compound had been neglected as a spiritual site by the Muslim community, in effect not functioning as a cemetery for decades (while simultaneously used for other purposes), and was thus mundra, i.e. abandoned, under Muslim laws.[19]

Moriah filmsEdit

Moriah Films, also known as the Jack and Pearl Resnick Film Division of the SWC, was created to produce theatrical documentaries to educate both national and international audiences, with a focus on contemporary human rights and ethical issues and Jewish experience. Two films produced by the division, Genocide and The Long Way Home have received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[20]

Moriah films has worked with numerous actors to narrate their productions. Including but not limited to Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Douglas, Nicole Kidman, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart, and Sandra Bullock.[21]

Simon Wiesenthal Center AnnualEdit

Between 1984 and 1990 the Center published seven volumes of Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual, focusing on the scholarly study of the Holocaust, broadly defined. This series is ISSN 0741-8450.

Library and archivesEdit

The Library and Archives of the center in Los Angeles has grown to a collection of about 50,000 volumes and non-print materials. Moreover, the Archives incorporates photographs, diaries, letters, artifacts, artwork and rare books, which are available to researchers, students and the general public.

Search for Nazi war criminalsEdit

Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center office in Jerusalem, is the coordinator of Nazi war crimes research worldwide for the Wiesenthal Center and the author of its annual (since 2001) "Status Report" on the worldwide investigation and prosecution of Nazi war criminals which includes a "most wanted" list of Nazi war criminals.

In November 2005, the Simon Wiesenthal Center gave the name of four suspected former Nazi criminals to German authorities. The names were the first results of Operation Last Chance, a drive launched that year by the center to track down former Nazis for World War II-era crimes before they die of old age.

According to the Center, about 2,000 Nazi war criminals obtained Canadian citizenship by providing false documents, but the Canadian government largely ignored their presence until the mid 1980s. They also claim that when they were exposed the government made their deportations harder to carry out. One example is Vladimir Katriuk who the center said were involved in the Katyn massacre in 1943 and who came to Canada in 1951.[22] Katriuk, who denied the allegations, died in 2015 before he could be extradited to Russia to face charges.

Top Ten Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel SlursEdit

Since 2010, the Center publishes an annual lists of individuals who they consider to have uttered the most antisemitic or anti-Israel "slurs" for the year.[23]

The center has often come under fire from media outlets, Jewish groups, and foreign officials for not distinguishing between speech critical of Israel and antisemitism. Examples include the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström whose call for an investigation into "extra-judicial killings" by Israeli police during the Knife intifada in 2015 the Center ranked as the eight worst slur that year,[24] and Berlin's mayor Michael Müller who the Center considered to place on the list in 2016 for "mainstreaming the BDS movement that never contributes to the daily life of Palestinians. BDS is widely recognized as anti-Semitic."[25]

Below follows an incomplete list of organizations, individuals and phenomena who featured on the Center's lists per year.[26][27][28][29]


  1. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood
  2. Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran
  3. Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff
  4. Antisemitic European football fans
  5. Ukrainian party Svoboda
  6. Greek party Golden Dawn
  7. Hungarian party Jobbik
  8. Norwegian physician Trond Ali Linstad
  9. German journalist Jakob Augstein
  10. American religious leader Louis Farrakhan

The inclusion of Augstein on ninth place sparked a vast controversy in German media.[23]


  1. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran
  2. Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  3. UN special rapporteur Richard Falk and the BDS movement
  4. The American Studies Association, the United Church of Canada, and Roger Waters of the band Pink Floyd
  5. Hungarian party Jobbik
  6. The rallying cry "Hitler was right"
  7. French cartoonist Zeon and Norwegian cartoonist Thomas Drefveli
  8. School district Pine Bush in New York
  9. American novelist Alice Walker and American journalist Max Blumenthal
  10. European sports venues


  1. Antisemitism in Belgium
  2. 2014 Jerusalem synagogue attack
  3. Antisemitic burglars in Paris
  4. "Toiletgate"
  5. Turkish columnist Faruk Köse
  6. Swedish politician Björn Söder
  7. Hungarian mayor Mihaly Zoltan Orosz
  8. Antisemitism in US academia
  9. Frazier Glenn Cross Jr.
  10. Antisemitism in the UK


  1. 2015 San Bernardino attack
  2. ISIS
  3. EU labeling of goods from Israeli-occupied territories
  4. Antisemitism at US campuses
  5. The Palestinian Authority and the UNRWA
  6. 2016 Iran cartoon contest
  7. Bosnian and Dutch football fans
  8. UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corby and Member of Parliament Gerald Kaufman
  9. Kuwait
  10. Antisemitism in Poland


  1. The United Nations
  2. British Labour Party leaders including Jeremy Corbyn and Jenny Tonge
  3. France
  4. The BDS movement and their supporters, including the German Teacher's Union, Ryerson University and the United Church of Christ
  5. American neo-Nazi Richard B. Spencer
  6. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas
  7. The Netherlands
  8. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström
  9. Sports
  10. Poland


  1. The chant "Jews will not replace us!" at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in Virginia
  2. Antisemitism at anti-Israel demonstrations
  3. Activists at north-american universities, including Rutgers University, UC Berkeley and McGill University
  4. American Imams Amarr Shahin and Raed Saleh Al-Rousan
  5. The United Nations
  6. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
  7. Supporters of the football clubs Lazio, Schalke 04, Feyenoord, Al-Hilal Omdurman, and Club Palestino
  8. Poland
  9. The Chicago Dyke March
  10. British Labour Party leadership


  1. Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
  2. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan
  3. US campuses and members of Students for Justice in Palestine
  4. Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn
  5. UNRWA
  6. Airbnb
  7. The German bank Bank for Social Economy
  8. American bishop Gayle Harris
  9. Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden
  10. Roger Waters


  1. Jeremy Corbyn
  2. 2019 Jersey City shooting, Halle synagogue shooting and Poway synagogue shooting
  3. Death threats to Italian Auschwitz survivor Liliana Segre
  4. Murder of Sarah Halimi
  5. American congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar
  6. Hate crimes against Jews in New York
  7. German UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen
  8. Anti-israel protests at North American universities
  9. Neo-nazi stickers in Denmark and Sweden
  10. American pastor Rick Wiles

Humanitarian Award dinnersEdit

The Center hosts dinners during which it awards people the prizes Humanitarian Award and the less presiguous Medal of Valor. It is one of the Center's main fundraising events.[30] The winners of the Humanitarian Award for each year were:

Official statements and controversiesEdit

Controversies include aiding Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder in a lawsuit against the Washington City Paper.[41]

Relationship with Barack ObamaEdit

The Center was a harsh critic of president Barack Obama's Middle Eastern policy. In May 2011, Obama proposed that "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps" which implied that Israel should withdraw from most of the territory it occupied in the Six-day war in 1967. The proposal drew ire from the Center which claimed that such a withdrawal "would be Auschwitz borders for Israel," alluding to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.[42][43]

In December 2016 it ranked the Obama administrations refusal to veto a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction as the most anti-semitic/anti-israel incident that year. The center wrote "The most stunning 2016 U.N. attack on Israel was facilitated by President Obama when the U.S. abstained on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel for settlement construction."[44]

Relationship with Donald TrumpEdit

In 2017, Marvin Hier, the leader of the Center, faced harsh criticism from the Jewish-American community for accepting an invite by the Trump campaign to hold a prayer at the president elect's inauguration. Hier defended his decision by saying that he had offered his blessings to presidentical candidates before. That didn't placate his critics who claimed that Trump was a different kind of president who targeted minorities and had at times used tropes considered by many to be antisemitic.[45] Scathing criticism came from Peter Beinart writing in The Forward that "And they will reserve a special mention for the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier. Despite running what is ostensibly a human rights organization, Hier ignored or downplayed Trump’s attacks on vulnerable minorities throughout the campaign. And last week, Trump rewarded him by asking him to offer an inaugural prayer."[46]

In an interview in The Times of Israel in 2019 Hier praised Trump for his decision to relocate the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and to recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory: "Speaking as a Jew, so many presidents talked about making Jerusalem the capital of Israel. They made nice speeches, but in the end they couldn’t deliver. Trump delivered."[47]

Hier and his wife has participated in fundraising events for Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.[48]

The Center has also at times criticized Trump. In January 2018 it asked the president to withdraw his statements about wanting more immigration from places from Norway, rather than from "shithole countries" like Haiti and those in Africa.[49][50]

Meir and the Kushner family who are Trump's in-laws (related via Jared Kushner) have known each other for decades. The Kushner family has made several large donations to the Center via the Charles and Seryl Kushner Family Foundation.[45][51]

Opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movementEdit

In 2013, the SWC released a report on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global campaign promoting boycotts against Israel. The report claimed that the BDS movement is a "thinly-disguised effort to coordinate and complement the violent strategy of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim 'rejectionists' who have refused to make peace with Israel for over six decades, and to pursue a high-profile campaign composed of anti-Israel big lies to help destroy the Jewish State by any and all means". The report also said that the BDS campaign attacks Israel's entire economy and society, holding all (Jewish) Israelis as collectively guilty.[52]

Allegations against the Committee for Charity and Support for the PalestiniansEdit

On March 8, 2007, the head of international relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Stanley Trevor Samuels, was convicted (and later acquitted in an appeal) of defamation by a Paris courthouse for accusing the French-based Committee for Charity and Support for the Palestinians (CBSP) of sending funds to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.[53]

In its filing of the suit, the CBSP labelled the accusations "ridiculous", stating that its charitable work consisted of providing aid to some 3,000 Palestinian orphans. The court ruled that documents produced by the Wiesenthal Center established no "direct or indirect participation in financing terrorism" on the part of the CBSP, and that the allegations were "seriously defamatory".[53]

The Wiesenthal Center appealed the court ruling, and the appeal was granted in July 2009.[54]

2006 Iranian sumptuary law controversyEdit

After a Canadian newspaper reported upon the 2006 Iranian sumptuary law controversy (based on a report written by Iranian exiles on Iranian religious minorities being forced to wear badges identifying them to Muslims), the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Marvin Hier, wrote to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan urging the international community to pressure Iran to drop the measure.[55]

Numerous other sources, including Maurice Motamed, the Jewish member of the Iranian parliament and the Iranian Embassy in Canada, refuted the report as untrue. The National Post later retracted the original article ("Iran eyes badges for Jews: Law would require non-Muslim insignia") and published an article, to the contrary ("Experts say reports of badges for Jews in Iran is untrue"). However, the Simon Wiesenthal Center refused to admit any mistake on their part and insisted that the widely debunked allegations were true.[56]

Hunt Museum controversyEdit

In January 2004, Shimon Samuels of the Paris branch of the Center published an open letter to the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, requesting the "Irish Museum of the Year Award" recently given to the Hunt Museum in Limerick to be retracted, until the conclusion of a demanded inquiry into the provenance of a significant number of items in the collection.[57] In the letter he alleged that the founders of the museum, John and Gertrude Hunt, had close ties to the head of the Nazi Party (NSDP-AO) in Ireland, among others, and that the British had suspected the couple of espionage during the Second world war. The center also claimed, 'The "Hunt Museum Essential Guide" describes only 150 of the over 2000 objects in the Museum's collection and, notably, without providing information on their provenance – data that all museums are now required to provide in accordance with international procedure.'[58]

This essentially accused the Hunt Museum in Limerick of keeping art and artifacts looted during the Second World War, which was described as "unprofessional in the extreme" by the expert Lynn Nicholas that cleared the museum of wrongdoing.[59][60] The claim was taken so seriously that the examination was supervised by the prestigious Royal Irish Academy, whose 2006 report is available on line.[61] McAleese, who had been written to by the center, then criticized a Samuels of the center for "a tissue of lies", adding that the center had diminished the name of Simon Wiesenthal.[62] The center said that it had prepared its own 150-page report in May 2008 that would be published after vetting by its lawyers, but had not done so as of November 2008.[63] The report was finally made on December 12, 2008.[64]

Opposition to Park51Edit

The Simon Wiesenthal Center opposed the construction of Park51, a Muslim community center in Manhattan in New York, because the planned location was only two blocks away from Ground Zero where the September 11 attacks had taken place. The executive director of the Center's Museum of Tolerance in Manhattan, Meyer May said it was "insensitive" to locate the centre there. The Jewish Week noted that the Center itself was accused of intolerance when it built a museum in Jerusalem on land that was once a Muslim cemetery, after gaining approval from Israeli courts.[65]

Accusations of antisemitism against Hugo ChávezEdit

The Center criticized Hugo Chávez for various statements, including his January 2006 statement that "[t]he world is for all of us, then, but it so happens that a minority, the descendants of the same ones that crucified Christ, the descendants of the same ones that kicked Bolívar out of here and also crucified him in their own way over there in Santa Marta, in Colombia. A minority has taken possession all of the wealth of the world..."[66] The Center omitted the reference to Bolívar without ellipsis, stated that Chávez was referring to Jews, and denounced the remarks as antisemitic by way of his allusions to wealth. Meanwhile, according to, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela defended Chávez, stating that he was speaking not of Jews, but of South America's white oligarchy. The Wiesenthal Center's representative in Latin America replied that Chávez's mention of Christ-killers was "ambiguous at best" and that the "decision to criticize Chávez had been taken after careful consideration".[67]

"Sunday Project" controversyEdit

The Simon Wiesenthal Center strongly denounced politician-journalist Soichiro Tahara for his remarks against former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka and his daughter, former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka on his TV Asahi program "Sunday Project" in March 2009.

In the live broadcast, Tahara told Tanaka that her father, former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka was "done in by America, by the Jews and [Ichiro] Ozawa,[note 1] too, was done in [by America and/or the Jews]."[68]

Band attire controversiesEdit

The Center has on two occasions criticized bands for wearing attire resembling Nazi uniforms or using Nazi symbolism.

In 2011, Abraham Cooper, condemned the Japanese band Kishidan for wearing uniforms resembling those of the SS, the armed wing of the Nazi party. The band wore military-inspired uniforms, adorned with the German medal Iron Cross and Nazi insignia such as the death skull and SS eagle on MTV Japan's primetime program "Mega Vector." Cooper said in a written protest to the band's management company Sony Music Artists, MTV Japan and the Japanese entertainment group Avex (Kishidan's label at the time being and also the current one) that "there is no excuse for such an outrage" and that "many young Japanese are "woefully uneducated" about the crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany and Japan during the second world war, but global entities like MTV and Sony Music should know better".[69]

As a result, Sony Music Artists and Avex[70] issued a joint statement of public apology on their respective websites.

On November 11, 2018, Cooper denounced the South Korean band BTS with the following statement: "Flags appearing on stage at their concert were eerily similar to the Nazi Swastika. It goes without saying that this group, which was invited to speak at the UN, owes the people of Japan and the victims of the Nazism an apology."[71] The band's management responded to the charge and offered their "sincerest apologies" but claimed that the similarities with Nazi symbols were unintentional.[72]

References in popular cultureEdit

The center is featured in the real-life-story-based Freedom Writers. An exterior view of the center is given, and there are scenes inside the museum, showing simulation entrances to gas chambers in death camps.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Then leader of the Democratic Party of Japan


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  43. ^ "SWC: Israel Should Reject a Return to 1967 'Auschwitz' Borders".
  44. ^ "Obama's refusal to veto anti-Israel U.N. vote ranked most anti-Semitic incident of 2016".
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  71. ^[dead link]
  72. ^ "BTS' management respond to 'Nazi style' hats and Japanese nuclear bomb controversies".

External linksEdit

Archival collectionsEdit

Moria filmsEdit


Coordinates: 34°03′14″N 118°24′07″W / 34.05389°N 118.40194°W / 34.05389; -118.40194