A group affiliated with the Jewish Defense League has opened an office in Torrance and hopes to force out of town another group that claims the Holocaust never happened.
Irv Rubin, national chairman of the Jewish Defense League, an activist Jewish organization, asked the City Council on Tuesday night to consider a "consumer protection" ordinance that he said is aimed at the Institute for Historical Review. The institute publishes and distributes literature claiming that the Holocaust was a hoax and that no Jews were gassed by the Nazis.
Rubin, who has established the Committee Against Nazi Extremism in Torrance, said that if the city does not do something in about a month, he will stage demonstrations in front of the institute's Torrance headquarters on Cabrillo Street.
Mayor James R. Armstrong said the proposed ordinance is under staff review and may be brought to the council for consideration.
City Manager LeRoy Jackson, however, said the city attorney is looking into possible civil-rights problems in the proposed ordinance. He said the ordinance could unintentionally affect many companies.
Rubin said he does not expect the ordinance to be adopted as is, but calls it a start, "to get the wheels rolling to get the IHR out of town."
"It's time you did something," Rubin told the council. "I don't want to see what happened a year ago happen again. I don't want them to be here in Torrance."
Last year the institute was firebombed and its office on 237th Street was destroyed. It was the latest of three such incidents since 1981. On Sept. 5, 1982, the office was riddled by gunfire. No one was injured in any of the incidents, and no arrests have been made.
The proposed ordinance was drafted by Rubin and other members of the committee. He said the group, which opened an office on Sepulveda Boulevard, has only a handful of members but he expects it to grow to include a broad spectrum of groups.
The proposal would require major disclosures by out-of-state companies that have offices in Torrance if employees or officers of the companies claim to be experts in any field. Such a company would have to supply the names, home addresses, academic degrees and other information about such employees before they could get a business license.
That information would be avalable to the public, and citizens would be allowed to comment on the "desirability" of the company being allowed to do business in Torrance.
The institute's holding company is the Texas-based Legion for the Survival of Freedom.
"Using . . . appeal to false authority as their modus operandi for publishing and selling their propaganda in the city of Torrance, their activities here are just as insidious as those of a quack doctor who would sell a bogus cure-all to the unsuspecting," Jan Tucker, a spokesman for the committee, told the council. "The City of Torrance must enact a consumer protection law to regulate the way products are promoted by the use of false authorities."
A man who answered the phone at the institute's headquarters said the proposed ordinance is harassment.
"This is just another tactic of harassment on the part of a Zionist group which is attempting to silence dissent and alternative information," said the man, who called himself a spokesman but would not give his name. "We have a right to publish and give people another side to World War II."
The spokesman said his group will not be intimidated to leave Torrance.
"We were burned out of one place by terrorists, but we refuse to be intimidated by terrorists," he said. "We feel we ought to stay and show the terrorists we are not going to be intimidated."
The institute filed a claim against Torrance in November alleging that the city Police Department had not provided adequate protection as part of an effort to "coerce" the organization out of the city. The city denied the claim and the insitutute has not decided whether to file a lawsuit, the spokesman said.
Last week, the institute settled a suit against it by paying a Long Beach man $100,000 in damages for failing to pay him a $50,000 reward that the institute had offered to anyone who could prove that a single Jew was gassed at concentration camps during World War II.
The man, who was in the camps as a boy and lost most of his family there, claimed the reward after providing the group with declarations from people who said they had seen evidence of gassings.