Friday, December 30, 2005
I just returned from an incredible experience at Limmud, the festival of Jewish learning, in Nottingham, UK. I was there two years ago. It was a stupendous experience.
There has been a hew and a cry about Pamuk but not about Irving, who the author acknowledges has views that are quite sleazy.
Yesterday I was interviewed by the author of the article, Brendan O'Neill, who is deputy editor of spiked (www.spiked-online.com). He wanted to know my response to Irving's arrest and to the abrogation of his rights of freedom of speech.
Though my friend and solicitor, Anthony Julius, has responded to all requests about Irving with the comment: "About David Irving I have nothing to say," I did not feel I had that luxury.
I made the following points:
1. I am against laws criminalizing Holocaust denial.
2. I dislike being in favor of censorship and also don't believe that these laws work. Instead they make Holocaust denial "forbidden fruit," and consequently, all the more tempting.
3. None the less, I think that Germany and Austria are in a different situation than other countries. Their history is so terrible and this is all so recent that I fully understand why they would have such laws.
4. I pointed out that Austria's law was against minimization of the crimes of the Third Reich and had been instituted in the late 1940s. It was not, specifically a law against Holocaust denial.
5. I also observed that Austria is a democracy and if its people were opposed to such a law they could vote it out. Is it not a bit conceited on the part of Western intellectuals to impose their views on Austria's voters.
6. While I don't believe you can defeat deniers with these laws, I also don't believe there is any sense in debating with them [something O'Neill seemed to think was the solution].
7. I also pointed out that Irving
a)knew there was a warrant for his arrest
b) went to Austria anyway
c) apparently announced the fact that he was coming to Austria [or at the least made no secret about it]. It's hard to sympathize with him.
What he did can be compared, to my mind, to pissing in the face of the Austrian authorities. They essentially had two choices: either ignore him and acknowledge that their laws are meaningless or enforce the law and arrest him.
This was not a great principled battle about freedom of speech. This was someone testing the system and when he gets caught he crys, "freedom of speech."
I will let you know once his article appears.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
"Assumed massacre of six million Jews in Germany after imposing hard labor against them in concentration camps, known as Holocaust, is a sheer historic lie," said Supreme Leader's representative in Fars Province and Friday Prayer
leader of Shiraz Ayatollah Mohyeddin Ha'eri Shirazi in an address to large groups of Friday prayers worshipers.
"They have now devised an international law based on which no one is allowed to raise doubts against the authenticity of that fabricated story, and made such practice punishable by imprisonment."
This is typical Holocaust denial tactics. They are trying to create the "debate." In other words, they are saying, "We are not deniers. We are just interested in the truth."
I think I shall send them the printout of Judge Gray's finding in my trial. Its available on www.hdot.org [click on the left side where it says judgment].
Iranian proposal for establishing committee to clarify
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
An Iranian official on Friday called for the establishment of a committee to clarify the real extent of the Holocaust.
"(Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad wants European governments to allow Western scholars to publish their research on the Holocaust," Mohammad-Ali
Ramin, head of the Society for defending the rights of Moslem minorities in the West, told Fars. [Iranian news agency]
"Ahmadinejad should therefore propose establishment of an international committee for clarifying the real extent of the Holocaust," the official added.
Ramin praised Ahmadinejad for having voiced his doubts over the Holocaust and the need for relocating the Jews to Europe if Europeans really did the massacre during the Second World War.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
A TV discussion with Iranian political analysts Dr. Hasan Hanizadeh and Dr. Ali-Reza Akbari, which aired on Jaam-e Jam 2 TV on December 20, 2005 denied the existence of crematoria at Auschwitz, and went on to explain in detail how Jewish rabbis in Europe used to kill children and take their blood for use during the Passover holiday.
Hanizadeh works for the Tehran Times and frequently pens anti-American conspiracies, is the author of the book, The History of the Jews.
In a gross abuse of history these two putative scholars not only deny the Holocaust, but cite all sorts of supposed events when Jews were supposedly the persecutors and not the persecuted.
A few excerpts follow:
Ali-Reza Akbari: "Historians and eye-witnesses, some of whom are still alive... There are still many people who saw with their own eyes what happened 70-80 years ago. These people are alive and are of sound mind. They still possess the analytical abilities they had back then. They are our witnesses, and they deny the existence of crematoria at a place called Auschwitz.
"Perhaps the reason... In my opinion, the people who say that the phenomenon of burning Jews on German soil during the World War II crisis is similar to a holocaust do so as a result of propaganda and due to psychological reasons.
"In any event, a case of burning people has been registered in history, when many human beings were burned because of their beliefs. The people who were burned then were, in fact, Christians. They were burned by the people who ruled Yemen,
who were Jews. This event took place 400 years before the advent of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. Since then, the burning of human beings has been termed 'holocaust.'"
Host: "Were there six million Jews at all at that time, who could have been annihilated in the crematoria?"
Hasan Hanizadeh: "First of all, this figure is greatly exaggerated. The number of Jews in the world does not exceed 12 million. Only now, 57 years later, has it reached this figure. Clearly, at that time, considering the dispersion of the Jews, there could not have been six million Jews in Europe alone. In any event, the Zionist lobby and the Jewish Agency use this issue as a club with which they beat and extort the West.
"Unfortunately, the West has forgotten two horrendous
incidents, carried out by the Jews in 19th-century Europe – in Paris and London, to be precise. In 1883, about 150 French children were murdered in a horrible way in the suburbs of Paris, before the Jewish Passover holiday. Later research
showed that the Jews had killed them and taken their blood. This event caused riots in Paris back then, and the French government found itself under pressure.
"A similar incident took place in London, when many English children were killed by Jewish rabbis. These two incidents still haunt the minds and souls of the Europeans, but due to the growing influence of the Zionist lobby in Europe – or to be precise, the influence of the Jews – these two incidents are, unfortunately, never mentioned."
Monday, December 19, 2005
TEHRAN, Iran - Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has banned all Western music from Iran's state radio and TV stations — an eerie reminder of the 1979 Islamic revolution when popular music was outlawed as "un-Islamic" under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Ahmadinejad’s combustive rhetoric about wiping out Israel, denying the Holocaust and asserting Iran’s inalienable right to nuclear power — a potential cloak for developing nuclear weapons — have triggered alarm bells around the world.
The international storm of outrage that greeted Ahmadinejad’s comments is quite an achievement for the 49-year-old radical, whose meteoric trajectory from obscurity to become mayor of Tehran culminated in his taking office as president in August.
“He’s a tiny, wiry figure with a gaunt face and small black eyes that don’t seem to change expression,” says a journalist who followed him on the campaign trail. “He goes around in rumpled clothes and is as unsophisticated as he appears. He’s devout but he has no religious credentials.”
Some experts maintain that Ahmadinejad’s invective is solely for domestic consumption. "He’s not doing it to be confrontational," one insists. "He’s only saying what others have said many times before. And he doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks."
However, the president’s utterances leave little room for misunderstanding. On October 26, he said: "Israel must be wiped off the map." On December 8, he elaborated: "Some European countries insist on saying that during the second world war, Hitler burnt millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps. Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned ... we don’t accept this claim." Europe should provide a state for "the Zionists", he added.
Last week, he went even further: "They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religion and the prophets. The West has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews ... If you have burnt the Jews, why don’t you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel ... why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?"
Western leaders are now asking themselves how they misread Ahmadinejad so badly. They had pinned their hopes on the new generation of Iranians who were supposedly chafing under the restrictions of the Islamic republic, counting on a presidential victory by Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the 70-year-old former president and so-called pragmatist.
Even then, the White House thought they could live with the new leader, says Geoffrey Kemp, an analyst at the Nixon Center in Washington. “Ahmadinejad’s first forays into foreign affairs tended to be dismissed as the naive posturing of someone new to the game. But the fact that he keeps repeating the same statements and adding new venom to them has got people rethinking this gentleman.”
New questions continue to emerge about Ahmadinejad’s murky past. Former hostages taken captive at the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held for 444 days have claimed he was one of the ringleaders. Donald Sharer, a retired navy captain, remembered him as “a cruel individual”.
The Austrian authorities are investigating claims that Ahmadinejad took part in assassinations against political opponents, notably the exiled Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemou and two of his associates in Vienna in 1989.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
In the broadcast Jews are turned into apes and pigs because they insist on working on the Sabbath day. Then they are annihilated.
The Egyptian filmmaker, Zainab Fouad Zamzamshe, has an MA and PhD. She is among the few animators working in Islamic countries who creates animation films on subjects related to the Islamic history and spiritual values and has so far made over 650 films for children.
Her bio, as posted on the website of an Iranian children's film festival, suggests that she is not a radical extremist but someone who is in the mainstream.
Excerpts from the broadcast appear below. The transcript can be accessed through Memri's website
Grandfather: "Come on, men, keep building. Tomorrow is the Sabbath and we will not work, as we were commanded by the Lord."
Pinhas: "Step right up and buy your Sabbath goods. We trade on the day that the Lord once forbade, and get rich."
Shamloun: "Shamloun is inviting you. Check out my merchandise, and don't be afraid of anyone. You won't be punished not from the earth nor from the skies."
Habakkuk: "Step right up. It is me, Habakkuk. I am, as you can see, safe and sound. The only illness that has struck me is wealth. Come here. How nice it is to work on the Sabbath. ..."
[While jumping up and down, Pinhas, Shamloun, Habakkuk, and others in the marketplace turn into apes. The boy and his grandfather open a door in the wall and step to the other side with some other villagers.]
Grandfather: "Look, my child, the young among them have turned into apes, and their elderly have become pigs."
Boy: "They should know that the Lord speaks the truth and punishes severely."
Grandfather: "Praise the Lord, who has saved us. They remained in this condition for three days, and then were annihilated. The wind has cast them into the sea."
[Music plays as the apes and pigs are cast into the sea.]
Narrator: "In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.... We visited the wrong-doers with a grievous punishment. We said the them: 'Be ye apes, despised and rejected.' .... The Lord is quick in retribution, but he is
also oft-forgiving, most Merciful."
Friday, December 16, 2005
Iranian Interior Minister Rewrites Recent History: "Iranian President's Comments were Misunderstood"
What the Interior Minister's remarks do suggest is that Iran is feeling the heat from the world's contempt.
The Houston Chronicle carries the following report.
Dec. 16, 2005, 9:03AM
Iranian president 'misunderstood' on
ATHENS, Greece --The Iranian president's widely condemned remarks about Israel and the Holocaust were "misunderstood" by Western governments, Iran's interior minister said
"Actually the case has been misunderstood," Mostafa Pur Mohammadi told The Associated Press on the sidelines of an Athens conference on immigration.
"He wanted to say that if certain people have created troubles for the Jewish community they should bear the expenses, and it is not others who should pay for that."
Both reporters wanted to know what's the most efficacious reaction to President Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust and calls for wiping Israel off the map.
I said that the world's leaders should make it clear that if Iran is going to have at its helm a person who makes these kinds of statements, the rest of the world is going to be terribly leery of dealing with it.
In the final paragraph of History on Trial I mention that some people throw "bombs" which cause great damage while others throw the words which cause the others to throw the bombs. That's the danger of statements such as Ahmadinejad's.
Criticism of Ahmadinejad is coming from a broad range of Iranians who seem to realize that these kinds of statement will do their country no good. As the Washington Post reported:
A fundamentalist lawmaker in the national assembly expressed revulsion when neo-Nazis abroad voiced solidarity with Ahmadinejad's suggestion that Israel be "wiped off the map."
"Their support of Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments is beneath the dignity of the Islamic Republic, and the government should make its position clear about this," said the lawmaker,
Heshmatollah Falahatzadeh, according to an Iranian news service.
"Our officials should realize that there are many facts in the world that we should not pass our judgments on in a way that the world finds fault with.
Diplomats from E.U. countries have been attempting to negotiate a deal with Iran by which it would terminate parts of its nuclear program that could be used to make weapons.
Iran says that its program is solely to produce electricity. "Ahmadinejad has been making these comments about Israel, and people are now beginning to take a look at their own policies about how they are going to deal with this regime," said a British official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the British government's media policy.
"The kind of statements that are coming from Tehran will give everyone pause for thought," the official said.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
I also react against a lot of people in the Jewish community who tend to cry "the sky is falling" more often than I think is accurate or efficacious.
However, I am finding this steady drumbeat of claims about the Holocaust and this call for an "investigation" disturbing. It suggests death by a 1000 cuts.
One last thought: When David Irving gets out of Austrian jail [my guess is that he will get off with time served -- a wise move on the Austrians part], he will probably be welcomed as a hero in Iran.
published by the Austrian Kurier website is based on news items by APA and Reuters and is followed by translation by Albrecht Kolthoff. I have highlighted the crucial sentence.
Iran fordert Holocaust-Untersuchung
Teheran - Der iranische Parlamentspräsident Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel hat eine Untersuchung zum Holocaust gefordert.
Er reagierte damit auf massive internationale Kritik an Äußerungen von Präsident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, der in der vergangenen Woche den Holocaust geleugnet und vorgeschlagen hatte, Israel nach Europa zu verlegen.
Haddad-Adel warf den Europäern am Dienstag vor, eine erartige Untersuchung zu verhindern. "Wir glauben, dass die Hindernisse, die die Europäer einer Untersuchung in den Weg legen, Zweifel an ihrer Ehrlichkeit aufkommen lassen", sagte Haddad-Adel in Moskau. Eine Untersuchung könne alle offenen Fragen klären.
Artikel vom 13.12.2005 apa, reuters jos
Iran demands Holocaust probe
Tehran - Iranian Parliament Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel has demanded an examination of the Holocaust.
He reacted to mssive international criticism of statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who in the past week had denied the Holocaust and proposed to move Israel to Europe. Haddad-Adel on Tuesday accused the Europeans of preventing such an examination.
"We believe that the obstacles the Europeans lay in the way of an examination give rise to doubts about their honesty", Haddad-Adel said in Moscow. A probe could clear up all open questions.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
See Memri's special dispatch
The BBC then went on and sort of saved itself by observing that that excuse now has no credence since this is his third outrageous statement about Jews.
Iran Leader Escalates Holocaust Rhetoric
Wednesday December 14, 2005 1:16 PM
By ALI HACKBERRY DARWIN
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad escalated his anti-Israeli rhetoric Wednesday, calling the Holocaust a ``myth'' used by Europeans to create a Jewish state in the heart of the Islamic world.
``Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets,'' Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in the southeastern city of Zahedan.
Touring southeast Iran, Ahmadinejad said that if Europeans insist the Holocaust happened, then they are responsible and should pay the price. "If you committed this big crime, then why should the oppressed Palestinian nation pay the price?" Ahmadinejad asked rhetorically.
"This is our proposal: if you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country," he said, developing a theme he raised in Saudi Arabia last week.
It is interesting to note that I heard an interview on NPR this a.m. with a journalist from Iran who was markedly critical of statements such as this and called them harmful to Iran's best interests. It was clear from the interview that he gives absolutely no credence to Ahmanijad's statements.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
February 20 (one trial day).
According to the report Irving will plead for remorse. Apparently he and
his lawyer have noticed that his tactics of "new insights" after a visit
to Russian archives isn't very convincing when he had uttered his usual
stuff just a short time ago. As he now said in a pre-trial interrogation,
he will use a slightly modified tactic:
"Ihm sei vor wenigen Wochen klar geworden, dass die Existenz von
Gaskammern in Auschwitz erwiesen sei." (He realized a few weeks ago that the existence of gas chambers in Auschwitz is proved.)
Sunday, December 11, 2005
In short, Rudolf was wanted by Germany for having violated the law against inciting racial hatred. He fled Germany and after hiding out in a number of countries ended up in the United States where he applied for political asylum, claiming political persecution in Germany.
A federal immigration judge denied Rudolf’s asylum claim and ordered him deported in June 2003. Rudolf appealed and lost. He then appealed to the US Court of Appeals and to the Supreme Court. All denied Rudolf’s requests .
He became a fugitive, and then, after a period of time, showed up at an Immigration Office to apply for a Green Card on the basis of his having subsequently married an American citizen. [I guess you have to admire his hutzpah.] A quick check of the ICE computers indicated he was a fugitive and he was arrested.
His behavior reminds me of Irving who announced on his website the fact that he was going to Austria where there was a warrant for his arrest to give a speech. Then, he went and was arrested.
I would argue that part of the modus operandi of people such as this is to "spit in the eye" of authorities by breaking the law and then to test the resolve of the governing authorities [whether here in the US or in Austria].
If the authorities do nothing, they herald this as indicating that they are above the law. If the authorities act and arrest them, then they cry "Free speech" or "Victim!."
Irving offered to settle with me shortly before the trial if I agreed to apologize for calling him a denier and agreed to the pulping of all my books. [and if I made a fairly substantial contribution to a charity of his choice]. Pulping of books does not exactly fit into my definition of free speech.
Two other points:
1. The law under which Irving has been charged is that of minimization of crimes of the Third Reich which was passed in 1947 or 1948. It is not a law vs. Holocaust denial per se.
2. Austria is a democracy. What's stopping the Austrian people from repealing that law if they are against it? If not, isn't there something wrong with people from another country with a markedly different history telling them what they should include in their legal system and what they should not? Is that not a certain form of hubris?
Just some thoughts.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Each country has a right to enforce their laws even when they are repugnant to us. I'll use a small example. If a person dons a white robe with a peaked hat and two holes in the sheet for the eyes, he can get arrested in this country. (If I recall correctly, KKK members must not cover their faces when demonstrating). On the other hand, if one visits Spain during Holy Week, one
can see hundreds of men wearing almost identical costumes as the KKK, with their faces well covered except for two peepholes. It is legal in Spain, but not in the US.
Perhaps the U.S. has had particular reasons for passing that law; reasons that don't apply in Spain. Spaniards are probably aghast at this interference in a mans' right to wear his clothes or a mask or what-have-you. Before I get jumped on for such a simplistic comparison, please bear in mind that Austria and Germany lived a different reality than did this country. We were not the organizers or perpetrators of a massive campaign of murder and terror, so perhaps we don't recogize their need for atonement and their attempts to prevent a future occurrence.
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
I wonder if the Jewish community will do for this Gibson production what it did for his previous movie: guarantee it a tremendous audience.
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Saturday, December 3, 2005
Friday, December 2, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
WILL DAVID IRVING BETRAY HIMSELF, AND US?
When I first heard that David Irving had been arrested in Austria on his way to talk to some college students and was being held in jail, I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know what to make of it.
Irving in jail? It was out of character for him. I had a hard time getting my brain around it. Irving is, in fact, guilty of breaking Austrian law. He did “deny” the Holocaust, to use the usual jargon. His lawyer, Elmar Kresbach, tells the Guardian on 26 November: “There are the transcripts of his speeches, there is a newspaper interview that he gave [in 1989]. It’s pretty black and white.”
“But Irving told me that he has changed his views after researching in the Russian archives in the 1990s. He said, ‘I’ve repented. I’ve no intention of repeating these views. That would be historically stupid and I’m not a stupid man.’
“He said, ‘I fully accept this, it’s a fact. The discussion on Auschwitz, the gas chambers and the Holocaust is finished ... it’s useless to dispute it’.”
So the news—and this is only news—is that David Irving is going to recant his “revisionist” views on the Holocaust story. Who would have thought?Irving is an absolutely unique individual. His capacity for work, his genius for organization, the quality of his intellect, his learning, his endless energy, his physical strength, his unwillingness to suffer fools and his easy willingness to offend friends, his daring—I have never met anyone to match him. No one.
At the same time, among we lesser folk, we have watched David Irving make one mistake after another. It began with his unwillingness to take on the Holocaust Industry straight on by setting aside his life-long interest in Hitler’s inside circle and do a real book on Auschwitz, the book he better than anyone else anywhere was capable of producing and promoting.
Then there was the stupidly conceived libel suit against Deborah Lipstadt, where during the trial he was brilliant and wrong-headed and utterly full of himself. Irving’s defeat at that trial was the most serious single blow that revisionism has ever received. Only last week a correspondent reminded me that it was the Lipstadt trial that convinced serious people that, okay, revisionists had taken an interesting run at the Holocaust story, they had failed in full view of the Western world, and there was no reason to worry about Holocaust revisionism any longer.
If we are to believe his lawyer, who sounds like a practical man, David Irving is going to recant his views with regard to Auschwitz, the gas chambers, and who knows what else? He may. He may not. It would not be beyond him. This is a man for whom there is nothing “beyond.”
But I feel a betrayal in the works. I hesitate to say it, but betrayal is in the air. My hope? That he recants to the Austrian court, is freed, and when he is out in the world again that he stands up in public to declare:“I lied before a corrupt court. There is no honor in telling a corrupt court the truth if you do not enjoy being punished at the hands of corrupt law. The Auschwitz story is crap. I know it, and millions of people all over the Western and Muslim worlds know it. When I said ‘Auschwitz is a sinking ship,’ I was right. I meant it then, and I mean it now.”
Will David Irving betray himself then? And us? Or has David discovered evidence that supports the gas chamber stories and kept it secret from us and everyone else all these years? We are not going to know until he is a free man.
If you have been reading this blog you know my views about laws regarding Holocaust denial, however -- lest you be overcome by sympathy for Irving -- it pays to keep a number of things in mind.
1. Irving knew there was a warrant for his arrest.
2. He knew he was in violation of Austrian law.
3. Is it possible that he wanted to be arrested? [Lots of pr, sympathy, and money]
4. Did he think the laws did not apply to him?
5. Did he care about my freedom of speech [which he tried to curtail by demanding that I pulp my book and apologize to him]?
My good friend Harry Mazal, whose Holocaust History Project is a fantastic contribution to the effort to expose deniers lies and fabrications, came across an article entitled "The Cost of Free Speech," from the Guardian which encapsulates some of the free speech issues involved in my trial. [The article was published a few days after the judgment was issued.]
I wonder if someone explained to Irving that he cannot maintain he has changed his mind when all the evidence to the contrary is sitting on his web site.
According to his lawyer, he has changed his mind regarding the gas chambers as a result of a visit he made to Moscow where he saw "new" evidence. The problem for Irving is that he was in Moscow in the 1990s. During the trial, which was in 2000, he consistently argued that gas chambers were an impossibility. Since the trial he has repeated his disbelief about gas chambers. As I noted on November 25th, he was vigorously arguing that gas chambers were impossible as late as two months ago.
Maybe, at long last, he has come to realize he cannot have it both ways, i.e. say one thing when it is convenient to do so and something else when it is not convenient to maintain his first position. Or maybe his lawyer has explained to him that he will have a hard time convincing an Austrian court of his newfound position with all this information readily available on his website.
Thursday, December 1, 2005
In short, while the situation is not great, neither is it as dire as many people would have you believe. In many respects Jewish life on the North American campus is thriving. There are a broad array of Jewish Studies courses available and Hillel is undergoing an unprecedented renaissance.
There certainly are problems regarding the presentation of Israel and Israel's position, but the cry of "oy gevalt" regarding the campus strike me as somewhat out of touch with reality.