Friday, January 20, 2006

An European Union counter conference?

There is an interview with Götz Aly, a prominent historian of the Third Reich, in Der Spiegel online today about Iran's planned denial conference. Aly was asked if he would be willing to participate in the Tehran denial conference.

Aly of course declined, but then made an intriguing suggestion. The European Union should organize a counter-conference with the participation of Arab and Israeli intellectuals and Holocaust researchers from around the world. When asked by Der Spiegel who should host such a conference, Aly suggested the European Union.

While I find the idea intriguing, my fear is that such a conference would become a generalized discussion of genocide and suffering [and somebody would be bound to try to introduce the Palestinians which, as any sane person -- irrespective of their political views -- knows, have suffered no genocide].

If it could be an intellectual and historical enterprise and not a political one, it might be a fitting response to Iran's outrageous behavior. But I wonder whether politics could be kept out of it.

Maybe I am wrong to be so pessimistic. After all I dismissed David Irving's initial threat to sue me for libel as a ridiculous nuicance.... I was wrong then and I could be wrong again.


neil craig said...

The Palestinains have undoubtedly suffered little genocide at the hands of Israelis, certainly less than the Syrian destruction of Hama. Nonetheless the destruction of the village of Deir Yasin was undoubtedly an instance of genocide & should not be denied.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

The destruction of one village --however horrible it might have been -- is not a genocide.

me said...

Aly's suggestion to organize a counter-conference raises one problem: It would be just that, a counter-conference. It would seem as if the Tehran gang actually had initiated a legitimate academic debate. A counter-conference could produce the impression that the deniers still would have to be proved wrong. But basically all has been said and done to deal with Holocaust denial in terms of arguments, not the least by the tremendous defeat of Irving when he sued Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin.

But then, at such a counter-conference the participants at least wouldn't have to appear in a certain type of clothes ... Right now I'm trying to imagine Ingrid Rimland appearing at this "conference" in Tehran and wearing a burka.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Albrecht is absolutely right. Counter conferences could become the debate we refuse to have. I can just see it know: My friends at C-Span would broadcast back to back sessions from each one....

neil craig said...

The ICTY, who claim the killing of several thousand combat soldiers at Srebrenica & are trying Milosevic for "genocide" in Kosovo where it is accepted that Serbs, KLA & NATO together killed only about 2,000 (in the Serbs case once again combat troops).

I repeat my point that genocide isn't just what the enemy do.