Thursday, February 1, 2007

EU Genocide Denial Legislation: A hot potato that may not be worth touching


I was just speaking with Bruno Waterfield, a reporter from the Daily Telegraph who covers the EU. He tells me that the legislation being introduced by the Germans is far more sweeping that oirignally assumed. It will ban all sorts of genocide denial in a far more all inclusive fashion than had originally been assumed.

I continue to have such mixed feelings about this effort. A post on Ynet elaborates on the Hindu communities opposition to including the swastika in the ban. It is, for them a symbol of peace. Consequently, the Germans have dropped that part of the proposed legislation. I understand and sympathize with them. Imagine if the USA had banned the cross because the KKK turned it into such a symbol of racism and hatred?

But there is a bigger issue here. I have heard from a friend who went to the UN for the rally regarding Holocaust denial resolution which was passed last week. While I know that many people involved in this effort are doing so out of good will, I really believe their efforts are misguided.

They are enhancing the deniers' importance -- I can hear them chortling: "We are important enough to be worthy of a UN resolution" -- and they allow soft-core deniers and others who voice deeply antisemitic sentiments to pass below the radar screen.

Many years ago I wrote [it's probably not on line so there is no link to it] about how Holocaust deniers make life more comfortable for the less "radical" antisemites. It is analogous to those so-called "pro-lifers" who are against abortion in any circumstances, even if it is a matter of inscest, the mother's life is in terrible danger, and the victim is a young girl. They make life easier for those who will allow it only if the mother is certain to die. The latter look more reasonable.

Deniers through their extremism and their vile arguments make the more "respectable" antisemites look more acceptable.

These kind of resolutions remind me of the way in which so many government officials rallied around the cause of Soviet Jewry [many of them played a seminal role in helping resolve the matter].

One time I told my friend Havi Scheindlin who was working exceptionally hard on the matter how impressed I was by the many legislators who gave their support. She, while happy that they did, said: "It's sort of like motherhood and apple pie. Who could be against it?"

So too with this situation. With the exception of Ahmadinejad and his cohorts in the Muslim/Arab world, who could really be against denial?

To my mind, far more dangerous are people such as Jimmy Carter who rewrite history in a way that gives comfort to antisemites. [Before everyone pounces, please note: I am not suggesting that Carter is a denier or antisemite. I am not suggesting that you can't criticize Israel. I am suggesting that you can't make up history to suit your particular ideological ends.

1 comment:

Devil's Kitchen said...

"So too with this situation. With the exception of Ahmadinejad and his cohorts in the Muslim/Arab world, who could really be against denial?"

You are a dangerous and ignorant fuckwit. Please never darken my internet experience again.