Monday, July 30, 2007

Springtime for Hitler: UK schools teach not to "judge" Hitler

This is one of those stories that takes your breath away. Seems that a 16 year old UK kid is enamored of Hitler. He did all sorts of great things for his people, only bombed the UK cities because it was in retaliation for UK "carpet bombing" of Germany, needed French land to feed his people, killed the Jews because he was "mad" and so on....

One could dismiss this as the idiocy of a male teenager... But his mother reports that there is a new curriculum in UK schools which fights prejudice against Germans and teaches the students not to "judge" Hitler.

No comment necessary... except that it happened at Disneyland... probably in Fantasyland...

EU helps twart academic boycott of Israel

According to the JTA, Israel has signed an agreement with the European Union that thwarts efforts to impose a British academic boycott of Israel.

Under the terms of the agreement Israeli universities will participate in the major public/private research partnership to develop green air transport.

A final [I hope] word on Ward Churchill

The Eugene Or. Register -Guard has an editorial praising both those who protected Ward Churchill's right to free speech and the university process which uncovered his many lies, fabrications, plagarisms and the like.

While I agree in essence, I keep asking why didn't anyone look at his credentials, articles, and claims [about Native American ancestry for example] before this whole thing blew up? Were they so excited about getting a supposed Native American on faculty that they were willing to ignore some of the warning signs?

How about the fact that he did not have a Ph.D. and yet was made chair of a department? [Apparently he was honest about this and yet the university hired him anyway.]

Was the university willing to make such a serious compromise [the Ph.D. is the university union card] a reflection of how little it thought of a deparmtnet of Ethnic Studies [which is where Churchill was housed]?

If this is indeed correct, it's behavior such as this which gives affirmative action its bad name.

In the end the university acquitted itself well. Before that however....

Sunday, July 29, 2007

David Irving making movies....

From today's Independent:

The sinister Holocaust denier David Irving appears to be plotting a comeback. Strangely, it will be set against the backdrop of one of our most esteemed centres for understanding international affairs.

Irving, who once rubbished the idea that Auschwitz existed to murder Jews - "It's baloney; it's a legend" - was spotted filming yesterday in one of the hallowed halls of Chatham House.

The institution prides itself on its independence, but might this be a bit much?

Over to Chatham House.

"It was a private booking, you don't need to give a name, you just pay the rental fee," says a spokesman. "We didn't know it would be him." Wonderful!

The only thing I like about this is the moniker the paper gives Irving, "sinister Holocaust denier." It's a fact. Makes all those years of legal travail worth it.

YouTube watchers keep you eyes open, that's where this will probably end up.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Some thoughts on genocide

I spent a quiet day today reading Adam Lebor's book, Complicity with Evil. It is a searing indictment of the United Nations for its complicity in th genocide in Bosnia, Rwanda, and, now -- even as I write -- in Darfur.

Having just spent time in Sarajevo and visited Srebrenica it brought the tragedy of what happened there into vivid focus.

Lebor's thesis is that the United Nations essentially allowed these tragedies to happen when it could have stopped any of them by acting forcefully in the beginning. In each case -- certainly in the case of Bosnia and Rwanda -- it knew precisely what was coming and did nothing. These were, in the words of Lebor, carefully if not meticulously planned genocides.

While the UN and its leadership -- Boutros Ghali and Kofi Anan in particular -- come in for the brunt of the responsibility, they are not alone.

This was not a mattter of ancient hatreds, as some people termed it. These were people who had lived in harmony. [As was evident from what remains in Sarajevo.]

Lebor's point is that not only did the UN fail miserably in this case, it continues to do the same in the case of Darfur. He also faults the Arab League which, when it met on this topic in 2004, came up with its standard explanation for all its problems -- it blamed Israel and Jews.

Lebor's thesis, in additional to the failure if not complicity of the UN, is that a "rich European Muslim culture what could have forged a new relationship between Islam and the West vanished forever under a rain of Serb artillery shells." [p. 249]

Islamic countries sent mujahideen fighters to Sarajevo and other parts of Bosnia. Their type of Islam was and is very much at odds with that of the Bosnians'. Some of these mujahideen were connected with AlQaeda. They have helped more radical Islam to take root in Bosnia.

[Interestingly, I heard from a number of Bosnians complaints that the only help they get from Muslim countries is mosques, rather than help to their very weak economy.]

For people who care about these tragedies, this is an important book. For those who feel that they don't know enough about these tragedies, this is an essential book to read.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Criminalizing Holocaust and genocide denial: An academic forum

For a round table discussion about criminalizing denial of the Holocaust and other genocides see the recent issue of FrontPage

Firing Ward Churchill: Univ of Colorado President in today's Wall St. Journal

Previous posts on this topic

In an excellent and hard hitting piece in today's Wall St. Journal University of Colorado President Hank Brown makes it clear why Ward Churchill was fired. In short, Churchill proved himself to be a falsifier of history, a plagiarizer, and someone who, when his mistakes are revealed, blames everyone but himself.

In short he is antithetical to all a university should stand for.

My question is: how did this guy get hired in the first place? How did he get promoted to the chair of an academic department? If he hadn't shot off his mouth about Little Eichmann's would the truth have come out? [Rumor has it that people had been complaining for a long time but no one took their complaints seriously.]

See also Marty Peretz's comments on this.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Armenian Genocide: a shameful Congressional retreat

For a detailed article on how the Turkish government is using former members of Congress [e.g. Gephardt, Livingston, and Solarz] to further its attacks on the historicity of the Armenian genocide see Michael Crowley's article in the New Republic, K Street Cashes in on the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey is engaged in a full court press to try to stop a resolution acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. I was sad to read that Jewish organizations seem to have backed down from taking a stand. I assume that they are sensitive to the fact that Turkey is the only Muslim nation with such close relations with Israel.

They are also strongly aware of the presence in Turkey of a Jewish community which could well be endangered should the government not protect it.

Nonetheless, it does not feel good to see this genocide become a political football...... I wonder what Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, who was responsible for bringing this to the world's and certainly America's attention would say now???

On this matter Hitler may actually have been right [I never thought I would write that] when he said: Who today remembers [or speaks of] the annihilation of the Armenians?

Maybe if more people had spoken of it then, subsequent histories would have been different.

And, who knows, if the Turks are successful in denying this genocide, who knows what other denial efforts will yet be successful....

Now there's a scary thought...

And who said history was not relevant?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ward Churchill [the one who called the 9/11 victims (and me) Eichmanns] fired: But not for that

Ward Churchill who claimed to be a Native American but was not and who called the 9/11 victims, particularly those who worked in finance and investment, "little Eichmanns" was fired yesterday by University of Colorado.

He had called me an Eichmann for ignoring the genocide of Native Americans in my book Denying the Holocaust because I was destroying another people. [If that makes sense to you let me know.]

Some free speech advocates will rise up to his defense. They should not. He was not fired for this.

A university committee investigated and found, according to the Rocky Mountain News,
# Historical facts: Churchill manufactured events in which European Americans intentionally spread smallpox to kill Indians. In one such event, the Army is said to have distributed tainted blankets to Mandan Indians. But no evidence backs the claim.

Elsewhere, Churchill claimed the United States adopted a formal racial code to identify Indians, similar to the code used by the Nazis to identify Jews. U.S. law includes no such code, legal scholars say.

# Plagiarism: Churchill published an essay on water issues in Canada that closely resembles a pamphlet by a Canadian environmental group. He also borrowed a work on fishing rights originally published by Canadian scholar Fay Cohen.

# Falsifying sources: Churchill wrote essays under the names of other people, which he then cited as independent sources in his footnotes.
In the academic world these are capital offenses. Watch now as Churchill hits the trail and presents himself as a victim...

Related posts

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Museum exhibitions by petition: silly... and dangerous

According to the JTA, a petition signed by 100 "scholars and leaders" has been delivered to the United States Holocaust Museum calling for mention of the Bergson group in the permanent exhibition.

[The USHMM's website mentions them but the permanent exhibition apparently does not.]

While I think the permanent exhibition should absolutely include mention of them, I refused to sign the petition when it reached me a few weeks ago.

Good museums do not decide on the basis of petitions, otherwise known as public pressure, what should and should not be included in their exhibits.

Furthermore the petition is not just from scholars who might have studied the topic. According to the JTA it was signed by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, leaders of rabbinical seminaries from the three main Jewish religious denominations, two former Israeli Cabinet members, two members of Congress and prominent Holocaust survivors.

While I respect these people [my guess is some of them are my good friends] this is not how exhibits should be created.

As historian Michael Marrus wrote when he declined to sign:
The staff at the USHMM has earned wide respect because of their professionalism and the care that they take with respect to their mandate. I may not agree with their every decision -- although I am not aware of any at the moment with which I disagree -- but I certainly want to see them accorded the professional space within which to operate. [The] petition seems to me to move rather in the direction of politicization of a respected institution.

Leave aside the merits: if this kind of mobilization were to become an accepted means to changing exhibits we would have a museology defined through public pressure. I would not like to see this happen and I don't think that this is in the interest of the educational and commemorative work to which we are both committed.
Well said. This is ludicrous.

Now let's wait as the predictable cast of characters who seek every opportunity to criticize the USHMM, come out of the woodwork in protest.

Attention Authors [1]: Be afraid, very afraid.... especially if you write about the Saudis and their support of terrorism

Whenever David Irving's libel case against me comes up someone inevitably asks: How could he sue you in the UK? I explain that my book was bought and published by Penguin UK and therefore he could drag me into a UK court.

Turns out that now the reach of UK libel laws has been greatly extended. It's a frightening development. In an earlier post I wrote about Rachel Ehrenfeld and how she was sued for libel by the Saudi Khalid bin Mafouz for writing that he had supported terrorism.

But here's what makes Ehrenfeld's story quite different from mine: her book was NOT published in the UK. Some people in the UK [I wonder if it was the Saudis or their lawyers???] bought a copy over the Internet.

Bin Mafouz pounced and Ehrenfeld was ordered to pay him damages. Now the American courts have come to her defense. [Scroll down at this link to find the New York Law Journal report on the Ehrenfeld case.]

Now the Saudis have silenced another book. This one is by J. Millard Burr, a former relief coordinator for Operation Lifeline Sudan, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Robert O. Collins, professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

They have written a number of books on Darfur and Sudan. Their most recent book, Alms for Jihad was published by Cambridge University Press. [Since their book was published in the UK, their case is closer to mine than Ehrenfeld's.]

The authors explore how, in the words of Michael Rubin, writing in the New York Sun:
The Saudi royal family played a pernicious role, founding and promoting charities to spread militant Sunni Islam, not only as an inoculation against resurgent Shi'ism from revolutionary Iran, but also to radicalize the Muslims in Europe and America.
The British lawyers for Khalid bin Mahfouz and his son Abdulrahman bin Mahfouz wrote Cambridge University Press saying they intended to sue the Press and the authors for defamation against their clients.

Cambridge University Press contacted the authors,and they provided detailed material in support of their claims made in Alms for Jihad.

Nonetheless, Cambridge University Press decided not to contest the argument and next week they will apologize in court.

As Rachel Ehrenfeld has just written to me in an email: "Get a copy of “Alms of Jihad” before it’s banned..."

[To satisfy the different leanings of readers of this blog I have provided links to Amazon, B&N, and Powells. I would have provided a link to Cambridge University Press but the book seems to have been buried deep within the Cambridge University Press website How's that for rewriting of history?]

Bin Mahfouz apparently has amassed a number of judgements by default, in other words the case was not tried on its merits. Everyone just caves, pays a fine, and gets out of Dodge as fast as they can.

Cambridge Press had pretty deep pockets but it too folded. If I were a reporter writing about this I would see what connections it has with the Saudis... That would be interesting to know.

And now I return to the main point: Why isn't this pattern of silencing by the Saudis of authors who are critical of them been the topic of an article in the mainstream press?

There are important legal precedences here, especially in the Ehrenfeld case, and a disturbing pattern of silencing of criticism by the Saudis.

Where are the free speech advocates now???

Monday, July 23, 2007

Denmark and Switzerland: The beginning of a trend or two stupidities in quick succession?

In the previous post I reflected on the Danish Arts Council official who said, regarding a grant to a Holocaust denier, we don't censor opinions. A few weeks ago I posted on the Swiss Foreign Minister who proposed to the Iranians holding a conference at which all views of the Holocaust would be represented... including deniers'.

Is this a disturbing trend or just stupidity on the part of two bureaucrats... or both? I don't mean to suggest that either one is a closet denier. On some level that would be less disturbing. Since they are not, what it suggests is that denial is increasingly being thought of as a "point of view."

These two folks' minds are so open their brains fell out.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Denmark: A victory for Holocaust deniers

Denmark, according to the Danish paper Information,it turns out has given a substantial grant to a Holocaust denier who called the Diary of Anne Frank a forgery, contended that the gas chambers never existed and argued that the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust has been greatly exaggerated.

While that grant may well be attributed to a bureaucratic snafu, it's the response of the government official from the agency making the grant that's shocking. When the story broke the Arts Council said that it does not deal in censorship and "it is not our job to judge [people's] opinions."

HOlocaust denial = an opinion. This as I predicted years ago in Denying the Holocaust is precisely deniers' goal: to enter the conversation as an "other side" or another "opinion."

They are not an "opinion." Their work is, as has been repeatedly shown, a "tissue of lies."

From the British Courts: A strange libel case that gives pause to authors and comfort to terrorism

There is currently a court battle going on which sounds absolutely absurd. In short, Rachel Ehrenfeld, an American and founder of the American Center for Democracy, wrote a book which mentioned Khalid Salim bin Manfouz, accusing him of funding Hama and Al Qaeda. The Washington Times has an column summarizing the outlines of the story.

Bin Mafouz sued Ehrenfeld in London for libel. As most readers of this blog know, the burden there is on the defendant. But here is the kicker: Ehrenfeld never published her book in the UK. A couple of copies were sold as special orders over Amazon which posted a chanpter of the book on the Internet.

Bin Mafouz is essentially a "libel tourists," who find some sort of weak connection in the UK to use that vanue to sue. The judge ruled that she must apologize to bin Mahfouz and pay over $225,000. She has not done either and, therefore, cannot travel to the UK, a servere impediment for someone who does research on terrorism and jihad.

Miss Ehrenfeld countersued in New York and last month the court said her case had merit and that she could appeal in this country. The court found that this case had implications for the First Amendment and for all authors.

Actually, as the Washington Times details, the French have extensive evidence linking bin Mafouz to Osama bin Laden.

This case, therefore, should be of great interest to writers and to those who believe that a vigorous fight against terrorism must continue. It's surprising that this case has not gotten more attention from the media. Could it be that Ehrenfeld is linked with neocon folks????

David Irving: Already showing patterns of future behavior in his student days

Hannah Gay has written a book on the history of Imperial College in London. The following excerpt concerns David Irving's activities during his time there. Hannah Gay has given me permission to post this here.

From Hannah Gay, The History of Imperial College London: Higher Education and Research in Science, Technology and Medicine (Imperial College Press, 2007)

In the 1950s and 60s student journalists still reported on day-to-day college life in the student papers. A new fortnightly student paper, Felix, was founded in 1950 with the purpose of keeping students informed of college events and The Phoenix became a review journal.

In 1958 it was edited by David Irving, the future controversialist historian and serious minimiser, if not denier, of the Holocaust.1 Irving had come to the college in 1956 and had founded an organization called the National Guardian Movement which he claimed was an anti-Communist movement but, given its literature, was clearly inspired by the British Union of Fascists. It had some student members from Imperial and some from other colleges in the university.

Irving soon became well known in the college. A gifted journalist, he helped in the running of The Phoenix after the editor had been injured in a mountaineering accident. He worked hard, contributed a number of drawings and short articles and, despite some misgivings among board members shaken by the content of some of his articles, was asked to take over the editorship in 1958.

At first he appeared to have had a good idea, namely starting a series on old students, 'They Came to Imperial'. But his first subject was the German industrialist Fritz von Thyssen and it is clear that Irving was interested in him solely for his connections to Hitler. This and other questionable content led to Irving being fired from the editorship. But, for reasons not entirely clear, he was then asked to edit the 1959 carnival magazine for the University of London Union.

That year the carnival was to raise money in support of the World University Service and its work with black students in South Africa. Irving produced a magazine but secretly inserted some extra inner pages. In these he is said to have defended Apartheid, included racist and sexist jokes and cartoons, claimed that Hitler's regime was 'the first great unifying force that Europe had known for six hundred years', and reprinted material from Oswald Mosley's journal Action.2

News of what he was up to leaked out of the Imperial College Union press room where the magazine was being set up, but Irving managed to get the copy as far as the printers before it was found and destroyed. People at the college were genuinely shocked by what had happened. The Rector, who expressed outrage, avoided the embarrassment of what to do next when Irving failed his exams and had to leave.3

While racist jokes were rare in student publications of this period, sexist jokes and articles were still acceptable. It would appear that the only people who objected to the Spring 1958 issue of The Phoenix edited by Irving), which by today's standards was outright sexist, if not misogynist, were some women students. Judy Lemon wrote a spirited reply which was published in the following issue but her response was largely ignored.

By the time Brian Flowers became Rector in 1973 blatant sexism was no longer acceptable. Flowers led from the top in combatting it and in encouraging women to come to the college.4 By then times had changed, and students would have thought twice before making the kind of jokes in print that earlier had been unremarkable. However, life was not that comfortable for outspoken feminists....

1. Irving had come to the college as part of a new venture to attract good arts students into the sciences. These students were given instruction during their first year at the college designed to allow them to enter regular first year science courses in their second year. This experiment was abandoned after a few years.

2. Quotation in Felix, 6 May 1959. Information on the content of the >missing pages is taken from issues of Felix in the same period. Irving's actions were a hot topic for several weeks.

3. Irving's love affair with Hitler was evident already when he was a student, though at the time he appears to have been viewed simply as a crank, albeit an intelligent one. On failing his exams, Irving did not immediately leave the area but continued working as a labourer on the new physics building site, something he had already been doing for about a year.

4. In 1975 about 10% of the student body of approximately 4000 students were omen.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Defending the BBC...

Some readers have defended the BBC for leaving the post referred to in the previous post up on its website. They say that the post is only critical of Zionism, what's wrong with that?

Well the post doesn't just criticize Zionism. It's antisemitic and is full of misstatements of truth [i.e. lies]. Let me quote it in full:
Zionism is a racist ideology where jews [sic] are given supremacy over all other races and faiths. This is found in the Talmud. There is a law called Baba Mezia which allows jews to lie as long as its to non-jews. Many pro jewish supporters will cringe at this being exposed because they know it exists, yet they keep quiet about it, hey frip, jla and co [the aliases of other people taking part in the discussion]. The Law of Baba Mezia!! Tsk tsk tsk! It's in the Talmud."
This is classic antisemitism. Only thing new about it is that instead of attacking Judaism it replaces Judaism with Zionism.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The BBC stands firm on antisemitism..

Even the media outside of the UK has covered the BBC's major problems this past week. First it was a trailer on a movie about the queen which made it look like the queen had stormed out of a photo shoot with Annie Leibowitz [she did not]. The BBC apologized.

Now it turns out that the BBC has been fixing the way certain quiz shows come up by rigging the calls and the votes.

Therefore, the following story should not come as a surprise. The BBC received a blatantly antisemitic post on it website citing how the Talmud supposedly makes it OK to cheat non-Jews.

This attack on the Talmud is, by the way, is an increasingly popular theme in antisemitic literature. It's not new but it used to be just the province of the crackpots... no more.

According to the BBC's own rules
"posts that are removed include ones that are considered likely to disrupt, provoke attack or offend others or are considered racist, homophobic, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable."
Despite this policy the BBC refused to remove the post. I guess antisemitism is so common in the BBC's world that it's no longer objectionable...

It did however trip over itself to apologize for referring to Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Thank God for that....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

On Sarajevo and genocide: Some reflections from home

This past week was a remarkable learning experience. I met fascinating people doing fascinating work on various aspects of genocide. I realize that there is much I have yet to learn but I walk away with one overriding conviction.

Scholars must do scholarship. Politicians and ideologues can do ideology and politics, but scholars must concentrate on scholarship and let the facts lead them where they may.

This is true whether it is in reference to the Holocaust, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia among a myriad of other places. Scholars must be allowed to ask tough questions and to follow the facts. There will always be differences of opinion on how the facts should be interpreted but the facts must never be shaped to fit a particular outcome.

Sometimes scholars might ask questions which seem to suggest that they are diminishing the suffering of a particular group or are suggesting that it was the group's "fault." In fact, they might be doing what scholars do: asking uncomfortable questions.

For example, let's say a genocide occures in the wake of a group declaring its independence when the group in question did not have the power to protect its people. In response to its declaration of independence it's people get massacred and genocide is committed against them.

The group which declared its independence explains that it thought the world would not let such a thing happen and expected the world organizations [e.g UN and NATO] to come to their defense. The organizations, not surprisingly, fail to do so and genocide occurs.

Who's at fault?

I don't think such a scenario in any manner, shape, or form diminishes the horror of genocide or the complete guilt of those who committed the act. They have done something for which they carry full responsibility and should be punished accordingly.

However it does leave open the quesion: does the independence declaring group carry some responsibility? Can we fault the leaders who acted in this manner without sounding as if we are in some way condoning the genocide?

Nor should scholarly findings be determined by vote. That's just nuts.

The Palestinian Mickey Mouse may be dead but the bumble bee carries on

According to a MEMRI dispatch, Farfour the mouse who was killed by an Israeli who wanted his land, has been replaced by Nahoul, a bumble bee who is apparently Farfour's cousin [cousi?... don't ask after all it is a children's show... or at least supposed to be one].

Should be endlessly fascinating.

The Guardian's report on ICA debate

For a report on the ICA debate in London on EU law's against genocide denial see today's Guardian website.

Monday, July 16, 2007

From London: Article in Spiked magazine

I have a short piece in today's Spiked about the issue to be debated tonight.

Monday 16 July 2007
Denial should be defeated by facts, not laws
In the run-up to a debate in London tonight, the American warrior against Holocaust denial explains why she’s opposed to censoring deniers.

Deborah Lipstadt

When an editor at the Washington Post heard that I oppose laws criminalising Holocaust and, by extension, genocide denial, he observed: ‘Now that’s a “man bites dog” story.’

His surprise is shared by many people who hear my view. These folks expect that, given the six-year legal battle to which British historian David Irving subjected me for calling him a Holocaust denier, I would be a strong proponent for such laws. The legal battle was exceptionally costly and it seriously disrupted my life.

Irving and his fellow deniers are liars and falsifiers of truth when it comes to the Holocaust and even to other aspects of history – for example, the bombing of Dresden. This alone makes some people think his outrageous claims should be outlawed.

Regarding Irving, who seems to me to love to say the outrageous, and his version of so-called history, the judge who presided over our legal battle – Judge Charles Gray – was unambiguous. In his judgment he used the following terms: ‘perverts’, ‘distorts’, ‘misleading’, ‘unjustified’, ‘travesty’, and ‘unreal’, and said his ‘falsification of the historical record was deliberate’.

So why not silence Irving and his compatriots? First of all, I believe in free speech. In the United States, the First Amendment guarantees people a right to make total fools of themselves. Sometimes it is painful to hear, but I would rather they had the freedom to say what they wished than the government had the power to control them.

Furthermore, I do not believe that laws against denial are strategically wise. They tend to make martyrs of the accused, arousing sympathy for them. They also render the item which has been outlawed ‘forbidden fruit’. Thus it becomes more enticing and appealing to certain segments of society – disaffected youth, for example.

Most importantly, however, genocide denial laws suggest that we do not have the facts and the documentation to prove that these people are liars. We defeated David Irving in court not with law but with facts. We followed his footnotes and demonstrated that, in the words of Professor Richard Evans, Irving’s work on the Holocaust was a ‘tissue of lies’.

Our defeat of Irving is a far more powerful commentary on his work because it is rooted in the facts and did not occur under the cover of a general law outlawing Holocaust denial. I was, of course, quite lucky in that I had a magnificent legal team and group of historical experts.

The effort was long and quite costly. (Though certainly not as costly as David Irving likes to claim it was. I recently spotted an estimate of six million dollars on his webpage. Notice, of course, his choice of number. This is complete fiction and his form of ridicule.) I was able to mount a vigorous defence. Irving’s reputation as a person with something of value to say about the Holocaust was left in tatters.

Ironically, none of this would have happened had the UK had laws outlawing Holocaust denial.

I shudder at the thought that politicians might be given the power to legislate history. They can hardly fix the potholes in our streets. How can we expect them to decide what is the proper version of history?

Let me add two caveats. I believe quite strongly that those who engage in incitement – which is often the object of denial – and lead others to engage in acts of violence should not be granted a shield of protection by the law. Some people throw stones. Others use words to encourage people to throw stones. Both are equally guilty.

Secondly, I fully understand why countries such as Germany and Austria, the countries which spawned the Holocaust, would have laws against Holocaust denial. The geographic context in which something is said is of crucial importance. The swastika or denial of the Holocaust has a different resonance in Atlanta than it does in Berlin or Vienna.

I know this may be inconsistent, but I am reminded of what the American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote many years ago: ‘A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.’

I write this from Sarajevo. Today, a professor, who happens to be a Serb, told me that she believes laws against genocide denial are necessary in this region: denying the horrors that took place here in the mid-1990s should be illegal, at least for the near future. She argued that this is a region in which the ‘rule of law’ has never been imposed justly, fairly, and democratically. A law outlawing denial of the genocide and crimes against humanity which occurred in this region would give people that faith and prevent them from trying to find other ways of seeking justice.

I don’t agree with these positions; however, I recognise that I say these things in the luxury of my American university or, as I will on Monday evening, in the confines of London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. It can be different when one has an ‘up close and personal’ perspective on these outrages.

Ultimately, our objective should be to create a society where denial of genocide is seen as so outrageous and so despicable that anyone who engages in it would be rendered a pariah.

Deborah E Lipstadt is Dorot Professor at Emory University and the author of History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving, published by Ecco 2005.

She is speaking in the debate Should Genocide Denial Be An Offence? at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in central London at 7pm this evening (Monday, 16 July). Other speakers include David Cesarani, research professor in history at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and author of Eichmann: His Life and Crimes; Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent and author of Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right; and Francesca Klug, professorial research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE, and author of Values for a Godless Age. For more information, click here.

Previously on spiked

Brendan O’Neill interviewed Deborah Lipstadt about European proposals to outlaw genocide denial. Frank Furedi said that laws against genocide denial were a really bad idea. Nathalie Rothschild argued that bans on Israeli academics are censorship in disguise. Josie Appleton argued that accusations of ‘fascism’ are used to shut down debate. Brendan O’Neill said that the use and abuse of the g-word in international affairs has given rise to a new game: Pimp My Genocide. Or read more at spiked issue Free speech.

reprinted from:

From London: Tonight at the ICA [Institute for Contemporary Art]

I shall be participating in a debate this evening at 7 p.m. at the ICA in London. From the ICA's website:

A new EU directive has made "publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes" an offence which is punishable by law.

Should deniers of genocide be allowed to propagate lies and historical distortions when these distortions are designed to instigate violence? Does the proposed EU-wide legislation confuse the role of the judge and the historian, is such a ban workable, and what are the legal and philosophical implications of its passage into law?

Speakers: Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot professor of modern Jewish and holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta, defendant in the David Irving vs Penguin and Lipstadt case and author of History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier; David Cesarani, research professor in history at Royal Holloway College, University of London and author of Eichmann: His Life and Crimes; Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent and author of Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right; Francesca Klug, professorial research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE, and author of Values for a Godless Age.

Tickets: You can book tickets here or get them at the door.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

From Sarajevo: A survivor of the siege reflects on his experience

Dzido, a young Bosniak [Muslim] who was here for part of the siege and was then a teenager, reflected for me about what happened here. He told me that in his apartment block there lived two Serbs who worked in the national bakery.

During the siege it became exceptionally dangerous to stand on bread lines or to gather at places where food could be found because these places became targets for shells and bombs.

These two Serbs would bring food back to the apartment each evening to save the other inhabitants of the building [most of whom were Bosnia Muslims] from subjecting themselves to danger. His story and so many others reflect the fact that this was a city that was really integrated.

On Monday night I was interviewed by one of the most well known newscasters here. She was described to me as the Christine Amanpour of Bosnia. She's a Serb. The deputy commander of the forces which defended this city was a Serb.

Eventually he was evacuated out of the city with his family because he needed medical treatment. He was rescued [evacuated] by the Jewish community -- whom he describes as
"more Sarajevian than the rest of the Sarajevians... After all they have been here longer"
He says that when he asked why are you helping me he was told:
"You are a Sarajevian. We are Sarajevians. And we won't forget how we were helped in the 1940s."
My point is that Jews, Moslems, and Serbs lived together. There may well have been tension but there was also real integration. Lots of young people told me they dated people from the other group and did not give it a second thought.

As a student of the Holocaust it seems to me that, just as it is important to focus on the horrors and to tell that story, it is also important to make people understand that there was another way in which people lived before the war.

There was a time in the 1970s and early 1980s when survivors of the Holocaust were a bit hesitant about focusing on the story of the rescuers. One said to me: "Won't that make other people think that everyone was a rescuer when, in fact, rescuers were few and far between"

I responded that no, I did not think that would be the case. Rather, I said, it will show that the answer sometimes given about the reaction of bystanders in Europe to the Holocaust: "There was nothing they could do," is simply not true. There was a choice to do otherwise and some people made it... at great risk to themselves and their family.

So too in this troubled region. There were and are people who have made choices to break the mold of distrust and hostility. In Sarajevo they made that choice for many many years.

Dzido told me that when he met some foreigners in the old city of Sarajevo they asked him if before the war there were separate restaurants and cafes to which Muslims and Serbs frequented. [She did not mean by law but by custom]. Dzido said to me:
"I looked at her like she was crazy. We were all Sarejavians. We are all Sarejavians."
He is a compelling young man and over dinner on my last night here, he said:
"After what I went through what is most important to me in life are human relationships."
It seems well worth remembering.

From Sarajevo: A Kurdistani and a Turk

Ragip Zarakolu, the wonderfully sweet and incredibly brave Turkish publisher, [who publishes books on the Armenian genocide] with Choman Hardi, the talented and passionate Kurdistani [who reminded me of something so important]

It happened here... If only it could happen elsewhere.

Friday, July 13, 2007

From Sarajevo: The gassing of the Kurds... a form of denial

Today I learned something very important. I learned that I had been complicit in a form of denial.

In my talk at the meeting of the International Association of Scholars of Genocide I spoke about the relationship between study of the Holocaust and other genocides. I mentioned some of the recent post-World War II genocides, among them Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebenica, and Darfur.

A very compelling woman, Choman Hardi, whom I had met the day before came to the microphone. I knew that she was from Kurdistan, had left at the time of the gassing of the Kurds by Sadaam, moved with her parents to Germany, and then to London. She has received her Ph.D. there from the University of Canterbury and has just completed a post-doc.

She asked why was it that every time we listed various other genocides we neglected to mention the gassing of the Kurds at Anfall where countless thousands were slaughtered.

This gassing, which was made possible in measure by western corporations which sold Sadaam the raw materials he needed, is one of the great atrocities of the post-WWII period.

Yet we hardly ever mention it.

Why? I don't know but I am thinking about it..... And I have resolved not to commit this omission or, shall we say, denial in the future.

From Sarajevo: On meeting an exceptionally brave man who puts his life on the line in the name of truth and memory

Ragip Zarakolu is a Turkish publisher whose company, Belge Publishing, has published books on the Armenian genocide. It was an honor to meet him and one prays for his welfare.

People with views such as his have not fared well in Turkey in recent years.

Among the books he translates and publishes are those by Peter Balakian of Colgate College, who is known for his work on the Armenian genocide. I strongly recommend his work to you.

From Sarajevo: On meeting a real hero who put his job on the line and lost or... won

One of the participants in this conference is a man named John Evans. A long time State Department employee who served in many important posts including American Ambassador to Armenia.

Apparently he was much beloved in this country and went everywhere without a guard or entourage.

Then, about six months after taking up his post, he went to a conference in Berkeley and spoke about the "genocide of the Armenians." Despite the fact that President Reagan has used the same term, Evans had contradicted current State Department policy.

He told the State Department what he did and lost his job as a result [not immediately but clearly as a result]. He is now writing a book about this.

I hope it sees the light of day in the near future.

History on Trial named "Blog of Note"

I forgot to post that this blog was named a "Blog of Note" late last month. It's a gratifying development.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

From Sarajevo: Scenes from the synagogue and the Jewish cemetey

This is the only remaining functioning synagogue in Sarajevo. It's Ashkenazi but the prayers are according to the Sephardic tradition with some Ladino [Judeo-Spanish]. The design and architecture shows, as do so many synagogues world over, the influence of the architecture of those in whose midst Jews live.

The other synagogue was built in 1521. Today it is a newly refurbished museum. This picture is taken from relatively new upper level built in 1821.

The community actually had good relations with all groups. As one Bosniak [Bosnian Muslim] said to me: The Jews are more Sarajevian than most people from Sarajevo. They have been here longer.

The Jewish community is lead by a fascinating man, Jakob Finci. He is the first member of his family not to be born in Sarajevo in 350 years. [He was born in an Italian concentration camp after his family was deported from Sarajevo. He talked about the relations the Jewish community has had with Serbs, Muslims, and Croats. During the recent war the community was caught in between.

He has dreams of some sort of reconciliation effort along the lines of what happened in South Africa, though he recognizes that religious differences make it more complicated. He pointed out that Willy Brandt, who went to Warsaw and fell on his knees in an act of contrition, had spent most of the war in Norway, i.e. he did not have anything to personally apologize for.

So too, it is necessary to find those who have committed crimes and wrongs [on all sides] and for them to engage in reconciliation. I told him that I thought it was way too early to try this.... but who knows? Right now the history seems to real and too raw.

In the hills above Sarajevo is the Jewish cemetery. During the recent war it was used by snipers from both sides [Serbian and Bosniak (Muslim)] to shoot at the city below. The reason is obvious. From it you have a very clear shot right to the center of the city and to the area that became known as "Sniper's Alley. The yellow building you see is the Holiday Inn, built for the Olympics, but famous during the war because many journalists stayed there and it was virtually destroyed.

It was mined heavily and was only recently returned to the Jewish community after being 98.2% de-mined. Nothing, Jakob Finci was told, is 100%.

It contains some distinctive tombstones which are so old that their inscriptions are virtually unreadable.

From Sarajevo: One sign says it all

In front of the Gazi Husrev-Bergs mosque in the old city of Sarajevo there is a sign informing you what you cannot do inside. It's a commentary on the history of this city.

In case you cannot decipher the symbols I have printed a large shot below:

NO: loud talking, smoking, cellphoning, MACHINE GUNS, pets, bikes, short skirts [or as some observors said: sexy blond ladies], eating, or snuggling.

Machine guns....

From Srebrenica 2007: A mass funeral

Srebrenica July 11 2007: A mass funeral and a remembrance of things not so past.

[photos by Joshua Clark]

Some of the caskets waiting to be hoisted on the shoulders of family and then passed through the crowds on the way to their graves. Sometimes the caskets only contain a portion of the body because skeletal remains were reburied and, in the course of so doing, were destroyed. Over 400 of these were buried.

Moslem women standing near the memorial which lists the names of people who were the victims of this genocide.

From Srebrenica: A mass grave

This particular grave, according to what we were told by those in charge of the project, was a "secondary" grave, i.e. the bodies were reburied here in a place where the remains would be less easily discovered. Hence the bodies are not whole and often families receive remains over a number of years as they are identified.

[Pictures by Joshua D. Clark]

From Srebrenica: On attending a mass funeral and seeing a mass grave

We spent the day in Srebrenica, together with thousands of others, to mark the anniversary of the day on which Bosnian Serbs took control [actually the Dutch UN so-called peacekeeping forces gave it to them] of a large number of Bosniaks [Bosnian Muslims] and then preceded to take the men and boys and massacre them.

We began with a visit to a mass grave that is being excavated so that the bones can be DNA analyzed, returned to the family, and then properly buried. After that we went to the memorial site in Srebrenica and attended the funeral of over 450 people.

As you will see in the pictures, the coffins [covered in green cloth] are carried by family members [if there are any] and passed through the crowd. They were then buried by the family in plots which had been prepared.

On the way to the event I reread Samantha Power's chapter on this topic. It is a chilling reminder of how the world -- including the United States of America -- fiddled as this horror took place.

While there have been larger killings [in terms of numbers, e.g. Rwanda] in recent years, it is particularly mind boggling to think that this could occur in Europe adjacent to the European powers 40 years after the Holocaust.

As I have said here before: Never again has become again and again and again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

From Sarajevo: Correction

Re the Carla del Ponte post: some other Serb leaders have been charged but they have not been brought to trial because they are on the lam [and are obviously being hidden].

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

From Sarajevo: Off to Srebrenica

We go today to Srebrenica for the commemoration of the 1995 massacres. A number of bodies have been exhumed and will be reburied. This was the largest mass killing in Europe since World War II. More later.

From Sarajevo: Carla del Ponte

We are gathered to listen to Carla del Ponte, the Chief Prosecutor at the ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia). She is the one who prosecuted Milosevic.

She is a bit of a controversial figure here in BBosnia and Herzegovina. There are those who are upset with her that only Milosevic was charged and not the many others who participated in the tragedies in this country, including at Srebrenica

Some people, I learned last night when I appeared on Bosnia's leading news show, are upset because they allege that she received some documents which she used in the case against Milosevic but which she did not allow to be used in a subsequent case brought by Bosnia against Serbia for the crime of genocide. [Some people believe she cut a deal with Serbia.]

A Ph.D. student at the university here just challenged her on this. She denied that she did it. She said quite clearly that the decision about the use of the documents this was made by the judges not her.

She also made another point which I do understand. She said that they received all sorts of documents "under the table." She was quite clear that, since she did not know the source or could not be sure they were genuine, they could not be used in court.

Others are upset that Milosevic was charged but those who worked closely with him, e.g. Karadzic, were not. Again, she strongly asserted that this was a decision made by the Security Council and not by her.

I can't comment on the specifics of these issues but I can say that these issues -- including whether genocide happened in Sarajevo itself and not just in Srebrenica -- are burning matters here. People’s pain is palpable.

Talk about the here and now-ness of history.

And tomorrow we go to Srebrenica for a reburial of some of the bodies which have recently been exhumed.

From Sarajevo: Listening to the President of Bosnia Herzegovina

I am sitting in a plenary session of the International Association of Genocide Scholars listening to the President of the country who has come to address us. His presence is indicative of how important it is to the country that this meeting is taking place here.

He began by noting that Serb leaders had made it clear before the killings that they were planning on killing Bosnian Muslims. It is striking that in so many cases of genocide and/or mass killings the perpetrators make their intentions clear, e.g. the Holocaust, Rwanda, and here.

Tomorrow we go to Sebrenica. It is the anniversary of the massacres there and some of the bodies which were left in ditches there have been exhumed and will be reburied.

I saw the film which will be part of the memorial at this site. There were many things about it which struck me. First and foremost, of course, the mass killings. The largest massacre in Europe since the Holocaust.

But, as someone who studies bystanders, I was absolutely floored by the behavior of the Dutch so-called peacekeepers who essentially walked away and left the Bosnian Muslims to a certain fate of death at the hands of the Serbs.

The Dutch alone were not responsible but a great measure of shame seems to fall on their shoulders.

Monday, July 9, 2007

From Sarajevo: Some comments on this blog

I will be posting some comments from Sarajevo shortly, however I wanted to let some of the people who have been sending me comments for this blog know why I have not been posting them.

I have been receiving some lengthy and detailed postings re matters in this region. They are full of information and detail with which I am not familiar. [I make no pretense of being an expert or even terribly well informed about the history of this region... though I am learning a tremendous amount.]

I do not want this blog to become a site for a debate about a topic which -- however important it is and it is importnat -- I am not an expert.

Therefore, I apologize but I won't be posting those comments.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Antisemitic cartoons in the Arab media

MEMRI has collected and published a series of horrifying cartoons in the Arab and Iranian media. Whatever one thinks about Middle East politics, it is impossible to ignore the highly antisemitic character of these drawings. Here are just two examples of many. The one on the left is from Jordan and the other is from Syria. The soldier is reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Off to Krakov and Sarajevo

I am leaving shortly for Krakov and Sarajevo for the meeting of the International Association of Scholars of Genocide. I will be blogging from there.

Monday, July 2, 2007

More on the murder of the Hamas Mickey Mouse look alike

I just watched the clip of the murder by an Israeli of Farfour on the MEMRI TV site. Farfour, the Hamas Mickey Mouse look alike, refused to give up his family's land for money. Seeing it is even more horrifying than reading about it.

The land that Farfour is protecting is in Tel Aviv. Farfour's grandfather tells him:
This land, which was [occupied] in 1948, is the land I inherited from my fathers and forefathers. I want you to protect it. It is a beautiful land, all covered in flowers and olive and palm trees. I want you to take care of it, Farfour.


I want you to safeguard this, Farfour. Keep this key with you. When the land is regained, use this key, Farfour.


Make sure you don't give up the land, Farfour.

[Grandfather dies]Farfour:Grandpa entrusted me with this great trust, but I don't know how to liberate this land from the filth of the criminal, plundering Jews, who killed my grandpa and everybody.
Then Farfour is interrogated and beaten by the Israeli official for refusing to give him the documents to the land even though the Israelis are willing to pay him for them:
Farfour: These are the land documents which my grandpa entrusted to me, so that I would safeguard them and use them to liberate Jerusalem. When the lands are liberated, we will go and live there. Give them to you? My grandpa didn't tell me to give them to you.


Farfour: I won't give them to criminal despicable terrorists.
The show closes with the young sweet host Saraa saying:
Yes, my dear children, we have lost our dearest friend, Farfour. Farfour was martyred while defending his land, the land of his fathers and his forefathers. He was martyred at the hand of the criminals, the murderers, the murderers of innocent children.
These are potential peace partners?? Next time I hear about a young person volunteering to be a terrorist I won't be surprised.

Should deniers' books be removed from libraries?

I received the following email today. The subject line read Irving's books:
I would very much value your opinion on whether one should formally seek to have one's regional and local libraries remove all of the above books from their shelves. On the one hand and certainly on a personal level I would like to see them purged along with Irving. On the other hand should they be available for educated readers to see for themselves how history... has been the subject of misrepresentation and fraud.

Of course there will always be those who because of ignorance will read his Dresden account and not be aware of its falsity and reliance on Nazi misinformation....Best regards, Mitchell S. Toms River, N.J.
I told him that I am, in principle, opposed to removing books from libraries. I don't believe in censorship.

Furthermore, I think that is a slippery slope that can lead to all sorts of worthy books being removed from libraries, e.g. Diary of Anne Frank. A good solution would be to place denial books such as Butz’s Hoax of the 20th Century and some of Irving’s books placed in a section called Holocaust Fallacies and Falsehoods.

The Library of Congress actually does that with a category Holocaust, Jewish 1939-1945—errors, inventions, etc. John Drobnicki, a university librarian, has written a thoughtful article on the question of whether libraries should have this material in their collections.

Bottom line is that I am against censorship. Censorship is what David Irving tried to do to me when he sued me for libel. Remember he offered to settle with me if I agreed to shred my books.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


More thoughts on the Neturei Karta so-called rabbis at the Iran Holocaust denial conference.....

Makes me wonder what the so-called rabbi was really doing in Tehran... Maybe Professor Dossa can enlighten us. Of course his reports on the conference have not been too trustworthy.