Thursday, August 30, 2007

David Irving on Aussie TV: What went wrong?

Seems that Australia's biggest pay TV station aired a biography of Hitler based on David Irving's work. The station was alerted after the first segment and pulled the show with deepest apologies.

A couple of questions come to mind:
1. Either someone had to have known what this show was all about and chose it deliberately, putting one over on the higher ups in the station

2. Or, and I favor this theory since the first one is a bit too conspiratorial for my tastes, this is how denial stuff makes it into the mainstream. It's what I have been saying since I wrote Denying the Holocaust, it camouflages itself as respectable scholarly literature and/or documentaries and people who don't have a background fall for it.

Now that is far more scary than a conspiracy.

Well, I am in South Africa in the bush and am off to see some [more] lions, elephants, zebras and the like.... Away from the other stuff that takes up most of my time... what a momentary relief.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Armenian Genocide: Turkey's Ambassador to Israel raises the ante

Yet another post about the Armenian Genocide. In a compelling and frightening interview given to the Jerusalem Post, Turkey's Ambassador to Israel has made it crystal clear that he expects Israel to "deliver" the ADL and other Jewish organization on the Armenian Genocide issue.

Turkey expects Israel and the organization to ensure that the US Congress does not pass the resolution characterizing as genocide the massacre of Armenians during World War I.

The Ambassador said:
"Israel should not let the [US] Jewish community change its position. This is our expectation and this is highly important, highly important.... If you want to touch and hurt the hearts of the people in Turkey, this is the issue... This is the No. 1 issue. You cannot easily explain to them any change in this."

He also told the Post that "in the eyes of the Turkish people, Tan said, his country's strategic relationship with Israel was not with Israel alone, but with the whole Jewish world. 'They [the Turkish people] cannot make that differentiation,'"

This is simply mind boggling. Let me enumerate what leaves me speechless here:
1. Turkey resolute fight against acknowledging the genocide. Doesn't Turkey realize that the world is upset less by the genocide [it's used to those things] than by Turkey's denial. [It's weird but true.]

2. Turkey's assumption that Israel can determine whether the resolution passes or not.

3. How in Turkey's mind Israel says jump and American Jews will jump. It just does not work that way. [I hate to disappoint the antisemites who see as all organized in one giant conspiracy but it just ain't so]

4. While Turkey threatened to cut off French investments in Turkey when it passed a law outlawing Armenian genocide denial, it did not raise the stakes the way it is doing now.

And, as I have said before, who says history does not have contemporary relevance???

Monday, August 27, 2007

Armenian Genocide: Turkey pressures Israel to pressure ADL

Seems that, according to the JTA, the Turks are pressuing Israel to get the ADL to reverse its reversal on the Armenian genocide. I hope that this will not happen.

It would be nice if the Turks recognized that the best way for them to deal with this is to admit that it happened and declare this fight over. Oh, could they learn from Germany's behavior.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Armenian Genocide: Statement by Scholars

A few years ago, in the face of the Turkish government's efforts to set up chairs at American universities -- such as it did at Princeton for Heath Lowry -- a group of scholars signed a statement regarding the Armenian genocide.

It's worth reading.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Armenian genocide: Ambassador John Evans [who lost his job because he spoke of the genocide] makes statement

I heard from my new friend, Ambassador John Evans, who was fired by the State Department from his position as American Ambassador to Armenia because he referred to the Armenian genocide.

Ambassador Evans has issued the following statement regarding the ADL and American Jewish Committee's change of position regarding the Armenian genocide.
The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League have done the right thing to describe the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire using the historically accurate term, which is "genocide." And AJC Director David Harris is also right to say that "engagement, not avoidance, is the best strategy." Treating the issue of the Armenian Genocide as a taboo does not get us -- Armenians, Turks or Americans -- anywhere, but only perpetuates a long-standing stalemate and generates further bitterness. The issue needs to be faced squarely and honestly for the good of all, and for the future stability of the region.
John M. Evans
U.S. Ambassador to Armenia
Hats off to him for doing so.

Armenian genocide: ADL reverses its stand

So this morning I posted something about the ADL-Watertown, Ma.- Armenian controversy. I posted it in great sadness because I thought the position taken by the ADL was so wrong.

And a few hours later, the JTA reports that, in a sign that people and organizations sometimes still do the right thing, the ADL has issued a statement acknowledging that what was done to the Armenians constitutes a genocide and there is no need for historians to determine that fact.

The organization still opposes a resolution, a position with which I disagree. On that reasonable people can take different positions. On the tragedy that was perpetrated against the Armenians there is far less room for that.

This was the right thing to do and it is only too bad that it had to happen in the first place.

BTW, I am not suggesting that my posting is what changed Abe Foxman's mind. My guess is that it was, in the main, his conversation with Elie Wiesel and the chorus of criticisms that came from so many people in the field, myself included.

The statement, which was issued by Abe Foxman, says:

In light of the heated controversy that has surrounded the Turkish-Armenian issue in recent weeks, and because of our concern for the unity of the Jewish community at a time of increased threats against the Jewish people, ADL has decided to revisit the tragedy that befell the Armenians.

We have never negated but have always described the painful events of 1915-1918 perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as massacres and atrocities. On reflection, we have come to share the view of Henry Morgenthau, Sr. that the consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide.

Who says history belongs to the past?: Armenian genocide, the ADL, and Watertown, Mass.

I have been a bit slow in posting about a controversy that is roiling Watertown Mass. and parts beyond. Seems that ADL wanted to bring its highly praised program "No Room for Hate" to Watertown. [For more background see the JTA article by Ben Harris.]

Watertown is also the home to a very large Armenian population and they are understandably upset -- to put it mildly -- about the Congress' failure to pass a bill which recognizes the Armenian genocide.

Not surprisingly, Turkey is vehemently opposed to this resolution. And, as I have discussed before, some of the leading American Jewish organizations are not supporting it either. They seem to be echoing the Turkish argument that this is a matter for the historians not the politicians.

It hurts to see the Jewish organizations take this stance. My guess -- and it's really more than a guess -- that the Turks have made it quite clear that if they value Turkey's relationship with Israel and the well being of the Turkish Jewish community they should not support the bill. There is also growing concern in the Jewish community that, as Turkey becomes more overtly Muslim, Turkish Jews and the relationship with Israel will suffer. So many folks are on edge.]

[I had a small encounter of this nature a couple of years ago in Australia when I was there for Limmud. I was scheduled to participate in a panel on genocide denial. The other presenter was Professor Ronald Grigor Suny of the University of Chicago. He was to present on Armenian genocide denial. Both the Limmud organizers and the Armenian community were excited about this event. The Turkish consulate in Sydney tried to quietly shut the program down with some heavy handed insinuations to the organizers about "Turkey's support of Israel" and questions such as, "has Israel's policy towards Turkey changed?" The Limmud organizers did not bend.]

I regret the fact that Watertown will not bring the ADL program but I understand their decision. Some people in the Jewish community have argued that the program is so valuable bring it anyway. Separate the two issues.

Yet in the Jewish community there have been those who have refused to do this when it concerns antisemitism. Ironically, it was the ADL which turned down an alliance with Russell Simmons, who has spoken out forcefully against antisemitism, because of his support of Louis Farrakhan, an avowed antisemite.

Regarding the Armenian genocide, in a less than fortuitous choice of phrasing, Abe Foxman, National Director of the ADL, told the JTA:
"This is not an issue where we take a position one way or the other. This is an issue that needs to be resolved by the parties, not by us. We are neither historians nor arbiters."
When asked by the JTA to comment on the Armenian genocide, I said:
"It's not a matter of debate. There is an overwhelming consensus among historians that work in this area that there is no question that this is a genocide. You can't deny this history."
The issue has been further complicated by the recent firing of the ADL Boston office director for his criticism of the ADL national office for its position on the Armenian genocide. He called the stance of the national office "morally indefensible."

I hope the ADL leadership can sit down with the Armenian community and listen to them on this issue. A good start would be to read this week's op-ed by Alan Dershowitz and Massachusetts State Representative Ruth Kaprielian.

If you want to feel the Armenian community's reaction just change "Armenian genocide" to "Holocaust" in the some of the statements which have been made. We would have been -- and rightfully so -- livid.

Can we expect anything else from the Armenians?

Of course, as Jews and Armenians go at each other the Turks sit by and watch [after having played their hand behind the scene.]

What a tragedy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

David Irving's Reality Check [2]: There is a judgment against me in the UK

David Irving gets weirder and weirder. Now he is telling people that there is a judgment against me and that if I showed up in the UK I would be jailed. As he recently wrote to a correspondent:
Professor Lipstadt knows very well why she does not give advance notice of her public appearances in England. If you cannot work it out, then ask her the reason. She knows (hint: there's a cell in Holloway waiting for her; or perhaps it should be Pentonville - one can never be too sure nowadays). If you don't believe it, invite her to give me formal notice when she next plans to visit. She won't.
Problem is that I have been in the UK numerous times. All my visits have been well publicized -- maybe just not on the websites Irving frequents -- and miracle of miracles no one has come to arrest or detain me.....

The fact is that there is no judgment of any sort against me. Moreover, David Irving is lucky I chose NOT to pursue him for the funds it cost to mount my defense.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

David Irving's own reality: Deborah Lipstadt snuck into London

A friend spotted the following post on Irving's website:
Deborah Lipstadt sneaked into London and spoke Monday at the ICA | David Irving urged a warm welcome to the scholar
I guess that goes to prove that Irving has not been reading my blog where I announced that I was coming or the ICA website which had a post on the evening for at least a month beforehand

That man lives in his own reality world... but I knew that already.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Springtime for Hitler (2): Some (more sober) thoughts on the previous post

While the mother's comments about teaching students to not "judge" Hitler were pretty mind boggling, one should certainly not assume that this is actually what is happening. We don't know if she heard this first hand from the teacher or from her son or was simply trying to cover up an embarrassing moment.

Then again given the idiocy that goes on in so many schools, it's possible that it is, as Brits would say, spot on.