Sunday, September 30, 2007

As predicted: Denier Fredrich Berg attacks Irving's epiphany

As I predicted, the attacks from his fellow deniers on David Irving have begun. Here's the latest from Holocaust denier Friedrich Berg on Irving's "new' views on Holocaust [a term he won't use]l Berg's comments appeared on alt.revisionism:
Before David Irving was wrongfully imprisoned in Austria a few years ago, he said that he only believed there were some "experimental" gassings and gave no further details.

Now according to a story in The Guardian he seems to have changed his tune and believes 2.4 million Jews may have been exterminated in three camps in Poland. Those camps, according to the story about Irving, were Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.

According to traditional holocaust mania, those camps all supposedly used diesel exhaust as the source of carbon monoxide.
Has imprisonment simply made Irving more compliant toward the established version of the great hoax?

Got some details, Mr. Irving? How about it, Mr. Irving?
Oliver Kamm, [about whose column in the London Times on how Kurt Vonnegut got the Bombing of Dresden so wrong -- he relied on David Irving's account-- I have commented before] has blogged about Irving's new views on events of the Holocaust.

It's well worth reading... though its title says it all "Irving, the unsinkable rubber duck."

David Irving: He's Back .... but does it really matter??? [except to deniers... who aren't going to like it]

According to the Guardian, David Irving, whom it described in a headline as "Discredited" is planning a "comeback" speaking tour. [The paper also described him as a "Historian"... though I can't say why].

What Irving has to say will not make deniers happy.

First, of course, he engages in his traditional antisemitism, telling the paper that
"the Jews were responsible for what happened to them during the second world war and that the 'Jewish problem' was responsible for nearly all the wars of the past 100 years: "The Jews are the architects of their own misfortune, but that is the short version A-Z. Between A-Z there are then 24 other characters in intervening steps."

His rant reminds me of statements by someone he seems to lionize, Hitler, in that he blames Jews for every war in the last 100 years. [Korea? Iran-Iraq? Eritreia-Ethiopia? Somalia?]

But what he says about the Holocaust is really going to upset his denier pals:
"that a document, which he is 80% sure is genuine, suggests that 2.4 million Jews were killed in Poland, but goes on to claim that the gas chamber at Auschwitz was fake. "

Even as he says that at Sobibor, Belzec, and Treblinka about 2.4 million Jews were killed by men in control of Heinrich Himmler, he whitewashes the Germans by claiming that the killers were "mostly Ukrainian mercenaries."

Pressed to say whether he now accepted that there had been a Holocaust [I am not sure why what he accepts or does not is important] he engages in one of his traditional antisemitic swipes by saying he was "not going to use their trade name."

Then apparently still finding it necessary to protect Hitler, he claims the German leaders was "completely in the dark" about the programme.

The fact is that David Irving has made so many twists and turns in his claims that even I, who is pretty familiar with them all, has a hard time keeping track of them all.

The only way he gets attention is by swerving in one direction and then the other.

I wonder if this acknowledgment would have gotten him dis-invited from the Iran denial conference had he not been in jail in Austria....

He has truly become, as I describe him in History on Trial, the court Jester.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ahmadinejad was at Colubmia: An Iranian gay has surfaced

I just received a comment from Orac that should be highlighted as a post
Did Ahmadinejad know that last year's International Mr. Gay Competition had an Iranian contestant?

Turns out he lost the competition. The Israeli won. Don't you know those Jews would engineer even that??????

Ahmadinejad WAS at Columbia [16]: The Chronicle of Higher Education offers a sample of reactions [including from this blog]

The Chronical of Higher Education included my comments on Ahmadinejad's appearance in its roundup of various opinions.

Opinion: A Sampling of Views on the University's Choice and Monday's Encounter

Even before he stepped on the campus of Columbia University on Monday, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had become the focus of a firestorm of controversy from those who objected to the university's giving him a platform to speak. Once there, Mr. Ahmadinejad faced hostile attacks -- not the least from Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia's president -- about his views on the future of Israel, human rights and academic freedom in Iran, and the Holocaust (see article). Following is a sampling of views about the Iranian leader's visit, before and after:

Mr. Bollinger: To those who believe that this event should never have happened, that it is inappropriate for the university to conduct such an event, I want to say that I understand your perspective and respect it as reasonable. ... As one of the more famous quotations about free speech goes, it is "an experiment, as all life is an experiment." ... This is the right thing to do and, indeed, it is required by existing norms of free speech, the American university, and Columbia itself. (Comments before introducing Mr. Ahmadinejad on Monday)

Joe Klein, columnist: This was a terrific event. Columbia President Lee Bollinger totally, and very effectively, trashed the guy in his introduction. I would have liked a sharper question on the Holocaust: What specifically do you think is incomplete about the current research? Do you believe that six million Jews were killed? What do you think further research might reveal? And how to do you evaluate Adolf Hitler as a national leader? Bottom line: This sort of freedom always works to our benefit. Those who screeched that an Ahmadinejad appearance would be terrible, a travesty of something or other, seem sort of silly now. (Actually, I thought they seemed sort of silly before.) (Swampland, Time)

Jonah Goldberg, columnist: I was against the invitation, I still am. I am no great fan of Bollinger's. But I must give credit where due. His opening statement is about as hard-hitting and tough as one could hope for. This may still be a debacle, but there's a possible benefit more plausible than I imagined just minutes before this began. If the video of Bollinger's statement is distributed throughout the Middle East in general and Iran in particular, it could have a very positive effect. Time will tell. (The Corner, National Review Online)

Deborah E. Lipstadt, Emory University: Bollinger was first rate. He told [Ahmadinejad] his Holocaust denial makes him ridiculous. He attacked him for his persecution of scholars, women, and dissenters. He called him to account for his threats to destroy Israel. It was powerful, and it was moving. If this event had to happen, this was the best beginning possible.

I am sure there will be those who will critique Bollinger for being so hard-hitting. I say bravo, but also dissent from his attempt to say this appearance is a fundamental reflection of free speech. As soon as Ahmadinejad began to speak, it was clear that he was not prepared for such a statement. He made it sound like he did not even know who Bollinger was. Said it was insulting to have to listen to such things. Ahmadinejad probably never had to sit through such a hard-hitting critique of his record. (Deborah Lipstadt's Blog)

Hugh Hewitt, blogger: Whenever Lee Bollinger steps down as Columbia's president, some poor fool will toast him for his "stirring" speech today, for speaking truth to power, blah blah blah. Nonsense. President Bollinger gave Ahmadinejad a microphone and a stage and then tried to use the underbilling to redeem his university's sorry complicity in the legitimizing of this fanatic's place in the world. Columbia ... can deliver stern lectures that go unheard in the Islamist world, but it won't remove the stain on its own reputation: It played a role of accessory to many lies today, delivered by a killer of our troops. (

Andrew Sullivan, blogger: I haven't gone off on the Columbia invite because it seems superfluous. I take a very broad view of free-speech rights in America, but I would never have invited a dictator and religious extremist like Ahmadinejad. So far, it seems his usual blend of glibness, guile, and gall is exposing him to ridicule, as it should. If there are no gays in his country, why is he hanging so many of them? But I wonder: Would Columbia ever invite a right-wing extremist with the same views as Ahmadinejad on women, gays, Israel, and the Holocaust? Or do you have to be a brown-skinned, terrorist-enabling, nuclear-proliferating, certifiable nut-job to get the invite? (The Daily Dish,

Bradley Burston, columnist: Let us look, instead, at what the Iranian president represents for us, the Jews who live in the state he has suggested he'd like to see erased. Let's face it. We need all the help we can get, on the diplomatic sphere as well as in the area of international understanding of our defense concerns. That's where our man in Tehran comes in. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is simply one of Israel's premier diplomatic and security assets. His expressed views make Israel look pragmatic, clear-eyed, non-paranoid. ...

Let the man talk. Let the Iranian president speak his mind, all he wants. You never know what favor he's going to do us next. (Ha'aretz)

William Kristol, editor: It should go without saying that the appropriate thing to do, when the Iranian ambassador called Columbia, would have been to say: No thanks. Or just, No. But that would be to expect too much of one of today's Ivy League university presidents. ...

Meanwhile: As Columbia welcomes Ahmadinejad to campus, Columbia students who want to serve their country cannot enroll in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at Columbia. Columbia students who want to enroll in ROTC must travel to other universities to fulfill their obligations. ROTC has been banned from the Columbia campus since 1969. In 2003, a majority of polled Columbia students supported reinstating ROTC on campus. But in 2005, when the Columbia faculty senate debated the issue, President Bollinger joined the opponents in defeating the effort to invite ROTC back on campus.

A perfect synecdoche for too much of American higher education: They are friendlier to Ahmadinejad than to the U.S. military. (The Weekly Standard)

Juan Cole, University of Michigan: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly has become a media circus. But the controversy does not stem from the reasons usually cited. The media has focused on debating whether he should be allowed to speak at Columbia University on Monday, or whether his request to visit Ground Zero, the site of the September 11 attack in lower Manhattan, should have been honored. His request was rejected, even though Iran expressed sympathy with the United States in the aftermath of those attacks and Iranians held candlelight vigils for the victims. Iran felt that it and other Shiite populations had also suffered at the hands of Al Qaeda, and that there might now be an opportunity for a new opening to the United States.

Instead, the U.S. State Department denounced Ahmadinejad as himself little more than a terrorist. ... The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state. (Salon)

Danny Postel, journalist: While Ahmadinejad occupies center stage, we would be well served to consider another Iranian, the dissident and former political prisoner Akbar Ganji, who has just issued an open letter to the U.N. secretary general that refuses what Slavoj Zizek calls the "double blackmail": Ganji describes the human-rights crisis currently gripping Iran -- the severe crackdown on dissent, the crushing of progressive voices; while at the same time he denounces the Bush administration's saber rattling and underscores that Iran's democratic struggle wants no financial assistance from the U.S. (or any foreign government), and is in fact put in grave jeopardy by such maneuvers.

The letter is signed by some of the preeminent intellectuals and writers in the world (Jürgen Habermas, Orhan Pamuk, Noam Chomsky, J.M. Coetzee, and, appropriately enough, Zizek).

It's dangerously easy to become distracted by the circus surrounding Ahmadinejad's visit, a disfigured drama in which right-wing political figures and their stenographers in the media feverishly attempt to whip up jingoistic feelings. That right-wing assault can run an interference pattern on our thinking, where we react by protesting Ahmadinejad's shabby treatment at the hands of a bellicose political and media establishment. (Comment Is Free, Guardian Unlimited)

Blueberries: Israeli author Nava Semel on the SS album

Nava Semel, the Israeli journalist, playwright, and author and, of even greater significance, child of survivors, has written the following piece about the SS album, which, according to the Director of the Holocaust Museum, Sara Bloomfield, has prompted the most traffic ever to the museum's website. The article first appeared in Yediot Achronot on September 21.
The Girls on the Rail

by Nava Semel,

What are those two whispering about?

Let’s call them Ilse and Trudi. Ilse, fourth from the left in the photograph, has her hand on Trudi’s arm in an intimate gesture, and they are exchanging a joke because Trudi is laughing, beaming with happiness. Was Ilse telling her about last night’s lover, or the great party in the officers’ mess, or perhaps she was telling her how the verfluchte Jew begged for her life?

That filthy Jew could have been my mother…

There can be no doubt that the photographer found his subjects amiable, that row of cheerful young women leaning on a rail in a rural club, against a backdrop of cypress treetops and a mountain landscape. A genial man on the side is playing the accordion for them, and another openhanded gentleman is passing among them with a tray loaded with blueberries, perhaps to sweeten their hard day’s work.

Had we not known that these people were members of the Auschwitz staff, we might have thought that the photograph was taken at a workers’ committee day out in the countryside.

On the face of it there is no great discovery in these photographs, for we know that the murderers maintained a normal life, that they possessed all the basic human attributes like lust and passion and heartbreak. Yet at the same time their lobe of morality had been excised and their human semblance riven. How could they be capable of abusing, slaughtering and burning in the morning, and dancing and making love at night?

The intellect can comprehend it, but the heart refuses.

Before my twins went to Poland two months ago, I asked them to look for the villa of Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz, who raised children and a dog in the camp, right in front of the crematorium chimney. I told them these people were not psychopaths or creatures of darkness, but human beings like me and you who committed those atrocities against human beings like themselves.

I uttered the words, I knew, and yet I feel that I have been punched in the stomach as I see the delight of those girls on the rail – apparently SS telephone operators – brimming with youthful passion. Was the photograph taken after a bus journey, during which Ilse and her SS officer – a married man judging by the ring on his finger – wove their romantic relationship and planned to spend the night together? Trudi is looking over her shoulder, perhaps she is curious, or perhaps envious.

Oh, the jolly life of Auschwitz

And the album contains not one minuscule flash of regret or traces of a moral rupture in the face of the murderous machine of which they were a part with such elation. Missing from the photograph is Mimi, my mother and the mother of Shlomo my brother. For her, and the other tortured human beings, there was no room in the commemorative photographs taken by Karl Höcker. The heart and humanity of the photographer and his subjects were totally dulled, while the survivors struggle daily over and with the memory, and the pictures lying beneath the pictures are tattooed onto their secret nightmares just as they are woven in their new, rehabilitated lives. If I could speak to Ilse and Trudi – and at the same time spit in their faces – I’d tell them that Mimi has learned anew, if not to laugh, then at least to smile.

Nava Semel, author and playwright (And the Rat Laughed and IsraIsland)

>Published in Yedioth Ahronoth, Eve of Yom Kippur, 21 September 2007

Translated from Hebrew by Anthony Berris

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ahmadinejad was at Columbia [15]: About those homosexuals who don't exist in Iran....

Here are some questions for the Iranian president:
If there are no homosexuals in Iran who were all those people who were sentenced to death and executed by your regime for homosexuality?

Were they falsely charged by the the courts?
And now Jeannie Moost CNN is doing a humorous spot poking fun at him.... He's the butt of jokes... The Court Jester... And he did it to himself.

Ahmadinejad was at Columbia: Now he's cavorting with some so-called rabbis

The Iranian news agency, IRNA reports that Ahmadinejad met with "rabbis" in New York who gave him a silver grail [?].

Of course it was those low life Neturei Karta folks who call themselves rabbis. Apparently they took time out from checking who has the most beautiful lulav and etrog to make nice with a man who rises to their level, Ahmadinejad.

According to IRNA they carried a placard which read; "I am Jewish, not a Zionist."

Anything I could say about them I would be sorry I wrote. Use your imagination. But don't do so aloud, you will be embarrassed.

Ahmadinejad was at Columbia [13]: This blog's observations picked up by HNN [History News Network]

Excerpts from this blog were picked up by the HNN, the History News Network.

Ahmadinejad was at Columbia [12]: As predicted Bollinger's hard hitting remarks are excoriated [and praised]

As I predicted, while listening to Bollinger's hard hitting comments [which can be read here] about Ahmadinejad, many people have criticized him for being ungracious to the Iranian.

This man has persecuted academics, women, homosexuals [oops there are none in Iran] and when he is called on it these critics don't like it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad IS AT Colubmia [11]: More on the Holocaust , women's rights, and homosexuals in Iran [there are none]

[Still listening to webcast of speech]
Question to Ahmadinejad: why is more research necessary on the Holocaust [as you say it is] if everything has been so well documented?

Oy. Even as this is being asked I see what's coming. This is an example of a poorly worded question: OF COURSE THERE IS ROOM FOR MORE RESEARCH. [Witness the information which has emerged with the publication of the SS album. What else would historians be doing if not discovering new information]

But what Ahmadinejad says is he wants "MORE RESEARCH TO DISCOVER THE FACTS." In other words he is arguing that the truth of the event itself is not fully known.

Ahmadinejad says: Well what about physics? We know a lot about physics but we keep studying it? Who says we already know everything?

He seems to be slipping out of this one.

But Coatsworth, who is chairing the event, is calling him on it. Good for him. [Even if he would have invited Hitler...] Coatsworth responds to Ahmadinejad's answer by saying that we have certain facts which are established about an event. What you, Mr. President, are doing is calling for more research not to "fill in the details" but to "establish the facts." And establishing the basic facts, Coatsworth points out, is NOT necessary since they have been firmly established.

Ahmadinejad is filibustering.

Now on to women: According to Ahmadinejad women in Iran are completely free.... women are more respected than men...

Coatsworth asked him about the execution of homosexuals.

Ahmadinejad gives some BREAKING NEWS: THERE ARE NO HOMOSEXUALS IN IRAN. Ahmadinejad wonders who told you such a thing?

The audience got a good laugh. My guess is that this is what most of the students will remember.

Finally, when asked about negotiations with the US he said they would negotiate with everyone except apartheid South Africa, which has been eliminated, and with the Zionist entity.

Coatsworth did get the last word in by saying that he was sorry there was not enough time for Ahmadinejad to answer all the questions that had been submitted or even some of the ones that had been asked.

Ahmadinejad IS AT Colubmia [10]: Finally he gets to the point ... It's all about the Palestinians

He closed with a ringing attack on Israel and the treatment of the Palestinians. This is what it's all about.

Then he slips into the Holocaust and claims that those who want to research the Holocaust from "a different perspective" are put in jail. Why is that so?

It's one of his slippery moments. His call for more research regarding the Holocaust is what Shiraz Dossa, a professor in Canada who went to the meeting in Iran, calls "Holocaust neutrality." [Dossa is trying to legitimize questioning the Holocaust.] But Holocaust neutrality is naught but denial.

Now Coatsworth is pushing him to answer a question: Do you seek the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state?

Long discourse. But no answer.

Coatsworth tries to get him to answer.

To no avail.

Ahmadinejad IS AT Colubmia [9]: Bollinger hits a homerun [in a game which should never have been played]

I am listening to the Columbia forum. Bollinger began with a truly hard hitting statement expressing his revulsion at all that Ahmadinejad represents. He challenged Ahmadinejad to invite him and a group of students and faculty to come to Iran to speak to university students about free speech, in the same way that Ahmadinejad is benefiting today.

Bollinger was first rate.

He told him his Holocaust denial makes him ridiculous.

He attacked him for his persecution of scholars, women, and dissenters.

He called him to account for his threats to destroy Israel.

It was powerful and it was moving. If this event had to happen, this was the best beginning possible.

I am sure there will be those who will critique Bollinger for being so hard hitting.

I say bravo but also dissent from his attempt to say this appearance is a fundamental reflection of free speech.

As soon as Ahmadinejad began to speak it was clear that he was not prepared for such a statement. He made it sound like he did not even know who Bollinger was. Said it was insulting to have to listen to such things.

Ahmadinejad probably never had to sit through such a hard hitting critique of his record. It reminded me of a miscalculation made by David Irving when he chose the courtroom as his venue to make his argument. There was a judge there with the authority to make him stop his polemics and who could point out when he was making things up out of whole cloth [i.e. lying].

So too Ahmadinejad had to sit there and listen to his record in a way that he probably never has had to do. It also points out why the Scott Pelley's of the world are such poor excuses for interviewers. He could have asked some of these questions instead of his idiot queries.

Now Ahmadinejad is engaging in a religious discourse. My guess is that most students present have no idea where he is going with this. I think it is his attempt to sound like an intellect and some who believes in the pursuit of truth. It is a real miscalculation of his audience, I think...

Too bad his record contradicts everything he is saying....

More later.....

Ahmadinejad coming to Colubmia [8]: Politicians are as dense as members of the academy

Well it looks like some local NYC and NY state politicos want to punish Columbia for inviting Ahmadinejad. [Story in NY Sun] This is utterly stupid. It will backfire and make people such as myself -- who has minced no words on how venal I think the invitation to the Iranian is -- say that the politicos have gone way overboard.

The last thing we need is a bunch of politicians trying to control what goes on at a university... Aren't things bad enough as they are now???

This is as much of a politically correct idiocy as inviting Ahmadinejad in the name of free speech.

Ahmadinejad going to Columbia University [7]: An insightful comment from a reader of this blog

Steve has posted the following response. His comments are so on the mark that I thought I would post them directly [not just as a response] to give them maximum exposure.

Here is what kills me about his talk at Columbia today. I was a senior administrator who would have been in the eye of the storm (and have been) during an incident like this. I have been there.

And I start with the obligatory and fully sincere fact that few things about my country makes me prouder than the first amendment. You might laugh: But one of my proudest moments was explaining to a foreign visitor that this was a country so sure of itself, so confident that freedom made it stronger, that we were confident enough to even allow people to burn flags and know that the Republic would stay strong.

Having said that, free speech means that a speaker gets to say what he or she wants, within the well known constitutional "fire in the theater" limits. It does not mean that any given institution has to provide a forum for any speaker.

I might feel that universitities should have a "presumption that someone can speak" principle, but they should also remember that their platform is a valuable commodity and that, while letting someone speak does not mean the University supports the views, they have given the speaker a special gift that other less prestigious institutions cannot provide.

Now I think this gift should be given very freely, but not promiscuously. In fact, the standards for getting the gift and legitimacy of a Columbia platform should be minimal, perhaps only requiring that the person have given some small civil consideration in return.

What I am leading to is that Ahmadinejad, by refusing basic scrutiny of his nuclear program and by continuing to imply his willingness to engage in acts of annihilation, acts that could lead to an incident that would make Dresden and London look like target practice, has not given the world that consideration.

Not doing this means he has essentially said: "I will not give you even the most simple assurance that I will won't accidentally destroy you, much less purposefully do so.

So I would not have given him the platform.

And I haven't even touched on his Holocaust denial idiocy, which means that -- in return for the gift of the visibility and legitimacy of a Columbia logo on the platform, he wouldn't even provide the simple consideration of acknowledging the death of 100, much less than 6 million, Jews.

So, my threshhold was minimal when I had the call about some speakers , and some pretty creepy creeps spoke under my watch. 90% of the time the platform revealed then to be idiots. A few times they made sense.

President A. has not met that minimal standard.

The UN cannot have that standard, so that is his proper forum.

We are a free marketplace of ideas. Ideas joust for respect and attention and win or lose. But a Columbia forum essentially rigs the free market. It gives him valuable symbolic capital in which to frame his views, which doesn't just put him in the marketplace, it advantages him!

And without providing even the most crude and minimal consideration in return.

Ahmadinejad going to Columbia University [6]: A Columbia student doesn't know what she thinks

On Morning Edition [NPR] a Columbia student was just quoted as saying, "I don't know what to think of him if I don't really know what he stands for. Let him come and speak and then I can be really angry." [I am paraphrasing slightly]

Could someone explain to me what this student is doing at Columbia if she doesn't know what Ahmadinejad stands for? Doesn't she read a newspaper? Is she living under a rock?

Here is a check list for her:
1. Religious freedom in Iran [except for fervently religious Muslims]
2. Academic freedom in Iran [except for those who follow the government line]
3. The existence of Israel ["wipe it off the map"]
4. The historical fact of the Holocaust
5. Iraq's right to decide its own future

This only a partial list.

I wonder if she knows that Haleh Esfandiari, the much respected director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was jailed in Iran for a number of months and that other scholars still sit in jail.

I guess this airhead Columbia student never heard about any of these things. I doubt that she will hear them from Ahmadinejad at today's talk. I do suspect that Bollinger will raise the issue in his introduction.

Ahmadinejad going to Columbia [5]: Comments on his talk

Check out the Columbia Spectator's most recent article on the visit and a host of comments and responses. According to the Spectator the visit will be available on the web. I hope to be watching and commenting.

The Spectator has prepared a special section on the visit available in a pdf format.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ken Burns' "The War": Some thoughts on the bombing of London [1940]

Now I am watching Ken Burns' documentary on World War II. He just described the bombing of London. Every time I see something about that I wonder why all the attention to the bombing of Dresden and its Allied "war crime" status ?

Was is Dresden considered more of a crime [which I don't think it was] but the bombing of London escapes notice? Strafing, bombing of residences, and no military targets....

What am I missing here?

[And now back to Ahmadinejad....]

Ahmadinejad on 60 Minutes [4]: Scott Pelley gets walked over and doesn't notice....A prelude of things to come tomorrow at Columbia??

I am sitting here watching "60 Minutes" as Scott Pelley tries to skewer Ahmadinejad.

I am having a hard time believing the dumb questions he is pitching to him. He points out that Iranian weapons are being used in Iraq against American forces. Then Pelley says: "You have American blood on your hands. WHY?"

What kind of question is that??? "WHY?" The answer is obvious because to Ahmadinejad the United States is an enemy.

He fails to challenge Ahmadinejad's claim that nuclear weapons are not important because the age of nuclear weapons has passed.

Now Pelley has asked a completely stupid question: "What trait do you admire in President Bush?" What's that have to do with anything? International relations are not about "admiring" one another. This is not about being a mutual admiration society.

Complete soft ball and idiotic.

Now he's reading him a statement that Bush made about what he thinks of Ahmadinejad. Has Pelley lost his mind?

And then Pelley has a nice laugh with him as he protests that he's only a simple American reporter. Well he got that one right. Simple and simple minded.

This reminds me of Mike Wallace's equally idiotic encounter with Ahmadinejad in which the Iranian ran complete circles around Wallace.

What an idiotic performance and my guess is what we will see at Columbia will be no better. After all anyone, such as Lee Bollinger, who thinks you can dialogue with this guy is already starting with one hand tied behind his back.

Ahmadinejad going to Columbia [3]: Politically Correct Idiocy: Dean would have invited Hitler to a dialogue

Columbia's Dean John H. Coatsworth, in the name of defending the university's invitation to Ahmadinejad, told Fox News that the institute would have invited Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler to appear before students had he been willing to participate in an open debate.

This is one of those posts that needs no comment.

Ahmadinejad going to Columbia University [2]

As I observed in the previous post, Ahmadinejad is going to speak tomorrow at Columbia University. This morning on NPR Columbia President Lee Bollinger was quoted as saying that, while he was going to introduce Ahmadinejad by listing his human rights abuses, addressing his Holocaust denial, and castigating his calls for the destruction of Israel, he believed that Ahmadinejad had a place at Columbia because university's are places for "dialogue."

Bollinger has issued a statement in which he describes Columbia "as a community dedicated to learning and scholarship, is committed to confronting ideas.... Necessarily, on occasion this will bring us into contact with beliefs many, most or even all of us will find offensive and even odious."

What Bollinger and a lot of other very smart people don't understand is that you cannot dialogue with a liar. They make up facts, create their own reality, and leave you twisting in the wind.

Columbia has given Holocaust deniers everywhere a tremendous victory. He has made their claims and "other side" of a debate.

Secondly, while I hate the glib comparisons to Hitler [from the right and from the left], a not so off the mark comparison has been made between inviting Hitler in the 1930s [early 1930s] and inviting Ahmadinejad today.

For elaboration of this see Raphael Medoff's column at the website of the David Wyman Instittue Columbia University has a record of being open to Nazi representatives throughout the 1930s. It, of course, is not alone in this regard. Harvard did as well. And my guess that lots of other universities did the same.

All in the name of dialogue.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ahmadinejad going to Columbia University [1]

Seems that Ahmadinejad is going to speak at Columbia University. I find it galling. I just listened to some Columbia faculty and students talking about how universities are places for "dialogue" and for people to talk "with one another."

True. But this is a man who has called for the destruction of Israel [wipe off the face of the map] and who has denied the Holocaust.

If he had denied American slavery or the Armenian Genocide would these same students be saying we should "dialogue" with him?

I think not.

The people at Columbia who invited him have minds that are so open their brains fell out.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Having a good time at Auschwitz: SS photo album

The New York Times has a story on a photo album of the SS at Auschwitz relaxing, hiking, lighting the Xmas tree, enjoying blueberries and engaging in a singalong. It is striking in its banality.

Even if you read the story in the actual paper, it's worth going on line and clicking on the multi-media box [Auschwitz slide show] to see the rest of the pictures and hear the curator at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum talking about it. You can also click here.

On some level these pictures are more chilling than those of the victims. Take a look you will see why.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Armenian Genocide: op-ed by Deborah Lipstadt and Peter Balakian

An op-ed written by my friend Peter Balakian and me appears in this week's New York Jewish Week

Turkey Must Acknowledge its Past
by Peter Balakian and Deborah Lipstadt

Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, Namik Tan, told The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 27) that Israel must force the ADL to retract its acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide, that failure to do this would be a stab in the heart of the Turkish people and that the Turkish people do not distinguish between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews on this issue. Tan also said that recognizing the Armenian genocide will mean that “my ancestors have done something inconceivable,” and it will set off “a campaign against Turkey and the Turkish people.” Though he subsequently tempered his language, this was a very harsh attack with overtones of classic views of Jewish power.

Turkey has told Israel and various Jewish organizations that if they favor a congressional resolution acknowledging the genocide it will not bode well for Israel’s relationship with Turkey or for Turkish Jews.

It is true that Turkey is the only Muslim nation willing to maintain a close diplomatic relationship with Israel and remains the only Muslim country that allows a small Jewish community to live in relative freedom.

We know that Turkey is pressured by internal factions and by other Muslim nations to sever ties with Israel. And it is also clear how fragile and tenuous, despite seeming quite comfortable, Jewish life in Turkey is.

Nevertheless, it is equally crucial that historical denial of genocide be addressed in an uncompromising fashion. While historians are taught to be skeptical, it is absurd to be skeptical or neutral about events of the magnitude of the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust, which are attested to by reams of documents and material evidence as well as testimonies by victims, perpetrators and bystanders.

Neutrality or skepticism in the case of these two tragedies constitutes denial, which is the final stage of genocide in that it seeks to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators.

The broad and international record on the Armenian genocide has been created by an international body of dispassionate scholarship for decades, and notably, affirmed by The International Association of Genocide Scholars in repeated statements that note that this history is not controversial anywhere in the world but in Turkey.

Raphael Lemkin, the noted legal scholar who lost 49 members of his family in the Holocaust, invented the concept of genocide, in part, on the basis of what happened to the Armenians in 1915.

The main actor here, however, is Turkey. It is time for Turkey to end its nine-decade campaign to erase the Armenian genocide. It is time to stop bullying and attempting to coerce states and organizations that engage history honestly. Such a campaign is immoral.

By passing the resolution (H.R. 106) before it, Congress must make it clear to Turkey that, even as we welcome its alliance with the United States in so many arenas, the time for this denial is over.

Turkey’s calls for a commission of historians to resolve this issue are disingenuous, especially for a country that has a law that makes it a crime to “insult Turkishness,” under which scholars and publishers who have spoken about the Armenian genocide have been prosecuted and even killed.

It is wrong and unbecoming for the Jewish community to participate in what can best be described as a charade, i.e. the notion that the jury of historians is “still out” on this issue. Imagine if Germany had taken a similar stance with the Holocaust. While hindsight may be 20/20, it is regrettable that the Jewish community telegraphed a message to Turkey that this is a matter of debate and negotiation.

We understand Turkey’s difficulty in acknowledging these dark episodes in its past. However, acknowledging this crime would, rather than spawn a campaign against Turkey, as ambassador Tan claims, prompt applause from the international community.

It will be a sign that Turkey can critique its past honestly. The most effective way for a country to resolve its criminal past is to acknowledge the criminal act, try to make some form of recompense and become a force in trying to prevent the repetition of such events.

Germany has, with varying degrees of success, achieved that. It is time for Turkey to do the same with the Armenian genocide. And it is time to stop threatening a small vulnerable Jewish community or the one other parliamentary democracy in the Middle East for acknowledging historical truth.

The time has come for the U.S. Congress to join more than 20 other countries, the Vatican, the European Parliament and other world organizations, in affirming the Armenian genocide. Given that H.R. 106 is a nonbinding resolution with no “teeth in it,” the hysteria over the resolution has reached a point of absurdity. It is time for Turkey to acknowledge the moral perspective of other countries, and time to move on.

Peter Balakian is professor of the humanities at Colgate University and the author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, which won the Raphael Lemkin Prize. Deborah Lipstadt is professor of Holocaust studies at Emory University and author of History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving, which won the National Jewish Book Award.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Iranian TV shows acccurate series on the Holocaust: Go figure....

AP reports that Iranian TV has been broadcasting a mini-series on the Holocaust. It does NOT deny it. The show tells the story of an Iranian diplomat who, while based in Paris, helps Jews escape the Holocaust.

This would be noteworthy in and of itself given President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's energetic Holocaust denial.

What makes it even more mind boggling is that the government produced the series and it is airing it on state-run television.

According to the AP reporter the

series titled "Zero Degree Turn" is clearly sympathetic to the Jews' plight during World War II. It shows men, women and children with yellow stars on their clothes being taken forcibly out of their homes and loaded into trucks by Nazi soldiers.

The series is based on a real Iranian diplomat who distributed 500 Iranian passports to Jews seeking refuge during the 1940s.

There is speculation that the show represents an attempt, according to the AP report,

by Iran's leadership to moderate its image as anti-Semitic and to underline a distinction that Iranian officials often make — that their conflict is with Israel, not with the Jewish people.
In order for the series to be broadcast it had to have the imprimatur of Iran's clerics since state broadcaster is under the control of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei, who has final say in all matters inside Iran.

Finally, the AP notes that the series breaks "another taboo in Iran: For the first time, many actresses appear without the state-mandated Islamic dress code." Apparently, the producers wanted a realistic portrayal of 1940s Paris and headscarves and chadors would not have cut it

Go figure....

Of course, the next thing that might happen would be an announcement by Ahmadinejad himself denying that such a mini-series is being aired.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Deborah Lipstadt: "spineless" and "wimpy"

A few months ago I posted and then deleted a review by Debbie Schlussel of A Mighty Heart. I decided it was too vituperative in tone. I explained my mistake.

Well it seems Ms. Schlussel did not like my action [that's understandable] and sent me an email [which due to a bureaucratic snafu I did not receive until this a.m.] expressing her opinion about my action.

I thought it was worth sharing with readers of this blog:

From: Debbie Schlussel []
Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2007 5:29 PM
Subject: To DEBORAH LIPSTADT . . .

Dear Dr. Lipstadt:

I don’t read your site, but got a google alert on my name and saw what you posted about my movie review. Prior to this, as a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I had been a fan of your work, but you’ve change my mind completely all on your own. I can now see why those who share the views of the David Irvings of the world are so successful, whereas our side is losing. They have backbone, and you are spineless. Thanks for enlightening me. I’d ask why those to whose whims you bow so easily were so upset with the “tone” of my review, which was perfectly fine. But frankly, I don’t care. I care much more to know why you are so wimpy. Then again, we cannot always find reason in illogic. Now I know why C-SPAN was so successful in mistreating you. You probably willingly took it. Or apparently, they very easily changed your mind, based on “tone.”


Debbie Schlussel

I have been called many things but never have I been called "spineless" and "wimpy" or been accused of having "willingly took it." Next time Ms. Schlussel is sued in the UK for libel by a Holocaust denier and engages in a 6+ year legal battle, I hope she lets me know so I can support her.

Life is an unending string of surprises.

And a Shana Tova to you too Ms. Schlussel.

Antisemitism in the UK and beyond

Denis MacShane's article in the Washington Post has left me thinking.

Why the complacency about the rise of antisemitism in the UK and in parts of Europe beyond that which has been documented by a UK Parliamentary report? Could it be that those who might normally be expected to speak out are, in fact, the source of much of this sentiment, which comes in the guise of attacks on Israel and its supporters?

And why the complacency about Cambridge University Press' folding to Saudi pressure? Could it be that those who generally are most forceful about academic freedom dislike what the authors of Alms for Jihad have to say and the fingers they legitimately point?

On some level I am as much concerned by the silence as I am by the perpetrators of antisemitism and terror. Maybe this resonates with me because so much of my work on the Holocaust deals with bystanders.

Ultimately I find bystanders as, if not more, infuriating than perpetrators.

Monday, September 10, 2007

More scenes from the bush: no comment necessary

Pictures are compliments of my bush buddy Brad with the awesome lens

A UK Parliamentary perspective on current antisemitism

There is a very powerful article in the Washington Post by Denis McShane who chaired the UK Parliamentary committee on the new antisemitism in the UK. Below are excerpts from it:

By Denis MacShaneTuesday, September 4, 2007; A17

Hatred of Jews has reached new heights in Europe and many points south and east of the old continent. Last year I chaired a blue-ribbon committee of British parliamentarians, including former ministers and a party leader, that examined the problem of anti-Semitism in Britain.

None of us are Jewish or active in the unending debates on the Israeli-Palestinian question. Our report showed a pattern of fear among a small number of British citizens -- there are around 300,000 Jews in Britain, of whom about a third are observant -- that is not acceptable in a modern democracy. Synagogues attacked. Jewish schoolboys jostled on public transportation. Rabbis punched and knifed. British Jews feeling compelled to raise millions to provide private security for their weddings and community events. On campuses, militant anti-Jewish students fueled by Islamist or far-left hate seeking to prevent Jewish students from expressing their opinions.

More worrisome was what we described as anti-Jewish discourse, a mood and tone whenever Jews are discussed, whether in the media, at universities, among the liberal media elite or at dinner parties of modish London. To express any support for Israel or any feeling for the right of a Jewish state to exist produces denunciation, even contempt.

Our report sent a shock wave through the British government.

To Britain's credit, the Blair administration produced a formal government response setting out tough new guidelines for the police to investigate anti-Semitic attacks and for universities to stop anti-Jewish ideology from taking root on campuses. Britain's Foreign Office has been told to protest to Arab states that allow anti-Jewish broadcasts.

We made clear that criticism of actions of Israeli politicians was not off-limits. On the contrary, we noted that some of the strongest criticisms of Israeli policy come from Israeli campuses, journalists and political activists, and from the Jewish intellectual elite of many countries.

Tony Blair's successor as British prime minister, Gordon Brown, recently said in London that he stood with Israel "in bad times as well as good times," and one of the remarkable turnarounds of the new Labor leadership that governs Britain is a strong support for Israel and its commitment to combating anti-Semitism.

The problem is worse in other European countries.

Europe is reawakening its old demons, but today there is a difference. The old anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have morphed into something more dangerous. Anti-Semitism today is officially sanctioned state ideology and is being turned into a mobilizing and organizing force to recruit thousands in a new crusade -- the word is chosen deliberately -- to eradicate Jewishness from the region whence it came and to weaken and undermine all the humanist values of rule of law, tolerance and respect for core rights such as free expression that Jews have fought for over time.

We are at the beginning of a long intellectual and ideological struggle. It is not about Jews or Israel. It is about everything democrats have long fought for: the truth without fear, no matter one's religion or political beliefs. The new anti-Semitism threatens all of humanity. The Jew-haters must not pass.

Libel Tourism: How two authors got skewered by Cambridge University Press and a Saudi Sheikh

There is a compelling piece on the History News Network by Robert O. Collins, emeritus professor of history at UC Santa Barbara, who co-authored with J. Millard Burr Alms for Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World, the book which was trashed by Cambridge University Press because Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz accused it of defaming him.

[This is the book about which I alerted readers of this blog to buy before Cambridge pulled it. Sure enough it disappeared from book sellers lists shortly thereafter.]

This, of course, all happened in the UK.

Cambridge University Press decided within a matter of weeks -- if that long -- to fold, abandon the authors, and acquiesce to the Sheikh's charges. During the negotiations with the Sheikh the authors "naively assumed that, as authors, we were automatically a party to any settlement." Of course, had they had a lawyer she/he would have told them that because they were not named in the case by the Sheikh they had no say.

As Professor Collins says, Cambrige abject[ly] surrender[ed].

Mahfouz probably chose not to include them in the suit because he knew that they would then have recourse to turn to the American courts, as Rachel Ehrenfeld is now doing, and challenge the decision of the UK court.

Why has there not been an outcry among academics? Don't they see this as an abridgement of the academic freedom they hold so dear? Why haven't they called attention to the systematic way in which the Saudis are closing down any and all criticism of them?

Why hasn't the media covered this extensively? After all, this development has the potential of affecting them as much as publishers and authors.

Why such silence on this clear issue of free speech?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Some additional pics from the African bush

A lion on the Madikwe reserve. [This is a 7 year old male who is in the process of usurping the place of an alpha male who has been the leader of the pack [pride] for 14 years. We saw the older guy and another 14 year old alpha male and it was clear that they know they are on the way out. Our ranger predicts that it will end with a knock down drag out fight which the old guys will lose.]

A jackal on the reserve. They eat whatever they can get their hands on, including the waste discarded by other animals.

A kudu.

[Pictures compliments of my bush buddy Brad Worsham who had a dynamite lens.

Return from the South African bush

As readers of this blog know I almost assiduously stay on topic [antisemitism, Holocaust denial, etc.] and don't burden people with details of my own activities except as they are related to these topics.

I find blogs which do this generally tedious and self-indulgent.

Well here goes a major exception. I just returned from a trip to South Africa where I was giving a lecture. I tacked on about 5 days most of which I spent, thanks to the arrangements made by some South African friends, in the South African bush at the Madikwe Safari Resort, a place run by an impressive company CC Africa. The bush was amazing: elephants, rhinos, zebras, impalas, wild dogs, hyenas, jackals, birds [amazing], and so much more. And the place was unbelievable: luxurious with an amazing staff that made you feel at home and so welcome.

CC Africa was founded in 1991 and is a pioneer in sustainable ecotourism, conservation development and community empowerment. It works with surrounding villages to make sure they benefit from increased tourism to the area. They help fund a foundation, the Africa Foundation, a not for profit rural development organization which conducts all sorts of projects directed at working with African villages.

One of the projects it runs is called WildChild. For each WildChild bracelet [the kind Lance Armstrong popularized] sold an extra student from the neighboring communities experiences a CC Africa conservation lesson and safari ride on the neighboring reserve.

I bought a bunch especially after being told by one of the managers of the camp that his son, who lives in a nearby village, has NEVER seen a lion except on television until he came on one of these safaris. It's a great project and the bracelets can be bought on line.

I can't praise it enough. It's a win-win situation: a first rate experience that's sensitive to the physical and social environment.

It's been a long time since I took a vacation. This one was well worth waiting for.

[Two lions sashaying off to dinner.]

Fantasy Land: Former American Senator says 9/11 Arab terrorists were in cahoots with the Zionists

Former Sentator James Abourezk said on Hizbullah TV that the Arabs who blew up the WTC and the Pentagon were cooperating with the Zionists. No comment is really necessary except that never have I been so happy someone was a former senator.

For the full transcript of his lunacies see Memri Special dispatch no. 1708

Interviewer: "Here I need to ask you something, which is growing and escalating in the Western world, and particularly in the U.S., which is this immense wave of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment, lumping all Arabs together as 'terrorists.' This was clearly manifested in movies and TV series, like 24. Why? Why now? Is it just after 9/11?"

"The Arabs Who Were Involved in 9/11 Cooperated With the Zionists"

James Abourezk: "No, it's after the Soviet Union collapsed. The Zionists were looking around for another enemy to have, because to them the Soviet Union was an enemy because they wouldn't allow Jewish emigration. So they used that as an organizing tool, basically, and when the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no more organizing about the Soviet Union. So they looked around, and they said: Well, the Muslims. Let's find the Arabs and the Muslims, and make them the boogeyman. And that's what they did."

Interviewer: "But why did this sentiment of hatred increase after 9/11?"

James Abourezk: "Well, because the Arabs who were involved in 9/11 cooperated with the Zionists, actually. It was a cooperation. They gave them the perfect excuse to denounce all Arabs. It's a racist sort of thing, really racist - you know, picking out these 19 or 20 terrorists - they were terrorists - and saying all the Arabs are like them. So, you know, people in America don't really look at it that deeply, and they accept what the government and the press are saying."[...]