Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Palestinian youths use rape as a weapon

Some Palestinian youth have fallen to a new low in their struggle against Israel. They are raping young Israeli girls -- 13 year old is the youngest -- and women. This barbaric action is appalling. The only promising or redeeming aspect of this story, as reported in the Jerusalem Post is that elders from their village are appalled by their behavior.

I hope that Palestinian leaders will speak out with one voice against this disgusting behavior.

To my mind, rapists -- irrespective of their national, religious, or ethnic background -- should be subjected to one treatment.... Use your imagination.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Another enlightened attack on me and Jews in general

This come from Grover Greeves. He begins by citing a line from my oped on Carter and then launches into a no-holds barred attack. While not as amusing as some of the previous attacks, it is telling.

"All are Jews. Does that invalidate their criticism - and mine - or render us representatives of Jewish organizations?"

Hell yes it invalidates it !! Do you think the public has been brainwashed that badly already to believe otherwise? Carter is spot on in his book, and you can't handle the truth because it hurts. And instead of continuing your incessant wailing about the 'Holocaust', which I find interesting how it got its own defining term, how about publishing some long overdue, in-depth analysis behind all of the possible reasons why anyone could possibly hate others so badly as to inflict such pain on them. Knowing all the reasons that promote such hatred would be the best remedy for preventing future atrocities.

And while we areinvestigating what Jews have "done" to make other hate them so, maybe Grover can enlighten us on what is that women who have been raped do wrong that makes them "deserving" of being raped?

Liberals are bad for the Jews and always have been...

Unless you have been living under a rock you know that the media and the Internet are awash with articles about attacks on and responses from Jews on the "left" [sometimes called "progressives"] who have been criticized or attacked [depends on your point of view] for their comments about Israel. Some of these folks have questioned Israel's right to exist [funny they don't question any other country's right... but that's for another time].

This kind of interchange, which has been going on for a long time in the Jewish community has fostered a sentiment that anyone who takes a left of center view is, ipso facto, bad for the Jews. They are bad and have always been bad.

Now I don't deny that the preponderance of vicious attacks on Israel and its right to exist currently come from the left. In fact, some of the critiques by these same groups and/or individuals [among them many Jews] have morphed into overt antisemitism. That's a given. But that should not result in a re-writing of history.

All this was by way of introduction to an interesting interchange of emails i hae recently had with a young man who is studying for the rabbinate. I was a bit hard on him [email produces that tendency in me] but I hate to see history being manipulated to reaffirm one's contemporary conclusions.

February 25, 2007
Dear Professor Lipstadt,
I am a student working toward Rabbinic ordination at a Yeshiva in Israel, and am also interested in Holocaust research. I would like to compare some of the editorials and media of the left and far left in America during the 30s (downplaying the threat of Hitler) with the current barrage of far-left media denouncing the Israel lobby and downplaying the threat posed by Iran.

Are there any books or articles in particular that you recommend on the editorial and media coverage in the period immediately preceding (and during) the Holocaust?

Thank you very much for any help that you can provide.

February 25, 2007
Dear Jon:
You have it backwards. In the 1930s the group that played down the threat Hitler posed came from the right. The "liberal" media were way out front in calling Americans' attention to the Nazi threat.

You may not like the left now but don't engage in fictional history.
Deborah E. Lipstadt

February 26, 2007
Dear Jon:
I have been thinking about your request for information.

I was wondering if someone had told you the "liberal" media in the 1930s had played down the Hitler threat or if you had just assumed that was the case.

It's a strange claim for anyone to make. As bad as FDR might have been, I can assure that had a Republican been in office it would have been even worse. Anyway, your thesis intrigues me and I was wondering from where it originated.
Deborah E. Lipstadt

February 27, 2007
Dear Professor,
The idea was simply a hypothesis, an assumption that I was making without ever having read or seen any work on the media of the period.

I am not a historian nor a political analyst, but I just find the rants of the far-left media to be so unbelievable. The stretches that these people are willing to make - e.g. "He never said the Holocaust didn't happen - he merely said that it is blown way out of proportion", or "Ahmadinejad never said that he wanted to destroy Israel - He just said that the Zionist regime is a logical contradiction which will not last much longer - expressing the way he sees reality, not a personal desire".

The idea hit me that there must have been columnists who wrote the same thing in the 30s about Hitler - "He never said that his goal is the domination of Europe" or "He may be passing laws which seem anti-semitic, but we have no reason to think that the Jews are in any real danger, as Hitler has made no explicit threats to their existence."

Even the majority of the Jews in Europe did not believe that Hitler would exterminate them until their predicament was already too dire. So I ran some searches online to see what was being written in the media in the 30s and early 40s

I'm not as interested in what the Americans were being told from a factual standpoint, but in how the information was being presented, and the public opinions that were generated as a result. Did the media downplay concentration camps?

I'll admit I didn't put so much time into the endeavor, but I wasn't able to find much after a preliminary search. Your name came up a few times, so I figured that you might be able to provide me with an accurate text or two.

The fact is, you know better than most that for every accurate (or at least truth-seeking) work on the Holocaust, many fraudulent and revisionist (in the rewrite falsely sense of the term) works abound.

I don't plan on engaging in "fictional history." That's precisely why I asked you for an appropriate starting point.

Thanks again.

February 27, 2007
Dear Jon:
First of all look at my book Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust. It will give you tons of information.

It will show you how the liberal and left media were the ones pushing for a strong response to Hitler, for open immigration, and for help to the Jews. In fact, if you give me your mailing address, I will be happy to send it to you.

I am glad that you turned to me. That was wise, i.e. to go to someone who has worked on the period.

What prompted me to say you were engaging in “fictional history,” was your assumption off the bat that if some [and they are very very few] far left folks are looking to exonerate Ahmadinejad; it must have been the same thing in the 1930s and 1940s.

What I heard – and you will forgive me for making assumptions but I think the evidence I was basing it on was pretty strong – in your query was an apriori conclusion that liberal/left = bad for the Jews.

That is a sentiment that prevails in many Jewish quarters and it is simplistic, especially when applied to history.

I hope this explains my reaction. And I hope you will reflect on your assumptions. I do not know if you are headed for the pulpit but it can be a bully pulpit indeed and I am reminded of the Rabbinic teaching: hachamim heza’aru b’devrachem. [Scholars be careful with your words. DEL]

Deborah Lipstadt

p.s. In the interests of full disclosure, let me tell you that I plan to post our exchange of emails on my blog. I will, of course, not mention your name.

February 27, 2007
Dear Jonathan:
Since I ended my last email to you with caution, hachamim heza’aru b’devrachem I thought I should write and say that if my straightforward style in any way offended you or might cause you to refrain from asking for scholarly advice in the future, then I am very sorry.

I probably could have said the same thing in a more constructive fashion [I do, however, stand behind the content 100%] but you obviously pushed a button in me. I get queries such as yours all the time and yours was the straw…

In any case, keep asking before you reach your conclusions,
Deborah Lipstadt

Monday, February 26, 2007

New York Times on Citizenship for Anne Frank

The New York Times has a story on a proposal to give American citizenship to Anne Frank story on a proposal to give honorary American citizenship to Anne Frank.

I am quoted as opposing the idea [seems to me that it is a feel good kind of thing]. The reporter failed to note the second half of my statement: I am opposed unless it can be used to illustrate how many Jews died only because of the "paper walls," to use a term coined by David Wyman, around our shores.

University of Colorado speech

The correct time for my talk in Boulder is 7 p.m. on this Wednesday. For details see an earlier blog

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Other People's Lives wins Oscar

Other People's Lives just won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It's an important film which demonstrates just how easily it is for the authorities to corrupt people. It shows the evil of communism and, specifically, communist Germany.

Go see it. When you do you will understand why I chose to blog on it. It speaks to so much of what I focus on in this blog. And it is a compelling film

Profile from Bnai Brith Magazine

Denying the Deniers
Deborah Lipstadt and the fight to preserve the memory of the Holocaust

by Allison Hoffman

[photos by Jillian Edelstein]

The story of how a feisty college professor named Deborah Lipstadt came to symbolize the fight to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. Lipstadt's forum was a British courtroom, where she successfully rebuffed a libel lawsuit filed against her by David Irving, one of the world's most notorious Holocaust deniers. Although Irving was disgraced, historic revisionism — and other mutations of the Big Lie —continues to thrive, and the truth bravely staggers on.

A few months ago, shortly after an Austrian court sentenced Holocaust denier David Irving to three years in prison for attempting to manipulate history, Holocaust historian and author Deborah Lipstadt took to her computer blog and issued her own scathing verdict. "Once again," Lipstadt wrote, mincing no words for her longtime nemesis, "Irving seemed to behave in a way that said, 'I can do whatever I want, say whatever I want, and get away with it.' The problem is, he can't."

One reason Irving can't is that his celebrated attempt to legitimize his own peculiar view of history by targeting Lipstadt had boomeranged horribly only a few years earlier.

A self-taught historian of the Third Reich, Irving filed suit in London in 1995, claiming that Lipstadt had libeled him by describing him as a Holocaust denier because of his publicly stated view that there had been no gas chambers at Auschwitz, and no officially sanctioned attempt by Hitler to annihilate European Jewry.

Not only a putative scholar, Irving was also widely known in his native Britain as a shameless self-promoter who pulled stunts that included offering to pay a thousand pounds to anyone who could produce a signed piece of paper proving that Hitler authorized the mass killing of Jews.

Lipstadt, by contrast, was a conventional, albeit fiercely outspoken, inhabitant of academia-a professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, who was recognized and respected in Jewish circles, but not well-known much beyond.

A native New Yorker, Lipstadt is, at 59, herself too young to be a survivor, and though her German father's immediate family did survive the war, he had left Europe in the early days of the Third Reich.

As an undergraduate, Lipstadt studied American politics, but after graduation, she made what she has described as an "impetuous decision" to spend two years studying at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In Israel, she says, she fully understood the influence of Israel and the Holocaust on the modern Jewish psyche for the first time, and decided to spend her career studying it.

Her first book, "Beyond Belief" (1986), examined how American newspapers of the 1930s and '40s played down or entirely ignored the persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe as well as the subsequent Holocaust itself.

Her second book, the one that eventually made her famous, was "Denying the Holocaust" (1993), which exposed a cadre of "historians" - including Irving - and so-called "lay experts" from California to Europe who made it their business to deny evidence of the Shoah. In her book, Lipstadt accused Irving of being "one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial."

If Irving ever thought he had found an easy mark in Lipstadt, he was mistaken. "You could not call her an introvert," noted Jehuda Reinharz, now the president of Brandeis University, who met Lipstadt when they were both graduate students there in the 1970s. "She has always been quite clear as to where she stands, and the role she played in the trial and after, not by choice but because of circumstances, did not cow her." Another longtime friend, the Jerusalem-based playwright Joyce Klein, drew a parallel between Lipstadt and Queen Esther, the fabled heroine of the Purim story. "She [Lipstadt] took very seriously this idea that she was put in this place for a reason, that she was fulfilling a role no one else could fulfill," Klein told me. "There was a definite sense of mission, a sense of doing something for a cause."

Lipstadt demurs. "All I did was defend myself," she says of her decision to contest Irving's libel suit. But of course, she wasn't just defending herself. She was also defending the collective memory of the Holocaust, which is losing the reinforcement of living testimony as the remaining survivors of that epochal genocidal campaign die off.

"Survivors or children of survivors will thank me for what I did, which is mind-boggling to me," she told me recently from Rome, where she spent the spring semester teaching. "It's not that I'm such a humble person-I put a lot of effort into the fight, and who doesn't like to be thanked for something they've done? But compared to what they went through, I didn't do very much."

Even more importantly, though, Lipstadt was defending the sanctity of history itself, which is her primary academic focus. "There is a certain compact between author and reader," she told me. "The author promises not to twist the facts, and to report disagreements, to say that unlike Mr. X who believes that one plus one is two, I believe the answer is 12. But with Irving, you look at the citations and the sources and there is no proof; he takes things which are not there and says that they are there." In particular, Lipstadt recalled, Irving went to great lengths to distort evidence regarding Hitler's role in the events of Kristallnacht, as well as his orders regarding the deportation and extermination of Jews in the eastern labor and death camps.

As the philosopher Hannah Arendt, who covered the 1961 trial in Jerusalem of Adolf Eichmann, wrote in an essay for The New Yorker nearly 40 years ago, "Even if we admit that every generation has the right to write its own history, we admit no more than that it has a right to rearrange the facts in accordance with its own perspective; we don't admit the right to touch the factual matter itself."

Facing a man who, like other Holocaust deniers fit the description of a "paper Eichmann" (in the phrase coined by the French Jewish scholar Pierre Vidal-Naquet), Lipstadt chose to take the fight directly to Irving by resolving to prove the veracity of what she had written-that is, to demonstrate that Irving and his cohorts had manipulated historical facts when they disputed whether key aspects of the Holocaust had ever taken place.

Complicating Lipstadt's task was the fact that British libel law is notoriously sympathetic to the plaintiff. In British courts, the burden of proof rests with the defendant-just the opposite of the American system. Several friends advised Lipstadt to settle with Irving, not only to avoid the possibility of losing the case, but also to deprive him of a public forum that might legitimate his views.

As Lipstadt recounts in her memoir of the court fight, "History on Trial," her defense was orchestrated by Anthony Julius, a London lawyer who is also acclaimed for his writing on modern antisemitism. It was Julius who assembled a small army of historians and other experts who set out to demonstrate that Irving had distorted evidence and otherwise shredded his own credibility as a historian.

The one thing Lipstadt refused to do, however, was to call Holocaust survivors as witnesses-partly to spare them the ordeal of being cross-examined by Irving, who acted as his own counsel in the trial. In declining to pursue that option, Lipstadt also hoped to prepare for the day in the not-distant future when the existence of the Holocaust would have to be defended without survivors remaining to bear their own witness.

"We conducted the trial as though there were no survivors, because we don't need the survivors any longer to establish what happened," Robert Jan van Pelt, the Dutch academic who provided expert defense testimony on Auschwitz during the trial, said in a telephone interview. "There is more documentation about the Holocaust than about any other event in history, and the evidence is all there. In no other historical event do we ask the survivors to go in and establish what actually happened."

Lipstadt elaborated: "One of the things my trial demonstrated is that the historians can defend the truth based on the available evidence and testimony. There is an impact when those who can speak in the first-person singular are no longer available, and something valuable will be lost, but the documents triangulated with the oral histories and testimony by perpetrators are in fact a better form of evidence."

In April 2000, after a grueling, four-month-long trial that cost the defense more than $3 million, Lipstadt finally prevailed. The trial judge found that her criticisms of Irving were well-founded, and that no "objective, fair-minded historian" could possibly doubt that Jews were murdered in gas chambers at Auschwitz.

The 355-page ruling was undoubtedly a vindication for Lipstadt and her supporters, but there was something undeniably "asymmetrical" about the whole episode, Julius said by telephone. "Losing the case would have been much more seriously adverse than winning was beneficial."

Jehuda Reinharz, whose academic specialty is modern Jewish history, agreed, arguing that "if she had lost, it would have been an enormous weapon against Jewish history, against the state of Israel, against the credibility of every historian who has ever written about the Holocaust. This idea that Jews have created a myth about the Holocaust-it's like a new blood libel, and Deborah was able to puncture that."

In many ways, the verdict was the death knell of traditional, right-wing Holocaust denial that aped the methods of professional historians to produce what Lipstadt and others have called "pseudo-history," complete with its own research institutes, published journals, and annual conferences.

"Irving was the most polished, most intelligent of these guys," explained Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic, a magazine devoted to examining and disproving pseudo-scientific claims. "The past few times I've seen him speak, he just acted as if there were no trial, as if all the things that came out after the trial never happened, but now these guys are starting to run low on funds. The worst thing that could happen to them has happened-they're being ignored."

But instead of vanishing, the phenomenon Reinharz called "the new blood libel" hasn't gone away; it's just been taken up in different quarters. Earlier this year, at about the same time Irving was being sentenced in Austria, a leading Iranian newspaper sponsored a competition for cartoons denying the Holocaust, in retaliation for the Danish publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist.

Meanwhile, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has given a series of press conferences in which he called for proof of the Holocaust, though he has allowed that it might indeed have taken place. In that case, Ahmadinejad asked that Israel be relocated to Europe so that Palestinians would no longer be made to pay for the crimes of the Nazis. That position echoes an idea propounded by many pro-Palestinian activists, who appear to be animated in part by maverick author Norman Finkelstein, the ardently anti-Zionistic son of Holocaust survivors. Finkelstein argues that Jewish efforts to preserve the memory of the Shoah have created a "Holocaust industry" that exploits guilt over Nazi atrocities in service of Zionist interests.

"There is now a kind of Islamic antisemitism which is distinct from classic far-right antisemitism, but which incorporates into it the conception of the Jews running riot over Islamic interests," Julius said. "It's a genuinely new mutation of antisemitism which has been grafted onto the 19th-century claims."

On another front, Lipstadt is fighting the creeping effects of post-modernism and other forms of relativistic thinking that create a hospitable climate for the propagation of fallacies like Holocaust denial. "In part it's the sense that anything goes, when in fact everything does not go," Lipstadt said emphatically. "But it's a failure to think clearly to say that all points of view are equivalent and all views are equal."

To illustrate the perils of relativistic thinking, consider the cases of memoirists James Frey, the author of "A Million Little Pieces," and J.T. LeRoy, author of "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things," who were recently exposed as fabricators. (Leroy, purportedly a man who was abused as a child, turned out to be the invention of a Brooklyn writer named Laura Albert.)

All too often, both transgressions were viewed through the distorted lens of "truthiness," a bogus concept popularized late last year by the television comedian-pundit Stephen Colbert, to describe a philosophy that gives credence to "what you want to be true, as opposed to what the facts support." In The New York Times, the book critic Michiko Kakutani made the conceptual link between the seemingly meaningless fabulism of Frey and LeRoy and the potentially dangerous denial of scrupulously documented genocide, writing that "when people assert that there is no absolute historical reality, an environment is created in which the testimony of a witness to the Holocaust … can actually be questioned."

Indeed, Kakutani quoted Lipstadt, who wrote in "Denying the Holocaust" that if no events or facts have fixed meaning, then "any truth can be retold." Lipstadt went on in her book to make the prescient argument that relativism could also be used to defend any speech as valid speech, in the name of free inquiry, which indeed is exactly what Irving's defenders did during her libel trial. They tried that tack again during Irving's trial this year in Austria for breaking that country's hate-speech laws by publicly denying the Holocaust. (It's worth noting that Lipstadt opposes criminalizing Holocaust denial on the grounds that censorship is not an effective deterrent, and can serve to create martyrs.)

"In part it's sloppy thinking, a failure to think clearly. There is the sense that all points of view are equivalent, that anything goes, when in fact, everything does not go," Lipstadt said in an interview, adding later by email: "People have mushy standards."

Of course, Lipstadt continued in the interview, the fibs of writers like Frey pale by comparison to the pernicious falsehoods spread by Irving and other deniers, which are "a different matter," she believes.

"Holocaust denial is lies and distortions," Lipstadt said. "So I wouldn't over-intellectualize the deniers. I think now people see Irving for the clown that he is."

Hadassah Magazine profile

Hadassah profile

August/September 2006 Vol. 88 No. 1

Deborah Lipstadt
By Rahel Musleah

[Photos by Jillian Edelstein]

Twenty years ago, this leading academic considered Holocaust deniers ‘fringe extremists.’ That was before years of research and writing—and one very public court case.

Deborah Lipstadt loves a good fight. As a teenager she marched with her mother for civil rights. At dinner parties, she vociferously debates politics and Jewish issues. Inspired by her biblical namesake, Lipstadt has always reveled in defending truth and battling injustice.

Even armed with all that feistiness, Lipstadt could not have foreseen the fight of her life: against British Holocaust denier David Irving. In 1995, Irving filed a libel suit against Lipstadt and Penguin UK, the publisher of her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, which describes Irving as a “Hitler partisan wearing blinkers” who “distorted evidence...manipulated documents...and misrepresented data in order to reach historically untenable conclusions.” When the case finally closed in the British courts on April 11, 2000, the judge unambiguously concluded that Lipstadt had told the truth.

Lipstadt’s memoir, history on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (Ecco/ HarperPerennial), received a National Jewish Book Award last year. “Our objective was not to prove the Holocaust had happened,” she writes. “No court was needed to prove that. Our job was to prove...that Irving had lied about the Holocaust and had done so out of anti-Semitic motives.” Irving’s books argue that Hitler did not have an organized plan of annihilation and that Jews died in the camps of typhus or other illnesses.

“If someone had to fight the battle, I’m glad it was me,” says Lipstadt, 59. “I’m glad it was a woman, because stereotypes and sexism still exist.” Being single, she adds, allowed her to spend extended time in London and devote vast amounts of time to the case.

Lipstadt’s strong, no-nonsense attitude—splashed with humor—comes across in person. To an interview at a New York coffee shop, steps away from where her 91-year-old mother still lives, she wears no make-up; her red hair is cut short, and she tops her black blouse and Swiss-dotted black skirt with a straw hat. Lipstadt, professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies and director of Jewish studies at Emory University in Atlanta, flies up to visit her mother about every three weeks.

Had the interview been in her own surroundings, she says, she would have pointed out her collection of moveable folk toys along with her Judaica favorites—a fiber-work sculpture by the artist Laurie Gross based on a Lipstadt short story about being the 10th in a minyan and photographs with refuseniks she met on a life-changing trip to the Soviet Union in 1972. Not only did the refuseniks impress her as the “bravest and freest people” she had ever met, but, in contrast to world reaction to the Holocaust, Jews worldwide took interest in their plight. She chronicled how the media downplayed the Holocaust in her first book, Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust (Touchstone). Today, she frequently visits the former Soviet Union, often to lecture on the history of Soviet anti-Semitism.

Lipstadt is now much in demand on the lecture circuit and as a commentator. Instead of silencing her, Irving’s case has catapulted her onto the international stage. She recently returned from a two-month teaching stint at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. History on Trial has even been optioned for a movie.

“It’s not that I’m different [since the case],” Lipstadt notes. “But what I have to say has a greater resonance by virtue of what I went through.” Ironically, she continues, “as a result I’m a little more careful about what I say.”

On her blog (, for instance, she responded to an Austrian court’s decision in March 2006 sentencing Irving to three years in prison for denying the Holocaust. Lipstadt opposes laws prohibiting Holocaust denial because they curtail free speech; had denial laws existed in Britain, the lies riddling Irving’s work might never have been uncovered. In fact, when friends asked her if she was happy with Irving’s sentence, Lipstadt replied, “I’m not mourning, but I’m not celebrating.”

The most difficult aspect of her trial, she admits, was the reality that she was not in charge. She describes herself almost as a spectator in a drama where her own work and reputation were on the line. At the insistence of her legal team, she did not testify (nor did any survivors). “Being quiet for me is an unnatural act,” she says, laughing. “But I had legal and historical experts second to none.”

Grace Cohen Grossman, a close friend who has known Lipstadt since both were students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem almost 40 years ago, flew to England for the first week of the three-month trial. “The wall of data collected by the legal team was in notebooks literally eight feet high,” says Grossman, senior curator at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. “Deborah was involved in every detail.” Grossman characterizes Lipstadt as open, honest, intrepid and forthright.

“Deborah is irrepressible,” says David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, who is a friend and colleague. “She has an innate charisma that attracts people to her and a depth of soul that expresses itself to the world. She is a prototypical redhead, fiery and vivacious, with an incredible zest for life.

“Few others would have had the grit and determination to see this case through to the end,” he adds. “She brought the consciousness of modern Jewish history and the tragedy of the Shoah to the general public and galvanized the Jewish community. She balances universalism with a fierce Jewish pride.”

Lipstadt’s gratitude for the support she received supplants any residue of the anger she felt toward Irving. Emory provided travel funds, reduced her course load and even insisted that her courses be taught in her absence. Survivors and Jewish community leaders dug into their own pockets to defray her $1.5-million expert defense. “It was a privilege to stand up on their behalf,” she acknowledges. “To be the beneficiary of such generosity, quietly, without people looking for credit, was very powerful,” she says, noting that many survivors perceived her fight as protecting them from a “double dying.”

Lipstadt is not the child of survivors, though her middle name, Esther, memorializes an uncle’s sister who died in the Holocaust. Her father, a matzeva (cemetery monument) salesman, came to New York from Germany during the Depression; her Canadian-born mother collected and lectured on Judaica. Both self-educated, her parents transmitted a love of learning to Lipstadt and her sister, Helene, an architectural historian, and brother Nat, a Wall Street investor. “Judaism was the beat of the drum to which our family marched,” says Lipstadt, who grew up in New York’s Upper West Side and in Far Rockaway, attending day schools and Jewish camps.

She counts her parents and her childhood rabbi, Emanuel Rackman, as her role models. “I had the best cheering squad at home,” she says, and Rackman, now chancellor of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, provided the ideal combination of learning, commitment and involvement in the larger Jewish world.

Raised Modern Orthodox, today she is more comfortable in egalitarian services. She enjoys swimming, exercising, hiking and walking.

Lipstadt received her bachelor’s degree in 20th-century American political history from City College of New York and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in modern Jewish history from Brandeis University. From 1966 to 1968, she studied at Hebrew University, an experience that not only cemented her understanding of the Holocaust, Israel and anti-Semitism, but also provided the opportunity for one of many gutsy journeys. When Lipstadt learned she could only visit the Old City of Jerusalem—then still in Jordanian hands—by obtaining a passport free of an Israeli visa, she traveled to Greece to get one and then continued on to Istanbul, Beirut, Damascus and Jordan.

Everywhere, she was dogged by the fear that she would be identified as a Jew.

Lipstadt began her teaching career at the University of Washington in Seattle and then moved to the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1987, Israeli professors Yehuda Bauer and Yisrael Gutman asked her to conduct a research project on Holocaust denial. Since she was convinced deniers were just “fringe extremists,” she questioned the need for the study, characterizing it as the “equivalent of the flat-earth theory,” she recalls. Given the prominence of the scholars, however, she agreed. The research led to her book—and the rest is history.

Her 13 years at Emory have been marked by awards for outstanding teaching, including a student government award and the Emory Williams Award, based on nominations from alumni for professors who have had the most impact on them.

Most of the time, her subject is depressing: how Jews were murdered, how evil triumphed. “Something would be wrong if students walked out of my classes the same way they walked out of the gym,” she says. “But you can’t let sadness, horror and disgust keep them from learning about it.”

Lipstadt punctuates Holocaust classes with courses on basic Judaism and would like to write a book introducing Jewish perspectives on everything from ecology to depression. “Maybe, after all these years writing about attacks on Jews, I have to write about the beauties and wonders of this tradition,” she says. She objects to using the Holocaust to motivate philanthropy or discourage intermarriage. “This is a serious perversion of Jewish history and tradition. If I’m going to urge someone to be Jewish and stay Jewish and do Jewish, it’s for all the wonderful things Jewish tradition and culture have to offer.”

Another book project focuses on new developments in Holocaust denial, including its increasingly common articulation in the Muslim world. In response to the denial by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the media, Lipstadt says, “You condemn it, but it’s hard to know if anything we can do will change matters. The only ‘gratifying’ thing about it is the degree to which the world sees Ahmadinejad as contemptible.”

In January 2005, Lipstadt traveled to Poland with the White House delegation to the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. She served as a consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and is now a member of its Committee on Conscience, which stimulates grass-roots action to halt crimes against humanity; the committee has been active in publicizing the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

One of Lipstadt’s favorite biblical verses, from the Book of Esther, seems to address her life experiences. Mordecai says to Esther: “Who knows if you have attained this royal position for just such a crisis?”

“My trial ended three days before Purim,” says Lipstadt. “Who knows if, for just such a crisis, I got a strong Jewish education and exposure to Jewish leaders, went to Jewish camps, youth groups and leadership training…? If you see someone sprawled on the ground, it’s too late to say ‘It’s important to learn CPR.’ You’ve got to know it before. Then, when the time comes, you will be prepared.”

Tom and Jerry: A Plot by the Jews

Jerry spies Tom
Originally uploaded by bbaltimore.

A story, about which I blogged last year, is once again making the rounds. It concerns an Iranian professor who has "discovered" that the American cultural icons, Tom and Jerry, the cat and mouse cartoon characters, are part of the Jewish conspiracy. In short, Tom and Jerry are a ploy to make people think well of mice and, by association, of Jews.

This news was broken by Hassan Bolkhari, an Iranian professor of philosophy who is a member of the Iranian Film Council and a cultural advisor to the Iranian Education Minister in a speech at an Iranian film seminar [translation courtesy of MEMRI, where you can view the clip].

Bolkhari told his audience that the cartoon characters “Tom and Jerry,” a creation of the “Jewish Walt Disney Company,” were actually elements in a conspiracy designed to improve the public image of Jews.

[Ignore, if you will, the facts that “Tom and Jerry” was created by the Hanna Barbera team in the MGM studios and at the time of the creation of Tom and Jerry, the Walt Disney Company was a place that was not particularly hospitable to Jews. Those are just irrelevant detail of importance only to Jews and troglodytes.]

Bolkhari made it all sound quite rational.
"If you study European history, you will see who was the main power in hoarding money and wealth, in the 19th century. In most cases, it is the Jews.”

In their hording, he charged, they were acting just like mice. This was the origin, Bolkhari explained, of one of the derogatory terms used to refer to Jews, “dirty mice.”

In an attempt to counter this negative impression, Jewish cartoonists created a cute mouse who would make people laugh. Bolkhari told his audience that:
“the mouse [in the cartoon] is very clever and smart. Everything he does is so cute. He kicks the poor cat's ass. Yet this cruelty does not make you despise the mouse. He looks so nice, and he is so clever.”

Of course, Bolkhari continued, contrary to the impression left by this endearing mouse, Jerry, mice are actually “very cunning...and dirty,” just like Jews. That is one of the reasons, he added, Hitler hated them.

Don’t dismiss Bolkhari as some fringe kook dredged up by MEMRI to poke fun at the Iranians. According to the 2005 Iranian Short Film Festival, where he was a judge, he holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Philosophy and teaches philosophy at Tabatabaei and Al-Zahra Universities in Iran.

Jon Stewart has taught us you just can't make these things up.
© 2007 Deborah Lipstadt

The Protocols of the Mullahs of Qom: Hmm, where have I heard this before???

According to the London-based Syrian born historian, Mahmoud Al-Sayyed Al-Dugheim pronouncement on Al Jazeera on January 30, 2007, Iran has a plan to establish a global Shiite government. It's objective is to annihilate the Sunnis.

The clip, available at, is macabre. It's comes straight from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

While Jews are not left completely off the hook [that would be an unnatural act], the main focus is on the Shia's.

Al-Dugheim claims that there was a meeting
"attended by the leaders of all Shiite parties and religious authorities" which decided to establish "a global organization... to annihilate the people who are infiltrate governmental institutions through the women's organizations everywhere, and then to infiltrate intelligence agencies, and to finish off the Sunni leaders, even by assassination."

The other person appearing, who is not identified, laughs as Al-Dugheim's rant gains in momentum and makes reference to secret a secret 50-year old plan by the Mullahs to destroy the Sunni, sees the ridiculousness of the charge.

If only such people would recognize that the far-fetched attacks on and claims about Jews are equally ridiculous.

Birmingham [UK] University Administrators prove themselves to be dolts

Proving, yet again, that you can have a Ph.D. and be a complete dolt [to put it kindly], Birmingham University in Britain has let stand a Ph.D. thesis that has been described - by a reviewer selected by the university itself as blighted by "inaccuracies", "contradictions" and "omissions", and by a "naive" and "sloppy" use of sources.

The Times [of London] Higher Education Supplement reports that Birmingham University has refused to withdraw its imprimatur from a "flawed" PhD thesis that argues that a prominent survivor of Hitler's death camps could have been a Nazi collaborator.

According to the THES:
The thesis, by Charlotte Exon, examines the life and work of Austrian rconductor Rudolph Schwarz, who survived three Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Belsen. After the war, he established a successful career in music in Britain.

Dr Exon poses a hypothesis that Mr Schwarz was a Nazi "sympathiser" or "collaborator" who became "Hitler's willing victim".
After undertaking a review in the "broadest possible terms" without "forensic scrutiny", the reviewer found that Dr Exon "seems to have simplified or debased her argument by ignoring certain crucial details".

He identified "sloppiness" and "naivete" in the use of primary source material and highlighted "inaccuracies, contradictions and ambiguities".

Simply put, as I told the THES, The university administrators "look like fools."

I guess that the since the reviewer found no evidence of "deliberate mendacity" the University decided to let the thesis stand.

This is complete idiocy. It essentially suggests that a thesis by the likes of a David Irving would be rejected -- because, thanks to the evidence uncovered for my trial, one can easily prove his deliberate mendacity and suppression, manipulation, invention, and distortion of evidence, -- but a thesis by someone who read the so-called "research" [or, better put, "disresearch"] by Irving and his cohorts would be accepted.

Once again university administrators have shown themselves to be lacking an essential part of their autonomy: a backbone.... and maybe a brain.

These administrators make the ones at MIT -- who supported the visit of the so-called rabbis from Neturei Karta as a legitimate "Jewish view" -- look good....

For MIT that less than "half a consolation."

Jimmy Carter Oped in Sacramento Bee

The Sacramento Bee has republished my oped on Jimmy Carter which appeared in the Washington Post last month.

Lipstadt at University of Colorado, Wednesday 2/28: Students fear disruptions

I will be speaking at the University of Colorado on Wednesday, February 28th, in the Glenn Miller Auditorium at 7:00 [double check the time]. According to the student newspaper, this appearance has caused some concern at the university because of a faculty member who seems rather sympathetic to Holocaust deniers and whose essay won in 2004 from the white supremacist group Stormfront, an organization whose website proclaims that it is for "pro-White activists and anyone else interested in White survival."

While some students on the campus have expressed fear that he will disrupt the lecture, I have posted a comment on the student newspaper:

From my perspective, Mr. McNair is welcome to attend my lecture. He might actually learn something about David Irving, a man who was declared by Judge Charles Gray of the Royal High Court, to be a liar, Holocaust denier, a man with racist and antisemitic views, whose claims about history are a "travesty."

See Judge Gray's evaluation of Irving at [click on Verdict and go to Part XIII].

See you this week.

Deborah Lipstadt, Ph.D.

Neturei Karta at MIT: MIT's Jewish Community responds strategically

MIT's Jewish Community has responded in what seems to me, an observor from afar, a strategically well-fashioned style to the appearance of the Neturei Karta so-called rabbi, David Weiss, at MIT. They make a number of important points, two of which jump out at me.

* This was advertised as a "Jewish view" on "Foreign Policy and Social Justice." To describe a view that has been condemned from everyone from the left end of the spectrum to Satmar on the right as a "Jewish view" is ridiculous. These people represent a couple of thousand Neturei Karta, people known for their intense hatred of most other Jews who don't share their views.

* There are groups on the MIT campus who have been actively involved in interfaith dialogue. To invite this guy is a slap in the face at those who have dedicated themselves to constructive dialogue.

New Jersey Herald on Wiesel Attacker

The New Jersey Herald carries a story on the man who attacked Elie Wiesel. The man is from New Jersey so for them this is a local story.

Friday, February 23, 2007

One more thing about Jimmy Carter... really strange

When Carter was referring to former Secy of State Madeline Albright he noted that she was "of Jewish origin."

What was that about?

Can anybody enlighten me????

Some Final [I hope] thoughts on Jimmy Carter

This should be it. I have helped Jimmy Carter sell enough of his slim, mistake laden book. I want to move on to other things.

Since, however, I wrote so much before he appeared here at Emory, some thoughts after.

I shall ignore pointing how much he obfuscated and did not answer questions. How much he disembled and rewrote history. I am tired of parsing his words.

Ultimately, the irony is that he and I do not disagree on the bottom line. We both favor and believe in the necessity of a two-state solution. That is the only promise there is for some kind of peace to come to this region.

Neither side will have all of what they want but that is what is necessary.

However, in Carter's view all that it takes for this to come about is for Israel to make concessions, Israel to accept, Israel to withdraw etc. etc. There was no compelling urgency in his voice for the Palestinians and their Arab and Muslim neighbors to stop terror attacks against Israel.

In fact, he brushed off Israeli losses by noting that whenever 1 Israeli is killed 750 [he used that number twice] Palestinians are killed.

There was no sense that the Palestinians have, to quote Abba Eban, missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

He accepts all their protestations about peace and acceptance of Israel at face value. He sets the bar very low for them. It reminds of a phrase George W. Bush used in reference to his education bill, No Child Left Behind. [A bad bill that puts all its trust in testing... but that's not for this blog.]

He spoke about the "bigotry of low expectations." That's what you have here. Don't expect much from the Palestinians but expect lots from the Israelis. Truth be told, I expect more from the Israelis but when it comes to concessions and negotiations both sides have to give.

Jimmy Carter does not believe that.

Iranian Mullahs on Holocaust denial

According to an oped in today's New York Times The New York Times by Abbas Milani, the director of Iranian studies at Stanford and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution,Iranian officials, despite defying UN resolutions, have been sending another kind of message, a more conciliatory one.

After a meeting with the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader’s chief foreign policy adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, declared last week that the mullahs might agree to certain steps to imporve relations with the west.

These steps include announcing that the Holocaust is a fact of history and chastising those who question its reality. Ali Larijani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, also declared the Holocaust a “historical matter” to be discussed by scholars (and not, he implied, by ignorant politicians).

There seems to be general agreement that this is another chink in the armour of President Ahmadinejad.

From my perspective, it's fascinating and a bit chilling that the existence of the HOlocaust has become a factor in foreign policy and international relations.

Some may cheer this development and I guess it is a good thing. But the fact that acknowledging the existence of the HOlocaust should be a sign of moderation and outreach leaves me dumbfounded.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Some thoughts on Jimmy Carter's performance

You have to hand it to the guy. He knows how to win over an audience and to sound benign and reasonable. If you don't know the details it's hard to pick out the untruths, e.g. the fence has not helped Israel's security.

Huh? It's stopped the "suicide" bombings almost completely.

Shderot has had a few missiles shot into it as a result hundreds of Palestinians have been killed.

Everytime an Israeli is killed 750 Palestinians are killed.

Too many to go into detail.

He says he has never refused to debate and tonight will debate Dennis Ross' boss, Madeline Albright, who is "of Jewish origin." I am not sure what that has to do with anything.

Boston Jewish Advocate on visit of Neturei Karta rabbi to MIT

Here's the Jewish Advocate story on the visit of this so-called rabbi to MIT.

Listening to Jimmy Carter

I am sitting watching Carter on a remote feed. He just attacked me by name for accusing him of being afraid to debate. Says he never turned down the opportunity to debate.

This guy really knows how to spin a topic.

MIT to host Neturei Karta rabbi who was at Holocaust denial conference in Iran

According to the MIT calendar, tonight at 7 p.m. so-called Rabbi David Weiss of Neturei Karta will be speaking at MIT. So you can rush from hearing Jimmy Carter up to Cambridge to hear another convoluted [you could use a stronger term] version of history.

Actually, I would suggest that people refrain from going and that they certainly NOT demonstrate against Weiss. This is what he wants, media attention. He reminds me, as I have said on this blog before, of what my lawyer Anthony Julius said to me about fighting David Irving, "he is like the dirt [use a different term here as well] you step in on the street. It has no intrinsic importance unless you fail to clean it off your feet."

Go to an Israeli movie, read a book by David Grossman, read Ha'aretz or any one of a myriad other positive and affirmative things about Israel. Ignore this piece of....

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Israel and Apartheid: My prediction comes true faster than I thought

A few weeks ago I had an oped in the London Jewish Chronicle in which I observed that:
For the past few years there has been an attempt on both college campuses and in the churches to divest from Israel. The model for this policy is drawn from the struggle against apartheid. Carter describes Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories as “worse than apartheid”. Though he protests that he is talking about land acquisition in the occupied territories and not racial policy in Israel, the distinction has been lost on the general public.

Carter has given those who support divestiture a needed imprimatur. No longer can supporters of Israel say that, whatever you think of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, it is ludicrous to compare it to apartheid. Carter has.

I predicted that:
So begins a new stage in the assault on Israel’s legitimacy. It is serious and frightening — and I don’t frighten easily. I have no doubt that it will soon migrate to these [UK] shores.

So it seems that this is already happening. According to the Canadian Jewish News, universities in Canada, Europe and the United States hosted “Israeli Apartheid Week,” a series of lectures on the topic “Zionist ethnic cleansing, colonization and occupation of Palestine.”

Jimmy Carter cannot get credit for these events. Some of them had been held prior to the publication of his book. But I am sure his book will give other universities the impetus to copy these events.

Lectures were held at universities in Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal, New York, Oxford, Cambridge and London.
One of the speakers was Jamal Zahalka, a Palestinian member of Knesset who attended the gatherings in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa to present his lecture titled “Debunking the Myth of Israeli Democracy.”

And, little surprise, one of the other speakers was Norman Finkelstein.

Question for Jimmy Carter: If I didn't hear it, it didn't happen

Question: You have been quoted as denying that Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel. Yet the Prime Minister of the PA- a Hamas leader, has repeatedly said that his organization does not and will never recognized Israel. [And did so again this past week when Secretary of State Rice was in Jerusalem.] When confronted by these statements, you said that you had not heard him make them. If you do not personally hear something, does that mean it does not exist?
KHOW-AM, The Caplis & Silverman Show (Denver), Dec. 12, 2006:
Carter flatly denied that Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, swore never to recognize Israel.

Silverman: "Didn't the head of Hamas, the elected leader of the Palestinians, go to Tehran last week and say ‘We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government ...’"
Carter: "No, he didn't."
Silverman: " ... ‘and we will continue our jihad-like movement ...’
Carter: "No, he didn’t do that."
Silverman: " ‘until the liberation of Jerusalem’?"
Carter: "No, he didn't do that. I saw no report about that."

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, was quoted by the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, the Guardian (London), and others saying just that.

Follow the Money: Ask Carter about who supports the Carter Center

Question: Middle Easter Sheikh support of Carter Center: When Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan made a $2 million gift to Harvard Divinity School, Harvard eventually returned the money when it learned that Zayed Centre, ¬a think-tank funded by the Sheikh and run by his son¬ hosted speakers who called Jews "the enemies of all nations," attributed the assassination of John Kennedy to Israel and the Mossad and the 9/11 attacks to the United States' own military, stated that the Holocaust was a "fable," whose executive director, Mohammed Murar, proclaimed, “the truth is that the Jews are the enemies of all nations,” and which published a report stating, “the Zionists are the people who killed the Jews in Europe.”

You, in contrast, not only accepted money Zayed but said, in accepting the funds,
"This award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan."
Can you explain your willingness to accept funds from such a man and such a center?

Another Question for Carter: Is this antisemitism?

Question: Accusation against Jews: In response to a petition signed by 25,000 people, you wrote a one-sentence note (in your own handwriting, on the official letterhead of The Carter Presidential Center) to Rabbi Marvin Hier, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which reads in full:
“I don’t think Simon Wiesenthal would have resorted to falsehood and slander to raise funds.” Jimmy Carter

Do you understand that scholars who study antisemitism consider accusing a leading rabbi and a respected Jewish organization of engaging in "falsehood and slander," i.e being a liar to get money as falling squarely within the definition of antisemitism?

Click here to see a copy of the handwritten note. Quite stunning.

Questions for Jimmy Carter

1. Question: Passage on p. 213: Could you please explain your now infamous passage on page 213 of your book where you condone acts of terror up until the point of Palestinian sovereignty?

Follow up: If you are sorry you wrote this passage how do you explain your subsequent comments to Al Jazeera on January 14th 2007 where you said “I wasn't equating the Palestinian missiles with terrorism,"


2. Question: Camp David 2: You stated on your interview with Larry King on CNN in November that Israel never accepted the Clinton plans for peace that were drafted at Camp David. Do you stand by that comment?

KING: Mr. President, didn't President Clinton have that all worked out and wasn't it Arafat that backed off?

CARTER: No. As a matter of fact, Clinton -- President Clinton did a great job the last term, the last part of his term in trying to bring peace to Israel. He made some very interesting proposals, none of which were accepted either by the Israelis or the Palestinians.

I describe that in my book and what President Clinton proposed was not acceptable to either Israel or the Palestinians but was the best effort he could make in the time that he had left in his term.


Follow up: If you do stand by that comment how do you explain then the Israeli cabinet, lead by then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, accepting the Camp David proposal on December 27 2000 and that President Clinton, Ambassador Dennis Ross [both of whom were there] and Nabil Amr, a former minister in the Palestinian Authority held Arafat responsible for the failure?

1. Wikipedia: Clinton later stated "I regret that in 2000 Arafat missed the opportunity to bring that nation into being and pray for the day when the dreams of the Palestinian people for a state and a better life will be realized in a just and lasting peace." [3] Arafat was also accused of scuttling the talks by Nabil Amr, a former minister in the Palestinian Authority. [4]

2. Mother Jones interview with Ambassador Dennis Ross: In your opinion, Arafat squandered his chance at Camp David in 2000. How so?

Dennis Ross: In the book what I’ve done is I laid out not only verbally what we offered, but I’ve also produced a map that compares what Arafat says he was offered -- and continues to suggest he was offered -- with what he was actually offered. So I am making it clear that if what we offered was so bad, why lie about it? Why misrepresent it? Why say you were offered cantons when you weren’t? Why say that you didn’t have a border with Jordan when you did? Why say you weren’t even offered 90 percent when you were offered 97 percent? Why say that you did not get any of East Jerusalem when you were offered all of Arab East Jerusalem? What did Arafat object to at the time?

DR: Well, he never gave us a good answer. Part of the problem with Arafat was that when we were at Camp David, he would just say no. He wouldn’t come with counters and he wouldn’t come back with specifics.


3. Question: Critics of book: On Al Jazeera television you stated that most of the critics of your book have been representatives of Jewish organizations. Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers, and Tom Teepen--liberals all--are not Jewish but have criticized your book severely. Other critics include Ambassador Dennis Ross, Professors Deborah Lipstadt, Kenneth Stein, and Michael Oren; New York Times editor Ethan Bronner, Slate editor Michael Kinsley, New Yorker writer, Jeffrey Goldberg, and many other scholars, journalists and statesmen who have expertise in this area.

None of them is a representative of a Jewish organization. Why did you make this false statement on Al Jazeera? Do you consider Jews who criticize your book to, ipso facto, be “representatives of Jewish organizations?

Source: Al-Jazeera TV on January 14, 2007:
Jimmy Carter: Most of the condemnations of my book came from Jewish American organizations….

4. Question: Use of Apartheid: Veteran congressman John Conyers, a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Carter’s “apartheid” libel "does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong."

Irshad Manji, the courageous Muslim-Canadian columnist and respected critic of terrorists, has said almost the same thing. Why do you persist in using this word to slander Israel?

Absurd to Call Israel an Apartheid State - Irshad Manji
I respectfully challenge Jimmy Carter's recent critique of Israel as an apartheid state. Would an apartheid state have several Arab political parties, as Israel does? Would the vast majority of Arab Israeli citizens turn out to vote in national elections, as they've usually done? Would an apartheid state extend voting rights to women and the poor in local elections, which Israel did for the first time in the history of Palestinian Arabs? Would an apartheid state award its top literary prize to an Arab? Israel honored Emile Habibi in 1986. Would an apartheid state encourage Hebrew-speaking schoolchildren to learn Arabic? Would an apartheid state be home to universities where Arabs and Jews mingle at will, or apartment blocks where they live side by side? Would an apartheid state ensure conditions for the freest Arabic press in the Middle East?

The writer is the author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith. (Australian)

Follow-up: If by use of the term Apartheid you did not mean Israel’s “racial” policies and you were only talking about land on the West Bank, do you feel that was unnecessarily inflammatory and do you understand why critics have accused you of engaging in “bait and switch”?

5. Question: Rwanda: You stated on MSNBC Hardball in a December interview that described conditions for Palestinians as "one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation" in the world. You didn’t want to compare this to the suffering of the Rwandans 12 years ago. Where would you rank the conditions of the Palestinians?
CARTER: So the persecution of the Palestinians now, under the occupying territories—under the occupation forces—is one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation that I know. And I think it‘s—
SHUSTER: Even worse, though, than a place like Rwanda?
CARTER: Yes. I think—yes. You mean, now?
SHUSTER: The oppression now of the Israelis—of the Palestinians by the Israelis is worse than the situation in Africa like the oppression of Rwanda and the civil war?
CARTER: I‘m not going back into ancient history about Rwanda, but right now, the persecution of the Palestinians is one of the worst examples of human rights abuse I know, because the Palestinians—
SHUSTER: You‘re talking about right now, you‘re not talking about say, a few years ago.
CARTER: I‘m not talking about ancient history, no.
SHUSTER: Rwanda wasn‘t ancient history; it was just a few years ago.
CARTER: You can talk about Rwanda if you want to.

Follow up: Would you say that the situation in Darfur is worse?

Follow up #2: How is that the Carter Center has no human rights activities in Saudi Arabia, where women don’t even have the right to drive and non-Muslims cannot worship publicly. Nor for that matter do you have any human rights activities in China or in North Korea, or in Iran, Iraq, the Sudan, or Syria. Do not the human rights abuses there far outweigh those in Israel?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Emory Wheel story on student petition

The Emory Wheel has a number of stories, editorials, and opeds on Jimmy Carter's visit to campus. One is a news story on the petition. The lead editorial, Our Opinion: Kowtowing to Carter represents an about face on the part of the Wheel editorial staff on this matter. Most importantly, they recognize how avoidable this situation was. There are a number of other opeds, some of which support our position and some of which do not.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The continuing saga of Jimmy Carter's appearance at Emory

Seems the Emory students -- who gathered over 1000 names on a petition protesting the structure of Carter's appearance -- are feeling really dissed by the administration. I am not sure what steps they are going to take but this totally unavoidable situation is getting needlessly complicated and potentially ugly. Oy.

So unnecessary.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Israeli movie, Coming Home, is an example of why Jimmy Carter is wrong

Saw an Israeli movie last night, Coming Home. Despite having won a number of prestigious awards, it was not a great movie. It is the story of two 18 year old girls who serve on the border police searching Arab women at check points and registering Arab "looking" individuals in downtown Jerusalem.

[Apparently this is done so that in case of a bombing the police will know who was in the area who might have taken part.]

In any case, it is not a completely flattering portrait of Israel. It might be said to be "even handed." It shows a bombing in downtown Jerusalem. But it also shows racial profiling and meanness for the sake of meanness on the part of these 18 year olds.

For me the two most startling moments in the film came at the opening and closing credits. The opening one included a credit to the Israeli Film Fund and the closing one to the Ministry of Industry and Technology. Both clearly gave substantial financial support to the film.

Imagine an Arab country -- or maybe even this country -- funding a film which showed its policies in such a critical or honest light....


Emory Wheel receives numerous responses to our editorial

The Wheel has received, at last count, 39 responses to the editorial. Some of them are quite illuminating

The "Yes-But" approach to or excuse for antisemtiism begins to wear thin

Afer reading the previous post, I am sure there will those who will dismiss this overt antisemitism of a Polish member of the European Parliament as the rantings of a far right winger. Essentially what they will say: "Yes [it's antisemtism], BUT [he's of the far right]."

At some point this excuse, for that is what it is, begins to wear thin.

"Yes/But" has been the reaction to so much of the European antisemitism we have witnessed in recent years, e.g. "Yes [they should not have beaten up the person with a kipa, trashed a synagogue, burned a Jewish school, murdered Ilan Halimi; But [they are Muslim youth, they are unemployed, they feel disaffected from the larger society, they are right wingers, they are neo-Nazis etc. etc. etc. ad naseum]"

Really thin.

European Parliament member's overt antisemitism

The JTA reports that Jews have been labeled "a detriment to Europe" by a Polish politician in his new book. According to Maciej Giertych, a member of the European Parliament, Jews are unethical, are obsessed with separateness and are a “tragic community” because they don’t accept Jesus as the messiah.

Giertych, is, according to the article, an "influential" member of the nationalistic, Catholic-based League of Polish Families. He released his booklet, “Civilization at War in Europe,” on Feb. 14 at the European Parliament headquarters in Strasbourg.

Giertych’s son, Roman, is Poland’s education minister and deputy prime minister.

The booklet depicts Poland and other parts of Europe as having a Catholic core which cannot coexist with what he depicts as the Jews’ Torah-based civilization.

Giertych is a professor of biology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, writes of Jews,
“It is a civilization of programmed separateness, of programmed differentiation from the surrounding communities...By their own will, they prefer to live a separate life, in apartheid from the surrounding communities. They form their own communes (kahals), they govern themselves by their own rule and they take care to maintain also a spatial separateness. They form the ghettos themselves, as districts in which they live together, comparable to the Chinatowns in the USA.”

This is unsettling to say the least

More enlightened criticism.....

Some of the signatories to our letter to the Emory Wheel received the following email
from: "Ross Vachon"

Why should President Carter have to lower himself to "debate" another Jewish apologist for neo-Nazi Apartheid Israel? Would you make the same demand of President Eisenhower- that he debate Heinrich Himmler on the Nazis?

What none of you schmos understand is that no one but no one is buying the bullshit doled out by Zionist stooges like Dennis Ross, Marty Peretz, Dore Gold, punk-ass losers like Ken Stein, ad nauseum anymore.

They're liars, Holocaust Deniers and low-grade poltroons. He's a former American President, for Christ's sake! Not some yo-yo you who has to submit being stuck in a room with Howie Kushner, the Stein bros., Andy Nahmias, and the barmitzvah boy of their choice.

Give it a rest, fellas. The American public has spoken- they like the book, know it's 100% on the money and are sick and tired of a bunch of yelping farts trying to impugn
it because they can't get it out of their heads that Israel is a racist shithole that's forfeited its right to exist.

The eloquence of these folks never ceases to amaze me....

Critics of my Carter stand don't seem to get it....

I have received numerous emails such as this one from Ben Brackley:

Dear Dr. Lipstadt,

I have long been an admirer of your aggressive efforts to take on Holocaust deniers such as David Irving. I remember when you quite rightly rejected the effort by C-SPAN Book TV to "balance" your appearance with one by Irving.

In my admiration, though, I erred in thinking you shared a consistent commitment to principles of truth and justice. The Deborah Lipstadt I thought I knew would be condemning Marty Peretz, the publisher and editor-in-chief of The New Republic, for writing that Jimmy Carter "will go down in history as a Jew hater" and not joining in sophistic attacks on Carter for minor errors in his book or insisting that an 82 year old Nobel Prize winning former President debate his book at Emory. Do you hold the same standards for every speaker at Emory?

If published in Israel, Carter's book would be relatively non-controversial as one can finds scores of commentary agreeing with his position. Why are you so threatened by having these views expressed in unfiltered forums in the US?....

Ben Brackley

While I am really sorry that Ben Brackley is disappointed in me, let me reiterate my point. President Carter wrote this book, he says, to stimulate debate and dialogue. However, everytime he has been offered the chance to enter in dialogue he has refused and presented himself as the victim of unfair attacks. He can't have it both ways.

Secondly, to Ben, my former admirer, let me say that if you review the criticism you will see that it is far more than "minor" mistakes. It is substantial and very much affects his arguments.

Finally, you are right, Ben, about finding these kinds of books in Israel but you would not find them with such blatant errors because Israelis [including those who agree with Carter] would pick up on them so fast and they would pull the rug out from under Carter's bottom line.

Oh, one last point, please note you would never find a book taking the opposite side of the argument in any Arab country... certainly not one written with the author's true name... Just a thought.

Atlanta's 11 Alive [CBS] Picks up Carter's refusal to engage in dialogue story

The CBS affiliate in Atlanta picked up the story of Jimmy Carter's refusal to engage in dialogue about his book with anyone who is a specialist on the subject.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Carter at Emory in International Herald Tribune

The IHT carried the AP story on the Carter appearance at Emory. The most notable thing about the article is that "Carter has repeatedly defended it [his book] as a starting point for debate."

He has been offered a number of chances to engage in dialogue and has ducked it every time. At some point -- and now may be that point -- one can legitimately say: "Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much."

If President Carter wants debate he has his chance. All he needs to do is say yes.

Response to Jimmy Carter oped

There has been a pretty vigorous response to an oped I, together with 10 of my Emory colleagues, placed in the Emory paper, The Wheel. I have done a number of interviews including with WABE, Atlanta's NPR station, and the AP.

In both cases -- and in yesterday's interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution -- the question that most animates reporters is "What do we want? Is there something which could be done to rectify the situation?"

In fact there is. Jimmy Carter could come to recognize and the Emory administration could help him to understand that his persistent refusal to face his critics leaves a major cloud hanging over his legacy. This is not the behavior of someone who thinks that he has done the right thing and who stands behind his claims.

He insisted on speaking at Emory. He pushed the administration to make the necessary arrangements for him to appear alone.

He should know, and -- if he does not know -- he should be told that this is not the way universities operate. I acknowledge that we often have speakers from only one side. But they are not former presidents, their books have not been the objects of such criticism, and their objective in writing them has not been, as it is for Carter, to promote discussion and dialogue.

Jimmy Carter can't have it both ways: to claim to be the great mediator and to fail to face his critics.

We stress open engagement, debate, and exchange of views, particularly when one side has been subjected to such withering criticism.

Atlanta Journal Constitution on Carter's Emory appearance

The following article appeared this morning in the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Emory professors protest Carter visit
Letter asks: 'What's Jimmy afraid of?'

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 02/15/07

The controversy over Jimmy Carter's "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," will not go away, especially in the halls of academia.

Nine distinguished Emory professors, [NOTE: By the time the oped was published the number was 11] each holding named chairs, wrote a letter titled, "What's Jimmy Afraid Of?" The letter is scheduled to appear in the campus newspaper Friday to protest the fact that Carter is scheduled to speak at the campus, but has refused to debate.

"Despite having written a book whose purpose he claims was to promote dialogue and discussion, he has consistently dodged appearing with anyone who could challenge him on the numerous factual errors which fill the pages of his slim book," the letter states.

"We are happy that Jimmy Carter wants to come to Emory," said Deborah E. Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies, and a signer of the letter. "But we think it should be an exchange of ideas, not a one-sided presentation. We felt that this is not up to the standards of Emory in terms of creative inquiry."

Earl Lewis, Emory's provost, said Carter speaks on Emory campus at least once a month in someone's class. Annually, he holds a town hall discussion on campus. Lewis said the Feb. 22 event will follow the town hall format that Emory has done for years.

He objected to claims that allowing Carter to speak and answer submitted questions was not academically challenging.

"I am not sure I agree with that," Lewis said. "It is not unusual, in any context, for someone who may have written a book that is controversial, to come speak on that book. We all would love to engage President Carter. But this is an opportunity for him to talk about his book."

Lewis said that Carter would speak for about 15 minutes, and then answer questions that have been submitted by students. Lewis said the university has not ruled out a possible debate in the future.

When Carter's book was published in November, the former president said he wrote it to spark debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. In the book, Carter paints the Israelis as the aggressors in the conflict, even going so far as to liken their occupation of the West Bank to apartheid.

Although the book remains a best seller, critics have pilloried it.

Former allies have abandoned Carter and the Carter Center and more than a dozen Jewish members of an advisory panel quit the center.

But scholars have been most frustrated with Carter's refusal to debate his own book, although he has talked about the book at length in print and on television.

Last month, Carter spoke at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. Carter initially turned down an invitation to speak at the Jewish-sponsored school, when it was suggested he debate Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz.

Carter later appeared without Dershowitz, who was given a chance to rebut the former president after he had left the building.

The Emory faculty members said they approached and got an agreement from Dennis Ross, envoy to the Middle East in the Clinton administration, to debate Carter. Ross has accused Carter of misusing maps that originally appeared in his book, "The Missing Peace."

"I have watched the entire speech Carter delivered at Brandeis. It was disturbing and totally staged," said Melvin Konner, the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology at Emory. "I just thought, what can we do to prevent the Emory event from being the same thing."

What's Jimmy Carter Afraid Of? - Editorials, The Emory Wheel

This editorial, published in Emory's student paper, The Wheel, was written in sadness that an institution which I love and treasure [and I know many of the signatories share this feeling] has chosen to go down this route. However, remember that this was caused, in great measure, by Jimmy Carter's persistant refusal to face anyone who can question him seriously and point out his misstatements of fact and far less by Emory.

What's Jimmy Carter Afraid Of? - Editorials

< Back | Home
What's Jimmy Carter Afraid Of?
11 Emory Professors

Posted: 2/16/07
Once again, Jimmy Carter has shrunk from debate. Despite having written a book whose purpose he claims was to promote dialogue and discussion, he has consistently dodged appearing with anyone who could challenge him on the numerous factual errors that fill the pages of his slim book.

First it was at Brandeis University, where he was invited to appear with professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School. Dershowitz, who has written two books and numerous articles on the topic (not to mention being a respected First Amendment scholar and one of America's most distinguished attorneys), was not even allowed into the building until Carter had left.

When it became known that Carter was anxious to speak at Emory, the administration consulted a group of faculty and was advised that the most fair and academically valuable format would be to have Carter appear with someone who could engage in a productive interchange and discussion on the topic. This clearly would be the only way for the event to meet the educational standard of a leading university.

Everyone agreed that the best person for this interchange was Ambassador Dennis Ross, who was the main negotiator on the Arab-Israeli situation in both the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration. He was responsible for organizing Camp David II, Clinton's last-ditch effort to find a resolution to the situation. Ross agreed to appear, but Carter pointedly refused to appear with him or with any other expert. No explanation was given.

Is this the behavior of a man who wants to promote dialogue? What precisely is Carter afraid of? Could it be that Dennis Ross - who, like President Clinton, places the blame for the failure of the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis at Camp David II squarely on the shoulders of Yasir Arafat - would tell the former president, who blames Israel for everything, that he is simply wrong? Remember Ross and Clinton were there; Carter was not.

The Brandeis event had sanitized pre-screened questions, no follow-up, and an audience of students clearly mesmerized by being in the presence of a former president. At least at Brandeis, Dershowitz appeared after Carter to point out that Carter's remarks (carefully scripted to appeal to the largely Jewish audience at Brandeis) were very different from what he said in the book and in numerous media events, including Al Jazeera television, where he falsely claimed that most of the critics of his book have been representatives of Jewish organizations. He has also stated on Al Jazeera that rocket barrages against Israeli homes and families are not terrorist acts. These flirtations with anti-Semitism - however unconscious - have frightened Jewish -Americans.

The Wheel says that it's best to let Carter have "the last word" because to do otherwise will "only prolong the debate indefinitely into the future." As if the debate will go away if Jimmy Carter is allowed a platform all by himself. Would the Wheel recommend that George W. Bush "be given the last word" on Iraq because to do otherwise would "prolong the debate"? The Wheel has joined Carter in his attempt to stifle debate even while he claims to be seeking it. A prolonged debate with a free exchange of ideas is what an academic institution is all about.

In fact, Bush, who is not known for his responsiveness to the press, has the courage to face seasoned reporters who ask tough, unscripted questions with even tougher follow-up questions. These reporters are trained to recognize when a president is dissembling, being evasive or deliberately misleading the public, and they respond accordingly.

Remember, this is a book which has been described as "moronic" (Slate), "strange," a "distortion" (The New York Times) and "cynical" with a "bait-and-switch" title (Washington Post). The Emory administration has thus far failed to create an event with a semblance of balance. The talk of having "someone" or a "panel on the topic" next semester is an embarrassment for an institution which proclaims that it is dedicated to "creative inquiry."

We shall absent ourselves from this staged event, which will be more a political opportunity for Carter to air his biases than an open exchange of ideas. It is unworthy of an institution with Emory's aspirations, and we have to say sadly that at this moment we are not proud of Emory.

Alan Abramowitz is the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science. David R. Blumenthal is the Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies. Sander Gilman is a Distinguished Professor of the Arts and Sciences. Herbert R. Karp is an Emeritus Professor of Neurology and Medicine. Harvey Klehr is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Politics and History. Melvin Konner is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology. Howard I. Kushner is the Nat C. Robertson Distinguished Professor of Science and Society. Deborah E. Lipstadt is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies. Andre J. Nahmias is the Richard W. Blumberg Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics. Raymond F. Schinazi is a Professor of Pediatrics and Chemistry, and the Director of the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology. Donald G. Stein is the Asa G. Candler Professor of psychology, emergency medicine and neurology.

© Copyright 2007 The Emory Wheel

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Muslim's take on Jimmy Carter's use of apartheid

From The Australian
Absurd to Call Israel an Apartheid State -
Irshad Manji

I respectfully challenge Jimmy Carter's recent critique of Israel as an apartheid state.

Would an apartheid state have several Arab political parties, as Israel does? Would the vast majority of Arab Israeli citizens turn out to vote in national elections, as they've usually done?

Would an apartheid state extend voting rights to women and the poor in local elections, which Israel did for the first time in the history of Palestinian Arabs?

Would an apartheid state award its top literary prize to an Arab? Israel honored Emile Habibi in 1986. Would an apartheid state encourage Hebrew-speaking schoolchildren to learn Arabic?

Would an apartheid state be home to universities where Arabs and Jews mingle at will, or apartment blocks where they live side by side? Would an apartheid state ensure conditions for the freest Arabic press in the Middle East?

The writer is the author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith. (Australian)

Bumped from the BBC

My apologies to all those who listened to the BBC Today show this a.m. expecting to hear an interview with me. I was bumped by Timothy Garton Ash. I guess I can handle that.

Holocaust Denier Ernst Zundel sentenced to 5 years in jail in Germany

According to Reuters,, a German court sentenced a prominent Holocaust denier extradited from Canada to five years in prison on Thursday for inciting racial hatred and denying the Nazis killed six million Jews.

uendel, publisher of works such as "Did six million really die?", was handed the maximum sentence under German law for Holocaust denial.

Zundel, as you may know, was tried in Canada in the later 1980s, found guilty, and then the Supreme Court struck down the law under which he was tried. He is an unreprentant Holocaust denier and antisemite. [He also believes in UFOs.]

Parroting Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Zundel declared in his closing statement that Germany "should set up an international commission of experts to examine the Holocaust." If the commission confirmed that Jews had been gassed he would apologize.

At last year's conference in Teheran, there were posters of Zundel displayed in places of prominence.

I, as readers of this blog know well, oppose jailing people for denial, however I am intrigued by his having been found guilty of "inciting racial hatred." Was he found guilty just for denial or for actual acts of incitement?

As strongly as I feel about this issue, it gives me a moment of pause when I note that this is happening in Germany. The Germans say -- and rightly so -- what would the world say about us if we let deniers freely spout their stuff and did not call them to account?

The Germans also remember, as I taught my students recently in a history of the Holocaust class, that the Nazi rise to power began with rhetoric. It gives me momentary pause in my views but the thought that Zundel might become a media darling is quite revolting.

The Germans seem well aware that Holocaust denial is the ultimate form of antisemitism.

I only wish the Germans and the Austrians, for that matter, had felt -- particularly in the years after the war -- as strongly about punishing perpetrators or, on a far lower level, returning stolen property and artwork to the victims.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Deborah Lipstadt, my badass hero"

When I received a Google blog alert [letting me know that someone had mentioned me in their blog] noting that someone has described me as their "badass hero," I thought "Here we go again, another reference worthy of Devil's Kitchen" [who called me a term I had not heard before [begins with an F] ordered me never to "darken his internet again."

Much to my surprise -- but not to those younger than I -- it was a positive and interesting take on my views. I therefore, rather shamelessly, have provided a link to this blog.

Now I know that a badass is good and "f.w." [go see the original] is bad

Interview on BBC Radio 4 Today show

I just did an interview with BBC's Radio 4 Today show which is broadcast 7-9 a.m. UK time. It concerned the EU legislation on genocide denial which will be introduced into the European Parliament tomorrow. I will post the link once the show is broadcast.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The New Republic discussion of antisemitism and the response to it continues. A series of columns and letters have been exploring what precisely constitutes antisemitism and what constitutes legitimate means of combating it.

The discussion began with a column by John B. Judis. Judis was responded to by Brett Stephens and by Jeffrey Hart and Andrei Markovits.

In a future blog I shall discuss the essence of their comments but it's a provocative discussion and one worth reading.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Holocaust denial on Egyptian TV

Check out this five minute segment if you have any doubts that Holocaust denial is alive and well on Egyptian television.

Thoughts on New Republic article [see previous post]

One of the things I like about the New Republic article is the point Bret Stephens makes about the charge that the "pro-Israel lobby" and/or the organized American Jewish community "suppress debate." [Anyone who can call the American Jewish community "organized" shows how little they know about it.]

The fact is that rather than suppress debate, more often than not there has been a vigorous joining of the debate. Jimmy Carter is all over the media [consistently refusing to appear with anyone who might have the expertise to challenge him... including here at Emory... but more about that later]. Walt and Mearsheimer have a contract to turn their article into a book. Non/anti-Zionist Jews are organizing all over the place.

Does the Jewish community sometimes overreact? For sure. Would it sometimes be better if they just sat quietly and did not make a fuss [e.g. Mel Gibson]? Absolutely.

But if you write an article severely critical of Israel or questioning it's right to exist and want a lot of attention, just sit back and pray American Jews will go after you.