Deborah Lipstadt: Holocaust Denial Is Alive and Well in the Middle East

Roundup: Talking About History

Deborah Lipstadt, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (1-30-05):

... Many people worry that when the voice of the witness is lost, Holocaust deniers will find it easier to spread their lies. This fear suggests that without the survivors, there will not be enough evidence to "prove" what happened at Auschwitz. Though a survivor can speak with the unique voice of the eyewitness, this fear is unfounded....

[But o]ther forms of denial --- declaring President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to be Hitler's equivalent or denouncing Israeli soldiers as Nazis --- are still prevalent. These charges are a form of Holocaust denial because, irrespective of how one feels about the United States' or Israel's policies, comparing them with the actions of the Third Reich is a complete distortion of the truth.

There is, however, a region of the world where wholesale denial is alive and kicking: the Arab world. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who served as the "general commander" of Hamas until his assassination in April 2004, expressed his outrage at the Zionists' success in spreading the propaganda of the "false Holocaust" and claimed that no one has clarified how the "false gas chambers worked." Maintaining a consistent level of historical accuracy, Rantisi decried the fact that David Irving "was sued" because of his Holocaust denial.

In August 2004 Muhammad Al-Zurqani, the former editor-in-chief of Al-Liwaa Al-Islami, the Egyptian government daily, declared on Egyptian television that "the Holocaust is a big lie." Author Rif'at Sayyed Ahmad, who had written an article in the daily, entitled "The Lie about the Burning of the Jews," was appearing on the same show. As soon as Al-Zurqani made his claim, he chimed in, "Of course."

Teachers back off

Though the Egyptian information minister denounced such views, the Egyptian Journalists Association defended them as based on "historical research."

In his recent book "The Lost Territories of the Republic," Georges Bensoussan describes the current situation in many French schools attended by large numbers of Muslims. These students frequently dismiss their teachers' attempts to teach about the Holocaust with the declaration: "This is an invention." In response, some French teachers have reportedly backed off from teaching about the Holocaust.

There has been a tendency to dismiss this phenomenon as a matter of lesser concern because it comes from "disaffected" Muslim and Arab youth. Most of these students, however, are the French-born children or grandchildren of immigrants.

Holocaust denial is not the only form of false history that is gaining ground in the Arab and Muslim world. Increasingly, the myths of the blood libel and of world Jewish domination have spread.

In 2003, the manuscript museum at the famed Alexandria Library briefly exhibited "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" (it withdrew them in response to world protests). The Egyptian weekly Al-Usbu interviewed Dr. Yousef Ziedan, the director of manuscripts at the library, in conjunction with the exhibition.

Sample 'analysis' cited

Regarding the Holocaust, the weekly quoted the museum official as saying, "An analysis of samples from the purported gas chambers has proven that these were sterilization chambers, without a sufficient quantity of cyanide to kill."

He also declared that "Had Hitler wanted to annihilate the Jews of Europe, he would have." Strikingly, fundamentalist Muslims have adopted the traditional anti-Semitic imagery of the Christian world....

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Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Revisionists have been forwarding their skepticism about the "gas chambers" for twenty-five years and longer. Is it "all" a lie? Is it not possible that some revisionist arguments are not "lies." And not even "wrong?" Would it be of some benefit to Western culture generally for some in the professorial class to distinguish publicly where the revisionists are right? Would it not be a good thing (thank you, Martha) for the professorial class, as a class, to stand up and argue against the criminalization of expressions of skepticism about the "gas chambers" in Western countries (and Israel) around the world? Why not?