Deborah Lipstadt: Wins $120,000 grant for history website

Historians in the News

Release date: April 30, 2008
Contact: Elaine Justice at 404-727-0643 or elaine.justice@emory.edu

Funding will support HDOT.org translation into Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Russian

Emory University Professor Deborah Lipstadt has received a grant of $120,000 from the New York-based Claims Conference (The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany) on behalf of her Web site, Holocaust Denial on Trial (HDOT.org).

The grant will be used to translate elements of the site into Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Russian and to develop educational lesson plans.

Holocaust Denial on Trial chronicles Lipstadt's 1996-2000 British trial versus Holocaust denier David Irving. In 1996 he sued Lipstadt in British court alleging libelous content in her book "Denying the Holocaust."

Following her resounding victory in 2000, Lipstadt founded the site in conjunction with Emory to provide complete archives of the trial's documents. The site strives to empower readers to identify and reject the lies, distortions and misleading innuendo used by Holocaust deniers.

But there are still those who spread disinformation on the Holocaust. That's why Lipstadt began HDOT.org. She is out to make such distortions a thing of the past."When people don't have historically accurate information they are susceptible to all sorts of distortions and fabrications," says Lipstadt. "This is true for the Arab speaking world and the English speaking world as well."

Grant Will Fund Translation, Education Tools

The grant will allow HDOT.org to complete 50 myth/fact sheets about the Holocaust in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Russian, and to introduce two educational modules on the topic of Auschwitz denial for use in advanced secondary school and undergraduate college courses.

Adding additional languages and lesson plans is just the beginning, says Dan Leshem, web development specialist at Emory, which hosts the site. "We strive to be responsive to our readers' needs. For that reason, we also want to build a connection to the site's readership," he says.

Visitors can sign up for periodic newsletters and subscribe to an RSS news feed of Lipstadt's frequently updated blog entries. "The weight of this site is its integrity," says David Lower, a business analyst at Emory who oversees the site's development.

"We have to hold these translations to the highest possible standards. We know that deniers will look for any errors on the site to exploit for their own purposes."One example of precision in translation was the word "Holocaust" itself, says Leshem. "We transliterated the word and got 10,000 hits."

Then, based on a recommendation by a scholar of Arabic, they used another term for holocaust in Arabic that is much more common—it translates loosely as 'the catastrophe of the Jews'—and got 150,000 hits, simply because it is the more common term. "That goes back to the translators knowing the content," Leshem says.

So far, that diligence seems to be working. After posting the first translations of the myth/fact sheets in Arabic, Leshem copied the name "Anne Frank" in Arabic and did a Google search. HDOT.org was listed at number three.

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